Helpful Tips to Perfect Graduation Party Etiquette

  • 01 of 11

    Graduation Etiquette 101

    Graduation Decor
    Leave A Note. Kara's Party Ideas

    A graduation is one of the most momentous occasions in a young persons life. It is not only an end but a beginning and some may see this as more lasting than marriage and other important life events. A graduation is to celebrate the hard work and hours a graduate put into preparing themselves for their future. The tools they take away from school will lead them into life ready to tackle whatever is presented to them along the way. School is not a means to an end but a beginning because after school you will only continue learning and building experiences along the way. It's important to nurture and celebrate these graduates on their special day. Keep in mind a couple useful tips to be an ace on graduation etiquette. After all you will want to show some class and set a good example to the graduate as they make their way to the real world. These are tips for both the graduate and family and friends who will be along for the celebration. Graduation etiquette can be some difficult waters to navigate and I'm here to give you some quick tips to perfect your graduation season sensibility.

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  • 02 of 11

    Invitation Allocation to Ceremony

    Commencement Invitation
    Cute Commencement Invitations.

    Often times a graduate will only receive about 5 invitations to the actual ceremony leaving many family members to feel left out on this important day. If the graduate has a large extended family with lots of aunts, uncles, grandma, grandpas, brothers, sisters and cousins you can see how it might become difficult to choose who gets a seat in the audience. One option could be asking a friend who doesn't have as much family if they might have an extra ticket to spare. If this still isn't enough tickets I would then ask the graduate who is most important for them to have at the ceremony. Then have a private face to face conversation with those family members who might not have made the cut. They will respect that you explained to them in person why they did not receive an ticket to the commencement. If the graduate does not have a strong opinion about who is in attendance I would finally suggest a lottery. This is a fair and fun way to involve all family members to have a chance to participate in the festivities. So everyone gets to celebrate in the end, read more on my suggestions for throwing an awesome graduation party following the actual event.

    Etsy shops have the cutest, customizable invitations I've seen so far. Floral Confetti makes a gorgeous option as well as Please and Thanks Cards and Happy Life Printables. 

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  • 03 of 11

    Announcements vs Invitations

    Graduation Announcement
    Graduation Announcement. Etsy

    There is a lot of confusion about announcements vs invitations. An announcement is mailed to friends and family who might want to know about the graduates success and the special occasion. This document often has the graduation date but is not an actual invite to the ceremony. In the announcement you might want to add a senior photo and a few more details about the degree and honors of the graduate. An important thing to note is announcements are usually sent post graduation ceremony so to help avoid confusion between this and an invitation to the event. If you do receive an invitation to the event it's appropriate to send a gift, if you were sent only an announcement a gift is optional and congratulations is appropriate. The amount of people you send an announcement to is entirely up to you. Some people choose to limit their announcement mailings to only immediate family, others tend to send to extended family as well as friends and loved ones who might be interested in the graduate. Announcements also tend to double as invites to a graduation party which also known as the open house that takes place post commencement. Not everyone has a traditional family structure so use your judgement when it comes to announcements, there is no need to go over board and now you can post these images and details via social media or send through email to get news out about the happy day. Although be sensitive in how you approach social media and emails, it takes time to graduate or earn a degree some family members might be offended to learn of this kind of news from the internet.

    Have fun with your open house themes and decor. I love this The World is Your Market party from Kara's Party Ideas. Oh My Creative shares25 Graduation Party Themes, Ideas and Printables. Stylecaster has some great Graduation Party Ideas to Steal ASAP.

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  • 04 of 11

    Invitation Details

    Graduation Details
    Graduation Details. Kara's Party Ideas

    An invitation should have some very important details in regards to the upcoming graduation. Along with essentials like time, date and location it's considerate to include detailed instructions on navigating the location of the event. I mentioned it before but on the invitation it's really nice to include the graduates honors, information about the degree if available and potential future plans. There is most likely a portrait lying somewhere of the grad and this is why you spent the big bucks on those glamour shots! Include a photo of the newest graduate with the invites so all your loved ones (or only immediate family - those things are pricey!) can have a copy. Invitations should be sent out three - four weeks before the actual date. If you are inviting guests from out of town it's also considerate to call a local hotel to inquire about reserving a block of rooms at a discounted rate. You shouldn't actually have to pay for the lodging if you can't afford it but it gives an incentive to long distance family or friends to attend.

    Graduation invitation wording examples can be found here

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  • 05 of 11

    Tone of Graduation

    Graduation Thoughts
    Graduation Thoughts.

    Alert guests of tone of graduation. Depending on the size and kind of graduating class some graduations might be a scale of jovial and somber in tone. Give invited guests some background information on the type of ceremony before hand so they can feel more comfortable in their seats and know how to be respectful and what to expect.

    If this is not enough help to get you through the season Emily Post has a great feature on the art of graduation etiquette. Graduation etiquette sets the tone for young graduates to have an example of do's and don'ts for future life milestones post graduation. It is helpful as parents or hosts of the party to lead by example and have talks with their young graduate to explain this rite of passage in a persons life.

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  • 06 of 11


    RSVP Example
    RSVP Example.

    Every invite to both the actual graduation ceremony and post graduation party should have a reply card included to RSVP to each respective event. As noted graduation ceremony tickets are limited so you must have an accurate count of guests in advance to make sure you obtain the number of tickets necessary or to plan alternatively. You will need to know a number of guest that will attend your graduates post ceremony party to know how much food, alcohol and drinks to buy for entertaining. It's also nice to know how many guests you will have when renting out venues for a party or arranging space for an event in your home.

    Rifle Paper Co. has the sweetest RSVP cards your graduate will love! I can't get enough of the beautiful hand-drawn look of these floral designs, too pretty!

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  • 07 of 11

    Save The Dates

    A save the date email or note should be mailed about 2-3 months in advance. June and July are very busy months for graduates and you will want to ensure you have your necessary date booked before weekends begin filling up.

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  • 08 of 11

    What to Wear

    Graduation Party Attire
    What to Wear. Teen

    I personally think dress codes are a bit outdated. Use your judgement based on your relationship with the graduate. People should wear what they are comfortable in for a celebration setting. Granted I do believe there are always extremes and a graduation attendee should be considerate of the ceremonious occasion at hand. If in doubt check in with the host about the tone of the graduation ceremony and party to make sure your duds are appropriate.

    Love these ideas for graduation party attire for young women from Here are some other resources to reference to what to wear to a graduation party from Livingly, Bustle, Instyle.

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  • 09 of 11

    Who to Invite to Party

    Class Photos
    Class Photos.

    As host it's important to listen to the needs and requests of your graduate but in return the graduate must be considerate of the amount of time and work a host is putting into this special time. It's great to kindly educate your family on the kind of energy that is put into putting together this type of occasion. It's a good idea to even have the graduate share some of the workload to learn a lesson of responsibility. Invites, announcements and party planning errands are a good place to start.

    Kodak makes it really fun and easy to put all your graduates photos on display (embarassing or not!)

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  • 10 of 11


    Girl Graduation Gifts
    Girly Graduation Gifts.

     Do I have to give one? If you received an invite to the ceremony it's safe to say you should arrive with a gift in hand. Some sweet ideas are personalized stationery, timeless jewelry, engraved photo frames, money, stock options or luggage. Consider things the graduate can grow with and keep as a memento from the important life event long after.

    Real Simple shares some Unique Graduation Ideas. Uncommon Goods also has some fun picks for the graduate. Seventeen also shares 56 of the Coolest Graduation Gifts girls will love. 

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  • 11 of 11

    Thank You Notes

    Thank You Notes
    Thank You Notes. Kara's Party Ideas

    Handwritten thank you notes are a crucial reflection of a thoughtful and considerate graduate. These notes should go out within a week or no longer than a month after the party. Your graduate might have the summer off after their big time with some free time to personalize some sweet notes to guests who were present to share their big day.