Graduation Party Ideas

Celebrate your new high school or college graduate with a stylish, special fete

graduation day
Whether it's a high school or college fete, you'll want a party that's both stylish and special. Here are some ideas from venue to activities and food.
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    Pick a beautiful venue

    Graduates Blowing Bubbles
    Eric O'Connell/The Image Bank/Getty Images

    Most high school graduation parties are held at home. But if you're planning a college celebration and you're dealing with long distance party planning, there are a number of venue possibilities, including your young adult's off-campus apartment, a private room at a restaurant (reserve early!) or on the college grounds, if your graduate's school offers this option. Planning long distance can take teamwork, so if your grad has a couple of good friends with whom he or she would...MORE like to share the celebration, even better - share the work and the expense. 

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    party food

    A graduation fete should feature delicious, stylish buffet fare that's easy to make ahead. Anchor one end of the buffet with a big tub of well-iced sodas - plus beer, wine or champagne for the 21-and-over crowd, if you wish. At the other end? A beautiful spread of easy to serve and easy to eat buffet fare  will allow your guests to mix and mingle while they enjoy their goodies. 

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    video camera

    One of the lovely things about high school and college graduation parties is that they're grown-up parties or play pin-the-tail on anything. Everyone will be perfectly happy simply chatting, sampling the buffet and making toasts to the new graduate. But a video slide show that traces the new graduate's childhood, from babyhood to the present, is a lovely thing at a graduation party. Click here for suggestions on how to make a video slide show, pick and pace the images, and add a...MORE soundtrack that makes people cry.

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    Party activities and decor

    theater tickets

    If you just can't resist having a few, low-key activities at your child's graduation festivities, here are a few fun possibilities.

    • Ask guests to offer the new graduate advice for college or post-college life in a blank book. Supply an assortment of colored pens, some fun stickers, and let people have fun with it. 
    • Decorate the room with the college graduate's school colors or sorority or fraternity symbols.
    • Set up a table with supplies to make photo thumbtacks with images of friends...MORE for their dorm bulletin board.
    • Set out a bowl for people to drop their business cards and gift cards, and have a stack of cards with the new graduate's future address and email so friends and family can keep in touch. 
    • Create a timeline of class photos of your graduate to hang up at the party. Not only is it fun for family and friends to see your graduate grow up before their eyes, but it will make a fun conversation starter for guests.
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    Gifts for both high school and college grads can be tough to figure out if you want to be a little more creative than a check or gift card (though both of those are always welcome for cash-poor students and newly-employed young adults).

    • A gift certificate to a memory quilt company is a wonderful idea - they take t-shirts, sports jerseys and sweatshirts and turn them into a piece of cozy memorabilia.
    • For new college graduates creating a "grown-up" social media profile, a quality headshot is...MORE a valuable and original gift. Find a professional photographer and arrange to pay for a session for the job-seeking young adult who needs to look job-ready on LinkedIn and elsewhere.
    • Theater tickets are a fun and indulgent gift for the artistically inclined. With prices through the roof for top-quality performances, any theater fan would be thrilled to have the chance to see a hot show with a friend or significant other.
    • Whether you're shopping for a young man or newly-graduated woman, there are plenty of fun, unique and exciting gifts to give. And if nothing seems quite right, just remember that cash or gift cards are always welcome!

    Edited by Sharon Greenthal