How to Plan a Graduation Party

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

glasses with graduation hat straws


Emiliya Lambeva / Getty Images

Whether it's a high school or college graduation fete, you can plan a party that's both stylish and special. Here are some ideas to make your party a success, from the right venue, meaningful activities, and great gifts.

  • 01 of 05

    Pick a Venue

    Family toasting drinks
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    Most high school graduation parties are held at home. If you're planning a college celebration and you're dealing with long distance party planning, there are a number of venue possibilities that could work well. Some options are your young adult's off-campus apartment, a private room at a restaurant, or on the college grounds. Planning long distance can take teamwork, so if your graduate has a couple of good friends that can share the celebration, even better. Share the work, the expenses, and the fun. 

  • 02 of 05

    Plan the Food and Drinks

    party food
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    A graduation fete should feature delicious, stylish fare that's easy to make ahead. A buffet is an easy crowd pleaser. Anchor one end of the buffet with a big tub of well-iced sodas, beer, wine or champagne (for the 21+ crowd). At the other end of the buffet, a beautiful spread of easy to serve and eat food will allow your guests to mix and mingle while they enjoy their meal. 

  • 03 of 05

    Make a Video Memoir

    Young Vlogger Recording his next Vlog at the Patio
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    One of the lovely things about high school and college graduation parties is that they're grown-up parties. Everyone will be perfectly happy simply chatting, sampling the buffet, and making toasts to the new graduate. A video slideshow can be a touching addition to the party. Use the video to trace the new graduate's childhood, from babyhood to the present. Pick meaningful images, including photos of family and friends, pace the images, and add a soundtrack.

  • 04 of 05

    Party Activities and Decor

    Young male and female friends preparing for party at cottage
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    If you 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 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 for their dorm bulletin board.
    • Set out a bowl for people to drop their business 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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  • 05 of 05

    Great Gifts

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    Gifts for both high school and college grads can be tough. While a check, cash, or gift card is always welcome, here are some other meaningful ideas: 

    • A gift certificate to a memory quilt company. The company will take t-shirts, sports jerseys, and sweatshirts and turn them into a piece of cozy memorabilia.
    • For new college graduates that need to create a "grown-up" social media profile, a quality headshot is a valuable and original gift. Find a professional photographer and arrange to pay for a headshot session. 
    • Theater tickets are a fun and indulgent gift that creates a wonderful memory.​