How to Have Your Own Memorable Graduation Party

Party Like a Pro

Three girls in graduation caps and gowns
Erin Drago/Stocksy United

Throwing a memorable graduation party does not require a professional event planner. Things to consider, such as location, invitations, party food, and decor, are merely starting points and easy enough to tackle on your own.

It's not every day you have the chance to celebrate a graduate. Graduation is a momentous occasion where friends and family gather to make and share memories. To allow yourself to indulge in festivities along with everyone else, it's best to have a plan beforehand. Here are some simple ideas for hosting a memorable day that your graduate will appreciate.

Make Your Party Plan

Woman reading folder at desk in living room
Kevin Dodge/Getty Images

Planning ahead and creating a timeline is essential to remain within your budget. A great first step is to write down all the desired features for your party. After you complete your list, make an actual timeline of when you can accomplish these tasks. 

Party Planning Checklist from The Spruce

Create Your Budget

Woman at table paying bills
Gary Houlder/Getty Images

A budget is the least fun aspect of party planning, but perhaps the most important. A budget will keep your buying in check and allow you to prioritize the needs for the party. Planning a graduation party with limited funds can be made easier by buddying up with the graduates' companions or close friends that may help split the labor and expenses. You can also try making most of your decor and party favors to cut down on costs.

30 Graduation Party DIYs from The Spruce

Secure a Location

House Exterior
Paul Bradbury/Getty Images

There are plenty of location options for hosting a graduation party. Your own family home might be large enough to host the event, or maybe a friend or family member is open to sharing their space. You can also rent a party hall, park pavilion, or country club for the celebration. 

Select Invites

Graduation Invite
mattjeacock/Getty Images

Spreading news of your graduate is important but does not have to break the bank. You can always send traditional print announcements through the mail, but make sure you consider the price of printing and postage. Advanced planning is also crucial with paper invites as it can take several days (or even weeks) to design, print, and send the cards. If you don't have enough time or a budget for paper invitations, electronic invites via email or Facebook are convenient and free.

Choose Your Food

High angle view of a party dinner table
Jeremy Pawlowski/Stocksy United

Reference your budget to make a grocery list to cover your food needs. You'll need to figure out what kind of food you'll be serving—you could offer a backyard BBQ or opt to serve snacks and desserts only. It's also useful to make a list of people you can count on to help you prepare food for the big day. You could also keep it simple by ordering pizza or asking guests to bring food potluck style. 

Graduation Cap Rice Krispies Treat

Cocoa Krispies Graduation Cap
Hungry Happenings

In the case that your graduate is not a big cake person, consider this life-size Cocoa Krispies treat graduation cap for your celebration. The only downside is that this looks almost too good to eat!

Cocoa Krispies Treat Graduation Cap from Hungry Happenings

Sparkling Sugar Cookies

Sparkling Graduate Cookies
Kristi Murphy

To grow your dessert table offerings, we suggest these sparkling sugar cookies. If you are considering gift bags to hand to your guests, these glitter cookies will make a great addition. 

Sparkling Sugar Cookie from Kristi Murphy

Candy Cup Hats

Candy Cup Hats
Bakerella

These candy peanut butter cup hats are adorable to surround your dessert table. Hand these out to your guests as they arrive to get the party started. These will be a hit, especially with those chocolate lovers who prefer a peanut butter center.

Candy Cup Hats from Bakerella

Edible Image Cake

Edible Cake
The Cake Blog

This trick is for the host trying to save time and money but still wants a creative cake for their graduate. Edible images are edible printouts that can be applied to the top of any cake. They can feature anything from a phrase or quote to your graduate's actual face. You'll get professional-looking results that require little baking experience. 

Edible Image from The Cake Blog

Estimate Beverages

Cocktails on a party table
Kevin Klein/Stocksy United

An RSVP count is helpful when it comes to planning beverages and the bar. Consider how many children, teens, and adults will be in attendance. Then you'll need to calculate how many people will be drinking alcohol. If possible, do your best to estimate their beer, wine, or cocktail preferences. You may even opt to skip serving cocktails and stick to the ease of self-serve beer and wine. Don't forget to feature some tasty non-alcoholic options as well. 

Estimate Alcohol from The Spruce

Graduation Party Decor

Graduation Table
Kristi Murphy

Graduation decor is fairly specific. One staple at the event is a table sharing the graduate's achievements and some memorable photos through the year. Graduation is a wonderful time to reflect through all those special moments and welcome new ones.

Graduation Decor from Kristi Murphy

DIY Balloon Superlatives

DIY Balloon Superlatives
Studio DIY

Use this fun decor idea to assign all your guests a special superlative like "most likely to succeed" and "class clown." Put the superlative on display attached to the end of a balloon and share them with your friends. 

DIY Balloon Superlatives from Studio D​IY

Feature School Colors

Decorative Balloons And Ribbons Hanging During Party
Mridul Cp/Getty Images

Often graduates like to have a theme for their bash while others might stick with traditional school colors. Either way, it's festive to represent your school and class in the decor.

DIY Balloon Tassles

DIY Ballon Tassles
Kristi Murphy

Don't settle for ordinary balloons for your graduate. This festive DIY balloon tassel trick is a playful way to proudly show off those school colors. Balloons are a great cost-effective way to bring color to your party.

DIY Balloon Tassels from Kristi Murphy

Entertainment

Two girls playing horseshoes yard game
Design Love Fest

Yard games are a great way to keep everyone engaged and having fun. If your yard is big enough, set up a volleyball net for a big group to enjoy. Music is always welcomed by party goers as well, and a photo booth is a good idea for graduates to commemorate the day. If your budget is a bit tight for a photo booth, a selfie stick and backdrop can go a long way.

DIY Yard Games from The Spruce

Photo Booth Printables

Photo Booth Printables
Evite

Props for your photo booth are always a great idea. Print these in advance for photo fun on the day of your party. A backdrop is a really cute addition to your DIY photo booth as well–this could be made of simple supplies such as streamers, balloons, or a brightly colored fabric or wrapping paper.

Graduation Photo Booth from Evite

Gradutation Filter

Friends taking self portrait through mobile phone
Morsa Images/Getty Images

You can create your own social filter for your graduate and pair it with a DIY photo booth. Guests can make their own special keepsakes to remember the graduate and their special day. Take it a step further by adding a printer to your setup.

Music

Friends with arms in the air at festival concert
Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

Make a playlist in advance. Music can be the last thing on one's mind when deep into party planning. Music helps guests feel comfortable as they enter a room. It also helps the party move into the night. Spotify is a great option. It has some easy and helpful playlists already made for you.

Money Confetti Poppers

DIY Surprise Money Confetti Poppers
Studio DIY

Most graduates appreciate cash gifts as they venture off into the working world. Try this money confetti poppers DIY as a playful way to surprise your graduate. They will receive plenty of cards at the party, so have your generous monetary gift stand out with confetti.

DIY Surprise Money Confetti Poppers from Studio DIY

Clean-Up

Messy room after party
@daphneemarie/Twenty20

Keep things organized by setting a garbage can and a recycling bin out during the party so guests can easily dispose of their cans and bottles. Disposable dishware and serving platters are your friend. If you are hosting the party, this simple tool could save hours on clean up. If you're worried about the environment, opt for eco-friendly materials.

Tips for Post-Party Cleanup from The Spruce

Thank You Notes

Thank You Note
SchulteProductions/Getty Images

A highlight of the party for the graduate is getting gifts. Kindly remind them to send out individual thank you cards to each guest who has attended and contributed to the party. Guests will be full of gratitude for the sweet gesture and feel proud to have helped your graduate in the next leg of their journey.

Writing an Unforgettable Thank You Note from The Spruce