17 Ideas for an Amazing College Graduation Party

African American family celebrating graduation with cake on summer deck
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College graduation parties are a great opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of your young adult. Whether big or small, a graduation party should be all about the graduate and what they want to do. It also allows parents, friends, and family to celebrate. 

If you need a few ideas to get you started, here are some that are sure to be crowd-pleasers for any graduation celebration.

Decorate and Celebrate

  • Contact your graduate's friends and family and ask them to send photos of them with the graduate, along with a sentence or two about how they met or a favorite memory. Create a memory board of these sentimental moments for everyone at the party to enjoy. 
  • Order a life-size cutout of your graduate and have your guests sign it. It will be a fun keepsake and a great conversation starter. Get some metallic permanent markets to make it especially festive.
  • Decorate your home or party venue with everything in your graduate's school colors. From balloons to paper plates, make it a rah-rah moment for your grad. You can even ask your guests to dress in the school colors if you think they would be up for it. 
  • Did your graduate go Greek? If so, have a few items on display with the fraternity or sorority letters and mascot. 
  • Create a timeline with class photos of your graduate through the years to hang up at the party. Label each photo with the grade and year it was taken or play a game and have guests guess the grade and age.

Games and Entertainment

  • Ask one of your graduate's friends to put together a music playlist for the party featuring your grad's favorite songs. 
  • Everyone has some advice to give to a new graduate; to gather these words of wisdom in an organized way, create an advice jar. Get some colorful pens, small pieces of paper, and a large jar, and ask your guests to share their best advice with the grad. 
  • What's a party without games? Graduation mad-libs are fun and easy to play. Another fun game is "Who am I?" Have guests write down a memory they shared with the graduate, read them aloud, and have the guest of honor guess who wrote the memory. 
  • Instant print cameras are a little old school and a lot of fun. Pick up one—along with plenty of film—and some graduation props, and let your guests take photos of themselves and your graduate. Tape them into a blank book for an instant memento. 
  • Create an Instagram hashtag for your grad's party so everyone can share their photos on the app. For example, #Kelseygrad or #MattMichigan. 
  • Hang a wall map and get small flags. Encourage all of your guests to write their name and college alma mater on the flags or a piece of paper and stick them on the map in the right location. 

Food and Drink

  • If your graduate spent a semester abroad, use that country as the theme for the food and drinks at the party. For example, serve a pasta bar for Italy, tapas for Spain, or fish and chips for England. 
  • A signature cocktail named for your graduate is a fun idea. 
  • Make a few fun graduation-themed treats like colorful cupcakes or cap and gown shaped cookies. 

Party Favors and More

  • Order business cards, inexpensive or luxe, with the graduate's new address, job info, email address, phone number, and their graduation photo. This is a fun way to give everyone the information they need to keep in touch with your graduate.
  • Summer-themed party gifts can be cute or practical. Mini sunscreens, beer cozies, or sunglasses are all great parting gifts. 

Thank You Notes

  • Be sure to order thank you notes for your graduate to use to write to all of the guests and acknowledge their gifts.