18 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 an excellent opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of your young adult. Whether big or small, a graduation party should be all about the graduate and feature food and activities they would most enjoy, surrounded by parents, friends, and family taking part in the special occasion. 

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

  • Memory Board: Contact your graduate's friends and family and request photos of them with the guest of honor, along with a sentence or two about how they met or a favorite memory. Post these sentimental moments on a corkboard for everyone at the party to enjoy. 
  • Cutout Fun: Have your guests sign a life-size cardboard portrait of your graduate. It will be a fun keepsake and a great conversation starter. Get some metallic markers to make it especially festive.
  • Color Pride: 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 to make the atmosphere extra festive.
  • Go Greek: If your graduate is part of a fraternity or sorority, make a special display for their letters and mascot. 
  • Photo Timeline: Choose some school pictures 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 graduate's age.

Entertainment

  • Party Playlist: Ask one of your graduate's friends to put together a music playlist for the party featuring your grad's favorite songs. 
  • Party Hashtag: Post a sign with a hashtag (like #Kelseygrad or #MattMichigan) for guests to use on their social media posts so everyone can see each other's party photos during and after the event.

Games and Activities

  • Advice Jar: To gather words of wisdom in an organized way, create an advice jar. Arrange some colorful pens, small pieces of paper, and a large vessel, and ask your guests to write a note with their best advice for the grad. 
  • Memory Game: Invite guests to write down a memory they shared with the graduate. Invite a friend to read them aloud, and then have the guest of honor guess who wrote the memory. 
  • Polaroid Party: Instant print cameras are a little old school and a lot of fun. Supply one at the party—along with plenty of film—and let your guests take photos of themselves and your graduate. Send the pictures home with your guests, or tape them into a blank book for a sentimental memento. 
  • Wall Map: Hang a map on the wall and get some small flags. Encourage all of your guests to write their name and college alma mater on the flags and stick them on the map in the right location. 

Food and Drink

  • Travel Theme: 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. 
  • Signature Cocktail: Create a custom cocktail named for your graduate to serve as the featured drink of the party.
  • Graduation Theme: Make a few fun graduation-themed treats like a cake decorated with diplomas or cap and gown shaped cookies. 

Party Favors

  • Graduate Business Cards: Print some cards with the graduate's new address, job info, email address, phone number, and their graduation photo. These favors are a fun way to give everyone the information they need to keep in touch with your graduate.
  • Summer Party Gifts: Mini sunscreens, bubbles, or sunglasses are cute and practical parting gifts. You could even have some printed drink koozies made featuring a picture of the graduate.

Thank You Notes

  • Custom Cards: For an adorable throwback twist on your graduate's thank you notes, print their kindergarten photo on the front of the card.
  • Commemorative Snapshot: If you have photos of your guests from the party, include them with their note for an additional personal touch.