Etiquette Tips for Addressing and Sending Graduation Announcements

Top down view of blank pink thank you notes or wedding invitation.
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Graduating is a major milestone in your young adult's life. It's important to celebrate your child's graduation as it marks the transition between childhood and adulthood. Whether your graduate is going to college, joining the military, or entering the workforce, celebrate the graduation in one way or another.

In addition to throwing a party or hosting an open house, some people choose to send formal graduation announcements. These are not party invitations but simply announcements that let the recipients know about the graduation.

Who Should Receive an Announcement?

Graduation brings up etiquette issues for many families. Many people wonder who to invite to the ceremony or a party. Fortunately, a graduation announcement is a socially acceptable way to inform people of the graduation, even if they aren't necessarily invited to the commencement. Since most high schools and colleges limit the number of guests a student may invite to the ceremony, an announcement allows the family to inform friends and family who would not have been able to attend.

The Outer Envelope

Traditional graduation announcements usually include several different pieces including a formal announcement, a personal card, and a photo. Assembling those pieces can be a little confusing. The outer envelope (with the gummed flap) is the mailing envelope.

  • It should be hand-addressed using black or blue ink.
  • It should be formal.
  • Do not use abbreviations, except in the title.


Mr. and Mrs. Jones
1554 South Wallace Street
Deer Park, Pennsylvania 12345

The Inner Envelope

The inner envelope (without the gummed flap) holds the announcement, graduation picture, and any other materials. It should be addressed informally.


  • Grandma and Grandpa
  • Rob and Gail
  • Uncle John

How to Assemble

  1. Insert the card. If the announcement includes a cardholder, insert it there. If not, place the personal card in the fold of the announcement so the name faces away from the text. Do the same with a photo if you have one.
  2. Insert the announcement. The announcement is then placed in the smaller envelope with the folded edge inserted first and the front-facing the envelope flap.
  3. Fasten the flap using a seal. If you do not have a sticker for the seal, do not tuck the flap.
  4. One envelope inside the other. The smaller envelope is placed into the mailing envelope with the flap facing the side that has the mailing address.

Why Is This Important?

To understand the importance of these steps, it may be helpful to picture how the receiver is going to open the envelope:

  1. They will open the mailing envelope's flap and see their (informal) name as they pull out the inner envelope.
  2. When they break the seal and open the next flap, they will be greeted with the face of the announcement card.
  3. When they open the announcement, your card (and photo) will be facing them.
  4. Behind your items, they will find the details of the graduation. 

The formality of these cards is designed to give the receiver an experience. It is like peeling back the layers of a perfectly designed package until the surprise is revealed.

When to Send

The send date depends on if you are planning a party or just want to announce the graduation. If you include an invitation to a party, the announcement and invitation should be sent about four weeks before the event. If it is just being used to announce the accomplishment of graduation, it is still proper to send it up to 14 days after the ceremony.

Graduation Gifts

Gifts should not be expected from everyone who receives the announcement. Remind your teen to send thank-you notes to those who do send gifts. If you are having a party, it is likely guests will bring gifts for the graduate. If you prefer no gifts, indicate that on the invitation.