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15 Graduation Party Ideas

Posted on February 19, 2015

For most, graduation represents one of the most significant accomplishments thus far in a young person's life. For high school graduates, graduation is a formal ritual separating childhood from adulthood and is a big step into their next chapter in life. For college and beyond graduates, graduation represents not just getting a degree, but it is a culmination of a multi-year journey of discovery, both professionally and personally.

Graduation is a chance to honor that special individual in your life who has worked so diligently and can finally say "I did it!" So celebrate them in proper style. Here are 15 ideas - from the grand to the silly to the scrumptious - to say "Congrats" in a very special way.


1. Fun Invitation

Pinterest and Etsy have endless options to customize your graduate’s invitations. Use for inspiration to create your own or to find the perfect company to help you. Pear Tree Greetings has a ton of fun ideas on their Pinterest board.

2. Chose Your Venue

From back yards to offsite venues, choose a space that is perfect for your grad and guests. For the ultimate impression, consider a floating graduation party cruiseaboard Chicago’s First Lady Cruises. Delicious food, fun drinks, amazing views from the Chicago River and Lake Michigan, plus your own personal touches makes for a truly unforgettable celebration. Perfect for parties of 2 – 250.

3. Grad Survival Kit

Pass along some of your own “I wish I had had that!” wisdom by putting together a useful and sure to be appreciated gift packet with college essentials.

4. Show Them the Money

Forget cash in a boring envelope. You are more creative then that. See 26 fun and clever ways to gift cash to your grad.

5. Customized Gift

Who would have thought a hanger could have so much meaning? One of our top repinned Pinterest pins, thispersonalized hanger is a simple but meaningful gift for your new grad. See more ideas.

6. Memory Books

For the journaling grad, there are books dedicated to capturing all the new memories they will be making. One Line a Day logs a snapshot of daily memories over five years; etsy has a variety of journals with sentimental, inspiring sayings, including this journal with a quote from Mark Twain; and the very useful (and funny) bits of wisdom as told in the book Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps.

7. Puzzle Guest Book

Ask guests to give the grad advice and encouragement by writing it on the back of a puzzle piece. Use any puzzle of your choosing or have one produced with a custom image or saying. We like thiswood photo puzzle.

8. Food Bars

Food bars are all the rage and are a creative way to present food (not to mention easy for the host!) Taco bar, mashed potato bar, popcorn bar, biscuit bar, veggie bar…and we’re just getting started. See 40 BYOF (build your own food) bars.

9. Cool Drinks

Pre-packaged drinks chilled in mason jars? Yes please! Guests will be impressed by your darling drink presentation (and even more impressed when they taste your homemade summer concoctions inside.)

10. Graduation Cake

It’s always fun to have an excuse to get a fancy cake. Go all out at your local baker or get inspired with graduation cake ideas on Pinterest. Going DIY? Learn how to make your own graduation hat cake topper.

11. Catered Food

Save the food fuss and hassle for someone else! Cater your grad’s partyaboard our fine vessels with catering from our restaurant-quality partners:Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba, Mon Ami Gabi, Entertaining Company and Harry Caray’s. All offer offsite catering and work with you to meet your party planning needs. See this infograph with advice on how much to serve at your party.

12. Flowers + Fruit = Your Grad’s Colors

Use fruit and flowers for fresh décor and centerpieces. Better yet, choose the fruit and flowers based on your grad’s school colors!

13. Photos of Your Grad

Photos of your grad is a must at your graduation party. We loved these unique ideas for showing off your grad:Instagram “Polaroid” Photo BannerDIY Graduation Balloon Photos, and 13 Ways to Display Photos from Huffington Post.

14. Balloons

Balloons are inexpensive and there is so much you can do with them! They also scream “There’s a party happening here!” So do not go without. See 22 DIY balloon décor ideas.

15. Photo Booth

Who doesn’t love a photo booth? Whether you hire someone (Fotio and Fab Photo Chicago are two of our favs) or put your creative genius behind a DIY booth (get step-by-step set-up tips from HGTV here), don’t forget to have awesome props.