How to Throw a Killer Graduation Party

By Published on May 10, 2018

It’s been a long road. Maybe you focused on school full-time and had to stress about student loans. Maybe you took the longer route and only went part-time while maintaining your job. Maybe it involved juggling family life, job responsibilities, and volunteer work. Maybe you took a few detours or made some course corrections along the way. But you’ve done it. The end is in sight and all that hard work has finally paid off! That degree is yours!

But now comes the really hard part: deciding how to celebrate your accomplishment, because you’ve earned it!

Here are a few fun ideas to both treat yourself and bring together your loved ones to celebrate the big day.

Find the Right Theme

Choosing a theme will set the stage for the whole event. You can choose, for example, your major, the new career you’re aiming for, or maybe just a general homage to your school or mascot. Have fun with it and use it to express your personality. It’s your day. You can play off of some silly stereotypes about your new career and have a “nerdy accountant” party, or an “overly dramatic theater student” party or a “business student who played too much golf” party. If you are celebrating primarily with other grads, you could invite everyone to dress according to their own majors.

Once you’ve picked the theme, try to follow it as you pick out food, venue, and décor.

Select a Memorable Venue

Your degree is a huge accomplishment and calls for a great party which may or may not be in your living room. Find a space that will truly allow you to reflect and honor how far you’ve come. Maybe there’s a restaurant or bar in town that you frequented for those late-night study sessions or team meetings. Maybe your church family was instrumental in supporting you through the process. Maybe your backyard is perfect for a nice cookout and you really want to show off that new grill you just treated yourself to. Maybe you’ve had a group of close friends and you all want to celebrate together by booking a fancier venue (through Airbnb for example). Carefully select the place that will be most meaningful for you, to make this party one you’ll remember.

Document the Fun

This will be a party you’ll want to look back on fondly. Your family, your peers, your co-workers, and your friends will all be there to celebrate you and, depending on your theme, some of them may be dressed in great costumes. Set out a fun photo booth that fits your theme. You can make it a classroom or detention motif with a chalkboard in the background. You could make it look like a yearbook, with a selection of superlative signs: “Most Likely to Become a Millionaire” or “Best Dressed.” Also, consider hiring a photographer to get candid shots, or if funds are tight find that friend or family member who’s an Instagram fanatic and put them on photo-duty. You could also set out a sign with a hashtag for the party to crowdsource your photos. Another great idea is having a guestbook or an advice book to capture the memories.

Serve the Right Food

Say thanks to your guests for honoring you by serving them something that will be both tasty and memorable. It doesn’t have to be stuffy or fancy, but at least be thoughtful and choose the food that will fit the occasion you are trying to create. You could go all-in and serve homemade tacos shaped to look like diplomas or take a more conservative approach, serving your best-grilled recipes but including a themed dessert like Reese’s Cup graduation caps.

Don’t Forget to Decorate

A little effort can go a long way to building the atmosphere you want. Get festive and embellish your theme. There’s no shortage of design ideas on Pinterest. Just search for your theme and you’ll find all the ideas you need (many of which are low-cost and can fit a tight budget). It’s perfectly acceptable to set out an achievement table highlighting all you’ve done on the road to graduation. You could also take the time to highlight some of the people who have supported you along the way.