Plan an A+ Graduation Party

By Pam Molnar

It’s important to remember that even though your child may graduate from the same school and participate in the same activities as their friends, they are still individuals. If you want to make their story stand out, try some of these ideas.

A memory jar - Purchase a clear jar or decorate an empty canister. Leave blank papers, colorful markers and a note saying “Please share a memory of Caitlin.” Since most people might not know what to write, give them ideas like where the friends met, memories from overnight trips or team events. Another idea is to provide pictures in a scrapbook and let the friends add their memories to each page.

Letters to the graduate – I did this for my daughter’s high school graduation. She was attending a school out of state in the fall and I wanted her to have something to open if she was feeling homesick. Her friends wrote notes on provided stationery and sealed them in envelopes. I gathered them up and handed them to her on move-in day.

Photo booth – For a budget-friendly photo booth option, purchase a large frame from a thrift store and decorate it with the school colors. Hang the frame from a tree or in front of a nice backdrop. You can also provide inexpensive props like a graduation cap, colorful sunglasses or graduation photo booth printables.

Card holder – Graduates, like brides, always have an awkward reaction when they receive cards from their guests. Are they supposed to hold them all night? Of course not. Make it easier for your graduate by creating a gift table. Provide a decorated mail box or vintage suitcase for guests to drop the cards off. You might want to put this table next to the Memory Jar table.

Photos of the graduate – A photo display is a great way to show how much your graduate has grown. You can arrange the photos on a wall or poster or make a photo slide show to display on your TV. Set it up on a loop and guests can stop to view as they come through the party area. (Warning to parents: When selecting the photos, be sure to have a lot of tissues.)

They earned it – Let’s face it: Your child worked hard to receive her awards, trophies, scholarships and other honors. It’s okay to show them off a little. Add to the display by filling dishes with Smarties, Nerds, gummy worms (for bookworms) and cookies (because he is one smart cookie). You can also find sports-themed chocolate candy online for your athletic graduate.

Trivia cards – Trivia cards are a great way to share the graduate’s story. Create questions and answers about your graduate to find out “Who knows the Graduate best?” For example, what instrument did John play in middle school or what was Allie’s favorite class in high school? Or multiple question options such as: Does the graduate prefer math or art, mountains or beach, comedy or romantic movies?

Unique dining experience – Tired of the standard party fare of hot dogs and chips? If you’re having a large crowd, a catered pig roast might be fun. If you don’t want to have the mess inside, try contracting with a food truck vendor where guests can dine on street tacos. For dessert, go beyond the rectangle cake with their name on it and try a s’mores or sundae bar.

Games & entertainment – Get your guests moving and mingling with backyard games like cornhole and volleyball. Look for graduation themed games like Jeopardy, Family Feud or Pictionary. Hire a DJ to play music and rent a dance floor to put over the grass.

Hashtag & Geofilters – No party is complete without social media posts. Provide signs on the tables for your guests so they know what hashtag to use when posting pictures of your child’s graduation. Make it unique to your party like #MattsgradHS2018. You also might want to consider purchasing a Snapchat Geofilter for your party. Create your design online a few days in advance to get approval and choose your Geofence – usually just around the party location. Cost is reasonable – $5 for 20,000 square feet of space for 24 hours.

For more party ideas and resources, check out the Party Guide at