Are you deep in end-of-the-year planning for your high school or college senior? Will you also throw a graduation party for them?

All five of our kids have finished high school, and each ceremony and get-together has been totally different.

But that’s the neat thing about throwing a graduation party. You can tailor it to your graduate’s ideas and tastes.

My family is known for throwing big, elaborate parties of all kinds! We have themes – my favorite was the luau one we did for my mom. We work together with decorating, planning food to have, and what games to play. It’s so much fun!

But let’s dive into some fun party ideas and suggestions specifically for graduation parties.

Graduate throwing confetti with "How to Plan an Awesome Graduation Party" in textGet your senior involved

Definitely ask your child what they want to do. A couple of my kids wanted small scale, more family-type celebrations. You can still have a theme and decorate but if they are asking to keep it small, stick to that! This is a stressful time regardless, so let’s not add to it. 😊

We homeschooled the three youngest kids and only one of them had a “traditional” ceremony – although it was last May at the height of the pandemic, so I’m not sure it counts as traditional. But we did celebrate them all!

Decide on a location

Location, location, location! We’ve done grad parties at my house and at a restaurant. You can also look into a rental place, gazebo, or park. During the worst times of the pandemic many people did drive-by parties. That is still a great option! More on how to do that below.

Pick a party theme

Graduation party food and name tagsI tried to use the school’s colors in decorating. As a military family, only two of my kids graduated from the same high school, and that would be our homeschool! The other homeschooled child was the one that had the pandemic graduation through our umbrella school.

Here are some fun themes:

  • The book “Oh the Places You’ll Go” is a popular graduation gift and party theme.
  • Use your student’s favorite hobby or something they’re involved in: scouting, horses, fashion, reading, etc.
  • A luau theme is always fun!
  • I’ve seen many different candy bars for graduation parties. That would be a yummy theme. Check out this fun poster on Pinterest for ideas.
  • A “Taco ‘bout a Future,” with a Mexican food theme.
  • The elegant black and gold is always easy to plan around.

Supplies you’ll need

Organizing a party is my strong point! I love making lists and figuring out how many of each thing we will need (more is always best). Want a cheat sheet? Check this one out from OhMy!Creative.

I really do think more is best on the supplies, especially things like napkins, plates, and silverware. Since the majority of these will likely be disposable and go in the trash, use the dollar store. We even got our serving bowls, platters, and serving utensils from there.

Some specific things to have on hand include:

  • Napkins/paper towels
  • Tablecloths
  • Serving bowls/platters
  • Plates, cups, bowls, napkins
  • Serving spoons and tongs
  • Name tags for foods (especially if you have gluten- or nut-free attendees)

Be prepared to wipe up spills and clean up afterwards. Have wipes, paper towels, a broom/dustpan, and vacuum and mop on hand.

Grad party food

Graduation party cupcakesThis is the yummiest part! Again, get your senior involved. What are their favorite foods? What kind of food goes with the theme? How much money do you want to spend?

If your budget is limited, spend the most on what means the most to you. I wanted neat graduation cupcakes for my son and knew I couldn’t make them, so I paid for specialty ones.

Easy to eat food is what I always go for. We provide utensils, but you know kids – they like grab and go! Things like chips in single bags, easy dips, hot dogs, hamburgers, and cupcakes are always popular.

I also advise having extra food on hand. There are many things you can do with leftovers (send goodie plates home with guests, freeze them, eat them later), but you will hate not having enough food!

Drive-by graduation party tips

A drive-by celebration is as fun as a traditional party and is typically done from your own driveway. If yours isn’t the easiest for people to drive by safely, you can “borrow” a neighbor’s or friend’s. It’s fun to have balloons and posters. You can decorate a present table and also have a goodie bag and cupcake table. On the invite, you can have a 2-3 hour time slot for people to come over, and that will cut down on too much traffic at once.

Pinterest for ALL the party ideas

Graduation party fish veggie trayYou can visit my party board on Pinterest and also use the search bar for specific ideas. We’ve found tons of great suggestions on there (including the cute fish veggie tray).

Last but not least – enjoy the celebration!

Have fun! Yes, having a senior can be stressful. There is so much to do that it’s easy to focus on the days ahead. Make sure to enjoy your family, friends, and graduate and what you’ve planned so hard for!

Make lots of memories and take tons of pictures!!

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