High School Graduation Party Ideas

AAA Print

Early summer means graduation time is here. Show your high school graduate that the “tassel was worth the hassle” with a graduation party to celebrate their accomplishment.

Preparing For A Graduation Party

Your first decision will be what type of party to hold. Get input from your graduate as you plan. Is this going to be a small gathering for close friends and family, or a large celebration with a crowd? Do you want a particular theme? Are you going to have the party at your home, a restaurant or a public space? Do you want to serve a meal, or just snacks and finger foods? Think about what you can afford, what you have time to plan and what makes you and your graduate happy.

Once you have your basic concept in place, it’s time to decide on the date and time of your party, and draw up the guest list. While having the party the same day as the graduation ceremony is a natural, it may also conflict with other parties or graduation events. Talk with your teen about the best day and time for the party.

Send out invitations a minimum of ten days in advance; two weeks or more is better. You can mail invitations, or use an online service such as Evite.com. If you are just having close friends and family, you can call guests, or have your graduate make the calls. Be certain your invitations include the date and time of the party, the location, and any information on theme, food or games to be expected.

Give some thought to your party’s theme. While the obvious theme is the graduation itself, you can build around other elements. Some possible themes include:

  • The school colors
  • Clubs, sports or interests your graduate participated in
  • The college your teen will be attending
  • The college major they intend to pursue
  • Luau
  • Glamour
  • Backyard barbecue

If you plan to hire outside help, such as a catering service, DJ, photographer or valet, make the arrangements at least two weeks before the party. If you are holding the event at a restaurant or location other than your home, make any necessary reservations.

Decorating For A Graduation Party

high school graduation party ideas high school graduation party ideas

If you are holding your event in a restaurant, you will be limited in decorating, but probably can bring in a small centerpiece or balloons. Check with the manager before your party, and ask what is permitted.At home, your decorating options are numerous. Liven up the festivities with:

  • Balloons and streamers in the school colors
  • Congratulations signs, wall hangings and centerpieces
  • A photo collage of the graduate from baby days through graduation pictures
  • Theme-appropriate decorations
  • A large piece of poster board for guests to sign with best wishes and congratulations
  • Mortar board hats used to hold candy or other snacks

Games & Activities For Graduation Parties

Teens generally just want to hang out together, talk, eat and listen to music, but you should plan a few fun activities for the guests to enjoy.

  • Have guests bring a baby picture and a graduation picture to the party. Pin them up randomly on a bulletin board, and have guests guess which pictures go together.
  • Have the teens write something they remember about each other guest, and provide each guest with a bag to collect their “memories.” Stress that they should be kind, and only good memories are allowed.
  • Give each guest a piece of drawing paper, and provide pencils, marking pens or crayons. Each guest is to draw a self-portrait. Collect the pictures, and tape them up randomly on the wall. Have everyone guess who belongs to each self-portrait.
  • Provide an “autograph hound” or inexpensive white tee shirt to each guest, along with an assortment of pens. Let them enjoy writing each other messages and autographs. Encourage guests to bring their yearbooks for the same purpose.
  • Classic party games are always fun, especially if you are having a backyard celebration. Teens and adults alike generally enjoy old favorites like limbo, water balloon toss and musical chairs.

Graduation Party Menu Ideas

If you are having your party at home, you will need to plan and provide food. Remember that teens can eat a lot, so have plenty of snacks on hand.If your party is a barbecue or luau, your menu will consist of favorites like:

  • Hamburgers
  • Chicken
  • Hotdogs
  • Pork
  • Baked beans
  • Corn on the cob
  • Potato or macaroni salad
  • Fruit salad
  • Rolls

If you are serving just snacks or finger foods, consider:

  • Vegetable platters
  • Fruit platters
  • Skewers of chicken
  • Meatballs
  • Sandwiches cut into quarters
  • Hotdogs wrapped in dough
  • Cheese and crackers
  • French bread with spinach dip

You will definitely want to have a good selection of desserts. A sundae bar is always popular. Provide plenty of vanilla and chocolate ice cream, then an assortment of toppings. You will want to have:

  • Fudge sauce
  • Caramel or butterscotch sauce
  • Strawberry sauce
  • Chopped nuts
  • Sprinkles
  • Whipped cream
  • Sliced bananas

It seems like only yesterday your child was starting kindergarten, yet the years flew by, and now high school is over. Though it may be bittersweet, celebrate this milestone with a party that will become a treasured memory for your teen.

Last Updated: May 16, 2012
AAA Print

About Michelle Ullman Michelle Ullman has lived and gardened in Southern California since childhood. A freelance writer, she covers topics ranging from gardening to home improvement to health issues. She also has experience as a catalog copywriter and poet. Michelle has trained and worked as a respiratory therapist and surgical technologist, but prefers to spend her time gardening, and walking with her dog. Michelle holds a Bachelor's Degree from Redlands University in Business Management. 

Note: The information provided on this site may be provided by third parties. The owners and operators of this site do not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, and compliance of the content on this site. Such content is not and shall not be deemed tax, legal, financial, or other advice, and we encourage you to confirm the accuracy of the content. Use is at your own risk, and use of this site shall be deemed acceptance of the above.