Graduation Party Ideas & Themes

our list of 35 great graduation party ideas

The past school year has been full of challenges and changing routines for graduating seniors across the nation. They deserve to be showered in love and accolades for capping off their senior year (usually the most academically challenging) with a grad party they won’t soon forget! Whether that celebration is in-person, remote, or a combination of the two, there are plenty of unique graduation party ideas to consider.

No matter if you are planning a small get-together, a backyard party, a private dinner, or a casual brunch, consider adding some special touches to bring your grad event to the next level. We have created this in-depth list of specialty party decor, graduation games, gifts for guests, memorable invitation ideas, and themed menu items. Given the times we live in, we’ve also outlined some ways to incorporate socially-distanced elements into these celebrations or slightly modify an idea to make it work for a memorable virtual party. Now, in no particular order, let’s review our detailed list of 35 graduation party ideas to inspire your creative side!

Double Take, designed by Erin L. Wilson

Double Take”, designed by Erin L. Wilson


1

Set Up a Photobooth

One great DIY idea to keep your guests on their feet and smiling is to set up a special graduation photo backdrop. Whether indoors or outside, you can set up a unique photo booth that will be sure to keep the party excitement going. First, decide what backdrop you’d like to use as the main element of your photo booth. Possible ideas include foil streamers, draped fabric or curtains, a wood archway, or a natural backdrop. From there, add some flair to your photo booth using balloons and flowers in your school colors. You should be able to purchase mylar “2021” balloons at local grocery stores. For a playful touch, include a table of photo booth props for guests to choose from. These can be anything from “class of 2021” signs to playful glasses and word-bubble/caption signs. You could even set up the photo booth in your driveway or on your lawn for a drive-by-parade. People in the graduation parade could jump out of their car to quickly snap a fun picture standing distanced from the graduate with the backdrop.

Image source: Pinterest

Image source: Pinterest


2

Prep Your Song List

No party is complete without great music. If you’re a music fanatic, prep your party beforehand by putting together a party playlist that you can start playing once guests arrive. Since you’ll have an array of family and friends attending, be sure to pick classics that everyone will enjoy. Not sure what to include? Save some time by hitting play on a premade Spotify playlist like Graduation Party 2021. No matter what you decide, having a graduation playlist ready to go will help get people up and moving with excitement.

It’s Going Down, designed by Up Up Creative

It’s Going Down”, designed by Up Up Creative


3

Graduation Cap Chocolate Pops

For a sweet treat, combine some common snacks found in the candy aisle to create chocolate pops for guests. All you will need are Reese’s Mini Peanut Butter Cups, a piece of flat square chocolate (Ghirardelli squares do the trick nicely), a thin piece of licorice, and plain M&Ms. After a fairly simple assembly, you will have graduation pops that are hard to resist. Wrap these in cellophane after making them so they’re packaged and covid-friendly for guests as people reach for them throughout the party. This food idea for graduation party treats is on theme and delicious.

Grad Cap Chocolate Pops

Image source: Pinterest


4

Origami Graduation Caps

Tap into your creative side and fold some Instagram-worthy origami grad caps. This adorable DIY idea creates caps that are the perfect decorative touch to place on dessert or guest tables. You can even glue them to signs throughout the party. To bring your graduation decor to the next level, consider making your tiny origami grad caps with one-dollar bills. Guests will love the adorable favors and want to take them home with them.

Origami Graduation Caps

Image source: Pinterest


5

Framed Class Photos Keepsake

Oftentimes, lifelong friends are formed in the classroom. Whether you are celebrating an elementary school, high school, or college graduation, a photo collage of fellow students is always appreciated for years to come. Collect some images of the graduate’s closest friends and piece together a beautiful framed work of art that can be displayed at the party and gifted to the graduate to take with them through the next chapters of their life.

Shop Graduation Photo Art Gifts

Grad Heart Snapshot Mix, designed by Minted

Grad Heart Snapshot Mix”, designed by Minted


6

Grad Cap Toss Game

This is a great graduation party game idea to get the competitive juices flowing. Round up your guests and group together anyone who wants to participate in the game. Just like tossing a bouquet, have your grad stand in an elevated location with their back to guests and toss their cap in the air. The guest who catches the cap will get a prize of your choice! You can even have two or three winners to keep the game going. Alternatively, if you’re looking to do a socially distanced version of this, have each contestant take turns throwing the cap to see who can launch it the furthest. The longest throw wins a prize!

Grad Cap Toss Game

Image source: Pinterest


7

Graduation Pretzels

Get in the school spirit with pretzels that add some fun and color to your dessert table! Simply melt some white chocolate and use food coloring to adjust the colors of the topping. Once you’ve decorated each pretzel in chocolate, add some colorful sprinkles and let your creations dry.

Graduation Pretzels

Image source: Pinterest


8

Photo Centerpiece Ideas

With years of pictures stored in your mobile device, you’re sure to have a special collection of photos that showcase fond memories of the graduate through the years. These photos can be the perfect focal point for table centerpieces. Combine the photos with flowers and ribbons to create special graduation centerpieces. Don’t forget to highlight the year each photo was taken so guests can reflect on how time has passed. If looking for a unique high school graduation party idea, you could have each photo centerpiece bouquet highlight a different grade level (1 -12).

Photo Centerpieces

Image source: Pinterest


9

Succulent Party Favor

Throwing an outdoor graduation party makes sense because spring has usually sprung by May and June when seniors are starting to receive their diplomas. Tie in your outdoor/backyard party theme all the way through to your party favor selection by offering guests their choice of a succulent. Choose to arrange a cute DIY table display of succulents and allow guests to pick one before they leave. Pot them in tiny tins and attach a favor tag that says “thank you.” It’s a nice touch and something your guests can keep for a long time to remind them of your grad’s special day.

Succulent Party Favor

Image source: Pinterest


10

New City Party Theme

The perfect sendoff for a grad moving to a new place is to make your graduation party theme centered on that new city! Create excitement around all of the adventures and memories they will have in this new city while giving guests a chance to experience a little of that city as well. Let elements of that new city guide you by featuring sites, sounds, and smells that the city is famous for. If they’re heading to New York City, you can build a theme around yellow taxis, food like classic New York style pizza, and landmarks like the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty. If you are hosting a virtual party, ask attendees to feature a screen background that references the new city. You could even play a short video or do a virtual tour of the city while on the call.

New City Party Theme

Image source: Pinterest


11

Personalized Party Favor Stickers

If you are thinking of handing out party favors, add a finishing touch of class to your gift with a graduation sticker! The sticker can be personalized with desired color combinations or custom text like “Thank you for celebrating” or “2021 Graduate.” This is a great way to make a lasting impression on guests while adding a little bit of flair to their farewell treat!

Classic Grad, designed by Jill Means

Custom Grad”, designed by Jill Means


12

Name-That-Year Song Trivia

If you’re looking to add some more games to the party mix, you might consider playing a song trivia game to get guests engaged and excited. For this game, select a list of 15 famous songs that came out during the last four years of school. Then play a snippet of each song and have each participating guest write down what year they think the song came out. After going through all the songs, the contestant with the most correct song release years guessed wins! You can give them a gift of your choice. If you want to spread the wealth, feel free to have 2nd and 3rd place winners or assign your party guests to teams. This is a great college graduation party idea as most college students will be very up-to-date on the latest songs and artists. This is also a great game for socially distanced parties because it doesn’t require close interaction!

Name-That-Year Song Trivia

Image source: Pinterest


13

About-The-Graduate Trivia

Next, why not keep the trivia going with a round of Graduate Trivia? Consider doing a round of trivia where you ask guests a series of questions around the graduate. Some questions you could ask include, “What college or university is the grad headed to next year?” or “What sport was the grad captain of in high school?” Be sure to include some difficult questions that may pertain to childhood moments and experiences. Feel free to be creative with the questions and tailor them to the grad’s unique experience and upcoming journey. Make a list of 10-15 of your favorite questions and have guests write down their answers one by one. In the end, whoever has the most correct answers wins. This game is perfect for a virtual graduation party, too!

Quintet, designed by Hooray Creative

Quintet”, designed by Hooray Creative


14

Chocolate Coins

For a simple and quick way to add some flair to your grad party decor, you might consider buying some chocolate coins. The play money helps represent the good fortune that is hopefully heading the graduate’s way. Place the chocolate coins at place settings or hide them around the venue for children to hunt for while the adults socialize.

Chocolate Coins

Image source: Pinterest


15

Momento to Sign

Since there may be a big group of friends and family members at your party, be sure to capture the moment by having them sign a graduation memento of your choice. The memento can be anything from a stuffed animal of the school mascot to a large photo print of the graduate. Encourage your guests to sign the memento and write a short message on it. This will be the perfect parting gift for your grad to bring with them as they begin their next chapter. The memento will remind the grad of all the people who are supporting them on their journey. Minted sells our photography art prints both framed and unframed incase you wanted to allow guests to sign a picture before preserving it behind glass.

Shop Graduation Photo Art Gifts

Clear Cut, designed by Baumbirdy

Clear Cut”, designed by Baumbirdy


16

Graduate Photo Heads

Graduation party ideas that add some humor are always popular. Bring some laughter to your party by printing out photos of the graduate’s head and gluing them to large wooden popsicle sticks. Guests can pose with the photos to take silly pictures and capture memories of the graduation party. Once the party is over, you can collect all of the fun pictures and print them out to include in a photo album for the grad to take with them on their next adventure. If you’re having a virtual graduation party, have participants use an online background of the grad’s face for extra humor. You can email guest’s a collection of photos to choose from or invite them to hunt down an embarrassing childhood photo!

Graduate Photo Heads

Image source: Pinterest


17

Class-Year Frames

Next, consider placing frames with the school year on them around your party. They could be used as centerpieces or favors for any graduating seniors in attendance. You could include some graduation pictures in the frames or leave them blank with notes encouraging guests to caption their own image at the party to then feature in the frame.

Class-Year Frames

Image source: Pinterest


18

School Color Candies

If you’re planning on having a dessert table at the party, what better way to add some color to the spread than by having jars of candy in your grad’s school colors? For this idea, you can use any sort of glass container. Think mason jars for a casual look or orate vases for a more sophisticated look. Pick out candy of your choice and group the pieces together by your school colors. Consider candies like M&Ms, Skittles, Starbursts, or gummy bears! You can also put a COVID-19 spin on it and have mini individual jars (or these creative light bulbs) full of candy so everyone has their own. That way there’s no scooping from a shared jar.

School Color Candies

Image source: Pinterest


19

Career Cake

If you want an attention-grabbing centerpiece for your dessert table, consider ordering a unique cake just for your grad. For this idea, find a bakery to help you create a cake centered around what the grad is going to study in college or what they have recently received a diploma in. Highlight their special major, whether it is civil engineering, computer science, nursing, theater, or another field. As a final touch, consider asking your baker if they are able to add an edible sugar photo print of the grad as a focal point of the cake.

Career Cake

Image source: Pinterest


20

Creative Party Invitations

Get guests excited about your graduation party before it even starts! Select a stylish graduation announcement or party invitation from Minted’s collection of hundreds of unique designs created by independent artists. If you decide to have a virtual party, there are party invitations for those too. We even offer graduation insert cards that can be paired with your announcements to highlight party details. Personalize the graduation cards to feature school colors, class pictures, and all the important event details. Whichever card you chose, make sure it encapsulates your grad and builds excitement for the party!

Pomp and Current Circumstances, designed by Susan Brown

Pomp and Current Circumstances”, designed by Susan Brown


21

Collect Recipes for the Grad

High school graduation party ideas like this are great for the grad who loves to cook or is trying to learn how to cook before they have to start preparing meals on their own. We call it a bring-a-recipe party! Ask every guest to write down and bring a recipe to the party for the graduate to create their own personal cookbook for college or after. Place a decorative box with a sign next to it for guests to drop the recipe in when they arrive at the party. This grad party idea is great for the high school graduate that will likely be preparing a lot of meals on their own for the first time.

Collect Recipes for the Grad

Image source: Pinterest


22

Diploma Cookies

Add some more graduation-specific decor to the party by making rolled sugar cookies that look like diplomas. To do this, buy diploma-shaped cookie cutters and choose a sugar cookie recipe of your choice. Once baked, finish the cookies off with icing decorations. This is a great idea for graduates who love baking and appreciate homemade sweets.

Diploma Cookies

Image source: Pinterest


23

Create a Cards & Gifts Table

As a fun way to collect cards from guests, set up a weathered suitcase and prop it open for guests to drop their cards in as they arrive at the party. The suitcase can also be substituted with chic apothecary jars, a rustic trunk, or a styled woven basket. If you are hosting a drive-by parade, prop the suitcase open on your driveway so drivers can easily drop off any gifts or cards.

Cards & Gifts Table

Image source: Pinterest


24

Memory Jar

For this idea, place a large jar with a sign on it that reads “memory jar.” Invite guests to fill out little slips of paper with their favorite memories of the grad. Choose to read the memories aloud at the end of the party or simply construct a memory book from some of the quotes. This idea also works seamlessly for a virtual party. Request that guests think of a memory and go around the virtual room to recount them. This is sure to take the grad down memory lane.

Memory Jar

Image source: Pinterest


25

Themed Pencils or Pens

In line with the theme of academic excellence, consider handing out pens or pencils with the graduation year highlighted on them as fun graduation favors. Guests can grab some of these on their way out and they will serve as a great reminder of the fun shared at your graduation party.

Themed Pencils or Pens

Image source: Pinterest


26

Grad Cap Cupcakes

We can’t get enough of the graduation cap theme! For these adorable graduation cap cupcakes, simply make your favorite chocolate cupcake recipe and then use some frosting to top each cupcake with a square chocolate cookie. Finish off the look by adding some colored icing to create a tassel on the top.

Grad Cap Cupcakes

Image source: Pinterest


27

Invite a Guest Speaker to Your Event

If you plan to have a virtual graduation celebration, invite a special person in your community to join the call to say a few inspiring words and life advice. While your grad may or may not have a traditional commencement speech this year, graduation party ideas like this one will ensure they have a memorable day. For more unique at-home ideas specific to 2021, check out our article on planning a virtual party.

Invite a Guest Speaker to Your Event

Image source: Pinterest


28

Sidewalk Chalk Mural

This year, take to the streets (or sidewalks and driveway) to celebrate your grad with colorful sidewalk chalk displays. If you’re looking to maintain social distance best practices while also surprising your grad during an unconventional graduation year, secretly invite neighbors, friends, and family to write chalk messages on your driveway and sidewalk during a designated period of time. Have a station set up with a picture of the grad, a thank you note, chalk, and hand sanitizer. Make sure your grad is out of the house at this time. When they arrive home, they will be surprised and overwhelmed by this beautiful display of love and support from their loved ones! The finished chalk mural could also serve as the perfect backdrop for a memorable graduation photo.

Sidewalk Chalk Mural

Image source: Pinterest


29

Virtual Party Bags

If you’re planning a virtual graduation party, send attendees a party bag or box in advance of the online call that is full of treats and props they can use on the call. This makes the party even more interactive and fun for everyone attending! You can include things like packaged snacks, items that might be needed for games, perhaps a fake cap to don along with the graduate, and more. The point is to have as much fun as possible.

Virtual Party Bags

Image source: Pinterest


30

Host a Game of “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?”

Looking for an interactive graduation game? This pop-quiz-style TV game show is not only fun, but it also brings on a healthy level of competition as your party attendees jog their memories of grade school lesson plans. Find some questions from the show and create a worksheet for party attendees to complete. This could also easily be worked into an online agenda as a virtual game.

Host a Game of “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?”

Image source: Pinterest


31

DIY Tassel Station

Tassels are a symbolic part of graduation, as the grad crosses that stage with their diploma and moves the tassel from one side to the other. When the ceremony is over, it’s time to decorate the tassel and put it to use as a sentimental piece for years to come. If your grad is inviting other classmates to the party, have them bring their tassels too. Have colored yarn, trinkets, ornaments, and various other fun items for them to use to enhance the look and feel of their tassel.

DIY Tassel Station

Image source: Pinterest


32

Construct a Memory Table

Pretend you are honoring your child into the “family Hall of Fame”. Create a table or station that showcases achievements from their life to date. For the athlete, perhaps you feature some of their sports jerseys, a high school letterman jacket, and various newspaper clippings or photos. For the outdoor enthusiasts, include images of scenic campsites, maps of National Parks visited, and feature some of their favorite fishing lures. Be creative in the articles you select to showcase through your “memory table.”

Construct a Memory Table

Image source: Pinterest


33

Photo Guessing Game

There are so many ways to incorporate a photo-guessing game into your event! If you are hosting a party for a team of graduates, post some baby pictures from each guest-of-honor and ask guests to correctly identify each photo. If you are honoring just one grad, print out pictures of them at a variety of ages of their life and number each photo. Invite guests to try and guess the age of the grad in each photo! It’s a fun game that will naturally spark conversations among your party attendees.

Photo Guessing Game

Image source: Pinterest


34

Taco Party Theme

Who doesn’t appreciate a well-organized Taco Tuesday? Fun inside fact, the Minted office headquartered in San Francisco traditionally hosts a taco lunch for employees about once a month, which is always met with long lines and eager anticipation. Apply a graduation theme to this concept when thinking of potential food ideas for your party. Create serving stations where guests can create their own south-of-the-border dish. On top of the tacos, tie in things like virgin margaritas, piñatas, and cactus-themed prints to really make it a fiesta to remember.

Taco Party Theme

Image source: Pinterest


35

Map Out Future Travel Plans

Who doesn’t appreciate a well-organized Taco Tuesday? Fun inside fact, the Minted office headquartered in San Francisco traditionally hosts a taco lunch for employees about once a month, which is always met with long lines and eager anticipation. Apply a graduation theme to this concept when thinking of potential food ideas for your party. Create serving stations where guests can create their own south-of-the-border dish. On top of the tacos, tie in things like virgin margaritas, piñatas, and cactus-themed prints to really make it a fiesta to remember.

Map Out Future Travel Plans

Image source: Pinterest