Graduation Party Ideas & Themes

Our List of 27 Great Graduation Party Ideas

Graduation is a huge accomplishment not only for the graduate but for everyone who helped them along the academic journey. Throwing a graduation party is an exciting way to celebrate this milestone accomplishment with family and friends. There are many ways you can make a high school or college graduation party unique and memorable for guests. Whether 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 event to the next level. Whether considering specialty party decor, graduation games, gifts for guests, memorable invitations, or themed menu items, we have a range of graduation party ideas that you can use to throw the perfect event. Now, in no particular order, let’s review our detailed list of 26 grad party ideas to inspire your creative side!

1. Set Up a Photobooth

One great way to keep your guests on their feet is by setting 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 “2020” 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 2020” signs to playful glasses and word bubble/caption signs.

Photobooth set-up

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 2020. No matter what you decide, having a graduation playlist ready to go will help get people up and moving with excitement.

Prep your song list

It's Going Down 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.

Grad Cap Chocolate Pops

Source: Pinterest

4. Origami Graduation Caps

Tap into your creative DIY self and fold some Instagram-worthy origami grad caps. These adorable caps 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

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.

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Minted Class Snapshot Gallery

Class Snapshot Gallery by Monica Tuazon

6. Grad Cap Toss Game

This is a great graduation party 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.

Grad Cap Toss Game

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

Source: Pinterest

9. Photo Centerpieces

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 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

Source: Pinterest

10. Succulent Party Favor

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 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).

Succulent Party Favor

Source: Pinterest

11. 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.

New City Party Theme

Source: Pinterest

12. 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 “2020 Graduate.” This is a great way to make a lasting impression on guests while adding a little bit of flair to their farewell treat!

Personalized Party Favor Stickers

Layered Grad Party by Bethany Anderson

13. 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.

Name-That-Year Song Trivia

Source: Pinterest

14. 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.

About-The-Graduate Trivia

Quintet by Hooray Creative

15. 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.

Chocolate Coins

Source: Pinterest

16. Momento to Sign

Since there will 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.

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Momento to Sign

Wishing Cheer by Liz Conley

17. Graduate Photo Heads

A perfect way to add some humor to your party is 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.

Graduate Photo Heads

Source: Pinterest

18. Class-Year Frames

Next, consider placing frames with the school year on them around your party. You could include some graduation pictures in the frames or leave them blank with notes encouraging guests to capture their own image at the party to then feature in the frame.

Class-Year Frames

Source: Pinterest

19. 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!

School Color Candies

Source: Pinterest

20. 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

Source: Pinterest

21. 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. 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!

Creative Party Invitations

In Vogue by Hooray Creative

22. Collect Recipes for the Grad

For the grad who loves to cook, consider hosting 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

Source: Pinterest

23. 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.

Diploma Cookies

Source: Pinterest

24. 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 styled woven basket.

Cards & Gifts Table

Source: Pinterest

25. 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.

Memory Jar

Source: Pinterest

26. 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

Source: Pinterest

27. 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

Source: Pinterest