This year started out normal enough. January 1st brought a promise to students from all over, the beginning of a new decade. For graduating seniors and parents, this new year symbolized a key turning point in life. Whether it was high school or college or something else, this new group of graduates would be the first to walk the stage in a new decade.
Things change, parents know that. However, very few parents were prepared for the changes that would be required during a worldwide pandemic. One of the terrible byproducts of COVID-19 is that it has deprived us of celebrating precious moments like graduation, in person, with the ones we love. Your graduate may be feeling deprived of a key life experience, and frustrated at being homebound and online for the near future. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t deserve to celebrate this momentous occasion with their friends and family. Here are some creative ways to celebrate your senior while practicing social distancing.
"Textured Year" by Ally Madison
Although many graduation ceremonies have been canceled or deferred, you can still create your own pomp and circumstance through a virtual party for your graduate. We have compiled some ideas for online graduation parties that parents might find useful to keep the day special for your graduate.
Make the event official with an invitation. Minted has a wide selection of graduation party invitations that are completely customizable for virtual events and that come with free recipient addressing. Or, you can send a free online invitation to your event.
It is important to make this event special for your graduate. You may have to move the soiree to an online event, but that doesn’t mean you have to show up in your sweatpants. Asking guests to dress to impress will really make the virtual party feel more formal. You could even have the honoree wear a cap and gown.
Grad party virtual background designed by Beutel
Consider adding a virtual background to your virtual party. When are you going to have a chance to create such a visually stunning space for you and the family at home without lifting barely a finger? You can even download backgrounds created by Minted’s family of independent artists. Our virtual backgrounds are free and easily downloadable for you and all of your guests.
One of the great things about throwing a virtual party is you can actually control the experience a bit more than you would at a physical event. At an in-person event, you might lay out old photos or have some home videos looping that guests may or may not pay attention to. However, with a virtual graduation party, you can actually prepare a full slideshow filled with your favorite memories and videos and make sure everyone takes the time to view it together. Your graduate will have an opportunity to share memories with guests who may not have otherwise seen them. Make the most of it.
Don’t let social distancing keep you from interacting with each other! There are plenty of games you can play as a group in the online space. Aside from video games, you could host virtual varieties of in-person games like charades. How funny would it be to have Aunt Linda acting out a movie title through the monitor? Other fun ideas include Bingo or Pictionary or even a simple game like “Two Truths and a Lie” - all centered around memories of the graduate you are celebrating. If you’re feeling more adventurous, you could even host a karaoke night over a video call.
If your graduate is a high school senior, and has decided upon their college of choice, consider exploring the campus together via a virtual tour. This simple activity will get them excited for the next adventure and remind them that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Grad party virtual background designed by Jackie Crawford
You might be surprised to see this one on the list but stay with us for a minute. At a time like this, restaurants might be struggling to stay afloat. You could plan to send a meal or just a dessert from a local restaurant to every attendee. It may seem like a silly expense but it would create a more real experience for all of the attendees along with the added bonus of supporting local businesses during an economic crisis.
If sending food from a local restaurant to every attendee feels like a logistical nightmare, you could opt for a simpler way to thank guests for coming. How about a party box sent out before the event? You can get really creative here and include items that will help with all of the ideas we’ve already mentioned. Instead of a meal, send them sealed snacks to enjoy. Planning on playing a game? Send out instructions to all your guests. You can also add silly props to be used at the party. Don’t forget to include a commemorative announcement with a picture of the graduate.
If you’ve read all of our tips and are still thinking that a virtual graduation party is not what you want, there are some other ways to celebrate your graduate. Some parents might want to just plan a party for a later date. This option gives you even more time to plan. You can still celebrate your child’s accomplishments and make memories now without a virtual party.
There really is no substitute for time spent around the dinner table as a family. Enjoying each other’s company and having a special meal together might be even more important during these uncertain times. Make it special for your child by cooking their favorite food or ordering in from their favorite restaurant. This private party can be really focused on your senior by serving a buffet of all their favorite foods from kindergarten and up. You can even design a beautiful menu to commemorate the occasion. If you want to feature some graduation-themed treats onto the menu or include a post-dinner game, we encourage you to read through our post on graduation party ideas.
Social distancing has made traditional graduation photoshoots challenging, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t capture a great photo of your grad. Consider planning an at-home photoshoot with a phone camera and use photo editing applications to take your images to the next level. If you want to capture a great photo in your backyard or front lawn, take it during the “golden hour” - the period of time shortly after sunrise or before sunset. If you already have a beautiful photo of your graduate on your phone, you can turn it into a unique graduation announcement to send to family and friends from afar. You can even use the back of your announcement for a heartfelt thank you to the ones who made this moment possible, or details about the graduate’s exciting plans for the future.
The graduating class of 2020 is persevering during a historical event that has not happened in a generation. Many people feel the need to be of service during such a stressful time. If your grad is feeling this way, perhaps they would like to mark the end of their school year by volunteering during a time of need. There are local organizations in every city that may need help during shelter-at-home orders. Look for non-profits that deliver meals to the needy as a way for you and your family to give back as your grad moves forward. If you’re not comfortable going out in person, consider setting up a graduation fundraiser to share with family and friends.
"Stronger for This" by Jennifer Postorino
Let’s say you’ve decided to skip the party altogether but still have the funds set aside for a blow-out bash. Whether your child is graduating from high school or college, a little money goes a long way in a young adult’s life. Perhaps you can gift the money to your graduate to use for whatever they like, in lieu of a party. Your teen can purchase that really great laptop for college classes. Or, your undergrad might just like to have some extra cash while they move into the workforce. Either way, it’s a great gift to start a new chapter with.
For parents and students alike, a graduation is a momentous occasion and a great accomplishment. This moment was years in the making. There is no need to miss celebrating it even if it’s a bit different than anyone imagined in their head. Here at Minted, we want to congratulate you and the entire graduating class of 2020 for persevering. Congratulations, graduates!
Gathering in large groups is out, drive-through celebrations are in! Contact close friends and family members to participate in honoring the graduate by driving by your house on a certain day and time to honk their car horn in celebration. Encourage participants to create fun paper signage as well. The graduate could sit on the front porch, in the open garage, or on the front lawn to welcome and wave at parade attendees as they drive by. For an added twist, you could keep the graduation car parade a secret. Have your kids think they are just participating in a family picnic on the front lawn when all of a sudden familiar cars and faces start passing by. It will be a welcome surprise for the homebound honoree!