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Graduation Party Ideas

Category Graduation
Whatever the milestone, it is fun to plan the perfect party for your graduate. This guide is about graduation party ideas.


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By 2 found this helpful
May 29, 2009

A graduation party we attended had the cutest idea for decorating. The graduate was very athletic and had t-shirts from many activities she was involved in. Her t-shirts were hung on the fence like a clothes line in many sizes as she grew up. Lots of memories!

By Jeanne from Ohio

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November 8, 20050 found this helpful

Do you have a child graduating in 2006? A clever money-saving party tip is to buy leftover New Year's decorations. I've seen New Year's eyeglasses (2006-eye holes in the 0's), year confetti, cups & napkins. As long as it only has the year printed it would work for a graduation party, too. Plus, they will be really cheap come January 2nd and your grad won't know the difference.

By Cheryl from Missouri from Peculiar, Missouri

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 0 found this helpful
November 11, 2008

After what will be five years of graduate school, I will finally earn my Master of Library Science degree next spring. I would like to host a graduation party to celebrate this achievement. I would like to tie in the idea of libraries and books as the main theme of the party. Does anyone have any ideas of how to do this in a fun, inexpensive way?


Thank you in advance for your suggestions.



November 11, 20080 found this helpful

I'd make the cake a big book.

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By jean (Guest Post)
November 11, 20080 found this helpful

Stacks of books for centerpieces with vase of flowers/flower petals scattered around.Or scatter cards from a deck of Authors cards instead of flower petals. Invitations that look like library cards or overdue notices. Pictures of famous writers on the walls. Book bags as favors.
The dollar store has rose petals in the bridal area.

The book bags could be plain gift bags from the dollar store that you decorate. I assume you have lots of books, but if you don't want to use "good" books, get some from Freecycle or a thrift shop. Google "free printable invitations " to find templates to use. This is what I did back in the 80's when my husband got his MLS degree at the age of 45.


Congratulations on your achievement.

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November 11, 20080 found this helpful

Here's a fun idea, it's an ice breaker if you have people that don't know each other. Take sticky name tags (the ones like Hi my name is...) and write a name of a book on each one (one for each person) as guests arrive stick one on their back, as the party progresses people ask questions about the name of the book that is on their back.

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November 11, 20080 found this helpful

For an activity, have a table where guests can make their own is one site (simple books geared toward children, but also towards adults for a quick activity), or check your public library for accordian books, etc. You have enough time to make samples, gather materials (check with old-time printers to see if they have leftover paper that they don't need, cardstock)and embellishments. Also, make bead and ribbon bookmarks. Print out quotes, snip into lines, and paste on paper or plastic glasses.



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By (Guest Post)
November 12, 20080 found this helpful

You can get an old librarian wooden file card holder or an old metal one. Clean it up really good and line it with tissue paper to match your decorations and leave some of the drawers unused, because the ones you use will have to stay open. Put different types of cookies or orderves in some of the drawers. Label the type of stuff in each drawer with the label on the front of the drawer. I know it would be difficult to use a full set of these card holders, but some of them come in small groups that stack...especially the metal ones.

you can paint it to match your stuff if you wish, or leave it the way it is for an antique look....

you can decorate with old books.
as a guest gift, have bookmarks made marking the occation, and for special people (such as those who have helped you through school like your parents or a special friend, teacher, or advisor) give them a book that reminds you of them or you think they would like with a letter inside thanking them.


You could also have a cake decorated in several ways with books on it.

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November 19, 20080 found this helpful

Thank you all for the excellent ideas! I can't wait to use them for my party!

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December 31, 20080 found this helpful

At my grocery store, they've got a machine that will print any picture on a sheet of rice paper. They put the rice paper onto a frosted cake, so the cake now holds the picture of whatever the original was. If your store does a similar service, give them your favorite book jacket and have them use that as the 'base', then add a line at the bottom with your name on it. Or have them cut out part of the picture (where the author's name goes) and put your name there in icing, so that the picture is there but the name is all you.

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By 0 found this helpful
May 20, 2008

I will be graduating from college next year (I like to plan early). I am a non-traditional student and majoring in elementary education. I am trying to come up with ideas for my graduation party to help my husband. I don't like the normal grad party decorations from party supply stores.


I would like to maybe decorate with things I could use in my classroom later (why use decorations that will be thrown away?) I'm not sure what grade I will be teaching yet. I need help with ideas that are UNIQUE and not too cheesy! We may do a BBQ, but since it will be early May, that's not for sure.

K.H. from Missouri


By dduty (Guest Post)
May 21, 20080 found this helpful

Have a "Christmas in May" theme. Have your guests bring small classroom items to place on an artificial tree with lights etc. Your guests will want to bring you a gift anyway so why not make it practical things you can use in your classroom. You can never have too many post it notes.

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By Amanda (Guest Post)
May 22, 20080 found this helpful

If you wrap crayons or pencils around the outside of a jar or cup, they look really cute, and the containers can be used to hold plastic utensils on your table. You could also tape rulers together to make a napkin holder or a corral for paper plates. Also, you can visit a teacher's supply store for lots of cute paper decorations that you could use on bulletin boards later. (I think Wal-Mart has a lot of stuff like that, too.) You might also think about getting the flannel-backed plastic tablecloths that you could use in your classroom for parties.

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May 23, 20080 found this helpful

How do u feel about apples as a centerpiece? You could mix real and fake and make a pyramid. For fun, I'd add little flags with excuses students give to teachers. Make your own with wooden or bamboo skewers cut in half and extra sticky post-it note pages. If its sitdown, u could make place markers with real apples. Stick a large paperclip in the stem end of each apple and put a small card with person's name in the paper clip. I like the previous poster's idea of a tree, but I would do a fall tree(when teachers strart work). Use a naked branch and attach silk fall leaves. Hang the supplies you use the most on it ie chalk, small blackboards, mini chalk erasers(or make these big ones) magnetic letters and numbers, etc. I know that seem strange for May, but it fits the theme to my mind. I would also add some mini clothes pins so it can be a money /gift certificate tree instead of other gifts. Get some small plastic or paper cups and some short pencils(try dollar store)Glue the pencils on the cups points up and bottoms level with cup bottom. Add some silk flowers that sort of go with teaching eg. forget-me-nots and fun stuff like a blank excuse note form(where u check off the answers) Actually that last one could be enlarged and printed on paper placemats or napkins. if you look around you can find min apples made of cedar wood(put a few in a sheer cloth bag and add to the cups. These could be made for each guest as a take-home thing.

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May 23, 20080 found this helpful

I'm loving some of these ideas. Especially the pencils around a cup, I've seen pictures of colored pencils done that way and it is really cute and cheerful. Keep the ideas coming. I really appreciate it.

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May 23, 20080 found this helpful

How about making a bulletin board of yourself? I am a substitute teacher. Today the teacher herself was the student of the month. She had photos of herself along with a questionaire. She had it on the bulletin board where the students were once students of the month. Don't forget you will need books to fill your classroom. For a game maybe the adults would have to guess to figure out what book goes along with story line, or compete who can read the best story.

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By 0 found this helpful
March 15, 2011

My brother-in-law and I are graduating from the same college this May and are combining our graduation parties into one. He is a business major and I am a psychology major. We are on a budget and looking for suggestions.

By Trisha from MO

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By 0 found this helpful
April 11, 2010

My son is graduating. We are serving BBQ and I'm looking for decorating ideas.

By Pam from Atlanta, GA


May 19, 20100 found this helpful

This will be my 4 th grad party this year, and actually found this web site looking for different ideas, but we have done our grad parties at the park and several as a open house in our back yard, as we will again this year. My daughter has requested sumo wrestling, and since we have done the bbq, sanwiches, taco bar, ect... in the past. I am thinking a baked potato bar with ceasar salad and cake will do this year, but as far as finding deals for our bbq we got burgers at cash and carry, a box of 40 CHEAP! My husband was afraid they would shrink alot so I bought the small regular buns and they actually didn't shrink much and were very good.
My daughter wanted charcoal (not our regular grill) and since this was a open house we set the food up in our "cabana" you know the ones that us lucky Washingtonians get to set up for 3 mos out of the year! He grilled the burgers and we put them in a chaffing pan so he wouldn't be cooking on and off all day, I was happy to find out that they stayed warm and good not tough, as for decorations, I recently went to a dollar tree and was surprised how much fun grad things they have, lawn signs, balloons, plates etc... all with either grad or 2010 them, I usually get enough plates and small napkins for the cake table, and get the cheaper napkins and plates for the meal
I also try to use the school colors in the decorations with balloons and table clothes, I know that the safeway here in snohomish county is selling their 1/2 sheet grad cakes for the price of a 1/4 sheet, so $17 and we always have 50 to 100 and this has been plenty as far as fruit and veggies, I have gone to costco, sams and the grocerie outlet. Good luck and congrats!!

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May 25, 20100 found this helpful

We always do a backyard BBQ theme and have done the same one with all 4 of ours and it is always fun. We keep it easy and grill outside and set up a stand and incorporate either their high school or future college name and everyone goes there to get their meats and then have a buffet table for the sides. For our daughter who was going to DePaul Univ., we did a Depaul Dugout and decorated it with the school colors and made a sign on the computer.

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By 0 found this helpful
January 14, 2009

We're having a open house for my daughter's graduation this June. She wants to have a Fairy theme for her party. Does anybody have any suggestions on how to decorate for the party? We'll be having it outside in our back yard. We'll be renting a tent for the party. We're having a taco bar for the food. Please help.

Betty from Flint, Michigan


January 14, 20090 found this helpful

Highschool grad?
NO Tinkerbell then......
Check out Amy Brown"s website. She is a artist that does "adult" type fairy art.
Perhaps you can import some pics to use on posters, invitations, etc.
I think of ribbon poles and something along the lines of Renissance period decor.
Nobody has ever said you HAVE to incorporate the food into the party theme, but Mexico uses a lot of red, orange, yellow, bright green and white.

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By Kerry (Guest Post)
January 16, 20090 found this helpful

Small strands of white lights encased in any color Tulle or nylon net can be hung, canopy-like from the center of the tent outward and down the tent legs. Just cut strips of tulle and wrap the strand inside. Very pretty esp. at night.

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March 7, 20090 found this helpful

Your daughter is my hero! My best friend and I are doing the same thing for our graduation! We thought we were the only people above ten who liked fairies! For our party we are going to cover everything in glitter and make food that has some form of fairy theme. We are also forcing everyone to dress up as a fairy or extreamly fancy. We are also using a book called "Are There Faeries at the Bottom of Your Garden?" by Betsy Williams. That's the reason we even came up with the idea for our party.

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May 14, 20120 found this helpful

I have a graduation lunch to organise. Will the combination of the following colours be suitable: black, white, and silver?

By Nkefi R

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By 0 found this helpful
April 26, 2011

I am giving my daughter a college graduation party and I need help. The party is June 4, so I only have 6 weeks to get it together. I have rented our local hall to have the party at and the invitations have been ordered. There will be any where between 100 to 200 guests.

I am checking into what the cost is for a live band and for a DJ. That is all I have so far. I want to give her a nice party, however I am not rich, so I have to spend wisely. Can you give me some decorating ideals and types of food to serve for a lot of people, that is easy to prepare. I would also appreciate any other ideas anyone has that would make this a fun and memorable party. Thanks Bunches!

By 1 proud mommy from Eureka, CA

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By 0 found this helpful
March 29, 2011

My son is graduating from high school, so we're planning a graduation party. Does anyone have ideas for an easy, inexpensive punch that would be either black or gold colored?

By LeaAnn from Mitchell, SD

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By 1 found this helpful
January 27, 2011

Planning an outside party for a physician's assistant graduate in August. (in Texas) I have a pool and big backyard with trees. I haven't decided on menu for sure, I can cook smoked brisket and chicken ahead of time and I have a margarita machine. There will probably be about 50 people. Any "special" ideas from anyone out there?

By bonita from TX

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August 21, 20130 found this helpful

Any suggestions for an outdoor party celebrating 2 sisters,- 1 graduating high school and the other graduating college?

By Elaine D.

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March 31, 20120 found this helpful

My daughter is graduating in May with her Masters degree to be a CPA. I asked her what kind of theme she would like (I know she would think the graduation theme would not be for her (she's weird) She has a GPA of 4.0. She said jokingly she wanted a drunken theme. Of course, she knew I couldn't possibly come up with any ideas. She's right! Anyone have any ideas on this kind of theme. The beer and liquor will be flowing. I have arranged no one will drive that night. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

By Merci B from New Orleans, LA

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By 0 found this helpful
April 18, 2010

I need ideas on how to host a college graduation party for my husband who will graduate in May with an Electrical Engineering degree. Any ideas on themes and favors will be greatly appreciated. The venue has been selected as well as the food and beverage. What does a host do in such celebrations? I want him and our guests to have fun.

By Lisa from CC, TX


April 19, 20100 found this helpful

Just had a thought, go to Radio Shack and choose a pretty large kit. Use the ingredients to decorate and have a table where the item can be assembled. See if they can get it done before the party is over, and don't lose the instructions!
Good luck and congrats to your grad!

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May 12, 20120 found this helpful

I am looking for ides for a college graduation party for a travel major? Any ideas on centerpieces for a college graduate?

By Momma C

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By 0 found this helpful
March 29, 2010

Thanks to those of you who sent suggestions for my son's graduation venue. We're decided to rent a hall and now we were wondering if we could incorporate a "Las Vegas" theme, although his major is chemistry. We were thinking of things such as wheel of fortune and chug a lug dice for pretend money. Instead of a universal favor, the top money holder will choose from the favors displayed, the one with the next amount, etc. Any ideas? Thanks.

By Mike's Mom from Boston, MA

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January 31, 20060 found this helpful

I'm planning my first graduation party for 2 daughters. One will be a college graduate and the other a high school graduate. I need ideas.

Andrea from Ellenwood, GA


At my graduation party (in 1989!) my parents had each of my guests (varying in ages from 5 to 85) stand and tell the one thing they remembered most about me during my first 18 years! My sister recorded this whole thing on tape and then later wrote down the responses in a Memory Book. They had planned this in advance so each guest knew what they wanted to say. I still have this book and it is so funny to read it now that I am 34. The best one? From my high school best friend "She taught me how to tease my bangs in 8th grade!" Gotta love the 80's!

By Reba Gayle Shurden

My cousin graduated last year. Her parents mailed out a request with each of her invitations for all invited to share their 'secrets' to their successes in life--marriage, education, child-rearing, etc. or just their best wishes for her future. They asked that each 'essay' be returned before the party day. They had them bound into a beautiful notebook and presented it to her at the party. Everyone had a wonderful time reading each others' entries and becoming more familiar with close family and friends than they might have otherwise been. It was a precious gift. Will do same for my daughter when she graduates in 2010!

By lipstick007

Display lots of pictures of the graduate from when he or she was a baby up to the present day.

By Allison

How about queen or king for a day. Present a crown, cape, flowers and scepter. Have people represent someone from the grads past by reading a vignette about that persons relationship with the grad and having him/her guess who it is.

By Linda

At my daughters open house for decorations I used cardboard toothpick holders. Painted in school colors,had a square of poster board on top with embroidery thread for the mortarboard. I used another 1 for the diploma. I rolled up a piece of paper with "DIPLOMA" typed on it & tied with a ribbon. Turned out real cute. Hope this helps.

By Christine

An activity idea that works for both high school and graduation parties is a time capsule. Place memorable items from the graduate s school years in the time capsule. Have guests place personal notes to the graduate as memorable keepsakes.

By fun-theme-party-ideas

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March 29, 20110 found this helpful

We are planning a high school graduation party for Saturday, August 5, from 7-11 P.M. I need some ideas for food and drinks that are easy and won't break the bank since I am on a budget.



Inexpensive Food and Drinks for a Graduation Party

We just did two birthdays on a budget! One was for a 1st birthday and the other for 3rd. I did "finger" foods: deviled eggs, meatballs, layered salad, relish tray, fruit tray - I did everything by watching the grocery ads and made everything except the meatballs. Also for drinks: just made Tea or Kool-Aid, and had a bucket of ice nearby. Didn't overdue the decorations either! Went very plain, since they get thrown away anyhow! But, I think the simpler it is the better time everyone has! (07/11/2006)

By melinda

Inexpensive Food and Drinks for a Graduation Party

If you want to be a bit more fancy in the drinks, other than plain tea or Kool aid, Visit your local dollar store and pick up some ginger ale and bottles of fruit juices (apple, pineapple, grapefruit, mixed juices (strawberry/kiwi). You can start with a base of tea, or just mix together the soda and juices. Some people add sherbet to their punches. Personally, after a while, the sherbet melts, and while it tastes good, it looks pretty icky. The night before I would make a big block of ice [or 2 for when first one melts] in a large freezer safe plastic bowl or container (you can make the ice from a mixture of the drink itself so it doesn't get watered down). (07/11/2006)

By Kay E. Diebel

Inexpensive Food and Drinks for a Graduation Party

I recently had a bridal shower for my daughter. We served nachos, fresh fruit, and Sneaky Pete's. Sneaky Pete's is a punch. The recipe is easy and it is so good.
3 cans frozen orange juice thawed
3 cans frozen lemonade thawed
1 46 ounce can pineapple juice
1 2 ltr. bottle of sprite or 7 up
5 cups of sugar
9 quarts of water
Mix all together, and put in freezer until slushy.
Hope this helps. (07/11/2006)

By Darlene

Inexpensive Food and Drinks for a Graduation Party

I would serve Hot Ham sandwiches and chips. You can buy a 5# oblong shaped ham (like Farmland) for $6-$8. Ask the deli dept. in your store to shave it. Last time I did this, the ham was $1.20 a #! Buy store brand hamburger buns and chips. Heat and serve ham in a slow cooker. Deviled eggs and carrot sticks are inexpensive as are baked beans. (07/12/2006)

By Donna R.

Inexpensive Food and Drinks for a Graduation Party

I just did a high school graduation party and I threw a Dessert Party. It was a big success and fun. I cooked pies the day before. I went to Sam's and bought cookies and a big graduation cake and a big cobbler. We had coffee, bottled waters and 3 liter Cokes for drinks. I had one kitchen wall decorated behind the food table with pictures of the graduate growing up with family members. A big congratulations banner was bought at the dollar store. Everybody loved it. I put on the Invitations that the party was from 2-4 p.m. (07/14/2006)

By Wanda

Inexpensive Food and Drinks for a Graduation Party

I just had a graduation party for my daughter that went very well. I bought most of the lunch meats and cheeses at a GFS store nearby at low prices and they sliced them for free. Family members brought some of the other dishes to share as well. I made relish and veggie trays from scratch as well as the meat and cheese/cracker trays. (07/15/2006)

By BIGdaddy

Inexpensive Food and Drinks for a Graduation Party

Make it a simple theme like a nacho bar. Buy store brand, sour cream, cheese to shred, salsa, tortilla chips, cans of re-fried beans that you warm up in a sauce pan while adding salsa to taste, make rotel cheese dip, cokes, tea, and the cake that says congrats! (07/15/2006)


Inexpensive Food and Drinks for a Graduation Party

When I throw a party I always serve iced tea and lemonade (the powdered stuff with a few lemons floating in it). These are the cheapest drinks as far as I'm concerned and everyone seems to like them. Sometimes I make one batch of sweet tea and a batch of regular. If you have clear containers sun tea is awesome as there's no boiling water heating up the kitchen. (07/17/2006)

Inexpensive Food and Drinks for a Graduation Party

I just had a party last weekend. I had chicken from my local deli, It was only $39.99 for 100 pieces, and I got 16 pounds of potato salad for $16.00. I went to a discount store for chips and pop, and had relatives chip in and make a big pan of rigatoni and meatballs and the graduation cake. All together I did this for $100.00 and we had a crowd, with plenty of leftovers. (06/29/2008)

By A guest

Inexpensive Food and Drinks for a Graduation Party

We asked three other families of our son's friends if they'd like to have a group graduation party. We split the cost of the rent of a local church's gym (cheaper than a hall) and all the food. We watched for sales and started stocking up about 2-3 months in advance. We split the tasks according to each persons strengths. Some were good with money, others at bargain shopping. Others at planning the timing of the cooking and others were gifted in decorations. We served sirloin steak cut into palm size pieces, hot dogs, pulled pork on a bun, baked potatoes with all the sides, baked beans, a veggie tray, chips and one large cake with all their names.

Some family members brought their favorite dishes, as well. Our drink was punch served in a large container with a spout. We recruited a friend to do the grilling and we baked the potatoes in foil that morning, keeping them warm in foil covered tins. Each family contributed about $220.00 and that included even the tableware. Each family also decorated their own Senior's table, as a separate expense. The Seniors loved trying to out due each other with their table! We received compliments for a very delicious meal and a creative solution to an expensive party! (03/15/2010)

By dawm vargas

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March 15, 20110 found this helpful

I am planning a group graduation party for me and my friends. We are all graduating from university under the Business Information System discipline. The idea is to have a BBQ at a farm. My friends and I are all party animals and are over 21. Please help.

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