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High School Graduation Party Ideas - 40 Tips to Create an Unforgettable Event

High School Graduation Party Ideas

Updated on: Feb 20, 2024

High school is a memorable time for every young adult, and finishing up those four years is a worthy reason to celebrate. We've gathered up 40 high school graduation party ideas that will help you create a unique and unforgettable party that all your guests will love!

High School Graduation Party Ideas: Planning

1. Ask Your Grad for Opinions

Your grad's big day is coming up and you want to plan the big graduation party but the first step to having the perfect party for them is to ask what they want. Find out their interests and what kind of party they want the most and what sort of food the grad wants to see on their big day.

2. Date and Time

Choosing a date and time can be tricky as many of your grad's friends will be having a party of theirs around the same time as well. Special days surround graduation time such as Mother's Day and Memorial day so be sure to take that into account. One last thing to make sure of is to book any special locations in advance as they will be in high demand Be sure to get out those grad party invites.

3. Party Budget

Have everything in mind that you wish to spend money on and then list off what you need to spend to have each item. Expenses can add up fast so be sure to plan ahead. Do-it-yourself decorations can make a drastic price difference as well as having the party at home in your backyard.

4. Craft a Menu

Design a menu of all of your grad's favorite foods. Use food coloring to turn all your food and drink into their school colors. If you want to be really creative, you can create cupcake displays in the shape of the graduation year that doubles as a fun decoration.

High School Graduation Party Ideas: Decorations

5. Photo Backdrop or Booth

Is it really a graduation party if there is no designated area for kids to take selfies? A graduation backdrop or photo booth will allow for a fun place to take Instagrammable photos as well as enhance the overall look of the party.

6. Balloons

What's a celebration without balloons? Balloons are a cheap and easy way to transform any space into a beautifully themed party venue. Hang balloons of the school colors from the ceiling or find one of those large numbered balloons in the shape of the graduation year.

7. Graduation Photo Board

Boards with pictures of your grad's special moments throughout life so far can and should be shown off to everyone at the party. Pinning them up on a large bulletin board or hanging them along clothing lines makes for the perfect graduation decorations!

8. Photo Banners

High school graduation is a time to realize how much time has passed, and there is no better way to show it than a photo banner of all years of school pictures hung up for everyone to see. Just remember to ask your grad permission beforehand. Not everyone loves looking back at their awkward teenage years!

9. Tassel Garlands

Tassel garlands are an affordable and colorful hanging décor that can bring the room to life. They're also super easy to make yourself. All you need is some tissue paper, a thin ribbon, and a line to hang them on. There are numerous YouTube videos and image tutorials to help you make DIY garlands in minutes!

10. Graduation Cap Décor

Want to really tie the grad party together? Use some graduation-themed straws that have miniature graduation caps clipped on them and graduation cap balloons.

High School Graduation Party Ideas: Favors

11. Picture Frames

Ever wanted more centerpiece ideas for graduation parties? Picture frames are a great way to showcase memories with friends from high school. You can spray-paint the frames and then paint the graduation date on the bottom or stamp the grad’s name. You can add photos, too, and easily makes great centerpieces for a grad party.

12. Homemade Treats

If you love to bake, then this idea will be a breeze to do! Get out your cookie cutters and decorating utensils. Use food coloring and candies to decorate cookies, cupcakes, and other desserts. Wrap up individual treats in colorful cellophane and add a couple of ribbons. Voila, you have great giveaways!

13. Personalized Pens

For a touch of thoughtfulness, inscribe small pieces of paper with inspirational messages, and roll them up. Take apart the personalized pens and insert a paper into each one, making sure to let your guests know to check for the hidden messages inside. You can purchase fun glitter-filled pens, light-up pens, pens topped with graduation caps, etc. They could be engraved with “Grad 20XX” as well. One of the best 20XX graduation decorations!

14. Koozies

Can cooler sleeves can be customized to include each person’s name. Other ideas can be incorporating the graduation date, high school colors, students' names, or adding a funny quote. If you have names put on them, you can use them to direct people where to sit by leaving them on the table. That way, guests can keep track of their drinks.

15. Keychains

There are so many keychain charms out there that can relate to your graduate. Do they play sports, like music, or plan to study a certain profession? Find bracelet charms that relate to the grad and give them to the guests.

16. T-Shirts

Customized t-shirts can have “Class of 20XX” written on them, “Class Dismissed,” or you can play off the movie and copy the font and color of “The Graduate." Symbols like the high school’s mascot, logo, or graduation caps and diplomas would also work, too. For an extra special touch, add each guest’s last name on the back of the t-shirt. Roll the shirts up in between white paper and tie them with a ribbon to imitate a diploma.

17. Bead Bonanza

Before and during your celebration, hand out shiny Mardi Gras beads in the school colors. Also, offer metallic hues like gold and silver to add some visual interest. Guests will have fun seeing how much they can collect and wearing them throughout the party. Also, drape beads across tables, chairs, and other furniture to make the space pop.

High School Graduation Party: Food Ideas

18. Cupcakes

Cupcakes are definitely crowd-pleasers. If you want to add a little something extra to them, you can buy some graduation-themed cupcake toppers. The crowd will be doubly pleased!

19. Graduation Cookies

If you are going that extra mile, try making some graduation-themed cookies. You can buy specialty cookie cutters to make them diploma or graduation cap-shaped.

20. Commence-mints

You can even give your guests graduation-themed mints. They can go in a goodie bag that you hand out before people leave, or you could give them to guests after they eat. You could even just leave them in a bowl for guests to grab at their leisure.

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21. Personalized Candy

You can hand out candy at one point or another and customize what the wrapper says. Personalized candy is a nice touch.

22. Graduation Lollipops

If you are looking for other treats that will fit your theme nicely, look no further. Try some graduation lollipops! They will work well if you are looking for treats to send your guests home with.

High School Graduation Party Ideas: Games/Activities

23. I Mustache You Something

Find one of your grad’s favorite or least favorite teacher’s pictures and have it enlarged to life-size. Find a package of different shaped mustaches for each person playing to use. Have them blindly try to place the mustache on the teacher. It makes for one of the best games for grad parties! You could use the mustaches from a novelty mustache set.

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24. History

Many things have occurred in the past four years of high school, but who thinks they know all the events of some of the most meaningful things that happened with just the date? Scan through Facebook and Instagram to identify dates of important events. Have people take guesses as to when an event happened. You may be surprised with what you end up reminiscing about. You can have the participants circle dates on custom calendars or have one calendar which you use to reveal the answers with circled dates.

25. Wise Guise

Some people’s pictures are obvious to some and leave others clueless as to who it could be. Could you match someone’s baby picture, grade school picture, or other childhood pictures to the person they are today? Give each person a picture of a person from when they were in school and have them find the person it belongs to. Each picture has a story behind it. Once again, a bulletin board to display all the photos will come in handy.

26. Piñata

Piñatas aren't just for birthday parties. Piñatas can be a fun activity for any event. Order a graduation-themed piñata or buy a birthday one and spray-paint it the high school colors.

Graduation Cap Piñata

Your party guests will be lining up for a chance to swing at your celebration with this fun piñata! This graduation cap piñata is a must-have party supply for a grade school, middle school, high school or college graduation. It’s a great addition to any graduation party that is sure to impress party guests and makes for a unique decoration, too! Papier-mâché. 12 1/2" x 12 1/2" x 5 1/2" Piñata stick, candy and toys sold separately.
Papier-mâché. 12-1/2" x 12-1/2" x 5-1/2"

27. Ransom

Imagine that graduation prizes were seized and are being held for ransom! The only way to retrieve them is by doing what the ransom note says. Follow the clues and riddles to unlock the mystery of where your cherished treasure is hidden. Clues and riddles can pertain to things related to the graduating student. If you want to achieve that iconic ransom note aesthetic with the letters of different colors and shapes but are too lazy to cut them out individually, you can buy sets of ransom note letters.

28. Amnesia

Tape the name of a high school teacher to the back of each fellow graduate. They each get 5 questions to ask before they make their predictions out loud as to what teacher they think they are. Anyone who guesses correctly gets entered into a drawing to win a nice prize. You can use adhesive name tags.

29. Time Capsule

Have all your child's guests bring along a memento from their high school days. Once they're all collected, pack them into a time capsule for them to open at their high school reunion!

High school Graduation Party: Party Supplies

30. Plasticware

If you are planning on serving food, and you probably are, you'll need to buy some plasticware. Buying a pack of plastic forks, knives, and spoons is usually more feasible and cost-effective than buying enough silverware for all of your many guests.

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31. Paper Plates

Similarly, you will probably want to invest in some paper plates for your guests unless you are hosting a really upscale event. It is the simplest thing to do. Rest easy, knowing you won't have to wash a hundred plates after everybody leaves!

32. Cups

You'll also want to grab some party cups. Your guests will need something to drink out of. You'll find that there are some relatively classy alternatives to frat party-evoking red solo cups.

34. Graduation Napkins

If you want to commemorate this important day in a detail-oriented way, create some custom graduation napkins with the person's name and graduation year on them. It might seem like overkill, but family members, friends, or the graduate themselves might end up saving one or two that they don't use as keepsakes.

35. Graduation Straws

Another way to make the day of this person's graduation special is to buy some graduation straws for guests to use for their beverages. Some options have a little graduation cap adorning them.

High School Graduation Party: Invitations

36. Invitation in a Bottle

If you want to go all out with your invitations, you can buy these invitations in bottles. You can fill them with mini streamers or confetti! But if these aren't for you, there are many different graduation invitation options to choose from.

37. Standard Paper Invitations

If you are looking to keep things simple, you can opt for a more traditional set of paper invitations.

38. Virtual Graduation Party Invitations

The year 2040 is closer to today than the year 2000. So maybe it is time to step into the future. If I am preaching to the choir, then you should check out these nifty virtual invitations.

39. Graduation Cap Invitation

Graduation cap shaped invitation is a cute idea when inviting your guest. The idea brings happiness and excitement to the guest and graduates that planned to attend.

40. Photo Invitation

Another great idea is to have a photo of the graduate printed on the invite. It can either be a regular photo or the graduate is dressed in their cap and gown. This idea brings a sense of success and happiness to the graduate when people receive their invite.

High School Graduation Party Ideas: Conclusion

Whatever you end up doing for your grad on their special day, be creative, ask for their opinion, and don't be afraid to go big because they only graduate from high school once! We hope this list of 29 high school graduation party tips and ideas will help you create a unique event that your grad will remember forever!

Written by Alicia Bell, Natalie Smallwood, Blake Anderson and Annie Replogle; Contributors: Becky Smith, Blake Anderson, Jeremy Cleark and Jack Leduc

Blake Anderson

Humboldt State University

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Jeremy Cleark

Alabama A&M University

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