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Image of a mother and father celebrating their daughter's graduation.
A graduation is a major life milestone that deserves plenty of recognition, and a graduation party is a perfect way to celebrate the occasion with family and friends.

6 Tips for Planning a Sweet Graduation Celebration

TRAVEL & RECREATION — When years of hitting the books leads to a hard-earned diploma, there’s just one thing left to do. Celebrate with a party! To do it right (and with minimal headache and drama), consider these great tips!

Image of a bottle of champagne being popped with a sparkler in the background.

Image by Myriams-Fotos.

1. Make a Guest List

This is a very important first step as deciding who you’d like to invite may influence several other choices you need to make down the road, like where you host the party and what you serve to eat and drink.

2.  Choose the Place and Time

Another decision you’ll need to make right away is where and when the party will be held. Having a rough idea of how many people will attend can help determine where to host the party, since you’ll want to have enough room for everyone to be comfortable. If you’re timing the celebration to coincide with a graduation ceremony, be sure to schedule your party so any guests who also plan to attend the ceremony can do both. Many families choose to hold open house-style parties for an extended period of time so people who have multiple graduation parties to attend can fit them all in.

Image of a buffet table.

Image by Tim Cooper.

3.  Plan Your Menu

The style, timing and duration of your party all influence what kind of food you serve. If your party overlaps a traditional mealtime, you may want to serve a full meal. However, if you’re hosting an open house format, keeping food fresh for an extended period can be a challenge. If you take care to keep chilled foods cold and heated foods warm, a buffet can allow guests to serve themselves as they wish. You may also find appetizers are easier to heat and replenish throughout the party. Don’t forget about dessert! A celebratory cake or tray of cupcakes are traditional ideas you can complement with other selections, such as candy bars to add colorful fun and variety to the party.

4.  Accommodate Gifts

While common etiquette suggests a host should never expect them, most people do bring gifts to celebrate the graduate. You can set up an attractive gift table with a gift of your own to discretely show guests where to place gifts when they arrive.

Image of a box of fancy chocolates.

Image by Jennifer Pallian.

5.  Organize Party Favors

One way to thank guests for honoring your graduate and inspire more moments of fun is by offering a party favor that doubles as a memento of the event, such as gift tins or boxes of chocolate. Each gift can be customized with a message for guests and can match the party’s theme.

6.  Select Entertainment

Often, there’s enough hustle and bustle at graduation parties that you don’t need to go overboard planning activities or entertainment. You might have some music playing at a moderate level so guests can still have casual conversations without yelling, and you may want to display a slideshow celebrating the graduate’s accomplishments along the way to this big day. Other fun ideas include photobooths with props, a signature frame for guests to sign and notecards for guests to offer their congratulations, advice or predictions for the graduate’s future.

Image of a graduation ceremony with a massive amount of confetti in the air.

“Life is a party. Dress for it.” — Audrey Hepburn

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