You should never need an excuse to throw a party, but a graduation ceremony is certainly a perfect reason to festoon your home with decorations in honor of the big achievement. Graduation—from elementary school, middle school, high school, or college—is a rite of passage that deserves more than cake, finger foods and words of praise.
Given that the pandemic appears to finally (hopefully) be on the retreat here in the U.S., and that graduation ceremonies are once again a thing at many schools, you might be entertaining the idea of celebrating a grad this summer. Here’s some advice on planning a blowout bash that will do right by their monumental achievement.
Make the graduate the focus
After you get all of the general housekeeping out of the way—picking a date, sending out invitations, buying food—you can focus on the vibe. One of the ways to ensure the celebratory mood is at maximum is by making the graduate the centerpiece of the occasion. It sounds obvious, but the way to do that is to choose decorations and activities that place the graduate, their friends, and their accomplishments at the forefront.
Make a time capsule board or memento box—this might be a bulletin board, preferably made of cork, with pictures of the graduate at various stages in their academic career, in addition to photos of their friends. Or, if you prefer something a bit more tactile that attendees can rummage through, try putting a bunch of meaningful memorabilia into a box—it’s a nice way to keep the past in mind as you celebrate the prospects of the future.
When it comes to older grads, like someone graduating college, consider conducting a formal roasting ceremony. (Obviously, only roast the grad if remarks will be delivered and received in good faith.) This is an excellent way to lighten the mood and show the grad love and admiration with a dose of humor.
Emphasize the big step they’re taking
Did someone just get into their dream university? Throw up a school banner and drape a university sweatshirt around their shoulders. Is the graduate aiming to go pre-med, or major in literature? Maybe outfit your walls with medical decorations, or some kind of bookish vibe.
If the graduate is heading to high school in the fall and wants to play football or another sport, use that as a theme. You get the idea: Wherever your graduate is headed—towards a career in tech or to culinary school—it can serve as a viable theme for your party.
How it started vs. how it’s going
Bring the social media meme to life with a display case containing before and after photos—images of when the grad started their academic journey and where they are now, with early photos labeled “How it started,” placed next to more current photos labeled “How it’s going.” The more internet-savvy graduates will applaud your attempts to appear that you consume, let alone understand, memes.
Who doesn’t love hilarious kernels of wisdom written somewhat illegibly on the back of a Jenga block? Have Jenga at the ready as a party game, but keep markers set aside for attendees to write snippets of advice on the pieces. This often makes for hilarious—if not mushy—advice, and they’ll always be there as mementos for the graduate to look back on.
Overall, listen to the graduate
This is their day, after all. You have to know who this person is and what they like in order for the party to resonate. This doesn’t mean asking the grad to plan the party themselves. But understand their interests and passions, and incorporate them into the theme. Ultimately, that’s what will showcase just how truly proud you are of your graduate’s accomplishments.