We know that planning a Graduation party can be time consuming and exhausting. Our best party and event planners came together to make the party planning processes easier and even fun. We’ve put together helpful hints, guidelines and activity ideas to help your party be the best it can be with Wally’s Graduation Party Planning Guide!
From kindergarten all the way up to grad school, graduating is a huge personal milestone and a most admirable achievement! Gather your family and friends together for a graduation party to share in the celebration of your success and as a thank you for all of their support! From traditional graduation parties in your school colors to themed graduation parties in black, silver, and gold; multi-color; or even a luau-theme, let Wally’s help you with amazing graduation party ideas to get your planning off to the right start!
WHERE should I hold the party?
Most importantly - choose a venue that will accommodate all of your graduation party guests. With just a bit of research, you can determine how many square feet you need for the number of guests you are expecting with this handy room size calculator. Also, match the venue type to your graduation party theme. If you plan to have it at home, decide if the living room, the basement, the garage or the backyard will work. Also, consider hosting the party at a local park, restaurant or event center.
WHEN should the party end?
Try to keep your graduation party to a maximum of three hours, and have activities planned for the entire time. Write out a pre-planned line-up, loosely scheduling a different activity every hour including time for eating. For larger parties, make sure to have enough grad-themed games to have multiple events during each time slot. Ideally, your guests will naturally move from one activity to the next as they mix and mingle. A quick and cleverly written "thank you" toast is a great way to wrap up the party.
PICK A THEME
When picking a theme for your graduation party, consider the accomplishments and future endeavors of your grad. If he or she is an athlete, cheerleader, or super-fan, a sports-themed graduation party is a sure win. Is your grad president of the science club with an eye on med school? Let your creativity run wild with a medical-themed graduation party! From tournaments of the board game Operation to medical- or health-themed sweets and treats, it will be a grad celebration not soon forgotten. Is your grad set to be a globe-trotter after graduation? Try a destination-themed party featuring your grad's favorite country or culture. Just wanna have fun with a casual, laid back graduation party? Make it a backyard luau! And, don't forget a most traditional theme - a graduation party, using your grad’s current or future school colors. Let your imagination run wild and create a themed graduation party that really portrays your grad's interests, achievements, and personality!
Depending upon the theme chosen and your guest list, there are several ways to appropriately invite guests to your grad’s party. Traditionally mailed themed graduation invitations can be made fun by adding a baby photo of the graduate. Invitations made to look like a rolled diploma would be great as handed out invitations. Emailed and social media invites can be designed to match your theme, as well. Be sure to include RSVP information so that you will have a good estimate of how many guests you may have attend.
Once you have your graduation party theme picked out, it's time to create a fun atmosphere with grad decorations. Using your theme as the main idea, purchase banners, balloons, centerpieces, scene setters and other fun decorations to create the perfect setting for your grad’s party. Match the grad’s cake and cake table to the theme. A video or slideshow of the graduate playing throughout the party is sure to be a fun addition to any theme. Don’t forget an autograph board or stuffed animal for all the guests to sign, and a card box to keep the money cards safe!
Whether you are just sticking to finger foods, or are planning a large dinner, try to keep it simple. Some venues will take care of the food decisions for you. If you are in charge of the food, be mindful of the time of the party. Pizza or sandwiches would be great for a lunchtime party. A BBQ cookout or potluck would be best in the late afternoon. A small buffet of snack items and finger foods would be more than enough for a mid afternoon party. Regardless of time, DO NOT FORGET DESSERTS!
Be sure to have plenty of age appropriate activities on hand to keep the party going. If you have a pool, have plenty of pool toys or fun blow ups in the pool. With younger kids, set up stations with theme related crafts. For the older crowd, trivia based on the grad’s school or major would be a fun pastime. There is also the option of hiring an entertainer, a clown, or a DJ.
PARTY GIFTS for GUESTS
Whether it will be a treat bag stuffed with candy, custom party gifts, a single gift wrapped item, or even a fun accessory for the guests to wear during the party, don’t forget the gifts for the guests. Commemorative custom t-shirts, cups, or koozies are always a great way to thank your guests.
What do you get for the graduate? A diploma frame, milestone jewelry or a commemorative photo frame would all be very appropriate gifts for any age. Is your grad traveling after graduation? Try a backpack or luggage. Gift cards are always a win. For older grads, a gift basket of useful items such as toiletries or cookware would be a great way to launch your loved one into the ‘real world’.
A good party does not need to be expensive. The basic graduation party supplies are food and beverages, tableware
and decorations. If the graduate is of drinking age, account for beer, wine, and liquor.
Choose your tableware pattern early based upon your theme to ensure all the components will be available.
Organize your table. If setting up a buffet, place plates at the beginning of the line and napkins and flatware at the end. Guests won’t have to struggle to hold onto everything as they serve themselves.
If serving alcohol, have a designated “bartender” to dispense drinks. You will go through less liquor and guests will be less likely to drink too much.
4 Weeks before the Party:
• Decide on a budget.
• Choose the date, time and place.
• Choose a theme.
• Choose invitations and thank you notes based upon the theme.
• Create a guest list.
3 Weeks before the Party:
• Send invitations to guests. Create a Facebook event page.
• Plan activities and games to play during the party and purchase any necessary materials.
• Purchase party supplies, favors, wearables and prizes.
• Pre-order balloon bouquets to be picked up the day of the party.
• Plan the menu.
1 Week before the Party:
• Order the cake.
• Follow up with guests who have not replied. Post a reminder on the Facebook event page.
2-3 Days before the Party:
• Purchase food and beverages.
• Fill the favor bags for the guests.
1 Day before the Party:
• Pick up/bake the cake.
• Prepare food that can be made ahead of time.
• Decorate the house.
• Prepare activities/game areas.
The Day of the Party:
• Pick up balloon bouquets.
• Prepare food that could not be made ahead of time.
• Post yard signs or tie balloons to the mailbox.
The Day after the Party:
• Send thank you notes and post pictures on the Facebook event page.