College graduation party ideas and planning tips

College Graduation Party Ideas


When someone graduates from undergraduate or graduate school, they deserve to party, and party big! Use these easy college graduation party ideas to celebrate your grad in a big way!

College Graduation Invitations
Make the graduate the center of attention from start to finish. They've earned it! The invitation should match the style of the graduate. Try one of these great ideas:

  • A personalized graduation invitation will set the tone for the party.
  • Consider a completely custom caricature invitation. These are truly unique, and the caricature can be used for your life size cutout, candy bar wrapper and more. Incorporate the things that make your graduate special!
  • It would be fun to base your caricature on a famous college movie, like The Graduate or Animal House. Have your caricature drawn as a movie poster!
  • We love these photo graduation invitations where you just choose the color and add a picture of the grad.  Perfect for an easy college grad party!
  • Of course, we have plenty of other graduation invitations to choose from. We have special designs for doctors, nurses, scientists, and more!

Add a fun twist to your invitation to make it extra special:

  • Roll up your invite and tie with a ribbon. Perfect if you're planning on handing your invites out in person!
  • A little confetti goes a long way. Stuff your envelopes with a handful for a fun surprise!
  • Send along some wearables that guests can bring to your event. Party beads, 2018 sunglasses, and party blowers are all great choices!

Whatever you decide, make sure to send out your invite 6-8 weeks in advance.  Schedules quickly fill up with other graduation parties, weddings, showers. You don't want your friends and family to miss out!

Graduation Decorations and Party Supplies
Make sure you choose a few easy decorating ideas to help make your venue stand out! To start, hang a graduation banner outside on your house so that that everyone knows where the party is! Don't forget a couple of these decorating tips for your sign-in area:

  • Have a 2018 graduate cutout waiting at your entrance to greet guests.  Add a balloon bouquet in the grad's school colors to highlight this party hotspot!
  • Make sure to have a graduation sign-in board where family and friends can leave well wishes to the guest of honor!
  • Hang photos of the grad behind your sign-in table using twine and clothespins. This sweet backdrop is a great conversation starter for guests.
  • Scatter your sign-in with graduation mementos! The grad's diploma, graduation cap, and yearbook should all be on display for guests to see.
  • Top off your sign-in table with a grad cap cardbox - family and friends will need a place to leave their gifts!

A few more of these decorating tips will really set the tone for your grad party:

  • Decorate your party space in gold and silver tones, which look sophisticated but are still fun! Try the graduation garland behind your buffet, and this golden star garland everywhere else!
  • Use your caricature art and have create a 3-sided centerpiece base with the art. Fill the base with shreds and attach a balloon bouquet. Or, you can fill the base with flowers for a fun and formal look.
  • If you're hosting an evening party, light up your walkway with graduation luminary bags which you can personalize with the grad's photo.
  • A few bouquets in the grad's school colors are a great way to mark the buffet, favor table, and drink station.

Don't stop decorating at your party's entrance!  Make the rest of your venue pop with amazing table decorations.

Graduation Table Decorations and Menu
Your graduate deserves a delicious meal after working so hard for their degree, so spoil them with fantastic menu. Make your life easier and have everything catered. See if the grad's favorite restaurant does catering, and you're good to go!

  • You also don't necessarily need a formal sit down meal. A nice selection of passed appetizers and food stations would be wonderful, too. Or just have heavy hors d'oeuvres.
  • Since many of your guests will be over 21, your catering company may be able set up a beautiful bar if you like. Ask them to mix up a specialty drink and name it after your graduate!
  • If you're serving champagne (for the inevitable toasts), put balloon bouquets with champagne bottle balloons at the bar to let guests know where to find the bubbly! Light up champagne glasses are a nice touch, too.

These college graduation party ideas for centerpieces can really add flair to your tables:

  • Personalized Graduation Centerpiece - If you like the personal touch, this three-sided centerpiece lets you personalize the wording and add a photo!
  • Tabletop Lanterns - These vinyl lanterns are personalized with your photo and wording, and come with an LED candle!
  • Gold and Silver Spray Centerpiece - A no hassle centerpiece. Just drop and go!
  • College Textbooks - A pile of college books topped with a graduation cap is a fun and easy table decoration.
  • Personalized Water Bottles - Place a water bottle wrapped with a custom graduation label at each place setting. The labels tie into your invite, favors and more!
  • 2018 Glasses - These novelty glasses aren't just for New Year's! Set a pair at each place setting or pile high in a glass vase as a centerpiece. Guests love wearables!

Sprinkle some confetti or foil wrapped chocolates on the tables to finish off your look!

Graduation Party Games Activities
Usually, graduation parties are all about socializing, reminiscing, and congratulating the graduate, and activities are not necessary to keep your guests mixing. But a few activities are essential if you are going to have a large number of people who have never met, or just want to add something fun for your guests to do.

Here is our favorite college graduation party ideas for activities and icebreakers:

  • Trivia Sheets - Create trivia sheets with questions that pertain to the grad's area of study. English major? Try matching the author with their famous novel. Did the grad just get a master's in mathematics? Set out logic problems. A new doctor in the house! Anatomy identification anyone? Just print out activity sheets and leave out pencils; everyone will be mingling in the hopes of finding someone who has the answer to #8!
  • Graduation Photobooth - Set up a photo booth with a Class of 2018 photo op! Add a bucket of photo props to spice things up - feather boas, novelty sunglasses, and goofy hats do the trick! Print the pictures before guests leave as favors.
  • Memento Table - Older family members especially love to reminisce, so set up a table filled with photo albums and scrapbooks of the grad.  You might choose to display school pictures of the guest of honor (from kindergarten through grad school)!  Guests will love leafing through everything!
If you're hosting an open house or outdoor party, consider setting up a few of our outdoor party games! And don't forget to send your guests home with a little something...

Graduation Party Favors
Personalized graduation candy bars are the best kind of favor, the chocolate-y edible kind! You personalize the wrapper with info about your grad (and many styles allow for a picture, too). It's a great way to show off the graduate's accomplishments!

Or pass out one of these other great personalized favors:

Don't forget to handout personalized graduation favor bags so guests have somewhere to put all of their goodies! Good luck planning your college grad party, and congrats from the Party Girl!