Plan an open house graduation party. Ideas for graduation open house.

Open House Graduation Party Ideas


Undoubtedly, the most common graduation party is an open house. With so many graduation parties happening at the same time, it is difficult to get everyone at your house at the same time for the whole day.

A great graduation party planning tip is opening your doors for a few hours and accepting the fact that some guests will have to come and go. The good news about this approach is that it can be the least expensive way to celebrate the occasion!

Graduation Open House Invitation
Well, like I said there are a lot of parties going on this time of year, so you'll want one of our unforgettable personalized graduation invitations to catch people's attention and make sure they remember your event. With our wide selection of invitation styles, you’re sure to find one that will fit your grad and their unique style.

Or, choose one of our other favorite invite ideas:

  • Personalized photo ticket invitations are always a great option. What better way to highlight your grad's accomplishments than with their pic right on the invite?
  • Or go with a graduation drivers license invitation, and showcase the state they graduated in, or even the state where they are going away for college!
  • We are also fans of an "exclusive" backstage pass for your graduation party. Your guests can come and go as they like at your open house, but they can't get in without a pass!
  • If you really want a unique invitation, consider a caricature invitation. Not only is this a great graduation invitation, but also a theme to build your whole party around.
  • We have personalized graduation announcements so you can easily let everyone know that you have a new graduate in your family. This is sure to bring a smile to everyone's face - plus, it let's people know in advance about your special event!

If you're sending any one of our invitations or an announcement, make sure to add some graduation confetti to the envelope for a nice touch.

Graduation Open House Decorations and Party Supplies

With guests coming at different times, you're not going to be able to greet everyone at the door. Have a sign directing traffic out front. It can be a graduation yard sign or a hand written blurb asking guests to come around to the backyard. A life-sized cutout of the boy or girl serves as a great hello if the guest of honor can't be there at the door.
Choose a few of these decorating tips to make your open house stand out:
  • Line your walkway with these personalized luminary bags. They will not only guide your guests to the festivities, but it's a great way for the graduate to "greet" every guest as they enter!
  • Before entering the party, we also like hanging one of our personalized graduation banners. Of course, you don't have to hang the banner over the door, it's an Open House after all! Hang the congratulatory banner in a place that all of your guests are sure to see!
  • A great decoration and memento for your grad is a personalized sign in book. You personalize a 3D cover to reflect your graduate's interests, and your guests can leave a message on the heavy archival pages. It will be something your grad will treasure forever.
  • If you’re having any special events (cake cutting, toasts, games) or serving food at a set time, you may want to have a simple schedule of events posted to a bulletin board or piece of foam core. This information should also be on your invitation, that way there are no upset guests.

What to decorate with? This is always a tough decision. There are lots of great 2017 graduation decorations to choose from, but you should have a strategy. Follow some of these tried and true tips:

  • If you plan on hosting some of your open house outdoors (more room!), a tent is a great way to protect against all but the most disagreeable weather. They're even good on bright sunny days when some folks will want to get out of the sun.
  • Decorating outdoors is always a challenge because there's so much space. Graduation balloons are always a great idea. Fun, inexpensive and festive, they just seem to create a party atmosphere. There are many great styles that incorporate graduation caps as well as congratulations to the grad!
  • Colorful foil cutouts can be strung around the outer edges of the tent, on a deck railing, or across a fence.
  • For your indoor space, hang some graduation swirls over the buffet and in the hallways. They are an inexpensive and easy way to add color throughout the room. 

Finish off your decorations with a table devoted to the grad. Maybe a scrapbook of stories/accomplishments (this is a great spot for the sign in book). You've probably been keeping one, why not bring it out for others to see?

Pictures of the grad at various times is not only fun, but a great conversation starter. And, of course, any awards, trophies or other accomplishments should be out.

Graduation Open House Table Decorations and Menu
Inside or out, you'll want a table that fits the day. Paper goods are the way to go (haven't you worked hard enough without all those dishes?). There are some fun patterns available  to look at:

The food you serve really depends upon you and your family. Food is a focal point of our lives, and all of my family members would feel naked if they didn't bring some sort of food to any family get together. My two aunts specialize in pizza, so they bring some pies. I direct the rest to make desserts, and I take care of pasta and a salad. Chicken, we get from a caterer. Simple, delicious, relatively inexpensive, and all food that holds up for a couple of hours if you store it correctly (cold foods cold, hot foods hot).

If you're not as blessed as I am with a family full of cooks, it's fine to cater. There's bound to be a local establishment that will provide pans of food perfect for the occasion. Make sure you ask about whether they provide paper goods and serving utensils.

Having an onsite caterer is always nice too, but they usually won't serve for the four or five hours of an open house, so they may serve at a set time. If that's the case, make sure you let people know in the invitation.

Don't forget to decorate your tables, too! Centerpieces can really add flair to your table:

Sprinkle some graduation confetti (in the grad's schools colors, of course!) on the tables for added decoration.

Graduation Open House Games and Activities
With an Open House, it's difficult and probably unnecessary to plan too many activities. As each new guest walks through the door, there's bound to be some excitement with hellos and catching up to do. These events lend themselves to conversations and reminiscing.

Just set up one or two of these activities that require minimal planning but will keep your guests entertained:

  • Set up a table with a graduation sign in board, scrapbook, or photo album where guests can leave advice for the grad!  They will love leaving sharing fond memories of the guest of honor while looking through mementos.
  • Even better, set up a 2017 photo op and camera so family and friends can make new memories!
  • Remember, that graduation, more than just about any other party, is a multi-generational event with moms, dads, grandparents and friends all together. Make sure there's plenty of comfortable seating for the older folks and accept the fact that the kids will want to be by themselves.

Consider having a toast (although, in most cases, the graduate will be mortified), and you should insist that the graduate visit each table, but this is one event where the entertaining should almost take care of itself.

Graduation Open House Party Favors

We believe you should give your guests a party favor as they leave your party. Here are a few of our favorite graduation party favors:

These party favors, along with your great open house, are sure to leave your guests smiling. Congratulations from the Party Girl and the Party411!