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, an open house makes it easy for family and friends to drop by and celebrate with the grad!

A great graduation party planning tip is opening your doors for a few hours and having guests come and go. The good news about this approach is that it can be a relaxed and inexpensive 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 senior picture 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 to 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 lets 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:
  • One of these personalized graduation banners are a great way to greet family and friends. 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. 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 2019 graduation decorations to choose from, but you should choose colors or a theme to carry through your party space. 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 in the grad's school colors 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!
  • String garland, balloon bouquets, or streamers around the outer edges of the tent, on a deck railing, or across a fence.
  • For your indoor space, hang ceiling 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 and 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?

School pictures of the grad from when they were in kindergarten through senior year make a great conversation starter. Scatter high school photos of the guest of honor on tables, too. Pictures highlighting their extracurriculars (band, football, and key club) are a must! And, of course, any awards, trophies or other accomplishments should be on display, front and center!

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?) Give your paper goods these fun twists to add interest to your tables and buffet:

  • School Colors - Choose plates, napkins, and silverware in the grad's high school or college colors.  Bright hues are sure to make your tables pop!
  • Bold Patterns - Choose patterns to match your theme! Gingham for a picnic theme, polka dots for a confetti theme, stripes for a classy masculine theme. There are dozens of patterns to choose from - go for something fun and bold!
  • Extra Touches - Wrap silverware bundles in party beads and or colored ribbon, add a paper graduation cap place card to each place setting, or even customize cocktail napkins with the grad's name and graduation date. Guests will notice the extra touches you add to your special day!
The menu 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 a 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. If that's the case, make sure you let people know in the invitation that you'll be serving food at a set time.

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

  • Personalized Centerpiece - If you like the personal touch this three-sided centerpiece let you personalize the wording and add a photo!
  • Graduation Photo Cutout - We can make our graduation photo cutout smaller so that it is the perfect size for your party tables! Attach a balloon bouquet in the grad's school colors for an easy and fun centerpiece.

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.
  • 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.
  • Feel free to designate areas for lawn games! Giant outdoor versions of traditional games are all the rage - Jenga, tic tac toe, Connect Four, chess, and Yahtzee are all fun options.

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

Make sure to give your guests a favor as they leave your party. Give your gift a custom touch, so they'll always remember your event! 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!