Roast and Toast the Graduate


Done correctly, a roast can be a fun way to “honor” a graduate! A roast can be funny and is unforgettable when done well. At a college graduation, if many of the graduate’s friends are around, you will have plenty of people willing to go up on stage to “honor” the grad. But there are some dos and don’ts when hosting a roast.

First of all, who is a good candidate?

A roast is perfect as long as your guest of honor has a sense of humor! It takes a special person that’s willing to be the target of a roast. It's probably a good idea to check with the grad first to make sure they’ll be comfortable on stage.

Do all the "roasts" and "toasts" have to be negative?

Absolutely not. But it seems like roasts (and toasts, too) are funnier when they tease the guest of honor. If you remember, Dean Martin and Don Rickles used to host the Friar's Club roasts. They were televised, and all of the celebrities got up, one by one, and made fun of whoever was the night's honoree. So, as long as the negative comments are not hurtful and are in good fun...anything goes. But you can have some “rules” for the event. Probably a good idea to say no to bad language and any description of a sexual escapade. (Remember that Grandma is in the room!)

How many people do you need to make it a fun event?

Well, roasting someone at the dinner table probably doesn't qualify as a real, true roast. I remember that on my 35th birthday, my friends roasted me. As I recall, there were probably 40 or 60 people in the room. The worst teasing came from my brother, of all people, who let the crowd know that my mother liked him best. The more people in the room, the more ruckus there is. The more people who present, the more fun it is.

Is anything off limits?

Well, I should think so. Obviously, you don't want to bring up past relationships that are still lingering, or talk about how many women a man has dated...if he's there with someone new. You have to use common sense, and remember this is about being humorous. (It's all in good fun!) At my roast, an old boyfriend who I was very close to gave what would have been a very clever presentation...if I wasn't sitting next to my current boyfriend.

How formal should it be?

If you have invited fellow graduates, it’s not going to be very formal at all. People will probably be moving about, and there will undoubtedly be heckling from the crowd. Of course, if it’s just family and you’re in a party room, things can be a bit more structured. You should have an “emcee.” If nothing else they can stop someone that’s stretching the bounds of the acceptable, and they can save someone that’s bombing. All with a sense of humor, of course!

What if I can't think of anything to say?

Don’t go on stage! Make sure people know they don’t have to go up and comment.

Another option is to “steal” one-liners from a great comic. My favorite is Rodney Dangerfield. Here are some of his best.

graduation roast and toast Party Locations
Host your party in a room that is the perfect size for the number of people you plan to invite. Set it up "u" style, with a podium at the front. Don't forget to ask the party room/hotel to provide sound (if you have enough people to warrant it). It's a little bit tougher in someone's living room because people aren't as comfortable--and most roasts have quite a few presenters and take an hour or more 

graduation roast and toast Party Invitations

We offer a wide array of personalized graduation invitations that are sure to match to your graduate's taste and style.  Can't find something you like? Try one of these ideas:
  • Remember this is an event, and your guests are coming for the main attraction. Send graduation photo ticket invitations with the graduate's face on them. Make sure you collect their tickets for entrance to the roast.
  • Have a custom caricature made of the honoree that shows off their interests, hobbies and idiosyncrasies. Include party information right on the caricature: time, date, place, and a phone number for RSVP. The great thing about a caricature is that you can use it for your invitations and a life-sized cutout or for a three-sided centerpiece.
  • Don't forget to add a handful of confetti to finish off your invite. Guests will love the surprise!
Whatever you decide, make sure to send your invites out in advance.  Graduation season is a busy time of year, and you want your guests to have plenty of time to RSVP!
graduation roast and toast Party Decorations
We like the idea of welcoming your guests to the party with one of our graduation banners. You can also hang a banner over the stage where the graduate will be seated.
Keep your decorating simple with a few more of these tips:
  • Since this party is all about the grad, make sure to have a life-size graduation cutout of the guest of honor waiting at the entrance.  We have options for a male graduate cutout and female graduate cutout.
  • Make sure to set up a sign-in table where guests can leave well wishes and advice for the grad on a graduation sign-in board
  • Balloon bouquets in the grad's school colors are a great way to fill a large space.  Group balloons in odd numbers (looks better this way!), and put the bunches in corners, behind the buffet, at the sign-in table, and around your "stage".

Make sure to decorate your tables, too!  There are tons of ideas below.

graduation roast and toast menu and table decorations
Have your venue cater your event if possible; a buffet is a casual and less expensive option for a graduation roast. Whatever you decide, definitely have a bar. (It can be a cash bar if you are at a party room and if these are close friends). Liquor will loosen up the crowd and everything will seem funny--even when someone gets up there and bombs (which happens, unfortunately).

Don't forget to decorate your tables, too:

  • Put a "head" shot of your honoree, or a caricature if that's what you use for the invitation, on a custom three-sided graduation centerpiece that includes a photo of the grad.  Just add a balloon bouquet to each one, and you have unique, no-hassle centerpieces!
  • A great idea for centerpieces (that isn't even expensive) is to take a nice "head" shot of the grad and take it to your local Kinko's to be colored copied. Blow it up to about 2x3 feet, make about 4 per table and glue them to plant sticks. Then go to your local supermarket or florist and buy some flowering plants (about $8 at the supermarket) and stick the pictures of the honoree in the plants. Tie off a ribbon and--voila--you have a centerpiece.
  • Of course, make you're seating cards interesting by attaching a pair of 2019 glasses to each one.

Don't forget to add a handful of confetti or foil wrapped chocolates around your centerpieces as a final touch!

graduation roast and toast activities

While the roast will be the main attraction, it's a good ideas to keep guests entertained in between speakers with a few activities:

  • One fun thing to do is to blow up a snapshot of the roastee's head to 8.5x11 inches, cut each one out, glue them on tongue depressors and pass them out to your guests as each person enters. It's a great favor and what a kick the honoree will get when he or she looks out at the crowd and they are all holding his/her face in front of theirs! Works every time.
  • Set up a photobooth with a digital camera.  Guests will love taking pictures with family and friends.  Add a bucket of photo props to spice things up - feather boas, novelty sunglasses, and goofy hats do the trick! Print the pictures out after the party, and send them along with the thank you notes.
  • Party wearables are another no-hassle way to keep guests entertained!  Pile party beads in the grad's school colors, glow jewelry, and noisemakers in baskets around your venue. (These would make great centerpieces, too!) Family and friends will quickly decorate themselves.

    Don't forget to send your guests home with something to remember your roast...

graduation roast and toast Party favors
You may want to give a gift to everyone who speaks. Make sure your favor is funny and goes with the theme--your guest of honor. What works? Well, one of those picture key chains would be fun and cheap! Just take that "head" shot again and slip it into a Lucite key chain.

We're also big fans of giving your guests a favor that can be eaten after the party has ended. Here are a few of our favorites:
Have a great roast, and congrats from the Party Girl!