Roast and Toast the Graduate

Done correctly a roast can be a fun way to “honor” someone. They can be funny and are 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 having 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 a target of a host people looking for a laugh. 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 insult the person. 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--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 up and down 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.
Party Locations
If it were me, I would do it in a party room that was the perfect size for the number of people who 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 

Party Invitations
We offer a large array of personalized graduation invitations that are sure to match to your graduate's taste and style. 
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.
Do a custom caricature of the honoree that depicts interests, hobbies and idiosyncrasies; include party information right on the caricature: time, date, place, 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.
graduation Party Ideas
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.

Hand out a personalized graduation cameras to your guests. Collect the cameras after the event and put the best pictures together and share them with everyone using a site like Shutterfly.
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.
Put a "head" shot of your honoree, or a caricature if that's what you use for the invitation, on a three-sided centerpiece. They're very popular, and we see them on people's bookshelves long after the party is over.

A great idea for centerpieces (that isn't even expensive) is to take a nice "head" shot of the individual being roasted 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.
graduation Party food
Serve what you can afford, but 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).

Party favors
You may want to give a gift to everyone who speaks. This is nice and should be funny and go 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 Lucite key chains that are picture frames (available at any Target, Super K or five and dime).

We're also big fans of giving your guests a party favor that can be eaten after the party has ended. Here are a few of our favorites:
Have a great roast and remember it's a celebration of the graduate!