How to Plan a Graduation Party

If you’re the parent or guardian of a soon-to-be high school graduate, you’re facing one of the most exciting and memorable times of their lives (and yours) – Graduation Day.

Graduation day is one thing. But for most students, it’s the graduation party that tops off the experience and creates the special memories they’ll cherish for a lifetime.

Planning a graduation party can feel like a daunting task, but with the proper planning, it doesn’t need to be. It can be just as fun and rewarding an experience as the party itself!

In this article, we take you through a step-by-step process of how to throw a graduation party. Learn to plan, budget, organize, and enjoy one of the best parties you’ve ever arranged.

Why Graduation Parties Are Important

Graduation day is a “rite of passage” for American and Canadian teens. It’s the day when a number of things come together at a crossroads; they get to draw a line under some of the most formative years of their lives and look forward to a new chapter as they enter adulthood and their chosen career path.

Sounds a little daunting and scary when you lay it out like that. But anyone who thinks back to his or her own graduation and graduation party should have a big smile, remembering how fun it was.

How to Plan a Graduation Party the Right Way

The keyword here is “plan.” The more planning that goes into your party preparations, the smoother the whole process is going to go. From right now, to when the last guest leaves on the night, the proof is in the planning.

We cover most of these questions in this article, but it’s a good idea to jot down answers to the following as you outline your plan:

  • Do you know who you’ll be inviting?
  • Do you know when and where you want to hold the party?
  • Do you know the theme of the party?
  • Do you know your budget?
  • Do you have anyone to help you with the planning?

Don’t panic if you answered “no” to all of the above. Tackle one point at a time and the overall plan will unfold in front of your eyes. 

The Importance of Creating a Budget – and Sticking to It!

It’s easy to get carried away and list everything you want for your party. But this can quickly add up to cost much more than your budget allows.

If you start with a firm budget, you can plan all the elements of the party around your budget needs, chopping and changing bits as you go.

Begin by writing down all the essentials that you are going to pay for. Then put a good estimate next to each item, tally them up and compare the total to your budget. You can start trimming or adding as appropriate from there.

Here is a list of the most common items to budget for to get you started:

  • Invitations and thank-you notes
  • Decorations – balloons, flowers, centerpieces, banners (you can save money on banners by using Best of Signs graduation banners)
  • Food and drink
  • Catering staff
  • Tent and location rentals
  • Equipment rentals – for catering, lighting, etc.
  • Photographers and videographers
  • Entertainment

Tips for Picking the Date and Time

Picking the date and time for the party can be a little tricky. You need to balance finding a date that doesn’t clash with another party and a time that works for people who need to travel.

Keep in mind that May and June are pretty packed for graduation parties. Nothing wrong with shifting it back to July or August for a clear window. Plus, the weather might even be better.

Invitations and Thank-You Notes

It’s always a good idea to order invitations and thank-you notes at the same time. That way, as you write out the invitations you can also write the thank-you notes and not forget anyone.

There are many option designs online for invitations, but try to keep the design and tone in line with the party’s theme. Also, don’t forget to add any important bits of information, such as dress code, what to bring, the date and time, etc.

Selecting Styles, Themes, Decorations, and Everything In Between

There is a lot of scope when it comes to the direction you want to take the theme and style of a graduation party. If you already have something specific in mind for the soon-to-be-graduate, such as a theme around his or her chosen college or something unique to them, great.

If not, for a more traditional approach, these are the three core themes most graduation parties fall under:


You can’t go wrong with a formal dress code. This makes it easy to order the decorations too. Think smart and crisp white linens, fine China dinnerware, traditional flower arrangements, and simple color themes utilizing 2-3 core colors.

Non-formal (casual)

If you don’t want everyone to be in formal attire, they’re going to be coming in casual. This means paper cups, plastic plates, and throwaway tablecloths. This allows you to be a lot more creative with your color schemes, too. A casual party atmosphere can feel chaotic at times, but it’s always a lot of fun.

Hawaiian Luau

Hawaiian Luau party themes are really popular for graduation parties. It’s easy to see why. Hawaiians are known for combining great food with a laid-back, fun atmosphere while throwing in plenty of color and character.

Decorating for a Hawaiian Luau is so much fun. You can use lots of natural features, such as bamboo placemats, have seashells and palm tree leaves scattered around, build elaborate flower arrangements, and you can hand out Leis as people walk in.

Whichever theme you opt for, you’re going to need customized banners to mark the graduate’s special day. You can make your own Best of Signs graduation banners here.

Some Cool Entertainment Ideas to Get You Started

It’s almost certain your party’s attendees are going to look forward to a dance at the end of the night. You could hire a DJ to play music throughout the day/evening, and swap to a live band at the end of the night, budget permitting.

Some additional entertainment ideas to keep everyone entertained throughout the day include:

  • Photo booths – These have become a party must-have and are responsible for some priceless memories.
  • Magicians – Having a magician or two walking around performing tricks is a fun, light-hearted option.
  • Life-sized party games – If you have some lawn space, put out a few games like bowling, Twister, Connect Four, and so on.
  • Floating lantern send off – There’s something enchanting and memorable about releasing floating lanterns at the end of the night.

Personalize Your Party Today

By now, you are equipped with the knowledge and confidence you need to throw an excellent graduation party.

As long as you work through your to-do list methodically, are comfortable saying “no” to things that deviate from your plan, and keep an eye on the end goal, it’ll all work out flawlessly.

If you want to cross off one of the most important items on your list, visit Best of Signs for fast, excellent results. Upload your design to make an impressive, custom banner for your graduation party today.

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