Checklist for How to Plan the Perfect Graduation Party

Group of grad students looking happy outdoors

Whether the graduation is from high school or university or the graduate is your child, best friend, or significant other, you want to plan the very best graduation party possible. Luckily, you have a little bit of time to make sure that the party is absolutely perfect, as most high schools and universities don’t let out until the beginning or middle of May.

Finishing high school or getting a degree is a serious achievement, so celebrating it properly is almost as big of a deal as the actual graduation. If you are looking to plan the perfect graduation party, here is everything you need to know.

Pick Your Budget

Before picking the time and date, before choosing where you want to hold it, and before even picking a theme (if you’re going to pick a theme besides “You’re Graduated!”), you’ve got to nail down your budget. If you aren’t paying attention to how much you’re spending, you can easily spend far more than you had originally intended to spend.

Sit down with everyone who is going to be involved in the planning process and discuss how much money you can afford to pour into the party. You can plan a great graduation party on a very small budget, or you can throw a huge party if your budget is hefty. However, make sure you know where on that scale you are before you start trying to rent a banquet hall and hire waiters. Usually, parents, friends, relatives, and other invested individuals will be more than willing to donate a little cash to make the party truly great.

Choose a Venue

Once you know how much money you can spend, it’s time to pick a venue. There are likely going to be a number of great venues in your area, but your budget is going to be the sticking point—as well as which day and what time of day you are planning to hold your party. If you are holding a party for a high school graduate or group of graduates, there is going to be some competition for party spaces and times.

Planning a party for a university grad, however, usually means less competition, especially if you are planning the party in his hometown, instead of in the university town. Churches, hotel conference rooms, restaurants, and even bars (for older graduates) are all great options. However, if you cannot find a venue that is neither inexpensive enough to fit into your budget nor large enough to hold your guests, you should consider a rental tent.

When you rent a tent, you have the option of setting up your party just about anywhere. The weather in the end of April, May, and early June will be perfect for an outdoor party, while a tent will help to contain the festivities and may even provide a little shelter from whatever spring breeze or light rain might decide to crash your party. Renting a tent is a great solution to both the problems of a limited budget and a long guest list, since you can rent one for far less than an indoor venue and get one as large as you need to accommodate the guests you intend to invite.

Time and Date

Picking a time and date will usually be less difficult for those who are graduating from college than those who are graduating from high school. Right after graduation is often the best time, unless your university’s graduation often runs into late at night. However, most high school graduations are either in the morning or in the early afternoon, so there is plenty of time to party after the graduation itself is over. What this usually means, however, is not that it is easy to pick a time, but that there will be many different schedules to compete with.

Unless your high schooler is sharing his party with his friends, he will likely have a long list of parties that he wants to attend, as well as his own party, which he will want his friends to attend. Picking an odd night or time can solve this problem—having the party the week before or after graduation or right after the ceremony or even right before can make it easier to fit into what will no doubt be a busy couple of weeks.

Send Invites

There is plenty of discussion online about whether or not it is appropriate to send online invitations to parties. Especially for the generation about to graduate from high school and college, there is nothing wrong with setting up a Facebook event and inviting all interested parties via Facebook, as long as emails or physical invitations go out, too. The problem with putting your trust just in Facebook is that all interested parties might not be on social media and accepting to attend an event on Facebook definitely isn’t a reliable RSVP.


You can go as corny or as sophisticated with graduation party decorations as you like. If you do rent a tent, you will have blank canvas, which you can decorate however you please. Just about any party supply store will have a wide variety of streamers, tablecloths, cups, plates, and graduation-themed items to choose from that make decorating your space even in the graduate’s school colors easy and inexpensive. If you want to go with a more sophisticated theme, black and gold are classic colors that can be accented with a school’s individual colors for more modern decorations.

Once you have these basics down, all you’ll need to do is make a guest list and create a menu and you will be ready to celebrate this momentous achievement!

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