View video: Host the perfect graduation party
After years of teachers and textbooks, it's time to reap the benefits
from all that studying! Hosting a goodbye to grades celebration doesn't
require a lot of pomp and circumstance. Choose a theme for the party,
such as "Forever Summer Vacation" with a luau theme, "Welcome to
the Jungle" with a rainforest theme, "Smooth Sailing" with a nautical
touch, or "Show Me the Money" with a financial angle to the party.
Then follow these easy tips to make your graduation celebration a
Grade A Invitations
- Write the party details with a calligraphy pen on white
parchment, then roll it up and tie with ribbons using school
- Make mortarboard (graduation cap) invitations from black
cardstock tied with a tassel, and write details in silver ink.
- Create a fake "Final Exam" for your invitation, and ask multiple
choice questions such as, "At Rebecca's Graduation Party, you
want: a. lots of food, b. a DJ, c. a toga party, or d. all of the
- Make personalized report cards with party details included—and
give everyone straight A's in "Partying 101."
- Include a kindergarten picture of the graduate, along with their
senior picture, for a "Before" and "After" invitation.
- Ask guests to come dressed as school stereotypes, such as a
cheerleader, jock, nerd, skater, teacher or principal.
- If it's a surprise party, blow up pictures of the faculty, attach
them to large craft sticks, and write the party details on the
back. Then have the guests hold them over their faces when
they yell "surprise" to the unsuspecting grad.
Intro to Decorations
Tape up banners, garland, and "Class of ..." signs in school colors. Use
a Balloon Time Helium Balloon Kit to inflate balloons, tape a
mortarboard to the top of bundles of helium balloons, and let them
float from the ceiling as if they're flying through the air. Decorate the
room with school mementoes, such as saved dance tickets, corsages,
prom programs, textbooks, old reports, beat-up binders and pictures
from the yearbook. Give the guests grad caps to wear and
megaphones and clappers to use at the party. Rent movies to play in
the background such as "Napoleon Dynamite," "National Lampoon's
Animal House" or "Ferris Bueller's Day Off."
Cover the table with the newspaper want-ad section, and circle some
of the "Help Wanted" or the more bizarre ads. Collect job applications
from fast food restaurants and gas stations and use them as
placemats. Or, blow up pictures of the faculty and use them as
placemats. Have a replica of the school mascot serve as a centerpiece.
Grad Games and Activities
Write the names of teachers on sticky labels, place them on guests as
they arrive (be sure they can't see what professor they've been given),
and have players ask "Yes/No" questions to find out which professor
Whatever Happened to...
Write funny predictions about guests, such as, "Matt Warner, captain
of the football team, now has his own chain of drop-in brain surgery
clinics." Insert them in balloons and inflate the balloon using a Balloon
Time Helium Balloon kit, write the names of the guests on the
balloons, then have them pop the balloons to find out their funny
Give the guests autograph bears, dogs, caps or books to sign.
School Scrapbook Memories
Set out scrapbooking materials and have the grads make their own
Have "cafeteria helpers" wearing aprons and hairnets serve classic
cafeteria food (only better!) on plastic trays. Give each dish an
"appetizing" name card, such as "Meat Surprise" or "Broccoli Jell-O."
Offer popular school foods, such as pizzas, hamburgers, chips, and
sodas. Serve them from lunch boxes and pour drinks from thermoses.
Grad Gifts and Party Prizes
Give the graduate a scrapbook to safeguard school memories, a
personalized engraved pen set, a keychain with a "key to the future,"
a funny tie to wear to work, an autograph book to collect good wishes
from the guests, a cartoon lunch box, personalized business cards, a
new wallet, a name plate, or a nice briefcase filled with want-ads or
Send the guests home with grad hats, clappers, and megaphones,
"Class of ..." photo frames with group pictures, pens engraved with the
school name, autograph books, or job-hunting books.
Penny Warner has more than 25 years of experience as an author and party planner. She has published more than 50 books, including 16 specific to parties. Additionally, Warner writes a weekly newspaper column on family life, penned a column for Sesame Street Parents magazine and has appeared on several regional and national TV morning programs. Her latest book, HOW TO HOST A KILLER PARTY, debuted in February 2010 from NAL/Penguin.
Balloon Time is the leading brand of consumer helium balloon kits in North America. Balloon Time kits feature a helium-filled tank, latex or foil balloons and ribbon, and are available at national retail chains, party goods and grocery stores nationwide.