Graduation Party Checklist + Free Printable List

A graduation is the perfect occasion to show your grad how proud you are of their hard work and accomplishments. Planning well in advance will guarantee a memorable graduation party for your child to share with family and friends. You want to start thinking of a theme for your graduation announcements, invitations and thank you notes. Once the date, theme and venue are set, start looking into other elements including decorations, entertainment, food and party favors. To help you along, we’ve put together this graduation party checklist. It helps give a comprehensive view of the endless possibilities in creating an unforgettable moment to celebrate your child’s milestone.

  • three to six months before the party

    3-6 Months Prior

  • Set the Date and Time

    Most families decide to celebrate on the day of the graduation ceremony but if you would like to avoid the crowds, consider another date around that time to host your party.

  • Establish a Budget

    Knowing from the beginning how much you can spend can really help you hone in on what you need to arrange for a memorable experience. Set a realistic budget and plan the details with your goal in mind.

  • Choose a Theme

    Think about what your graduate is passionate about to create a unique party theme. Use it as a way to encourage them into their next step in life.

  • Create a Guest List

    Having a rough estimate or setting a cap on your guest list will come in handy when choosing a venue and food options. A small gathering can be just as fun and special as a big bash so consider the type of environment your graduate prefers.

  • Reserve a Venue

    Whether you’re choosing to host your party at home, a restaurant or an event venue, be sure to consider the space for the number of guests you will be expecting. Distance from the ceremony location and possible weather conditions are good things to keep in mind when making your decision.

  • Figure Out Parking for Guests

    When the location is finalized, it’s always a nice gesture to ensure ample parking options for your guests. If you’ll be hosting the party at home, we recommend informing your neighbors.

  • Start Collecting Photos and Memorabilia

    Make use of any photos, diplomas, medals and other significant items your graduate has received as props and decorations. Displaying a shadow box, poster or an award are simple ways to add meaningful decor without breaking the bank.

  • Book Entertainment

    If you’re interested in having a DJ or band, start looking at options early. If you’ll be playing from a playlist, begin compiling a list of fun and upbeat songs that your guests will enjoy.

  • Begin a List of Decorations and Supplies

    With the theme in mind, make a list of decorations you would like to see at your party. Note all the necessary supplies for any DIY decorations you’re planning.

  • Buy Stamps and Address Labels

    We like to be prepared. With your estimated number of guests in mind, purchase your stamps and address labels for your invitations and announcements.

  • Order Graduation Products

    Stay up to date with any school deadlines to order your child’s cap and gown, class ring and yearbook. It’s also good to know when these items will arrive, in case your child is planning on personalizing their graduation cap or yearbook.

  • one to two months before the party

    1-2 Months Prior

  • Begin Purchasing Decorations and Supplies

    Graduation decorations go quickly during this season so do your shopping early. Aspirational banners, streamers and confetti will not only add to the fun, but ensure many picture-perfect moments.

  • Begin Purchasing Food and Drinks

    Whether you’ll be cooking yourself or catering, start thinking about the food your graduate and guests will enjoy most. Fun snacks and recipes like fondue or pretzels are always a hit. Buying non-perishable ingredients can help lessen the load as you get closer to the date.

  • Send Out Invitations

    With your guestlist finalized, you can now start sending out your graduation invitations. To personalize your invitations, don’t forget to add a graduation quote that fits your graduate’s journey. Including direction cards and parking instructions is also a nice touch.

  • Make Any Travel Arrangements for Guests

    There may not be many, but it’s always good to book rooms and travel arrangements early for out-of-town guests to avoid any last-minute hiccups.  

  • Order Thank You Cards

    Begin brainstorming what you want your thank you cards to say. Once you’ve written the perfect thank you message, place your order and keep in a safe place.  

  • Order Rentals

    We recommend ordering any tables, chairs, props and decorations at this time. Wedding and graduation seasons often overlap so be sure to order your rentals early.

  • Book Photographer and Videographer

    Good photographers and videographers get booked quickly! Begin looking at their work and reach out to some of your favorites. A budget-friendly option is to ask a friend or family member who has an eye for photography to take your photos.

  • Make Appointments for Hair and Makeup

    Whether your graduate wants to have their hair and makeup professionally done on their big day or will be in need of a haircut, booking at this time will help you avoid settling for a last resort.

  • Start Your Photo Boards and Slideshow

    Placing photos of your graduate’s achievements and milestones throughout the event is another great way to share special memories with your family and friends. Collect any pictures of your child participating in academic contests or sports, receiving an award or studying abroad.

  • Purchase Your Graduate’s Gift and Card

    Reward your child with a thoughtful and personalized gift accompanied by an inspiring congratulations card. We recommend gifting them something they can treasure and use as inspiration for their next journey.

  • Begin Looking for Outfit(s)

    About a month prior is a good time to start shopping for your family’s outfits. If you have any little ones, be sure to keep a second option close in case of any spills. You want to make sure the whole family is looking their best for the photo.

  • one to three months before the party

    1-3 Weeks Prior

  • Order Cake and Flowers

    Whether you’re ordering a bakery cake or baking it yourself, lock down your plan. With the theme and season in mind, place your order for any decorative flowers you’re planning on having as well.  

  • Order and Send Out Announcements

    Giving your guests a heads up is a great way to avoid conflicting schedules. Figure out the best time to send out your announcements based on your guest list.

  • Order Signage

    It doesn’t have to be custom but a big “Congratulations!” or “You Did It!” sign is a must-have at graduation parties. Large photos or personalized canvas prints can serve as unique and fun outdoor props.

  • Order Guestbook and Party Favors

    It’s always nice to remember the people that celebrated your family’s milestones. Having a guestbook will make for a nice keepsake for the family.

  • Finalize Food and Drinks

    If you’re cooking yourself, go over your shopping list and make sure you have all the necessary ingredients and supplies. Don’t forget items like warming food trays and serving utensils. If you hired a caterer, now would be a good time to check in and confirm your order, time and date.

  • Finish Purchasing Decorations

    Go shopping for any missing decoration items and begin any DIY projects you have on your list. Don’t forget to get creative! Use your theme, inside jokes, memories and accomplishments to inspire your party’s decor.

  • Assign Tasks to Your Helpers

    Many family members and friends are always willing to lend a hand. Take some things off your plate and assign tasks to others. Think of manageable errands like picking up the cake, setting up signage or setting out food and drinks.

  • Wrap Gift(s) for Your Graduate

    Since this can be easily forgotten, we thought we’d include a reminder to wrap any gifts for your graduate. If they’re the curious type, be sure to hide them well.

  • Check the Weather

    Although the weather can be tricky, looking at a general forecast a week prior can help avoid any unwanted surprises. If the forecast is not ideal, make any arrangements where possible.

  • Begin Preparing the Speech

    Saying a few words to share any memories and express how proud you are of your graduate is another must in our book. Look up speech tips and ideas to help you find the inspiration you need to convey an inspiring message.

  • Purchase Bathroom Supplies

    If you decided to host at home, be sure to stock up on bathroom supplies. Customized frames and signs are easy ways to incorporate your party theme in the bathroom.

  • Create a Loose Day-of Agenda

    Prepare a general timeline for how you want the party to flow. Delays are always common but knowing when you want to serve dinner, give the speech and cut the cake will help things run smoothly.

  • 1-2 days before the party

    1-2 Days Prior

  • Begin Decorating If Possible

    If you’ll be hosting at home, begin decorating a day prior. Don’t forget to consider weather conditions when choosing which arrangements to set out early—you don’t want to have any of your decorations ruined by the morning. If you decided on a venue, pack and label decorations accordingly a night prior so set up will be a breeze.

  • Clean the House and Yard

    Making sure your home is looking its best when your guests arrive will guarantee a perfect backdrop for your photos.

  • Charge Camera and Empty Memory Cards

    If you or a family member will be taking photos, start emptying out your memory cards and charging your batteries. We also recommend purchasing a backup battery so you don’t miss capturing any special moments.

  • Buy Any Last-Minute Supplies

    It happens — last minute needs always come up when planning a party. Write a to-do list of the few things you may have missed and make a last errand run before the big day.

  • Finalize Your Agenda and Confirm Weather Conditions

    Now that all is planned and ready to go, finalize your schedule and let your helpers in on the plan to ensure a smooth day.

  • day of the party

    Day Of

  • Pick Up Cake, Balloons and Flowers

    Whether it’s you or your assigned helpers, make sure there’s enough time to pick up any day-of items.

  • Place Drinks in Cooler

    This step can be so easily overlooked but nobody likes warm soft drinks. Place any beverages in your fridge or cooler at least one hour before your party.

  • Finish Setting Up Decorations

    Most graduations are scheduled early in the day so make sure you plan a time to set up your decorations and arrangements before your guests arrive.

  • Set Up Games

    There are many fun game ideas you can add to your party. If you planned on having any games, make sure you designate a comfortable, large space for your guests to play.

  • Set Out Food

    If you purchased warming trays, set out food about 30 minutes to an hour before it’s time to eat.

  • Enjoy and Celebrate with Your Graduate

    A graduation truly is a family accomplishment. Celebrate and pamper your graduate for all their hard work and let them know how excited you are for their next journey.

Printable Graduation Party Checklist

This ultimate graduation party checklist is organized like a timeline to help you plan the most memorable graduation party for your hardworking scholar.

They say it takes a village to raise a child so use this opportunity to thank your student for their dedication and anyone else who has played an important role in their life. Be sure to create some special personalized gifts for your guests that will capture this event for years to come.