The school year is at an end, which means that it’s time for a new class of graduates to walk across the stage, receive their diploma and throw their graduation cap into the air. Graduation is a wonderful time to celebrate all the hard work the graduate has accomplished throughout the years. Between staying up late to study, finish homework, and cram for final exams, the amount of time and effort that was put into their education deserves to be recognized. If your son or daughter is graduating this year, celebrate this huge milestone with a fun party they’ll remember for a lifetime. To help you plan your perfect party, we’ve collected creative graduation party ideas below; plus a great video for anyone who is thinking to DIY their grad party. For more ideas continue to read on and learn more about the great personalized Graduation products Shutterfly has to offer.
From creative graduation party ideas to tasty graduation cap and diploma-themed desserts, there are plenty of ideas here that are great for every high school or college graduation party. Explore below to help you discover fun graduation party ideas. Whether you’re throwing a high school graduation party or a college graduation party, you’re sure to find food, decorations, and favor ideas here that you, and everyone else you’ll be celebrating with will be sure to love.
With the drinks, appetizers, and desserts all selected, don’t forget to make a matching graduation party invite and customized graduation announcements that will delight your guests and your grad. Say congratulations to your graduate with these graduation party ideas.
1. Shadow Box
Make floating thank you cards for a unique way to show your appreciation to those who attended your child’s big celebration. Get your graduate to take pictures with your guests, then, print the images on thin, 4×6-sized, lightweight paper, and attach those images to festive, helium-filled balloons as thank you cards your guests can take home.
2. Tissue Paper Decor
This year sign is easy to make, and it’s perfect for a graduation party. Simply glue tissue paper in the color of your choice to foam-board numbers. If your son or daughter is graduating from high school, consider choosing the colors of the college they will be attending. Making a year sign is also a great opportunity for some fun photos. Grab your friends and family members, and pose in front of your year sign to make a lifetime of memories to look back on.
3. Memory Jar
A memory jar is a great way to celebrate the good times of high school. All you need is a decorative mason jar, some pens or pencils and enough strips of paper for each guest. Once each guest has a strip of paper to write on, they can jot down their favorite memory from high school. Whether it be reminiscing the time they rode on the school bus with their closest friends or walking through the halls, a memory jar will help them remember all the good times.
4. Graduation Cap Cupcakes
Pay homage to the traditional graduation cap with homemade cupcakes — featuring a chocolate cake base, a chocolate graham cracker top and a licorice tassel. These fun and tasty-looking treats will have hungry friends, family, and guests coming back for more. These graduation caps will be as tasty as they are festive and are perfect for taking fun photos.
5. Photo Book
Contact your graduate’s friends and ask for any and all photographs that show the time that they spent together during their school career. Whether it be photos they took at their high school pep rally or a fun picture with the college mascot, there are numerous ways to put together a unique photo book. Collect the photos and memories beforehand, and use them to create a professionally printed photo book with Shutterfly.
6. Soft Pretzels
For a fun snack, try pretzels twisted into graduation caps. Not only are pretzels a popular snack, they’re easy to serve and won’t make a mess. Provide dips like mustard and cheese as an extra treat, and make sure to take some photos before eating to remember the creative design.
7. Graduation Candy Class Rings
Looking for inexpensive graduation gifts? On your dessert table, put out sweet and delicious “class rings” for your guests to enjoy. Not only are these class rings perfect for eating, but are great to show off in photos as well. Grab your friends and family members, and take a photo with all your hands in one picture to showcase your graduation year.
8. Pretzel Graduates
For something sweet and savory, chocolate-covered pretzel pops are easy to make and delicious. Dip your pretzel sticks in chocolate, and use fondant to create mini graduation-themed shapes everyone will be sure to appreciate.
9. Festive Graduation Cupcakes
Whip up a batch of vanilla and chocolate cupcakes, or any flavor of your choice. Add a festive flair by using fun diploma and graduation hat toppers, or toppers that say the graduation year and “Congrats, Grad.” Guests will be sure to immediately take notice and appreciate the cute detail added on top of their tasty treats.
10. Fruity Diplomas
If you have little guests, hand out fruity roll diploma favors for them to enjoy. Tie them up with a black ribbon or a sweet piece of licorice to make the roll look like a diploma. Hand out each fruity roll diploma with a small note attached with a heartfelt message thanking each guest for attending your small gathering.
11. Pendant Grad Centerpieces
Add zest to your table centerpieces by creating striped boxes filled with colorful and glittery pendants. If your son or daughter is graduating from high school, incorporate school colors of the college they will be attending or the graduate’s favorite hues for a more personalized feel. Guests will be sure to appreciate the thought and effort put behind making the centerpiece.
12. Cupcake Stand
If you’re looking for graduation decoration ideas for your dessert table, check out this adorable graduation cap cupcake stand. While loading up your stand with your cupcakes, consider using colored frosting to match your high school graduates future school or college colors. Create tiers so you can display layers of delicious cupcakes for your friends, family members, and guests to enjoy.
13. Custom Cake
Make your graduation cake just as festive as the rest of your party. Proudly add your child’s graduation year using your son or daughters favorite candy, frosting or candles. Then, decorate the table with fun party favors and snacks for your guests to enjoy. Add streamers to your wall as well to match your decor and bring the whole room together.
14. School Mascot Decor
Add some school spirit to your graduation party by decorating your desserts with your graduate’s school mascot. Personalize the look by pinning photos of the graduate behind the table for friends, family, and guests to admire.
15. Graduation Cap Treats
Fill champagne flutes with tasty candy to celebrate your smart graduate. Top them off with traditional graduation caps made of cardboard and string to match your graduation themed party. Guests with a sweet tooth will love to munch on this treat during your party and appreciate the fun favor they will be able to take home with them too.
16. Graduation Pretzel Pops
Create delicious graduation pretzel pops by first covering pretzel rods in white chocolate. Then, attach your graduation year and give each of your pretzels a little chocolate cap for a creative touch.
17. Donut Stand
Donut forget the sugar! For an easy dessert table, grab some colorful donuts from your favorite shop and arrange them on cute platters and cake stands for everyone to enjoy. To accentuate your donut stand, get creative and design a sign with a clever graduation quote, or place streamers below the table to add fun pops of color.
18. Spring Colors
A pink and orange dessert bar will make for a bright and beautiful backdrop for your graduate’s party. Add some cotton candy, streamers, and macaroons to make your setup pop. Your graduate will love to pose for pictures with everyone, and they can eventually put all the collected memories together to create a photo book.
19. Taco or Nacho Bar
Host a taco or nacho bar. Grab all the necessary ingredients, and have fun creating and watching friends and family assemble their treat. Perfect for fiesta- or pool-themed graduation parties, taco and nacho bars are delicious and easy to put together.
20. Graduation Cap Toppers
These graduation cap cupcake toppers are too cute to toss into the air! You can easily make them by using black cardstock and a painted bottle cap. When finished with your cupcakes, make sure to save your cupcake toppers to have as a keepsake to look back on in the coming years.
21. Hanging Lights
Use the outdoors as part of your party’s decor. Hang some lanterns or lights on the greenery in your backyard to cast a soft light over your party. Guests will be sure to enjoy the warm glow and admire the thought and effort put into decorating.
22. Geometric Cake
This graduation party cake takes its inspiration from geometry class with its triangles and squares. Opt for vibrant tones like purple and teal for extra personality.
23. Streamers and Balloons
If you’re looking for a way to make your balloons more festive, attach the graduation year and some colorful streamers. Use this decor as your centerpieces or place the balloons next to your dessert table.
24. Instagram Highlights
This Instagram graduation party idea is perfect for every social media lover. You can use Instagram photos in a banner, as part of your centerpieces and on your invitations.
25. Graduation Cap Tassel Garland
Nothing says graduation like tassels — and a diploma, of course! Make your own tassels in your party’s color scheme and use them to add color to any wall or table throughout your event.
26. Soda Bottle Toppers
Graduation bottle cap toppers are a cute and inexpensive way to add detail to your child’s party. All you need are a few colorful foam sheets and a hot glue gun to create these fun shapes.
27. Grad Quote Board
Share inspirational quotes with your guests by creating a lovely “Words to Live By” wall decoration. Try a simple color scheme, like black and white, to make the words stand out.
28. Happy Balloons
Celebrate your child with some money-filled graduation balloons. Cut black and gold vinyl into graduation shapes and roll up a few bills to place in each balloon.
29. Feminine Tones
To decorate a large empty space or wall, create this pink and white balloon garland to add color and dimension. Use a silver or holographic fringe to fill the space in between.
30. Photo Trifold
Display your graduate’s photos on your home’s shutters using twine and small clothes pins. Combine the photos with a few inspirational graduation messages for an uplifting display.
31. Arrow Straw Toppers
Point your graduate in the direction of their dreams with these creative arrow straw toppers. Serve your straws with a fun drink like punch or flavored iced tea.
32. Walking Tacos
Everyone loves a taco bar! Set a table with various ingredients like tomatoes, lettuce and avocados. Display a letter board to tell your guests how to build their own taco.
33. Cookie Wreath
Let all of your guests know that your graduate is a smart cookie with this cute wreath. Bring cohesion to the party by choosing cookies as your main dessert. Offer chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin or coconut macaroons for variety.
34. Happy Tags
This bright tag makes for a great addition to a favors bag — filled with anything from candy to a deck of cards. The cheeriness of the yellow tag will make guests smile all the way home.
35. Photo Letters
Create a unique photo collage of your graduation by attaching black and white photos to papier-mâché letters that spell out ‘Grad.’ Your guests will enjoy looking through the favorite memories — from sports season highlights to hangouts with friends.
36. Cake Roll Diplomas
Give your guests delicious cake roll diplomas to enjoy by filling the middle with vanilla frosting. To make them look like real diplomas, tie a ribbon around the center.
37. Cap And Diploma Sandwiches
These delicious graduation cap and diploma sandwiches are perfect for a graduation tea party. Use garnish as tassels and serve on floral dinnerware to tie the theme together.
38. School Color Treats
Celebrate your graduate’s new school by using the school’s colors in your graduation party desserts. For inspiration, take a look at these sweet blue and white Oreos.
39. Photo Bouquet Centerpiece
If you’re looking for graduation decorations ideas for centerpieces, check out this lovely display that shows the graduate growing up. Select photos of sports seasons, school plays and friendly hangouts.
40. Paint Can Party Favors
If your graduate is going to art school, include paint cans as a cute graduation party favor. You can also add a cap and tassel to the top of the can.
41. Words of Wisdom
A graduation party is the perfect opportunity to gather some valuable advice. Create an advice tree for your guests to write some inspiring words for your graduate.
42. International Cookie Buffet
Celebrate your smart cookie with a dessert table filled with different types of cookies from around the world. Try macaroons to represent France and almond cookies to represent China.
43. Diploma Cookies
Rolled up chocolate cookies are a great addition to a dessert table. With a ribbon tied around them, they look just like diplomas. All your guests will feel accomplished when they eat one of these treats.
44. Chips and Dips
On your food table, display the graduation year on clear plastic cans or jars. Then, fill the jars with chips and offer tasty dips like queso and guacamole.
45. Yummy Diploma Rolls
Create delicious diploma roll appetizers by filling wraps with a mixture of salmon, cream cheese and spices. Finish with a chive ribbon for flavor and style.
46. Candy Bar
Get your graduate excited about going out into the real world with these motivational sayings to place on jars of candy or other sweet treats. Hand make each letter out of cardstock and a pen and inspire your graduate.
47. S’more Sticks
Get pictures of your graduate, guests and other memorabilia from the day to decorate a shadow box. Have guests sign the back of the box with thoughtful messages. Your graduate can take it with them to decorate their dorm room.
48. Silver and Turquoise Scheme
If you’re looking for grad party ideas for girls, take inspiration from this beautiful dessert table featuring sparkly silver and turquoise decorations. From your garland to your graduation card box, deck everything out in this stunning color combination.
49. Cute Grad Cookies
Turn cookies into the perfect graduation party dessert by attaching a cute, edible smiley face with a graduation cap. Balance your dessert spread by offering cupcakes or a fruity dessert like chocolate-dipped strawberries.
50. Dollar Bill Caps
Fold up bills into graduation caps for a creative way to give money to a graduate. Your graduate will appreciate a fun gift that also doubles as an investment.
51. Graduation Cap Cake
Tip your cap to this creative graduation cake idea. Customize it by including school colors and a message to the graduate.
52. Graduation Wreath
A graduation wreath is a great way to display fun photos of your child growing up. Be sure to top the wreath with a paper graduation cap.
53. Cheery Vibes
For a spring or summer celebration, aim for a light and airy color scheme. Blend together yellows and whites for a carefree vibe that delights guests.
54. College Pennants
Get your graduate excited about their next step with these college-bound cupcakes. Add mini college pennants using toothpicks in your child’s school colors.
55. Fortune Cookies
As your graduate takes the next steps toward their future, invite your guests to look into their own futures with decorated fortune cookies. Fill the cookies with little slips of paper donning favorite quotes and positive messages.
56. Double Graduate Decor
If you’re celebrating two graduates who are going to different colleges, create two food tables decorated with each school’s colors. Streamers, garland and balloons make for great, easy accents.
57. Framed Photo Booth
Nothing says party like some fun photo props. Get everyone excited to take photos with a balloon frame made of your child’s school colors. These snapshots will become memories for a lifetime.
58. Cheerful Color Scheme
Add brightness to your graduation party dessert table by decorating with cheery yellow sunflowers. Match your treats to the color scheme by offering lemon cookies and yellow-frosted cupcakes.
59. Happy Colors
Add a pop of color to your graduation party by filing number-shaped dishes with bright chocolate candies. Include other vibrant colors in your decor — like yellow flowers — for a truly festive feel.
60. Beloved Blue
If you want your graduation party to have a serene vibe, cover some large props in mesmerizing blue. Add smaller accents like frames and table decor in the same color throughout your party.
61. Money Cupcake Toppers
For a creative cupcake topper, add an accordion-folded dollar bill. To make it graduation-themed, attach a cute sticker with uplifting words or a graduation cap symbol.
62. Coordinating Desserts
Whether it’s your child’s school colors or a classic black and gold color scheme, easily incorporate your party’s colors into your desserts with frosting and edible sugar decorations.
63. Painted Wooden Sign
Let your guests know where the party is with cute, custom street signs. Decorate your signs in your party’s color scheme and add a few balloons to make it eye-catching.
64. Sunshine Treats
Put out a spread of chocolate bars in adorable blue and yellow wrappers that feature sun illustrations. These treats will surely brighten your guests’ days!
65. Outdoor Celebration
For a rustic outdoor party, all you need are vinyl tablecloths, floral centerpieces and some candle jars. To incorporate your child’s school colors, add a pennant to each centerpiece.
66. Straw Accessories
Create a fun graduation topper for your straws using black cardstock and construction paper. Finish with a little gold tassel. Whether you’re serving sangria or lemonade, these accessories will be a big hit.
67. Frosted Cupcakes
College is where the graduation cap plays the biggest role. Incorporate the cap as a symbol in your decor is a great way to recognize the importance of what has been achieved.
68. Memory Blocks
Create a sweet keepsake for your graduate by inviting guests to write memories on wooden blocks. Your guests will enjoy helping you build fond memories and a fun, timeless game.
69. Graduation Party Favors
Thank your guests for celebrating your smarty pants with this bright favors tag. Fill the bag with goodies like matching colorful gumballs and candy.
70. Garden Party
Create a garden on your graduation dessert table by using flower cookies and flower pot decorations. Accent with fresh blooms or fabric flowers.
71. Memory Board
For a graduation decoration idea, try displaying a memory board with some of your graduate’s favorite memories from school. You can include other keepsakes like ribbons, medals and tickets to the school play.
72. Ice Cream Sundaes
Provide single-serve ice cream sundaes. Fill individual mason jars with a scoop of ice cream, and then add various sundae toppings before securing them with a lid and placing them in a cooler.
73. Weather-Friendly Locale
Since the weather can unpredictable, throw a semi-outdoor graduation party under a tent or in a garage. Whether it’s sunny or drizzling, you’ll be prepared to handle both.
74. Graduation Pendants
Colorful pendants are a great idea for a school-themed centerpiece. You can also combine your pendants with bright flowers and photographs of the graduate.
75. Burger Bar
Burgers are a versatile and delicious addition to a graduation party. You can even make them go with your party’s theme by using creative and cute signs.
76. Colorful Cookies
At the end of your party, give your guests colorful graduation cap cookies to take home and enjoy. Wrap each cookie in plastic and attach a clever tag.
77. Pencil Centerpiece
If your graduating student has some old No. 2 pencils left over from their school days, attach them to a pencil canister. Fill the decorative vase with fresh blooms for a creative centerpiece.
78. Cupcake Castle
Use rolled wafers and store-bought chocolate to create graduation cap and diploma shapes for your desserts. Use them to top off your cupcakes and place them in a layered pattern on your dessert bar.
79. Framed Invite
For a lovely piece of decor, frame one of your graduation party invitations. You can also have guests sign the frame to create a wonderful keepsake.
80. Graduation Lanterns
Create some fun lanterns as centerpieces for your graduation party. Pick the materials in your chosen color scheme and add a cute graduation cap at the top to tie it all in.
81. Global Get-Up
If your child is ready to travel the world after their graduation, use their dreams as inspiration. Incorporate globes, maps and adventurous quotes to nurture their wanderlust.
82. Luau Theme
Hula skirts, flower leis and a variety of island-appropriate food — up to and including a luau-style pig roast — are the staples of a great luau themed party.
83. Quirky Decor
For the outgoing graduate, get creative with over-the-top decorations. Blend bright colors, patterns and feathers to make your props stand out. A custom party will be one your graduate never forgets.
84. Chocolate Treats
To make sweet and delicious graduation cap candies, attach a small chocolate bar to a mini peanut butter cup. Finish with a colorful candy tassel.
85. Glittery Cookies
Select a sugar cookie or shortbread recipe to make picture-perfect treats. These glittery gold graduation cap cookies are almost too pretty to eat. The white tassel is a lovely finishing touch.
86. Photo Wall
For a sweet and nostalgic decor idea, decorate your walls with photos of your son or daughter growing up. Your photos will bring guests right into the action and make them feel even more connected to the graduate.
87. Photo Wreath
To make a lovely graduation decoration, frame a few of your favorite small photos of your graduate. Hang them up on a black cardboard wreath and place the wreath near the dessert or gift table.
88. Memory Jar
Invite your guests to write down some of their favorite memories with the graduate. Have them place the memories in a decorative jar. The graduate will feel the love as they read through these special notes.
89. DIY Picture Frame
Attach a sparkly frame and a classic tassel to a small chalkboard for an adorable graduation decoration idea. Decorate your frame with the graduation year and an encouraging message.
90. College Color Decor
Your graduate’s new school is a great theme idea for a graduation party. For inspiration, take a look at how this party incorporated University of Mississippi decor into their dessert table.
91. Dollar Dessert
There’s nothing we love more than cake — unless it’s a money cake. Celebrate your graduate with a bang by gifting them some cash for all of their hard work and accomplishments.
92. School Color Scheme
Try providing some food items that match your graduate’s school colors, like this party that incorporated black and red tortilla chips. Coordinate your signage and other decor with your color scheme.
93. Candy Graduation Caps
Give each of your guests their own candy graduation cap to take home by attaching a piece of black paper to a wrapped candy. Finish with a ribbon in your school’s colors.
94. Vintage Style
If your graduate is a lover of all things vintage, adding a few old items like some hardcover books and a trunk will do the trick. Use them as decor or as a fun backdrop for your photos.
95. Lit Graduation Sign
Add brightness to a graduation year sign by decorating it with white holiday lights. For a lush look, surround the numbers with fresh greenery and flowers.
96. Confetti and Color
Break out the confetti for this colorful graduation year sign. For even more festiveness, place gold party horns in front of the sign. The best part? The display creates a beautiful backdrop for photos of the graduate and their friends.
97. Photo Table Runner
Incorporate special moments you’ve captured throughout your graduate’s childhood as part of your party’s decor. Create a table runner or place a few frames on your dessert bar to celebrate your child’s journey.
98. Graduation Yard Signs
Celebrate your grad with a customized yard sign that will make them feel special and appreciated. You can display this at their grad party and have guests sign it for a more memorable graduation keepsake.
99. Graduation Selfie Frames
Make the pictures you take at your graduation party stand out with this personalized graduation selfie frame. Customize your own personalized frame that will give an extra decorative design to all the pictures you took at your graduation party.
Final Thoughts on Graduation Party Ideas
No matter which desserts and decor you choose, the most important aspect is celebrating the graduate. Create a photo book to showcase special memories and commemorate their journey. Display the photo book at their party and give it to them as a keepsake to treasure for years to come. Make this party extra special for your grad with these fantastic graduation party ideas. For more inspiration, check out our graduation ideas Pinterest board.