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How to organise a graduation party: a checklist

Your graduate worked hard for that degree. Now it’s time for you to show your skills with our graduation party checklist.


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graduation party: champagne being poured into small glass flute sat on marble worktop

Planning a graduation party? It’s a great way to celebrate the student in your family, but it’s natural to feel a little daunted by the task. All you need are a few first class graduation party ideas and a clear guide. Our graduation party tips include how to decorate for a graduation party and how to pick a theme, with a handy checklist to tick off!

Set up trash cans in several obvious spots – it makes it easy for your guests to clean up after themselves! Keeping a surface cleaner like Handy Andy close by will also be useful against any accidental spills.

Graduation party themes

The right theme will help make the party a fun and memorable event for your great graduate and their special guests. You can make it particular to their university or specific to their interests.

Here are some fun graduation party themes to inspire you:

  • University clubs: if they were big on extra-curricular activities, use these as your theme – whether that’s a performance group or a sports team.

  • Specialist subjects: if they loved their particular area of expertise, focus on this – whether that’s sciences, humanities, business, engineering, education or law.

  • Friends: if the social side of college life was their favourite part, make the theme all about the people they met and the experiences they had.

Graduation decoration ideas

Once you’ve set your theme, it will be much easier to arrange everything else – particularly decorations. Whatever theme you’ve picked, there are general graduation party decoration ideas that you can customise to it. Here are our favourites:

  • Bunting: use the university’s pennant or flag as the inspiration for your bunting – lots of banners with the college’s name and colours will create a great environment.

  • Photos: print large, poster-size versions of favourite photos from college life and prop these up on easels around the room or garden.

  • Props: it’s fun to set up a photo booth area with university-related props, like mortarboards, and pretend certificates rolled into scrolls!

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As for how to decorate for a graduation party on a budget, you’ll be amazed how much of an impact a simple colour scheme can make. Use the university’s colours and then find cheap decorations you can buy – or, even better, make – to have a sophisticated, pared-back party.

Outdoor graduation party ideas

Want to take the fun outside? It’s worth having a backup if the weather turns wet, so have a gazebo on standby. You can buy a small one cheaply or hire a larger marquee-style structure if the weather is a big concern.

You’ll want to keep food covered even if it’s dry, so using a gazebo for your eating area is one of our top outdoor graduation party tips. Use pop-up food covers to keep flies away too.

Graduation party checklist

Take the stress out of planning a graduation party by using a graduation party checklist. Work through the items one by one and you’ll feel on top of it all.

Here are some graduation party ideas for creating your checklist:

  • Decide on the date

  • Book the venue

  • Send the invitations

  • Plan the catering

  • Organise the decorations

Now you know how to organise a graduation party, from outdoor graduation party ideas to the perfect decorations. Get ready to give the graduate in your life the best ever send-off from college. It’s party time!

  • Match your graduation party decoration ideas to your theme.

  • Have a gazebo on standby when hosting a graduation party outside.

  • Draw up a checklist to keep on track with your planning.

Originally published