How To Plan A Graduation Party (2024)

Written byShutterfly Community Last Updated: Apr 18, 2023

Whether your student is graduating high school, college, or even completing an advanced degree, you can’t wait to celebrate their many accomplishments. You’re so proud of all their hard work and many, many hours of dedication to make it to graduation, and can’t wait to share your pride with all your friends and family. And what better way to do so than with a fun graduation party? After all, your graduate deserves a party to let off a little steam after their finals. However, while most people know a graduation party’s success is all in the planning, they’re not completely sure where to begin. So we’re here to help. Use our guide on how to plan a graduation party below to get you started.

Jump to:

  • When To Start Your Graduation Party Planning
  • How To Throw A Graduation Party Guidelines
  • Steps for How to Plan a Graduation Party
  • Graduation Party Supplies
  • Final Tips For Graduation Party Planning
  • Graduation Planning Ideas

When To Start Your Graduation Party Planning

Whether you plan a simple dinner or a party full of many friends and family, it’s important to get started early. Specific timeframes for planning a graduation party are provided below:

How To Plan A Graduation Party (5)

1+ Month Before

Generally, the date for a graduation party needs to be set at least a month in advance so that guests have enough time to prepare. Large entertainment rentals, such as tents, should be ordered around this time as well.

3-4 Weeks Before

You’ll want to compile your guest list in enough time to send out graduation invitations at least a few weeks in advance. For more detailed information, make sure to read our resource on when to send out graduation announcements.

2-3 Weeks Before

Party supplies, grocery lists, and other smaller preparation items should be completed two to three weeks before the party.

1-3 Days Before

Last minute preparation, such as cleaning the house, preparing food, and decorating, should be completed in the day or two before the party to ensure as few last minute headaches as possible.

If you are able to keep to a timely schedule, you’ll find your party prep to go much more smoothly. This will enable you to enjoy the party as much as you can.

How To Throw A Graduation Party Guidelines

The following list is a brief outline of how to plan a graduation party. If you’re looking for a more complete checklist, skip to the next section.

How To Plan A Graduation Party (6)

  1. Pick a theme. Whether your theme is the classic black and gold or something a little more seasonal, you’ll want to showcase it in everything from invitations to decor.
  2. Make a guest list. Pick out the loved ones that the graduate would want at their party and add them to a mailing list.
  3. Choose party invitations. Make sure you’re using the proper etiquette as well as graduation invitation wording.
  4. Mail out your invitations. These should be sent out at least three weeks in advance.
  5. Collect party supplies. From decorations to match your theme to party food and drinks for the guests, try to get these as early as possible to avoid last minute stress when setting up for your graduation bash.
  6. Set Up. Do your best to have most everything set up and prepared the day before the party, only leaving minor preparation for the day of.
  7. Greet your guests and enjoy!

Steps for How to Plan a Graduation Party

When you’re ready to begin, check out our party planning list below:

  1. Find an appropriate location for the party.
  2. Pick a date for the party.
  3. Finalize your guest list with names and addresses.
  4. Find your favorite senior photos to use for graduation party decorations and invitations.
  5. Pick out your graduation party invitations.
  6. Order enough invites, envelopes, stamps, and return address labels.
  7. Send out invitations. Keep track of how many of your guests RSVP so you can plan accordingly.
  8. Order larger party rentals like tents, catering, photo booths, and entertainment.
  9. Assemble food and drinks menu and corresponding grocery list. If you need coolers or other equipment for food, make sure you have those ready, too.
  10. Order party decor such as banners, streamers, photo boards, balloons, centerpieces, and more.
  11. Create special touches such as a guest book, graduation photo book, slideshow, and others.
  12. Make music arrangements, like a playlist and speakers.
  13. Find the perfect graduation gift.
  14. Preorder a cake, if wanted.
  15. Plan you and your family’s outfits.
  16. Take stock of chairs, tables, and other equipment in case you need more.
  17. Ensemble fun grad party favors for the guests.
  18. Prepare and freeze food a week ahead, if applicable.
  19. Monitor the weather.
  20. Pick out your ideal graduation party games.
  21. Clean up the house and yard.
  22. Charge your camera and make sure there is space for plenty of photos.
  23. Notify the neighbors about the party.
  24. Make sure there’s plenty of available trash cans, napkins, and water for guests.
  25. Prepare and display food and drinks.
  26. Keep bathrooms stocked.
  27. Use signs to designate tables and spaces for specific purposes, such as a dessert table or gift table.
  28. Finalize any last minute details or decorations.
  29. Enjoy the graduation party!

Graduation Party Supplies

Shutterfly offers a great range of graduation party supplies that can fit any party theme. Customize graduation party decorations with us in your grad’s school colors to celebrate their big day in style.

      • Selfie Frames: Perfect as a photo booth prop, selfie frames are the perfect accessory for your graduation party. Customize your selfie frames to make a statement piece a highlight among all the photos taken with your close friends and family members at your big bash.
      • Graduation Banners: We offer both bunting banners and vinyl banners to celebrate your great achievement. Personalize our templates to make banners with your college or high school colors as a fun way to decorate for the party.
      • Celebration Photo Boards: Design a celebration photo board with grad photos and your most cherished school memories to let your friends, family members, and loved ones see how far you’ve come.
      • Graduation Yard Signs: Custom graduation yard signs are great party supplies to alert your guests of where the celebration is, and they’re perfect for your front yard on the day of the party or ceremony.
      • Garden Flags: Welcome your loved ones with these creative personalized garden flags that feature your graduate on both the front and the back of the flag. These fun celebratory flags are easy to assemble and can be easily changed out for other flags that your order for other special occasions.

Final Tips For Graduation Party Planning

      • Focus on the graduate’s likes and dislikes. While you may really want to throw an elaborate dinner party, the graduate might be most happy with a simple backyard BBQ to celebrate their success.
      • Visit our resource on graduation announcement etiquette for help crafting the perfect graduation announcement. After all, these announcements often become forever keepsakes.
      • Don’t forget to write a congratulations card to go along with your gift. For help on what to say, look to our resource on graduation messages and wishes.
      • Don’t forget to order graduation thank you cards that will perfectly match your announcements for party theme!
      • If your graduate is unsure of how to properly address graduation invitations or thank you cards, you can direct them to our guide on how to address graduation invitations.
      • Be sure to keep track of what each guests gifts the graduate to make writing the thank you notes easier.
      • Do you best to make backup plans. For example, if you’re planning a backyard bbq or outdoor dinner party, make sure that inside space or a large tent is available in case of rain.

Graduation Planning Ideas

Looking for some specific in thematic decorations and party equipment needed for your graduation celebration? We’ve got you covered. Just visit our guide on graduation party ideas and pick and choose your favorite ideas to get you started. Or alternatively, use the ideas to inspire a party creation all your own.

Resources Related to How To Plan A Graduation Party

We hope you found this guide on how to plan a graduation party helpful. And if you’re looking for additional ideas that will help you take your graduation party over the edge, you may also like the following resources:

    • High School Graduation Party Ideas
    • College Graduation Party Ideas
    • Graduation Quotes and Sayings

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