Studio 5’s Party, Holiday and Idea Contributor Alisa Bangerter has some unique and creative ideas to help you plan an unforgettable party for that special graduate!
Graduation parties do not have to have a specific theme other than graduation. However you might wish to coordinate a theme around school colors (from the school graduated from or the one they will be attending for higher education), interests of the graduate (sports, hobbies, talents, etc.), area a college grad has finished in (medical, construction, teaching, finance, etc.). Remember that teens might like input into the party because what you plan might not be what they enjoy!
• Print invitation on nice paper. Roll up like a diploma and tie with a ribbon.
• Make invitations using a photo of the grad. Be creative – maybe a baby photo or a cap/gown photo altered with photo editing software using some artistic effects.
• A cd invitation with photos of the graduate put to music might be a fun way to invite people. You could be creative with this as well and include fun quotes, tidbits about the grad, etc.
• A tassel would be nice with a tag attached as the invitation or attached to a paper invitation.
• There are a lot of free graduation invitations that can be printed from online. Simply Google “free graduation invitation printables” and you will come up with a lot of options.
• Coordinate décor with the theme you have chosen. Remember colors (school colors, grads favorite color, etc.) can be a theme itself and lend to easy décor.
• Place photos of the grad through the years on a table (or as a banner) creating a unique timeline. Guests love looking at how they have grown and progressed.
• Thing big and simple. A large banner for the grad can be made easily and inexpensively using roll paper and acrylic/poster paint. Hang outside or inside on a wall for a big statement.
• Hang balloons from ribbons attached to the ceiling so they hang don just below head level. You won’t need helium and will have less expense. Favors would be rolled inside and at the end of the party have each guest pop a balloon to get a prize inside.
• Purchase a life-size cardboard cutout of your grad. These are so fun! You can find pre-made grads in gowns locally at Zurchers party stores with cut out faces for photo ops. You can also order them online of your graduate with options with word bubbles or even of them doing sports, etc. Very fun and unique and a fun conversation piece. See: http://www.shindigz.com/catalog.cfm?cat=45679
• Place disposable or small digital camera on tables so guests can take candid shots of the fun.
• Have music. Use the graduates favorite music or playlists from their IPod. Play the school song.
• Make a centerpiece using photos of the grad – simply place in small frames down the center of a table or place on picks that can be placed in vases of flowers or plants.
• Choose a creative venue to add to the décor: park, patio, poolside, etc.
• Have a display table with items representing the grad. Include awards, art work, favorite books, photo albums, sports equipment, etc.
• Create atmosphere by using strands of lights.
• Make a time capsule with wishes for the future: have everyone write a wish and place it in the time capsule for the grad to open at a later date (maybe for a high school graduate when they graduate from college).
• Have a tree branch set up (“tree of wisdom”) where everyone can write “wisdom” on a paper and attach it to the tree. This could also double as a money tree guests can attach money to for the grad (this is a good idea for family parties). You could also make a “wisdom box” instead of a tree and ask guests to place inside words of wisdom for the grad or secrets of a successful life.
• Ask guests to sign a book, photo frame, quilt, poster, etc. for the grad.
• Ask guests to bring a favorite memory to share about the grad. Record the guest telling the memory or have them write it down as a keepsake.
• Show a dvd/slide show with photos of the grad through the years. Include clips form school experiences, sporting events, concerts, etc. Set it to music. There are many easy software programs you can do this on.
• Create a fun dvd to show that has advice from former teachers, friends, family, etc. for the grads future.
• If having a party with high school grads, fill a piñata with money (paper and coins), gift cards, candy, etc.
• Write a fun story that covers the grads life, but leave blanks. Have guests try to fill in the blanks and give a prize to the person that gets the most correct.
• Play charades with school related words.
• Rent a photo booth.
• Teens love karaoke. Set up a small stage and fun colored lights.
• Serve the grads favorite foods.
• Coordinate food with the theme.
• Color coordinate food using colors of the high school or college.
• Cupcakes – place fun quotes or photos of the grad on picks in the tops of cupcakes.
• Cookies – frost sugar cookies or cover with fondant.
• Use a Cricut Cake machine to cut out gumpaste of the grad’s initials, name and graduating year on cookies.
• Another option would be to print photos onto wafer paper or icing sheets using edible ink (many bakeries will do this for you) and place on cookies.
• Make cute edible grad hats by turning over an unwrapped peanut butter cup candy and adding a flat square chocolate or chocolate covered graham cracker on top adhering with melted chocolate. Add a tiny round candy and a tassel made from fruit leather. Serve as is, place on a cupcake, cake or on a lollipop stick.
• Have a food bar: taco, baked potato, hot dog, salad, ice cream, sandwich, pasta, dessert, etc. Teens love this.
• Rent a popcorn, cotton candy, snow cone or soft serve ice cream machine. You could also have a station where they can get fancy non-alcoholic drinks.
• Order personalized Jones Soda using a photo of your grad at: www.myjones.com You can also make your own personalized drink wraps for much less cost. (These would make fun favors as well.)
• Favors can be simple food items wrapped in cute ways.
• Fortune cookies with personalized messages or thank you notes, inspirational quotes or future predictions.
• Candy bars wrapped in dollar bills. All graduates and their friends will love money.
• Candy leis are fun favors to send home with guests or used to greet them as they come.
• A favorite way to give favors is placing them in balloons (see idea in décor section above).
• A cd/dvd of the grad thanking everyone might be a fun favor as well.
• Also make sure to take photos at the event. Photos can be a favor to the guests.
• M&M Mars company can print photos or messages on custom m&m candies: http://www.mymms.com/