7 Tips to Have the Best Grad Party Ever

By Emily Roseman, Alumna of American University

Image courtesy of sippakorn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As four years go by and you move that tassel from right to left, a grad’s work is never truly done until the celebration. Whether held on campus or back at home, planning a graduation party with these helpful suggestions will make your big day stand out!

1. It’s always good to first plan your party for at least a couple weeks or even a month after the actual ceremony. This gives you time to adjust to post-grad life and really let loose but also gives your potential attendees open calendar space to pencil in your party. If your graduation was in May, shoot for a party date of early June. To help with all of your party planning, consider downloading an app like Event Planner, Checklist & Countdown. Although it costs 99 cents, it’s a place where you can organize everything from the guest list to your ideas.

2. Coordinate with mom and dad on invitations. As most of your guests will hail from the family, it’s good to check in to see who is a VIP on their side. Some fun tips for invitations that will stand out are sending out rolled up diplomas for your guests to unfurl. Do a little DIY (and cut major costs with printing companies) by printing your own diplomas at home. Add the important details like date and location and roll up your invite in diploma fashion. Tie it up with a school-colored ribbon and send it off! Or, if you’re not a DIY type of gal, check out these festive invitations from Polka Dot Design.

3. Whether hosting a daytime luncheon or a cocktail hour, your party should be well stocked with fun finger food for guests to munch on. In the summer months when most parties are popping, try dishing out personal veggie cups with dip inside. Cut costs by buying plastic cocktail cups, provide a healthy layer of your dip of choice and prop up veggies cut into sticks for easy dipping. These hand-held hors d'oeuvres are perfect for mingling around the party but also keeping it healthy!

For more substance, try meat roll-up “diplomas” with deli meat or Italian cold cuts. Head to your market and buy your favorite deli meats — or for more flair, Italian cuts like Sopressata and Pepperoni. Take your layer of meat (add in your favorite cheese, too) and roll into a tube. Top it off with a sprig of rosemary to “tie” your deli diploma up!

For something sweet, head to the candy aisle to create your homemade candy caps. Using the mini-sized Reese cups as the base, top it off with your favorite square chocolate (Dove chocolate squares or Hershey’s mini squares are the best). Arrange just like a graduation cap and add a sour string for the tassel! Here’s a fun alternative using fruit leather.

4. Cool off with cocktails that guests can sip on without getting too rowdy. Try Diploma Daiquiris, which can be made with or without alcohol to accommodate all ages and tastes. For something with more spirit, end the night with a school pride punch. Add your school colors (mine were red, white and blue) with food coloring to your favorite punch mix. Here is a recipe for a knockout punch.

5. Try a fun game to get the guests involved for an extra oomph. For students, college trivia is a big hit. Keep your questions related to your alma mater to see who knows your university best! But one that will be sure to get everyone talking (and laughing) is First Day Photo Flashback. Have your guests bring in their best “first day of school” pictures (the older the better) and play a round of “guess who” by writing the guest’s name under the appropriate picture. If you have time in advance, you can ask your guests to email their pictures to you, which you can get printed and sent to you at a low price from a website like Snapfish.

6. To make your party spread much more festive, make decor school themed. Serve appetizers and cocktails on “lunch trays” and have your school colors represented. No one ever said too many streamers were a bad thing! A fun piece to have by the entrance when guests come to party is a guest book. Get creative and decorate your sign-in as a yearbook that guests can leave words of wisdom in! For a more decorative approach, you can create your own canvas for your guests to sign. That way, you’ll have a piece of your college world to hang in your new grownup apartment.

7. No good host or hostess has done their job without giving a little back. Party favors for your guests can range from homemade treats to more personal items. For more intimate gatherings, send your guests out with personal copies of Dr. Seuss’ wise words “Oh the Places You’ll Go.” Make it heartfelt by writing individual messages of thanks and memories in your guests’ books to remember you by! For a cheaper alternative, send guests home with individual notebooks and water bottles of the same book title.

A good party should never be stressful; it’s about letting loose and looking back on those four years with pride and relief! You’ve earned it, so celebrate with style and fun!

Head on over to 1,000 Dreams Fund to learn how to get funding for your dreams!