22 Graduation Party Ideas to Celebrate Your Scholar

Updated: Apr. 10, 2024

Find graduation party ideas for the ultimate celebration complete with fun games, festive decorations and great food!

Square academic cap for graduationEMILIYA LAMBEYA/GETTY IMAGES

Graduating from high school or college is a major accomplishment, and it’s certainly an occasion that calls for a party. There are plenty of options for hosting a party to celebrate your grad, whether you’re getting the house ready to host a backyard barbecue, renting out a venue or gathering at a park. No matter where you host, decorating in school colors, dishing up great food and mixing festive drinks are a must. Here are some of our favorite graduation party ideas to help get your planning started.

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Graduation Sheet Cake Recipe photo by Taste of Home

Decorate a Graduation Sheet Cake

It’s not a party without cake! Celebrate with a graduation sheet cake complete with themed sprinkles to feed a crowd. Use stars or edible glitter to make it shine. No time to bake your own sheet cake? Spruce up a store-bought cake with your own frosting and toppings.

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Order Graduation Cap Bottle Toppers

Small decorations can make a big difference. Order mini graduation bottle toppers to spruce up any drink. Put out a drink station with bottles of water or even mini bottles of sparkling apple cider.

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Play Outdoor Games

Hosting an outdoor graduation party? Set up your favorite lawn games like cornhole, ladder toss, giant Jenga or lawn bowling for some classic fun.

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Gold 2022 balloons on a white wall background with confetti and lights. New Years celebration concept
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Create a Graduation Year Backdrop

Need a great photo op? Create a backdrop made up of giant numbers. Find large number balloons to spell out the grad’s year. Bonus points if they match their school colors!

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Your time is now text on index card
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Decorate with Advice

Graduation marks a big step. Offer up advice to your grad as you wish them future success. Ask guests to fill out advice cards and decorate your party space with them. Or, set up a station with a box to drop advice into so the grad can read through them later.

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Hang Decorations in School Colors

Whether you’re hosting inside or out in the yard, spruce up your party space with a few pieces of decor. Hang balloons and streamers in your graduate’s school colors.

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Grill Burgers

Graduation party food almost always includes grilled foods—especially burgers. Make sure your propane tank is full and that you have plenty of buns, sliced cheese and burger toppings, along with side dishes to pair with your grilled mains.

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Globe lanterns
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Hang Outdoor Lanterns

Dress up your backyard party space with a pop of color and light. Choose white paper lanterns or hunt down a mixture of colors to match the graduate’s school colors.

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Holiday candy bar. Candy bar served with cupcakes with chocolate and lemon cream on metal stand
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Set Up a Graduation Cupcake Stand

Don’t want to deal with cutting a large sheet cake? Go for cupcakes! Decorate the cupcakes in school colors and use a cupcake stand to add height for an interesting display. Bonus points if you make these graduation cupcakes.

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Unhealthy food or snacks. All classic potato snacks with peanuts, popcorn and onion rings and salted pretzels in bowl plates on old wooden background. Unhealthy food for figure, heart, skin, teeth.
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Set Out Snacks

Don’t forget plenty of snacks. Make options ahead of time such as a party pretzel mix or nacho popcorn for guests to grab throughout the party.

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Make a Balloon Garland

Try your hand at crafting a DIY balloon garland as a statement piece for your party space—just be sure to choose your grad’s school colors. This would make a great backdrop for photos or even for a gift table.

Speaking of gifts…need ideas? A personalized graduation gift is an extra special choice!

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bean dip
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Choose Make-Ahead Apps

If you’re hosting a party, the last thing you want to be doing is hiding in the kitchen prepping food after guests have arrived. Choose make-ahead appetizers such as veggie dill dip or 7-layer bean dip to make party prep that much easier.

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Set Up a Drink Station

Hosting a graduation party means the weather is starting to get hot. Keep guests hydrated with a drink station complete with refreshing options such as old-fashioned lemonade or cherry limeade.

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Miles of mortar boards, graduation Caps
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Play ‘Graduation Cap Tic-Tac-Toe’

Planning the party right after the graduation ceremony? Tell all of the recent grads to bring their caps! Mark a giant tic-tac-toe grid on the lawn. Grads will play by throwing their cap to the chosen spot.

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Graduation Desserts
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Decorate Name Cookies

Choose to order custom cookies or try your hand at decorating sugar cookies for the occasion. Use school colors and add your graduate’s name to each.

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Cheerful female friends taking photo at the instant camera.
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Create a Polaroid Camera Station

Capture the memories of your graduate’s celebration. Set up a station with an instant Polaroid camera and plenty of film. Guests will love snapping pics with the grad.

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Serve Delicious Sides

Whether you’re grilling hamburgers or dishing up chili dogs, pair your main dishes with great summertime sides to match. Add classics such as creamy coleslaw and loaded potato salad to the menu.

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Young friends dancing and enjoying in bedroom
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Play ‘Name That Song’

For an easy party game, make it all about the music. Create a playlist of your grad’s favorite songs, or include a mix of songs that were released throughout their high school years. Guests who guess the name or artist correctly win a prize.

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Plan a Taco Bar

Looking for easy party food ideas? A taco bar is a great crowd-pleaser and can be set up on the kitchen island or on a table in the backyard. Set out stations with taco meat, shredded lettuce and cheese. Don’t forget the sour cream, salsa and homemade guacamole!

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Close up Black graduation cap and yellow tassel
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Play ‘Pin the Tassel on the Grad Cap’

Turn an old birthday party favorite into a graduation party game. Craft a giant graduation cap. Then, blindfold guests and have them try to pin tassels in the middle of the cap. The closest to the center wins.

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Set Out a Dessert Buffet

Don’t skip on dessert! While a cake is essential for a party, a mix of graduation party desserts is sure to please. Create a festive spread of cupcakes, cookies, brownies and these cute graduation cap candies. Add some decor to the table to spruce things up. Plus: Get a patio heater to keep guests cozy for when the sun goes down.

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Glasses on a table
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Find Graduation-Themed Party Favors

After the party, send guests home with a thank you for coming. Consider useful items such as themed candles, key chains or decorated cookies in matching school colors.