A happy graduate hugs a young boy

5 Ideas for an Unforgettable Graduation Party

There’s so much stress and nervousness leading up to the coveted diploma. A celebration is just what a new grad needs to top off four years of hard work, and planning the perfect graduation party is the last thing you need to worry about. Don’t wait for the last minute to lay the groundwork for the big event after the big day; borrow some of these tips for graduation party planning.

Have a formal event at a swanky restaurant.

Put on your heels, put away your free t-shirt collection, and say goodbye to “college casual”  by having a formal graduation bash. Reserve a private room at a high-end restaurant and fill it with friends and family. Since this is a pricier option, you may consider keeping your guest list limited; a three-course meal for a large party won’t be cheap. And while everyone’s dressed up, why not hit the town afterward?

Keep it relaxed with a backyard barbecue.

If a fancy soiree isn’t your style, consider throwing a party in your backyard or a nearby park. Hosting at your house will make serving food inexpensive and stress-free. Set up a self-serve buffet table to allow your guests to help themselves, complete with an ice chest stocked with soda and beer. This is a smart option if you’re inviting people with children, especially if your yard has a pool or you’re having a cookout in the park.

Throw a themed party.

This route is slightly corny, but themed parties are good fun. Celebrating a nursing or pre-med graduate? Fill empty prescription bottles with candies for your guests. For more subtle decor, you can always decorate a cake around the graduate’s area of expertise. Instead of donning scrubs to the future nurse’s grad party, add a fondant stethoscope to the cake’s exterior.

Share the day with fellow grads.

The more the merrier, right? Depending on the space of your venue, sharing a party with other graduates can keep guests from having to choose one over the other. You can also share the cost of the event with the other graduates and their families. Besides, people’s paths tend to split after graduation. This might be the last time the whole crew is together before going off to graduate school or relocating for a job.

Send a real invitation.

Include the party invitation with your graduation announcement to allow plenty of time for RSVPs; this is essential for a formal dinner party, and while etiquette may be more lax for a casual get-together, you should send one anyway. Yes, mailing physical invitations is a time-consuming, old-school tradition, but you’d be surprised at how many people like to save the paper invites. Family friends and relatives who have watched you grow up may want the invitation as a keepsake—and you’ll probably look back fondly on it too.

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