Graduation Party Ideas: Food, Décor & More

Publish Date May 18, 2023 5 Minute Read

Graduation Party Ideas: Food, Décor & More

School might be out, but we still have lots of knowledge to share about what comes next. For every student, graduation is a joyous time that honors the hard work it took to get there and walking across the stage doesn’t have to signal the end of the occasion—there’s still a celebration to be had! Grab your notebook one last time because we’re going over everything you need to know in order to throw the ultimate graduation party. From themes and décor to grad party food ideas and even tipsabout how to keep things within a budget, we’re proving that throwing an outstanding graduation party can be as easy as A-B-C.

Graduation Party Themes

Not only is choosing a theme a fun and exciting part of throwing a party, having a concept to follow makes it easier to plan decorations, food and activities, too. To come up with a unique theme, try writing down the things your graduate enjoyed most about school, such as their favorite classes, sports or activities. Remember that almost everything can be turned into a party theme, and by thinking about their specific experiences, you might hatch a creative idea that represents your graduate’s time at school perfectly. Take a look at some of our favorite graduation party ideas that you can copy or use for your brainstorming session:

Show your colors: Show school spirit by going all-in on their school’s colors. Every school has designated colors and you can show theirs off with plates, napkins, tablecloths and utensils, as well as bowls of candy and trays of frosted cookies or cupcakes. To decorate the walls, hang up any banners, flags or school t-shirts you already have on-hand.

When I grow up: What was your dream job when you were little? Celebrate a world of opportunities by asking guests to return to their childhoods, get nostalgic and come dressed up as the career they wanted to be when they were a young kid. For this party, you can fill the menu with grown-up versions of childhood favorites, such as gourmet pigs in a blanket and adults-only lemonade.

Pun times: After all those serious exams and late-night study sessions, it’s time to wind down with a laugh. Show everyone your grad has been a smart cookie with a cookie-themed party. Or make sure they and their friends donut forget about each other with a donut-themed event. Taco ‘bout the future with a taco and nacho bar. You get the idea.

A tropical getaway: With a future this bright, you’re going to need shades! Whip out the sandals and leis and throw a party with lots of bright colors, floral prints and fresh tropical flavors that’ll turn your celebration into the vacation that everyone deserves after that last semester.

Graduation Decoration Ideas

Create an inviting space with grad party decorations that are fun, festive and, of course, match the theme. Though many of your decorations will depend on the size of your party, we’ve put together a checklist of essential elements that almost every gathering requires:

Disposable tableware & serveware: Keep cleanup easy by using disposable cups, plate, napkins and utensils. This way, when guests are done eating, tidying up is as simple as tossing plates into the trash–no washing required!

Table décor: Since guests will likely spend a lot of time gathered around the table, use this space to showcase the theme with matching tablecloths, centerpieces and complementary accents.

Balloons: Nothing says “party” like balloons. Decorate socializing spaces with loose balloons, or use matching colors to create balloon columns, arches or garlands.

Photobooth: Not only will guests have fun taking photos, but the pictures double as a keepsake they can keep forever. Construct a graduation party photobooth by creating a designated backdrop in a well-lit area. To make things even more fun, include a selection of props for guests to use in their photos, like paper sunglasses, graduation caps and banners.

Music: Go beyond the stuffy pomp and circumstance and keep things upbeat with a playlist that captures the exciting emotions everyone is feeling. Choose songs that uplift, encourage and honor the achievement. Bonus if the music matches the theme.

Graduation Party Foods

If scrolling through the seemingly endless options of party foods feels like extra homework, don’t worry! We’ve hit the books for you and highlighted some of our favorite graduation party food ideas that are practical, easy to execute and guaranteed to receive high honors from guests.

Graduation Appetizers

Since people at parties often like to nosh as they chit chat, it’s best to serve items that are uncomplicated and can be enjoyed without utensils. Prepackaged party trays and charcuterie boards are a great way to easily offer a wide variety of options at once, and you can easily expand the selections with pretzels, chips, dips and other finger food favorites, like these delicious options:

Graduation Drinks

With so many tasty appetizers being passed around the room, your guests will also need drinks to wash things down. A large supply of water is a must for any party, especially if your celebration is outdoors. Depending on your guest list, you might also want to include sparkling waters, sodas and juices. For adults, consider including one or more beer and hard seltzer options. A home-mixed punch or cocktail is another way to easily add flair to the festivities, and you don’t have to have experience bartending to mix up something delicious. We recommend serving one of these party-pleasing beverages:

Graduation Desserts

Every celebration calls for sweet indulgences, and catering to a large crowd doesn’t have to be complicated. One way to keep things quick and simple is by letting someone else do the cooking. Order a customized cake online or shop cookies and cupcakes from our bakery to create a delicious tablescape without dirtying a single bowl or spatula. To figure out how much cake you’ll need, just enter your party size into this handy cake calculator!

More Graduations Desserts

Budget-Friendly Graduation Party Planning

Whether you’re hosting a giant crowd or catering to an intimate get-together, the costs of planning a party can add up quickly. Thankfully, there are a few simple steps you can take to help maintain a budget. As you put together your party plan, keep these money-saving tips in mind:

• Look for discounts: Saving money on groceries is always a win. When planning the menu, remember to take advantage of all possible discounts. Start by checking the weekly ad and digital coupons and choose recipes that feature foods that are on sale.

• DIY your décor: Set the mood with homemade embellishments. From hand-strung garlands to hand-painted backdrops, making the decorations yourself helps keeps the cost down and allows you to add a level of personalization you wouldn’t otherwise be able to achieve.

• Choose the venue wisely: Although having the party at your favorite hangout spot sounds like a lot of fun, most venues charge a large fee for using them. If possible, throw the graduation party in your own home or yard and use your own chairs and tables.

More Party Ideas and Recipes

Visit our Graduation Shop to order supplies and explore more inspiration, or head to The Fresh Lane for everyday recipe inspiration, helpful lifestyle tips and much, much more.