HomeHealth & BehaviorEmotional Well-Being

Best Graduation Parties and Gifts

Whether you're keeping it simple or going all out, we've got ideas for your celebration.

By GreatSchools Staff

Graduation — your child has reached this momentous milestone, and now it's time to celebrate! Whether you plan to keep it simple or go all out for your middle or high school grad, we've got ideas for parties and gifts.

Parties With a Theme

Dr. Seuss: Check out the book Oh the Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss, and you'll find rhymes with the graduate in mind: "You'll be on your way up! You'll be seeing great sights! You'll join the high fliers who soar to high heights!" Include some of the rhymes on posters as decorations for your party space. Find paper goods with a Dr. Seuss theme at your local stationery store. Serve green eggs and ham!

Alma mater: Whether your graduate is off to high school or college, you can use the school colors to decorate your party space with streamers and balloons. Serve jelly beans and a sheet cake with icing in the appropriate colors, too.

Mexican fiesta: With this theme, menu planning is a snap. Serve make-your-own tacos or burritos with all the fixings: meat, shredded cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and salsa. A big sombrero filled with tortilla chips and guacamole makes an easy hors d'oeuvre. For entertainment, your blindfolded guests can try to break open a piñata filled with candy.

Ice-cream social: This makes an easy late-afternoon or evening party. Get several large tubs of ice cream and provide whipped cream, sauces, nuts and sprinkles, and your guests will take care of themselves.

Dance party:
Hire a DJ. Clear a space for dancing. "One of the best parties I ever attended was the one I threw for my son when he graduated," says Ginger Venable, coauthor of Graduation Parties: Everything You Need to Know From Start to Finish (Lanewood Marketing, 2007). She cohosted the party in her own backyard with several other grads and their families. "It was exciting when the DJ arrived with his lights, microphone and setup, and it was great entertainment."

Who's on the Guest List?

One party or two? Some readers on the GreatSchools Community suggest having two separate celebrations — a small one for the family and a separate one for your grad and his friends.

An open house means you can include everyone. Invite family, friends, kids and adults. Added bonus — the party is less likely to get out of control when your child's friends are there with their families. A simple open house on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon for a few hours with light snacks and lots of mingling is a good way to include everyone while also minding your budget.

Pool your resources. GreatSchools Content Developer Marian Wilde, mother of a graduating senior, suggests banding together with other families to host a joint graduation party. She'll be doing just that when she joins a few other moms who will be hosting a party at a waterfront restaurant this June. A less expensive alternative would be having a joint party at a park or in someone's backyard. When several families host, you can divide up the food and preparations.

Comments from readers

" Was the graudtion on 6/1/2009 at Fort Worth, TX convention center film and if so how could I obtain a copy of the ceremony? Thank you Mary Gregory"