Get recipes and graduation party ideas for celebrating your favorite smarty.

Grad Cupcakes
Photo by Shearone

Try this recipe: Grad Cupcakes

Graduation Party Ideas

No need to put on your thinking cap: we've got some graduation party ideas for celebrating your star pupil.

  • Where and when? Start the festivities mid- to late afternoon, and if weather permits, set up seating outdoors and fire up the grill. Stuck indoors? Here's how to get that outdoor flavor from your indoor grill.
  • Self-Serve. Set up the food buffet-style, with drinks on a separate table or in coolers. If you have room, place bowls of easy snacks like nuts, popcorn, or chips and dip on small tables throughout the party.
  • School spirit. Decorate with the graduate's school colors -- balloons, streamers, pom-poms -- the works! And make sure that framed diploma is out for all to see.
  • Most likely to... Make a bunch of name tags and let guests fill in the end of the sentence.
  • Photo Booth An absolute must for a graduation party to preserve the memories for years to come. Set up a backdrop and a table of props. Make a sign asking guests to hashtag and share their photos.
  • Bright ideas. Everyone wants to know: "What are you going to do now that you've graduated?" Why not take some pressure off the recent college grad and turn the tables? Ask each guest to write what they did the year after they graduated on a large piece of poster board, guestbook, or scrapbook.

Top-of-the-Class Menu

Graduation parties usually include a pretty diverse crowd, so it's important to gear your menu to suit all ages and eaters. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Appetizers and Snacks

Easy-to-eat finger foods are always popular, and if your crowd includes teenagers, go heavy on the dips to fill 'em up.

This Seven Layer Taco Dip is always a party favorite.

Wraps and rolls are easy to make and slice to feed a crowd. These Party Pinweels can be easily changed up with lots of different fillings.

Party Pinwheels
Photo by recipe

More crowd-pleasing

Big-Bowl Salads

These are your party buffet go-tos, and for good reason. They're easy to make ahead of time, and you can set out a variety so even the pickiest eaters will find a favorite. This Awesome Pasta Salad earns a graduate degree in deliciousness. And you know we have even more pasta salads, potato salads, caprese salads, fruit salads, and coleslaws to choose from.

More party-pleasing salads:

Main Dishes

Want to fire up the grill? Burgers and hot dogs are easy crowd-feeders, but you could opt for grilled pizza, chicken wings, or something make-ahead like Slow Cooker Pulled Pork.


Give your grad a big congrats with a homemade decorated sheet cake that's easy to slice and serve. Even if you're not confident of your cake decorating skills, you can still pick up candy lettering in the baking aisle of your grocery store, or simply frost the cake in school colors. This White Texas Sheet Cake gets rave reviews every time. (Just leave the nuts out of the frosting so it's easier to decorate.)

More diploma-worthy desserts:

Here's how to put together the ultimate make-your-own ice cream sundae bar.


Bottled and canned drinks are easy to chill and serve, but big pitchers of cold drinks are that much more festive (and inexpensive). This big bowl of Fruit Punch should hit the spot.

More refreshing summer sippers, including alcohol-free mocktails:

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