Whether you are graduating high school, college, grad school, or another course of some kind, graduation is such an exciting time. It is an opportunity to celebrate your achievements and the future ahead, alongside your friends, family, classmates, and anyone else you like. And what better way to celebrate than with a party! Sometimes planning a party can seem overwhelming, and getting started is the hardest part. We’ve got your first steps laid out so you don’t have to wonder where to begin.
Step 1: Write your graduation guest list
A good guest list is always the most important feature of a party, since the company is what makes a gathering fun. When it comes to a graduation party, the overall style of the event depends heavily on who you choose to invite: if you keep it to friends and fellow graduates, the party will be very different than if you include family members or staff members from your school. Similarly, it makes a big difference whether you stick to your own friendship group or invite acquaintances, or even people you don’t know.
Start by thinking about what the purpose of your graduation party is. Is it for your family to feel included in your achievement? Is it for your graduating class to gather, celebrate and reminisce? Is it just an opportunity to throw a big party? These aims will result in three very different parties.
You can then move to considering what size party you are planning. This might be dictated by personal preference, budget, or the venue you are considering. If you envision a huge party with activity everywhere, you can be more generous with who you choose to send a graduation invitation to.
Step 2: Find a venue and a date
Once you have a rough idea of who you want to send a graduation invitation to (and more importantly, how many of them you want to send out), it’s time to start looking for a venue and thinking about the date. These two things go together, because the availability of your venue may contribute to your choice of date, or vice versa.
Start by thinking about venues that can hold the number of people you are planning to invite. Then consider the style of the venue, and whether they fit into your budget. You should also think about what they offer and how that fits with your plans. Do they allow alcohol? Are there noise restrictions? Do they provide food, or will they allow you to bring in outside catering? Is there a dress code? These kind of questions will help you determine if the venue is right for your graduation party.
You can be creative when choosing a graduation party venue. Pubs, bars, clubs, restaurants, event spaces, halls and similar are more common choices, but you might also consider a simple backyard gathering, a cafe, or head outdoors to the beach or park. Just make sure you check licensing laws first to avoid getting in any trouble.
As for the date, it is usually within a week or two of the official graduation, but there’s no rules that specify exactly when you should hold it. If it’s just you and your fam, it could be the same day, but if it’s for everyone, make sure it doesn’t interfere with other people’s exams or graduation dates.
Step 3: Order and send out your graduation invitations
Once you’ve got the date, venue and guest list planned, it’s time to pick a graduation invitation that will communicate this information to your guests clearly and in a way that gets them excited about attending.
Your graduation invitation should reflect the kind of party you are having: whether that’s a casual house party, a formal dinner, a cocktail party, or a barbecue. This can be expressed in a number of ways, including:
- Design style – a classic design or something sleek and modern will set the scene for a more formal or serious party, while something colourful, fun and playful will have guests ready for a more casual event.
- Print type – some print types just ooze luxury, which is perfect for a more formal graduation event like a cocktail party or an intimate event that you really want people to attend. Consider real foil, letterpress or similar if you’re after the luxurious vibe. These print types can also be combined with more playful designs for a less formal feel.
- Wording – you can tell guests what to expect by literally spelling it out for them- inviting them to your cocktail party or specifying ‘formal dress’ – or more subtly, with your choice of graduation invitation wording. ‘Your presence is requested’ will always be more formal than just saying ‘Party, 6pm!’
Have your invitations sent out about 4-6 weeks prior to the occasion to give guests plenty of notice to book it into their calendar.
Once you’ve got these three steps sorted, the rest of your graduation party follows on logically. The venue and the style of invitations help guide any theme or decor. The venue will help narrow down your catering options. The size of the party will help you land on entertainment. And just like that, you’re done, and it’s time to celebrate!