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7 Graduation Party Ideas for New Grads

The graduate in your life has spent years working toward this moment. They’ve donned their cap and gown and are ready to walk through the auditorium to the tune of “Pomp and Circumstance.” Whether celebrating a high school or college graduation, it’s something to be commended.

As a high school student, your child has spent the past 12 years working toward their academic goal of graduating, and may be getting ready to head off to college in the fall. If they’re a college graduate, they have earned a degree and are getting ready to join the workforce or enroll in a graduate program. What better way to celebrate each milestone than with a graduation party?

If you’re in search of high school or college graduation party ideas to celebrate the accomplished graduate in your life, you’ve come to the right place. Here are some of our suggestions for throwing a graduation party without breaking the bank. And we know that hosting can be stressful, so we’ve done our best to provide some creative tips to help make hosting the event as seamless as possible.

Setting the Guest List

Before you do anything else you’ll have to decide the scale of the party you plan to host. Do you want the event to be family only? Do you want to turn the celebration into a more inclusive extravaganza for friends, family, and neighbors?

A smaller scale celebration can be easier to manage from a logistical standpoint, but if you can rely on assistance from family or friends to help you with hosting duties, a larger scale event may be doable.

Now would also be a good time to draft a graduation party budget. How much money do you plan to spend on food, drinks, decorations, and party favors? Thinking through some of these details now can help prevent a surprise when you tally up the total cost of the party.

Once you’ve established the size of the party you want to have, set the guest list and pick a date. Then spread the word by sending out invitations. Paper invitations are always a nice touch, but you can save yourself postage and send the invitations via email just as easily.

Asking Guests to Give Advice to the Recent Grad

Set up a station that gives your guests the opportunity to send the grad off with some advice for their next adventure. Some options for this include a classic guest book or an advice tree.

Ask your guests to write down words of wisdom, advice, or congratulations for the grad. This can be a fun activity for your guests while also creating a heartfelt keepsake that the graduate can keep with them after the celebrations have ended.

Organize the Food and Drink

If you’re going all out on the graduation party, you might consider bringing in an outside caterer for the event. Having a caterer onsite can simplify your hosting duties on the day of. If you do hire a caterer, ask for recommendations from trusted friends or family and take the time to meet with a few different caterers and see what they offer.

If you’re keeping the party on a smaller scale or are working with a tight budget, consider taking care of the food yourself. Take a trip to your local wholesale store and see what deals you can find.

You may be able to score large quantities of meats, cheeses, appetizers, and beverages at a fairly reasonable cost. It could also be worth checking in with the bakery on-site to get a quote for a cake.

As you’re creating the menu, think about what you can realistically accomplish and make a list of what you plan to serve and when you plan to cook each item. Making a few things in advance can help save you a headache on the day of the event.

While you’re developing the menu, it could be worth incorporating a few fun graduation themed foods. You could make diploma turkey wraps as an appetizer or create a table of “smart cookies” for dessert.

Another way to simplify the food situation is to set everything up buffet-style. This way people can serve themselves what they want and eat at their leisure. Don’t feel like you have to do everything on your own. If someone asks if they can bring a drink or appetizer, take them up on their offer.

Decorating with School Colors

Looking for some graduation party ideas that add some color? Decorate with the school color from the student’s high school or college. You can find streamers, balloons, tablecloths, and more at affordable prices at local party stores or craft stores. A touch of color in a few places can be a welcoming and festive addition to any room.

Adding Accent Photos of the Graduate

Since you are celebrating the accomplishments of your favorite graduate, why not use some photos of them throughout their life as decorations. You can find affordable frames at craft stores and set them up throughout the party.

If you want to have a diverse mix of photos, ask family and friends to send a few of their favorite photos of the graduate to you. Have them printed and set them up in various places throughout the party. This could be a fun way to highlight “Then” and “Now” photos of the graduate and his or her friends.

Organizing Some Games

Having activities for your guests to participate in can be a fun way to break the ice. Since this party is celebrating a lifetime achievement, setting up the graduate’s favorite games throughout childhood could be a fun addition. Games like four square, hop scotch, and corn hole are all relatively easy to set up. You could even pull out a few board games for your guests to enjoy.

Setting Up a Photo Booth

After all of the planning, you’ll want to have some photos to remember the party. It can be easy to forget to snap a few pictures while you’re also hosting the event. Set up an interactive photo booth to encourage your guests to take photos.

These days most people have easy access to a camera on their smartphones. Set up a space with a few props and a fun background and encourage people to take a selfie or two.

Considering Refinancing Your Student Loans after Graduation

If your child has just graduated from college and is heading into the workforce, one thing to remind them to keep on their radar is their student loan repayment plan. They may feel locked into the student loans they borrowed, but student loan refinancing may offer the ability to adjust the terms of their loan. That’s because when you refinance, you take out a new loan with new terms.

As a college graduate you may be in a better financial position than when you originally borrowed your student loans, which could potentially help you secure a lower interest rate when you refinance your loans.

If you borrowed federal student loans, it’s important to note that when you refinance with a private lender, you lose eligibility for federal programs like Public Service Loan Forgiveness and income-driven repayment plans. To see how refinancing could impact your student loans, take a look at SoFi’s student loan refinance calculator.

Ready to learn more about refinancing your student loans with SoFi? You can get a quote in just two minutes.

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SoFi Student Loan Refinance
If you are a federal student loan borrower, you should consider all of your repayment opportunities including the opportunity to refinance your student loan debt at a lower APR or to extend your term to achieve a lower monthly payment. Please note that once you refinance federal student loans you will no longer be eligible for current or future flexible payment options available to federal loan borrowers, including but not limited to income-based repayment plans or extended repayment plans.


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