If there’s a graduation party in your not-so-distant future (we know, we know…you can’t believe it’s time for that already!), then you’ve come to the right place! Your graduate worked hard to get that diploma, so you know they deserve a grad party that truly celebrates their major academic achievement. But, where to start when it comes to planning an epic graduation party?
Well, we’ve done the homework, so we’re ready to help you with this assignment! Our complete graduation party planning checklist is the easiest (and most stress-free) syllabus you’ll ever encounter. You can even download and print it (it's so thorough, there's a page one and a page two!).
When should you have a graduation party?
Graduation parties are typically held a few days after the graduation ceremony, though you can also hold them weeks later (it’s a busy season for parties, after all). Graduation parties generally run as long as most parties (2–4 hours) though some graduates now will celebrate with their families during the day and have post-party parties with their friends later at night. Many families opt for graduation open houses to allow guests to come and go as they please.
Should I follow this timeline exactly?
Every party is different, so no! This graduation party checklist is designed to cover the most common timeline for graduation party planning and an extensive but by no means exhaustive list of to-dos. If something doesn’t fit with your plans, adjust it to suit YOUR party!
The Ultimate Graduation Party Checklist
6 weeks before the party
- Set up a budget
- Pick a theme
- Choose your co-host(s)
- Create a guest list
- Find a photo of the graduate to include in your invitation (optional)
- Choose the party date and time
- Determine and reserve your venue
1 month before the party
- Create and send invitations if you haven’t already
- Choose your food and beverages
- Plan any games and activities you want to have
- Start planning your decor
- Create a slideshow, banner and/or poster of your graduate
- Order your desserts (cake, cupcakes, cookies, donuts, candy)
- Order personalized/customized decor
- Book vendors or professional services
2 weeks before the party
- Create a playlist of music
- Ensure you have all the electrical equipment you need (speakers, cords, lighting, etc.)
- Follow up on RSVPs for a final guest count
- Purchase favors for guests (gifts, cookies)
- Purchase supplies and decor
1 week before the party
- Confirm vendors and professional services
- Prepare any food that can be frozen and reheated
- Get any extra chairs, tables, umbrellas, tents you need
- Send reminders to helpers and co-hosts
- Check the weather forecast and create a plan b if needed
2 days before the party
- Wash and prep everything you’re planning to use
- Clean the house and get your backyard ready (if holding the party at a house)
- Shop for food and drinks (if you’re serving alcohol, use a drink calculator)
- Make sure you’re well-stocked on supplies like toilet paper and paper towels
- Prepare any non-perishables
- Set up decorations
- Get ice
- Double-check that you have all the serveware and dinnerware you need
Day of the party
- Prepare the food and drinks
- Set up any remaining decorations
- Set up the achievements and graduation gifts table
- Set up games and activities
- Turn on the music
- Put the dinnerware, glassware and napkins out
- Put the room temperature snacks out (chips, pretzels, cookies, etc.)
- Put the cold food and drinks out right before or once guests begin to arrive
- Put the hot food out into the chafing dishes
- Make sure everyone gets a party favor
- Take plenty of pictures (pro tip: designate someone to take photos for you!)
After the party
- The guest of honor should send thank you cards out to everyone who attended within 2 weeks (especially if they brought a gift or gave to a college fund)
Can’t remember it all? Click the graduation checklists below to easily download or print a copy!
Are you ready to start planning a graduation party for your A+ grad? Evite’s collection of celebratory graduation party invitations offers free and easy RSVP tracking, the ability to include up to three registries or a college fund right in your event details, and delivery via text, email and shareable link! If you’re really looking to get bonus points from your grad’s guests, our Premium graduation invitations come with customizable envelopes, backgrounds, stickers and more. Consider sending a graduation announcement to family and friends before or after the graduation commencement, too! Have more questions about hosting the coolest grad party ever? Check out our expert tips for planning a graduation party!
All of the products we feature are hand-selected by our editors! You see only what we love and what we think you'll love too. If you buy something through links on our site, Evite may earn a commission. Prices are subject to change.