14 tips for hosting a great graduation party while social distancing
We are all starting to come out of our 2020 pandemic bunkers, but—until we are all fully vaccinated—it may still feel like a better idea to put off the big social gatherings. Just because you are keeping things socially distant doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate your recent grad with a bang! There are plenty of ways to get the party started, all while staying safe. Here are some tips and ideas for a memorable—yet comfortably distant—graduation celebration.
1. Send out real invitations
It's not a party if there aren't any guests! This isn’t a time for a text-invitation. Make the lead-up to the event feel extra special, with some fancy invites. You can either go snail mail or design some fancy virtual invites—whatever you choose Minted has you covered. All of Minted’s invites are designed by independent artist, so you can be sure to find an invite to match the personality of your grad and the tone of their party.
2. Troubleshoot ahead of time
When you are making those invites, be sure to make all of the details clear, and keep the less tech-savvy guests in mind. Clearly state the time and what virtual meeting platform you plan to use to host: Zoom, Google Meet, or a live stream on Facebook—make sure all of the details are clear. Give older or less tech-savvy loved ones a quick tutorial a day or two before on whichever platform you are using so you don't have to spend the whole party troubleshooting tech issues with Grandpa.
3. Look the part
We know athleisure has been the sartorial trend du jour, but it’s time to dust off the dress up clothes or—better yet—let your new grad splurge on something new. A new graduation dress or sharp new shirt is just what they need to give off the best graduation day vibes.
- Shop graduation dresses at Nordstrom Rack
- Shop men’s dress shirts at Nordstrom Rack
- Shop kids dress clothes at Nordstrom Rack
Add to the fun with some celebratory accessories, like grad glasses, a graduation tiara, or a custom graduation T-shirt and cap. And don't forget about the little ones: If your graduate has just completed kindergarten, elementary school, or middle school, get them their own graduation getup to add some pomp and circumstance to the day.
- Get gold Grad Squad graduation glasses at Party City for $9.99
- Get custom graphic graduation gear at Custom Ink
- Get a cap and gown set at Oriental Trading Company for $16.99
5. Host a drive-by parade
Just because you can’t host a party in your living room, doesn’t mean your new grad can’t feel the love. Drive by parties are all the rage these days, and they don’t show any sign of stopping. Play some music, throw some streamers on the trees, and set up outside with refreshments so your grad and sit back and bask in the adoration of loved ones and friends.
6. Shout out how proud you are
This is a big year, so boisterous lawn sign announcing that "a graduate lives here" is in order. Big or small, and whether it’s customized with your kiddo’s name, face, or alma mater, a yard sign is a shout out to your kid’s epic accomplishment.
- Get a graduation lawn sign at Party City starting at $1.99
- Get a custom graduation lawn sign at Etsy for $80
7. Book a photo session
This was a momentous year, by all accounts. No matter if it’s from kindergarten, middle school, or high school, graduating this year is an accomplishment that’s for the books. Be sure to chronicle this achievement with a photoshoot of your amazing graduate. Shoott is a new photo service that is absolutely free to book. You get a 30-minute session with a local photographer and pay only for the photos you want. What you get are lightly edited digital downloads that you can print, save, or send out in graduation announcements to friends and family near and far.
8. Have friends and family make video cards
For an idea that's more interactive than a two-dimensional greeting card, have friends record their best wishes for and fun memories of your graduate. The Marco Polo app lets users make short videos that the grad can enjoy, reply to, or simply save for years to come. Once in there they can view other people's video messages and record their own with fun filters and voice effects. Unlike Snapchat, Marco Polo's video messages don't disappear, so your grad will have a sentimental virtual memento from graduation day that they can look back on when they are finally able to head off to their college campus.
9. Make a slideshow
Take a trip down memory lane with a slideshow of your kid's accomplishments. We like Animoto, a user-friendly online slideshow maker that comes with a variety of themes and makes it easy for you to upload your photos and images. You can even import photos directly from Facebook and Instagram. Animoto allows you to easily upload your slideshow to YouTube or Facebook to share with all of your guests, for easy party-time viewing.
10. Speech! Speech!
This isn't a normal graduation party, so the celebration doesn't have to be traditional either. You can nominate someone (or multiple people) to give an inspiring commencement speech for your recent grade. Or, if your graduate is the type that likes to hold court, why not let them give the commencement address to party guests? Find inspiration from Speak Up!: Speeches by Young People to Empower and Inspire, which has 45 speeches by children and teenagers who have stood up for causes they believe in.
11. Pop some bubbly!
12. Order a fancy dinner—or dessert—in
Make it feel like a momentous occasion and order a snazzy dinner spread from that trendy restaurant your grad has been dying to try. While you’re at it, finish off with some of our favorite cupcakes—because a party is nothing without dessert.
13. Host a game night
You can, of course, come up with your own game night, but this is a way to make it feel really special. Watson Adventures will host a personalized event with a live host that will keep the games moving and keep everyone laughing. Their customized game night includes a photo scavenger hunt, a mystery message decoding game, and a virtual graduation trivia game. They organize teams and prepare questions that are focused on your graduate and their particular interest. They use Zoom to bring the party together, plus their own app to deliver the questions, collect the answers, and keep score.
14. Have a dance party
You can definitely host a dance party yourself, with a Spotify or Apple playlist. Create the playlist before the party, and when it’s time to hit the dance floor, play the playlist through the computer (Zoom works best) and get dancing. If you want a glitch-free event without any computer feedback on the audio, you might consider hosting a DJ that specializes in virtual events, like Golden Bell Music. For under $500, you can have a 100-person party with two rotating DJs and a horn section! For a more modest $100 to $200, you can have 20 guests and an hour of curated music from a live DJ.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.