ideas for graduation party

Celebrate Graduation in Style: Creative Party Themes and Menu Ideas

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  • Post last modified:May 7, 2023
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Graduation parties are a significant milestone for students who have just completed their academic journey. It is an opportunity to celebrate their achievements, reflect on their experiences, and bid farewell to their friends and teachers. Choosing the perfect graduation party theme is essential in setting the tone for the celebration and creating a memorable experience for everyone involved.

In this post, we will provide you with a range of ideas for different types of graduation parties. Whether you’re planning a small gathering with close family and friends or a large-scale event with your entire class, we have ideas that will suit any occasion. From classic themes such as formal black-and-white events to unconventional themes such as murder mystery parties or retro-themed dances, we’ll explore a range of options to inspire your creativity.

Classic Graduation Party Themes

Graduation parties are a rite of passage that allows graduates to celebrate their accomplishments with their family and friends. While there are many creative graduation party themes out there, some classic themes never go out of style. Here are three classic graduation party themes to consider:

  1. Black and White Formal Event

A black and white formal event is a classic theme for any type of celebration, including graduations. This theme is perfect for graduates who want a sophisticated and elegant party. Here are some ideas for food and decorations:

  • Food: Serve upscale appetizers like shrimp cocktail, crab cakes, and mini quiches. For the main course, consider serving beef tenderloin or salmon. Finish the meal with a dessert bar featuring mini desserts like cheesecake, macarons, and chocolate-covered strawberries.
  • Decorations: Use black and white tablecloths and centerpieces, and decorate with balloons, flowers, and candles. Encourage guests to dress in black and white attire for a cohesive look.
  1. Beach Bash

A beach bash is a fun and casual graduation party theme that’s perfect for summer. This theme is perfect for graduates who love the beach and want to celebrate in a relaxed atmosphere. Here are some ideas for food and decorations:

  • Food: Serve beach-themed snacks like fish tacos, coconut shrimp, and fruit skewers. For the main course, consider serving barbecue ribs or grilled chicken. Finish the meal with a dessert bar featuring tropical desserts like piña colada cupcakes and key lime pie.
  • Decorations: Use beachy decorations like beach balls, seashells, and starfish. Set up beach chairs and umbrellas to create a relaxing atmosphere. Encourage guests to wear beach attire like flip-flops and sunglasses.
  1. Backyard Barbecue

A backyard barbecue is a classic graduation party theme that’s perfect for a casual and fun celebration. This theme is perfect for graduates who love the outdoors and want to enjoy a laid-back party with their family and friends. Here are some ideas for food and decorations:

  • Food: Serve classic barbecue fare like burgers, hot dogs, and grilled chicken. For sides, consider serving coleslaw, potato salad, and baked beans. Finish the meal with a dessert bar featuring classic desserts like apple pie and chocolate chip cookies.
  • Decorations: Use backyard decorations like string lights, bunting, and mason jar centerpieces. Set up lawn games like cornhole and Giant Jenga for guests to enjoy.

Regardless of which classic theme you choose, make sure to personalize it to fit the graduate’s interests and personality. For example, if the graduate is a music lover, consider adding musical decorations or creating a playlist of their favorite songs. Personalization will make the party more meaningful and memorable for the graduate and their guests.

Class of 2020

Unconventional Graduation Party Themes

While classic graduation parties themes like formal events, beach bashes, and barbecues are great, some graduates may want something a little more unique and memorable for their celebration. Here are some unconventional graduation party themes to consider.

Murder Mystery Party

For a thrilling graduation party experience, consider hosting a murder mystery party. This type of party involves guests solving a fictional murder case, with each guest playing a different character and having their own motives and secrets. To fit the theme, serve food and drinks that fit the era or setting of the murder mystery, such as cocktails from the 1920s for a Great Gatsby-inspired party. Decorations can also be tailored to the era or setting, such as vintage or mysterious props and lighting.

Murder Mystery Party

Retro-Themed Dance

For a fun and nostalgic graduation party theme, consider a retro-themed dance. Pick a decade, such as the 70s or 80s, and encourage guests to dress up in the style of the era. Serve classic foods from the time period, such as fondue or punch, and play music from the era. Decorations can include disco balls, neon lights, and other elements that evoke the era.

Masquerade Ball

For a more formal and mysterious graduation party theme, consider a masquerade ball. Guests can wear masks and dress up in elegant attire, while the decor can include rich fabrics and dramatic lighting. Serve upscale finger foods, champagne, and other elegant fare.

Sports-Themed Party

For a more casual and fun graduation party theme, consider a sports-themed party. This can be tailored to the graduate’s favorite sport or team, or it can be a more general celebration of all sports. Serve classic stadium foods like hot dogs and nachos, and decorate with sports memorabilia, banners, and other themed decor. Guests can participate in sports-related games and activities, such as a basketball shoot-out or a football toss.

Mexican Fiesta

For a festive and colorful graduation party theme, consider a Mexican fiesta. Serve traditional Mexican foods like tacos, enchiladas, and guacamole, and decorate with bright colors, papel picado, and other Mexican-inspired decor. Encourage guests to wear colorful clothing and sombreros, and play festive music like mariachi or salsa.

Mexican Fiesta

Hollywood Glam

For a glitzy and glamorous graduation party theme, consider a Hollywood-inspired celebration. Decorate with gold and silver accents, black and white photos of classic Hollywood stars, and other elegant decor. Serve upscale hors d’oeuvres and cocktails, and encourage guests to dress in their most glamorous attire.

Outdoor Adventure

For a more active and adventurous graduation party theme, consider an outdoor adventure party. This can include hiking, camping, or other outdoor activities, as well as a cookout or picnic. Decorate with rustic accents like wooden signs and lanterns, and serve classic outdoor fares like burgers and hot dogs.

There are many unconventional graduation party themes to consider that can be just as fun and memorable as the more traditional themes. The key is to choose a theme that fits the graduate’s personality and interests and to incorporate food, decorations, and activities that fit the theme. Get creative and have fun planning the perfect celebration for your graduate!

Graduation Party Menu Ideas

One of the most important aspects of any graduation party is the food. Whether you’re hosting a formal dinner, a backyard barbecue, or a casual cocktail party, you’ll want to provide your guests with delicious and satisfying food. Here are some graduation party menu ideas to get you started:

  1. Cocktail Party Menu
  • Mini quiches or tartlets
  • Cheese and fruit skewers
  • Caprese skewers
  • Spinach and artichoke dip with pita chips
  • Chicken satay skewers
  • Shrimp cocktail
  • Mini desserts like cupcakes, macarons, and chocolate truffles
  1. Buffet Menu
  • Grilled chicken or steak
  • Hamburgers and hot dogs
  • Pulled pork or BBQ ribs
  • Grilled vegetables
  • Pasta salad
  • Caesar salad
  • Fresh fruit salad
  • Chips and salsa
  • Brownies or cookies
  1. Formal Dinner Menu
  • Appetizers such as crab cakes, stuffed mushrooms, or shrimp cocktail
  • Salad with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, and balsamic vinaigrette
  • Grilled salmon or chicken
  • Roasted vegetables
  • Garlic mashed potatoes
  • Dinner rolls with butter
  • Dessert such as cheesecake or chocolate mousse
  1. Mexican Fiesta Menu
  • Tacos with beef, chicken, or vegetarian filling
  • Quesadillas with cheese, veggies, or chicken
  • Guacamole and salsa with tortilla chips
  • Rice and beans
  • Grilled vegetables
  • Margaritas or non-alcoholic mocktails
  • Churros or tres leches cake for dessert
  1. Picnic Menu
  • Sandwiches or wraps with assorted fillings
  • Fruit skewers or fresh fruit salad
  • Pasta salad
  • Chips and dip
  • Lemonade or iced tea
  • Cookies or brownies

When planning your graduation party menu, don’t forget to consider any dietary restrictions your guests may have. Offer vegetarian and gluten-free options, and be mindful of any allergies.

It’s also important to balance your budget with your menu. For example, serving a buffet-style meal is generally more affordable than a formal sit-down dinner. Additionally, consider making some dishes ahead of time and freezing them, so you can save time and money on party day.

Overall, the key to a successful graduation party menu is to offer a variety of options that will appeal to all of your guests. With these menu ideas, you’re sure to create a delicious and memorable meal for your graduate and their guests to enjoy.

Creative Ways to Display Awards

Graduating from high school or college is a major accomplishment, and it’s important to honor and celebrate the graduate’s achievements at their graduation party. One great way to do this is by displaying their awards and honors in a creative and visually appealing way. Here are some ideas for displaying awards and achievements at a graduation party:

  1. Create a Photo Wall
    One of the easiest and most effective ways to display awards and achievements is by creating a photo wall. This can be as simple as printing out photos of the graduate with their awards and accomplishments and hanging them up on a wall using clips or string. Alternatively, you could create a collage of photos and awards using a bulletin board or foam board.
  2. Use Shadow Boxes
    Shadow boxes are a great way to display physical awards such as trophies, medals, and certificates. Simply place the award in the box, and add any additional items such as photos, program booklets, or graduation caps. You can then hang the shadow box on a wall or display it on a table.
  3. Create a Display Table
    A display table is a great way to showcase multiple awards and achievements in one place. Start by covering the table with a tablecloth that matches the party’s color scheme. Then, arrange the awards and achievements on the table in an aesthetically pleasing way. You could also add photos and other memorabilia to the table to make it more personal.
  4. Hang Banners
    Banners are a great way to add a festive touch to a graduation party while also displaying the graduate’s achievements. You could create a banner that spells out the graduate’s name or a congratulatory message, and then attach their awards and achievements to the banner using clips or string.
  5. Create a Memory Book
    A memory book is a great way to collect all of the graduate’s awards and achievements in one place. Start by purchasing a scrapbook or photo album, and then add photos, certificates, awards, and any other memorabilia to the book. You could also ask guests to write messages of congratulations and add them to the book.

Regardless of how you choose to display the graduate’s awards and achievements, it’s important to make sure that the display is personalized and reflects the graduate’s interests and personality. By doing so, you’ll create a meaningful and memorable display that truly honors their accomplishments.


Graduation parties are an important celebration of academic achievements and a time to recognize the hard work and dedication of the graduate. Choosing a graduation party theme that reflects the graduate’s interests and personality can make the celebration more meaningful and memorable.

When planning a graduation party, it’s important to consider the venue, menu, decorations, and activities that will make the party enjoyable for guests and the graduate alike. Some popular themes include sports, Mexican fiesta, retro dance party, and beach party, among others.

Incorporating special touches, such as displaying awards and achievements, can add to the celebratory atmosphere of the party. Consider creating a photo wall or displaying trophies and medals to showcase the graduate’s accomplishments.

Ultimately, the goal of a graduation party is to celebrate the graduate’s hard work and achievements, and to have fun with family and friends. It’s important to remember that the most memorable parties are those that are personalized and reflect the graduate’s unique interests and personality.

No matter what graduation party theme you choose, we’ve got your party covered with tasty food and impeccable service. Contact us or call us at 610-251-0265 to start planning your summer or Fall graduation parties.


How far in advance should I start planning a graduation party?

It’s recommended to start planning a graduation party at least two to three months in advance to ensure ample time for venue booking, menu planning, and decoration preparation.

How many people should I invite to a graduation party?

The number of people you invite to a graduation party depends on your budget, the size of the venue, and the graduate’s preference. It’s important to make sure the party is not overcrowded and that there’s enough food and drinks for everyone.

How much should I budget for a graduation party?

The budget for a graduation party varies depending on the location, number of guests, and menu choices. It’s recommended to allocate around $20-30 per guest for food and drinks, and additional expenses for decorations, venue rental, and entertainment.

Can I have a graduation party at home?

Yes, hosting a graduation party at home is a popular option and can save on venue rental costs. However, it’s important to consider factors such as the size of your home, parking availability, and noise levels in your neighborhood.

What are some unique graduation party themes?

Unique graduation party themes can include a murder mystery party, a retro-themed dance, or a Mexican fiesta. It’s important to choose a theme that reflects the graduate’s interests and personality.

How can I make my graduation party stand out?

You can make your graduation party stand out by incorporating unique decorations, offering creative menu options, and planning fun activities or entertainment for your guests. It’s also important to consider the graduate’s achievements and accomplishments and honor them with a special display or recognition.