Quick Tips to Throw an Awesome Last-Minute Graduation Party


Brace yourselves— graduation is coming!  After years of doing homework, taking tests, and running from one extracurricular activity to another, it’s all about to come to an end, as a new chapter begins. After all your struggles and accomplishments, graduation is a time for celebration!

On the other hand, graduation is also an overwhelming time. Late night study sessions, eleventh-hour cramming for exams, taking the SATs, applying for jobs, saying goodbye to friends you’ve seen every day for years… the list of stressors goes on! As exciting as graduation is, it also includes its own particular blend of stress and sadness.

So, if you haven’t gotten around to some important graduation details yet, like planning a swanky graduation party, don’t worry! It’s still possible to throw together a last-minute graduation party that’s fun and memorable, so no one has to know you just started planning last week.  Try some of the following ideas to plan your party from start to finish.

  • For invitations:

If graduation is coming up fast, you probably don’t have time to order custom-made, printed invitations. Don’t waste time waiting for your cards to arrive (and then addressing them and shipping them to all your friends and family).  Sending e-invites is a fast alternative to snail mail.  Sites like www.evite.com and www.paperlesspost.com offer trendy online invitations, many of which are free and customizable. For a more laidback approach to invitations, create a Facebook event for your grad party, and invite everyone on your friend list! If you’re new to Facebook Events, you can easily create one and add the date, time, and party details under the Facebook “Events” tab.  And if you’re really pressed for time before your party date, there’s nothing like an old-fashioned phone call to courteously invite your loved ones to your special day!

  • For venue:

             Where to host your graduation party is one problem to solve quickly, since the rest of your party— food, décor, and entertainment— may be influenced by your venue location.  If you have the space available, hosting the party in your own home is the quickest— and cheapest!— solution.  If your home isn’t large enough to accommodate a lot of guests, maximize your available space by putting tables and chairs in the yard.  Party rental companies, like those of us at NEO Amusements, have catalogs of rentable chairs and tables available, which you can often reserve on short notice if you give us a call!  In case of rain, tents of all sizes are also an option. If your own home isn’t your ideal location, get your phone ready again and start making calls to local venues to check out availability.  Try reserving a pavilion at a public park, or a room at a local hotel, favorite restaurant, or country club. Pro tip: Ask a local caterer for venue suggestions if you run out of ideas!

  • For food:

             People come to parties for the fun, and stay for the food!  When it comes to serving up the menu for your graduation party, your options are endless— it just comes down to a recipe of time, budget, and number of guests! You can certainly order out for pizza at the last minute, and your guests will still be content (who doesn’t love pizza?)! But if you have a week or so remaining before your grad party, start planning for some tasty-but-easy dishes you can put together without fuss.  Don’t feel like you need to serve your guests a three-course meal! Plan your party for a time of day that falls between meals, so guests will be ready to graze on finger food, but not hungering for a full lunch or dinner. For menu inspiration, Pinterest is loaded with appetizer recipes that are quick to make but delicious to eat.  You could also serve up a buffet of the graduate’s favorite foods, or opt for a dessert-themed party with cake, brownies, and other sweet things. And if you’re able to reserve a restaurant for your party venue, you’ve already got the food covered!

  • For décor:

When pressed for time, go simple, and make your party decorations all about the grad! Photo memories add a personal touch and give friends and family the chance to walk down memory lane. Here are a few of our favorite, quick graduation decoration ideas:

  • Make a banner composed of all your grad’s school pictures;
  • Cut “2017”out of poster board and hang on the wall (if you have the time, decorate the numbers with more photos!);
  • Use wide ribbons instead of streamers for a more sophisticated feel;
  • Match your color scheme to the grad’s school colors;
  • Set out one basket for cards, and another to collect quarters for a “Laundry Contribution Fund”;
  • Grab some balloons from the Dollar Store and tie in bunches to line the sidewalk or decorate the food table.

Décor for your graduation party is another area where the wide world of Pinterest comes in handy! You can find more clever ideas, printable poster templates, and DIY guides to throw together a great looking party. 

  • For entertainment:

Last but not least, consider having some entertainment available for the graduate’s friends and all your guests.  Does your grad have any friends in their own band? Let them play a set! Have some old board games in the basement? Pull out your grad’s favorite ones from childhood and place them around for playing.  For some bigger fun, call a party rental company like us at NEO Amusements to check last-minute availability of inflatables, backyard games, and photo booths, so your guests of all ages will be kept busy and happy for hours.  Finally, as another personal touch, and a celebration of the graduate, play old home movies for your guests so you can laugh (and cry!) together as you watch your grad grow up all over again.

Graduation is an exciting, emotional time that a whole family can experience together. The party afterward is a way to cap off this celebration of achievement and possibilities!  Even if graduation is right around the corner and you’re pressed for time, your celebration can still be fun and unforgettable. By using a few of these quick tips to put together invitations, venue, food, décor, and entertainment, you and your grad will be ready to celebrate this momentous occasion even at the last minute!

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