And just like that, your baby has graduated from high school or college, and the realization that they aren’t actually a baby anymore has set in. Of course, they will always be your baby, but watching them grow up never gets any easier.
Whether you expected your child to do well in school from the get-go or if they had a few struggles along the way, the time has come to celebrate with a graduation party, and boy, do I have some great ideas. Parties don’t need to cost an arm and a leg, and if you have a backyard big enough to host a few dozen people, you can put together a fantastic budget-friendly backyard graduation party right in your own home.
So, if you’re celebrating this momentous occasion, keep on reading, as I’ve essentially created the ultimate backyard graduation party guide.
Graduation Party Invitations
First things first, you’re going to need invites to send out to your guests to inform them of all the details they’ll need to attend the graduation party. There are a few different ways you can send out invites, some are completely free, and others a more personal, but the choice is completely up to you because, at the end of the day, they all do the same thing.
The most personal and traditional way to send an invite is by purchasing paper invites and mailing or handing them out to your guests. When it comes to the design of your invite, you may want to match them to your graduation party theme (which I’ll get more into later) or instead stick with a standard graduation theme like these Star Graduation Party Invites or these Graduation Cap Party Invites.
E-invites are another great way to send an invite, and in most cases, they only cost a few dollars. Better yet, if you make them yourself on a site like Canva, they’re entirely free.
Alternatively, if you’re not the most tech-savvy, you can purchase downloadable and customizable E-invites on Etsy, like these Minimalist Photo Graduation Invites, or these Class Of Invites that you can then email over to your guests.
Facebook is a great tool, and as most people have a Facebook profile, getting your graduate to create an event and invite all the guests isn’t such a bad idea.
Graduation Party Decorations
Decorations are a massive party of parties, and for me personally, gathering together the different components is one of my favorite parts of party planning. Your theme will ultimately affect the decorations and colors you opt for, however, below, I’ve included some generic graduation decorations in the colors gold, black, white, and silver if, in the end, you don’t decide to go with a specific theme.
In my opinion, no party will ever be complete without a balloon arch, and if you’ve never set up a balloon arch before, don’t worry because they’re far simpler than they seem, especially if you purchase a balloon arch kit. This Graduation Balloon Arch Kit is a fine example as it includes a garland strip to thread the balloons through, glue dots to add in smaller balloons, and a step-by-step instruction manual.
Banners and Garlands
Banners and garlands not only tie your graduation party theme together, but they also act as a great photo prop or backdrop for pictures with the graduate.
This Large Congrats Grad Backdrop, for example, is a great way to cover up blank space in your backyard, and this Congrats Grad Gold Garland, which you can place under the balloon arch or by the food table, will suit any graduation theme.
For a more personal touch to your garland, however, you can purchase this Congrats Grad We Are So Proud Of You Garland, which gives you space to include photos of the graduate from kindergarten all the way to college.
Whether you have numerous tables for guests to sit down at or one big table for food platters and a drink station, a tablecloth is a fun and easy way to show off your graduation party theme.
If you’ve gathered all the standard party decorations but you want to add something extra, then why not fill these Graduate Year Marquee Numbers or these Graduate Transparent Boxes with balloons in your party theme color?
I also love the idea of this Graduation Cap Card Box so your guests can leave a card for the graduate to read once the party is over.
Are you particularly crafty and excel at DIYs? Well, here are some DIY decorations for you to recreate!
- Create graduation-capped balloons with this step-by-step guide from Giggles Galore.
- Add tassels and the year your graduate graduated with these instructions from Tikkido.
- Line your driveway with photos of the graduate from kindergarten to college.
- Put together a graduation cap garland with this Youtube video by Sirozy.
Graduation Party Themes
If you want to take the party one step further and choose a fun and creative theme, here are some of my favorites, along with decoration ideas for all.
Aloha or a luau theme is a great theme for any party, and of course, that includes graduation. These Aloha Tablecloths, this Aloha Graduation Banner, and these Luau Themed Balloons are all great decoration options!
The boho theme is all the rage right now, and if you have a graduate who loves pastel colors and a more chic vibe, then boho is your best theme bet. Start off with this Boho Balloon Arch Set, add the year that your graduate is graduating in pastel Foil Number Balloons, and string up a Congrats Grad Banner.
I find themes that play on words, like Smart Cookie, for example, to be hilarious, and if your graduate really is a smart cookie, then there really is no better theme. Inflate a Cookie Colored Ballon Arch, accessorize with Cookie Foil Balloons, and finish the set up off with a One Smart Cookie Garland.
If your graduate is sports obsessed and played or is looking to play sports in college, then they will appreciate a sports-themed graduation party. Decorate with balloons, tablecloths, and banners the color of the team, and add in extra decorations that are baseball, football, or basketball themed.
And the final theme I just had to mention was a taco about a grad/future theme because who doesn’t love tacos? Start with this Cinco De Mayo Themed Balloon Arch, hang a Taco Bout a Grad Garland, and of course, create a taco stand where guests can build their own tacos.
High School and College-Specific Graduation Themes
One of the easiest backyard high school graduation party ideas or backyard college graduation party ideas is to decorate in the colors of the school they just graduated from or the college that they will be attending.
Put together a balloon arch in the specific school colors and purchase tablecloths, banners, and other decorations to match!
College or School Colors
One of the easiest graduation themes is to go with the colors of the school your child graduated from or the colors of the college they’ll be attending. Be sure to get balloons, a tablecloth, and banners to match!
Graduation Party Food
Food is a difficult one for graduation parties, as people will likely be coming in and out at different times of the day. Whether you plan to have a sit-down meal with appetizers, a main course, and a dessert, or if you’d prefer to create a grazing table where guests can pick and choose what they like, here are some backyard graduation party food ideas that are guaranteed to satisfy your guests.
Backyard BBQ Graduation Party Ideas
BBQs are one of the easiest ways to serve food at any type of party, as cooking meat and other components are quick and convenient. It also means that no matter what time someone arrives at the party, they can get food that is hot and fresh.
Go to a store, like Costco, that sells bulk items, and purchase burger patties, sausages, and chicken wings. Then, place burger and hotdog buns, salads, and condiments on a table, and let your guests enjoy!
Backyard Grazing Graduation Table Party Ideas
I love a grazing table as not only can people pick and choose what they want, but you can also ask guests to bring a dish to cut down on costs and preparation time. Here are some great options to add to your backyard grazing table:
- Vegetable sticks
- Shaved meats
- Cupcakes, donuts, and other mini sweet treats
You’ve put together this party, and now you want to relax. I don’t blame you! So to take one less stress away, call your local pizza place and order pizzas to be delivered to your party. Be sure to put out paper plates and napkins so at the end of the day, all you’ll need is a trash bag to clean everything up, so washing up is required!
Backyard Drink Station
To save yourself from asking everyone if they’d like a drink, put together a backyard drink station so your guests can help themselves whenever they need. Grab a few Galvanised Tubs or a Cooler for your bottled and canned drinks and create a punch or fill a Drinks Dispenser with juice.
Graduation Party Games and Activities
No matter how old you get, party games are always fun, and although your graduates won’t be playing pass the parcel and musical statues, they can still show their competitive sides with these graduation-themed party games.
Pin the Tassel on the Graduate
As a kid, your graduate played pin the tail on the donkey, but now that they’re a graduate, it is only fitting that they play pin the tassel on the graduate instead. This Pin the Tassel on the Graduate Game allows you to customize the picture with a picture of your grad to act as a fun throwback game to their childhood.
Don’t Drop the Tassel
Working in teams, your guests will do a somewhat relay race by balancing a tassel on the end of a straw and passing it to their teammates without using their hands. Draw up a finish line, and the first team to get across wins!
Who Knows the Graduate the Best
This Who Knows the Graduate the Best Game will really see who actually knows the graduate. Hand out a card to every guest and have them answer all questions before totaling up the scores.
Graduation Advice Cards
I love the idea of giving everyone a Graduation Advice Card to write down advice about the future for the graduate that they can then keep forever.
Graduation Party Tips
Here are some of my graduation party tips that may come in useful during your party planning:
- Co-Host – Parties can get expensive, and as your graduate likely has a friend who is also graduating, team up and co-host the party with them!
- Hire a tent – If the weather seems a bit unpredictable, then hire a tent that you can put up in your garden to shelter guests from wind, rain, or sun.
- Get guests to bring a dish – As I mentioned previously, getting guests to bring a dish can really cut back on costs and stress.
- Host the party after lunchtime – Hosting the party after lunchtime will mean that your guests will already be full and, therefore, will not need substantial amounts of food.
The Best Backyard Graduation Party Ideas Conclusion
Congratulations to your graduate, and of course, you for helping them through the entire process. I hope this guide to throwing a backyard graduation party has been helpful and made your party planning that little bit easier.