photographer: La Vie Photography | event planner:: Lindsay Piram Creative
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30 Graduation Parties — Ideas from Entrances to Favors & Everything in Between

As with any good milestone, a graduation is a great time for reflection — and celebration. It marks the ending of one thing and the beginning of another and deserves notice, and obviously we love when that comes in the form of a meaningful, personal gathering. And we’ve got you covered with graduation party ideas that will take your guests from a stunning entrance all the way to a sweet party favor.

Graduation parties should be all about the graduate. Get inspired by your grad’s activities, hobbies, preferences, and future. Read on to see graduation parties with creative themes, college-color inspiration, engaging activities and entertainment, memorable fare, and personalization opportunities galore (think everything from napkins to life-sized letters perfect for posing by).

See our 30 ideas now, then click through to see more photos from your favorite events and reach out to the vendors who brought the celebratory vision to life.

Graduation Party Entrances

photographer: Carla Ten Eyck Photography

1. Red Carpet Welcome

This party set a festive mood right from the start with a series of oversized balloon arches leading guests to a red and white draped tent.

The vendors who made this event happen:

photographer: Carla Ten Eyck Photography | event planner: Lifetime Events By Jacqueline | event designer & rental: Art Of The Event | balloon décor: Ava Party Rental | entertaining performers: Cirque Central | tent  & floor: PEAK Event Services | draping: Drape Art Designs | caterer: Gourmet Galley Catering | ice cream truck: Mister Softee Connecticut | restroom: United Site Services New England | lighting: Power Posse Productions | cupcake specialty: The Cupcake Brake | specialty catering: Old World Pizza Truck | stilt performers: Murray Hill Talent | favor treats: Dylan’s Candy Bar, New York | parking valet: Curtin Transportation Group | hair & makeup: Catie Bane | deejay: Rico Entertainment

Black & White Modern Drive By Graduation Parade & Celebratory Family Dinner

photographer: Jennifer Tai Photo Artistry

2. Bold Balloons

Seattle, WA

This innovative graduation party made the best of a not-so-great situation: celebrating a milestone during COVID. We love how this stunning entrance welcomed family members to a chic dinner, but also acted as a backdrop for a drive-by celebration for classmates, friends and family, complete with party favors and a yearbook signing.

The vendors who made this event happen:

photographer: Jennifer Tai Photo Artistry | welcome gifts, event planner & design: Pink Blossom Events | florals: Fena Flowers | venue: Chateau Lill | balloon installation: Confete Party | cake & macaron favors: Honey Crumb Cake Studio | vintage vehicles: British Motor Coach | rentals: CORT Party Rental | caterer: A Platinum Event | stationery: Sablewood Paper Company | custom party favors: Pomp & Revel | hashtag & 2020 graduation wood sign: AR Workshop Mill Creek

8th Grade Beach Bash Graduation Party

photographer: Kohl Murdock

3. Beachy Bash

Chicago, IL

What better way to welcome guests to a beach-themed party than to usher them through an arch of colorful beach balls and inner-tubes?

The vendors who made this event happen:

photographer: Kohl Murdock | event planner: Rockit Ranch Productions | décor: Meetinghouse (closed) | venue: Moonlight Studios | rentals: Marquee Event Rentals | entertainment: The Actors Gymnasium | av service: Sound Investment AV | cotton candy vendor: Spin


RELATED: Find a Caterer on PartySlate


Graduation Party Themes

Incredible Carnival Themed Graduation Party in Lyme, Connecticut

photographer: Carla Ten Eyck Photography

4. Carnival Celebration

We adore how the carnival theme is present everywhere from the food (caramel-dipped apples, anyone?) to the signage and photo spots. Don’t miss the custom dance floor and lounge areas that gave guests perfect spots to be active or chill.

The vendors who made this event happen: [see #1 above]

POP up party- Social Distancing Graduation Fiesta

photographer: Siobhan Stanton

5. Fiesta Forever

New York, NY

Colorful balloons, sarape-inspired table runners, mariachi performers, and more inspired touches made this a fiesta to remember.

The vendors who made this event happen:

photographer: Siobhan Stanton | planner, entertainment & designHollywood POP Gallery | balloons: Balloons by Anthony | rentals: Smith Party Rentals | catering: Revel Dinner thyme

Old Hollywood Themed, Vintage Graduation Party

photographer: Christina Julia

6. Old-Hollywood for New Grads

Camp Hill, PN

What better place to hold a vintage, old-Hollywood soirée than at an antique auto museum. It’s a great way to celebrate new beginnings.

The vendors who made this event happen:

photographer: Christina Julia | caterer & floral: The JDK Group

Sophisticated and Charming English Cottage Inspired Graduation Celebration in Manhattan Beach, California

photo courtesy of Plan It! Events

7. English Cottage-Inspired

Manhattan Beach, CA

Bright pink and purple florals combined with lush greenery to conjure an English feel. Fish n’ chips and pies deliciously upheld the theme as well.

 

The vendors who made this event happen:

photo courtesy of, design & production: Plan It! Events | floral: Rolling Hills Flower Mart | décor & lighting: Images By Lighting


RELATED: 34 Social Distancing Parties for Birthdays, Baby Showers, Weddings, & More to Inspire Your Safe Celebration


Graduation Parties Inspired by College Colors

Outdoor Graduation Parties at in New Vernon, New Jersey

photographer: John Simoudis

8. University of Pennsylvania Blue & Red

New Vernon, NJ

This poolside party’s décor was color-themed, celebrating future attendance at the University of Pennsylvania. We love college colors as graduation party inspiration.

The vendors who made this event happen:

photographer: John Simoudis | florals: Jerry Rose Floral & Event Design | placemats & favors: TPD Design House | furniture rental: Party Rental Ltd.

photographer: Laura Gordon

9. Georgetown Blue & Silver

Washington, D.C.

Blue fringe made a stunning statement at this Georgetown University-inspired celebration. College flags outfitted the bar, and guests enjoy chic navy blue lounge areas to rest from dancing all night.

The vendors who made this event happen:

photographer: Laura Gordon | event planner & design: Evoke Design & Creative | décor & floral: Amaryllis

photographer: Linda Barrett

10. University of Illinois Orange & Blue

This orange and blue-hued party prepped the “Fighting Illini” for game time — and graduation. We appreciate how even the florals and the personal touches like custom napkins completed the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign theming.

The vendors who made this event happen:

photographer: Linda Barrett | event planner & party favors: Christina Currie Events, Inc. | décor: Kehoe Designs | rental: Marquee Event Rentals Chicago | entertainment: MFO Entertainment Group | caterer: Food For Thought | linen: BBJ Linen | cake & sweets: Touch of Sweets | photo op: Smilebooth Chicago


RELATED: Find Creative Entertainment Options on PartySlate


Graduation Party Personalization

Bold and Bright for Graduation

photographer: La Vie Photography, Minneapolis

11. Talented Trio

This graduation party celebrated a trio of achievers with bright colors and customizations galore. From the towering balloon signage to the custom bar, every detail reminded guests of who they were there to celebrate.

The vendors who made this event happen:

photographer: La Vie Photography, Minneapolis | event planner: Lindsay Piram Creative

photographer: Jenny Quicksall Photography

12. You Oughta Be In Pictures

Los Angeles, CA

It doesn’t get more personalized that having your face emblazoned on a chic photo spot or on clever cookies. We love how this surprise graduation party made it all about the graduate.

The vendors who made this event happen:

photographer: Jenny Quicksall Photography | planner: Bluebell Events | balloons and florals: Shawna Yamamoto Event Design | venue: private residence | video: custom made productions | t-shirts & time magazine art work: M.Studio Events | confetti cannon: Times Square Confetti | cookies: Bella Donna Special Events | cake: The Butterend | mariachi: Malibu Mariachi


RELATED: Don’t Be Clueless – How to Host a 90s Theme Party in 2021


Graduation Party Food Ideas

Sweet Graduation Party

photo courtesy of J GROUP EVENTS

13. Sweet Social

Guests at this red and pink party snacked on sugary treats like cotton candy, smoothies, and mini pancakes. We love how the lips and hearts theming extended even to the buffet décor.

The vendors who made this event happen:

photo courtesy of, design, & décor: J GROUP EVENTS

Charming and Tasteful Lakeside Graduation Celebration

photographer: Matt Blum Photography

14. State-ly Soirée

We are wowed by the attention to personalized detail that extends even to the food being served. See the amazing appetizers that are shaped as Minnesota and California, representing the graduate’s home state and future home.

The vendors who made this event happen:

photographer: Matt Blum Photography | event planner: Amy Zaroff Events + Design | décor: Linen Effects, Richfield Flowers & Events, Apres | food & beverage: Cocoa & Fig | entertainment: Sye Young | audio/visual: AVEX | food & beverage: Nadia Cakes | food & beverage: D’Amico Catering

photographer: Linda Barrett

15. Delectable Duo

Barrington, IL

It’s not easy to extend blue-and-orange Illinois theming to the fare, but this graduation party managed to do it with style. Think cakes, straws, cocktails, salads and more in the vibrant duo of colors.

 

The vendors who made this event happen: [see #10 above]

Modern Museum Meets Amsterdam- Old World Museum Graduation Party

photographer: Seth Nenstiel

16. Fresh Fare

Mechanicsburg, PN

Delectable graduation party food ideas abound at this gathering — from the farmer’s fruit market to the pizza station (with a brick pizza oven, of course). We adore a party with choices — don’t miss the dessert buffet at this party for more presentation ideas.

The vendors who made this event happen:

photographer: Seth Nenstiel | caterer & floral: The JDK Group


RELATED: Find Fun Party Favor & Gift Ideas on PartySlate


Graduation Party Decorations

Rose Gold Graduation

photo courtesy of Gilded Group Décor

17. Floral Forward Fête

Doral, FL

We adore how this graduation party used luxe touches of rose-gold combined with an array of pink-hued florals and greenery. Tall vases were strategically places between settings so as not to interrupt fun across-the-table conversations.

The vendors who made this event happen:

photo courtesy of, décor, & floral: Gilded Group Décor | venue: The Penthouse at Riverside Wharf

Colorful Graduation at the Chicago Art Museum

photographer: Sheri Whitko Photography

18. A Rainbow of Possibilities

Modern art and a “colorful personality” inspired this vivid graduation party. The gathering included richly-hued décor from the florals to the linen and also treated guests to another visual treat in the form of a private showing of the celebrant’s favorite art exhibit.

The vendors who made this event happen:

photographer: Sheri Whitko Photography | planner: Paulette Wolf Events | décor & floral: HMR Designs | venue: The Art Institute of Chicago | invitations: HH Design | technical producer: KISHBAUGH + PARTNERS | linens: Tailored Elements | food: Bon Appetit | entertainment: Carlos and Andres

Breathtaking Graduation Dinner

photographer: Alan Phillip

19. Luxe Begins with L

Miami, FL

We adore how each layer of this graduation dinner party setting is more beautiful than the next. Unique octagonal menus are perfectly placed with red and pink accents that pick up the silk napkin hues.

The vendors who made this event happen:

photographer: Alan Phillip | event planning: Monica Pardo Events | décor, florals, & props: Gilded Group Décor | venue: Komodo | stationery: Love Paper Creations | cake: Moulin Rose Bakery


RELATED: Reinvent the [Color] Wheel with These Monochromatic Party Themes


All White Graduation Party

photo courtesy of: Jersey Street Productions

20. Winsome White

Clifton, NJ

When it comes to memorable party décor, one of all-time favorite ideas is to choose a single hue and go all in. We adore how this graduation party featured all-white elements, from flowy draping and paper lanterns, to chic hang-out spots, and even giant white letters on the yard spelling out the graduate’s name (and making for a fun photo op).

The vendors who made this event happen:

photo courtesy of & event coordination: Jersey Street Productions

Graduation Pink Garden Party - O.U. Bound

photographer: Emile C Browne Media

21. Pink Pool Party

Bellaire, TX

This garden party makes us swoon with luxurious pink details from pool décor to paper pink florals and pillows decking out (see what we did there?) a chic cabana. Don’t miss how even the food carried on the pink theming.

The vendors who made this event happen:

photographer: Emile C Browne Media | event planner: A Swoon Event | florals: Lexis Florist | venue: Gathe Manor


RELATED: 12 Essential Pool Party Ideas for Your Summer Soirée


Graduation Party Entertainment

Incredible Carnival Themed Graduation Party in Lyme, Connecticut

photographer: Carla Ten Eyck Photography

22. Step Right Up

Trapeze artists suspended upside down, performers on stilts, jugglers, midway games, rides, fireworks, and more — this party took guests to the fair without leaving the host’s backyard.

The vendors who made this event happen: [see #1 above]

Graduation Luncheon

photographer: Show Ready Photo

23. Chic Caricature

Menlo Park, CA

This clever celebration personalized the party for all guests with a caricature artist on hand to draw friends and family. Guests then posted their signed images to a board for everyone to enjoy.

The vendors who made this event happen:

photographer: Show Ready Photo | planning & design: All Set Events | florist: Blooming Vase Florals | rentals: Blueprint StudiosHensley Event Resources | caterer: Daniel Ripley Catering | signage: Palette & Ink | bar service: Rye on the Road | ice cream: Garden Street Creamery | artist: Cartoon Guru

8th Grade Beach Bash Graduation Party

photographer: Kohl Murdock

24. Beach “Ball”room Dancing

Chicago, IL

A custom dance floor is a great first “step” to hosting a memorable party. This graduation party’s entertainment also included confetti cannons, mascot characters, Skeeball, arcade hoops, and more to keep the kids busy and happy.

The vendors who made this event happen: [see #3 above]

Yale Graduation Celebration in New Haven, Connecticut

photographer: Richard Marinelli Videography & Photography

25. Blender Bikes (yes, you read that right)

New Haven, CN

When it comes to graduation party entertainment and activities, this gathering had it all. From blender bikes (that allowed guests the novelty of blending their own drinks through aerobic activity) and an ice luge to a live musician and a DJ, this fun party kept guests engaged and delighted all night.

The vendors who made this event happen:

event planner: Amazing Celebrations & Events | event floral/orchid leis: Flowerleis.com | venue: Blake Hotel | blender bikes: Sweetcycle | event furniture rentals: Taylor Creative Inc. | photo booth & games: Coco Events | giant marquee letters: Your Love In Lights | balloon décor: Amazing Balloon Decor | living statues: TEN31 Productions | event lighting: Correlation Productions | live musician: Billy Megofna | dj & dance floor: Boppers Events | custom ice sculpture luge: Ice Matters


RELATED: Choose a Creative Bakery on PartySlate


Graduation Cake Ideas

Black & White Modern Drive By Graduation Parade & Celebratory Family Dinner

photographer: Jennifer Tai Photo Artistry

26. Black & White & Yum All Over

Minneapolis, MN

When it comes to graduation cake ideas, it makes good sense to lean into the favorite food of the graduate. But we love how this cake also coordinated with the chic black-and-white color palette of the party.

The vendors who made this event happen: [see #2 above]

POP up party- Social Distancing Graduation Fiesta

photographer: Siobhan Stanton

27. A Few of My Favorite Things

New York, NY

All we need is this cool, creative cake to get to know this fun-loving grad who loves baking, her pup, and more. Graduation cake ideas don’t get more personalized than this.

The vendors who made this event happen: [see #5 above]

Oh The Places Amalia Will Go Graduation Party

photographer: Radiant Imagery by Jocelyn Renae

28. Seussian Sweets

College Park, MD

We love how this party works with an unusual color scheme inspired by Dr. Seuss’ “Oh the Places You’ll Go” book. The cake cleverly continues palette and theme.

 

 

The vendors who made this event happen:

design & décor: A Glam Good Time, LLC | venue: Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center | balloon artist: Partistry Events | desserts: Baking Hearts Happy | table rental: Morel’s Exquisite Designs | makeup artist: Artistry by Marquita | stationery: J. Jackson Designs | photographer: Radiant Imagery by Jocelyn Renae | backdrop design: Crafts of a Different Shade


RELATED: Break Out Your Neon & Spandex for These 80s Theme Party Ideas


Graduation Party Favors

photographer: Linda Barrett

29. Delectable Duo

Barrington, IL

Custom college-themed cookies and printed travel coffee mugs made for the perfect take-away party favor for friends and family of this college-bound grad.

The vendors who made this event happen: [see #10 above]

30. Graduate Gifts

Los Angeles, CA

This social-distanced celebration rocked a clever theme (Straight Outta Quarantine) and gave guests a drive-up photo op as well as a box of fun gifts to take home that included a disposable camera, a mug emblazoned with “Let the Adventure Begin,” cookies, chocolate, and an inspirational book.

The vendors who made this event happen:

photographer: Maya Myers Photography | event design, gifting & production: Sterling Engagements | floral, design & fabrication: Shawna Yamamoto Event Design | rental: EDGE Design and Decor | dj: KRIEGER | live entertainment: Artists Creating Entertainment, LLC | carpet: NFP Events | candy: Full of Grace Bakes | videographer: Nick Gonzalez


What do you do at a graduation party?

A graduation party often hosts guests of all ages — including the graduate’s friends as well a multiple generations of family. As such, it’s a good idea to offer a variety of activities. Consider DJ, live band, a cooking demonstration, illusionists or other performance acts.

A photo booth seems to unite guests as well as create fun interactions as well as lots of pictures to remember the party by. Use PartySlate to find creative entertainment ideas that will appeal to all guests.