Great graduation party ideas

I almost titled this post, “World’s greatest graduation party” because that’s how I feel about the event we hosted this afternoon in honor of my Adored stepson’s high school graduation, but I realize I might be a little biased.

Or biased a lot.

But in any case we had a great time hosting 20 or so friends and family, and I thought I’d share some ideas for those of you planning your own parties (graduation parties are de regueur here in the suburbs after all).


Our decorations went heavy on personal and homemade and light on flashy and heliumated (if heliumated was a word).

grad pennants

I made these pennants from leftover shades of green cardstock, strung on sequined yarn (which was a lot less expensive in a skein than buying ribbon or cord by the yard). The pennants are 8 inches tall, 6 inches wide, and the holes were made with a 3/4-inch circle punch. I attached them to the wall with removable 3M Command hooks.

graduation picture display

I strung pictures of Caswell on the same yarn with mini clothespins (we collected greeting cards in the domed cheese plate on the buffet). A framed graduation picture added to the scene, an album of pictures of Caswell collected guests’ signatures on the back page (see a few pages of the album including the guest book page here), and we ran a slide show of more pictures on the big screen.

For more flashes of green (the color of Caswell’s high school), we used green paper plates, napkins and plasticware.


Two words: Slow cookers. My Beloved smoked enormous cuts of beef, pork and turkey on the grill for various meals in the past month; we ate well for one meal, and then he shredded and froze the rest. Today, we dumped the meats into slow cookers and doused them in various barbecue sauces, to be served on fresh bakery buns. We used Sweet Baby Ray’s Award Winning Barbecue sauce on the pork, Famous Dave’s Rich & Sassy barbecue sauce on the beef and Famous Dave’s Georgia Mustard barbecue sauce on the turkey (surprisingly delicious!).

With barbecue as the entrée, we served simple sides: baked beans (if you’re counting, that’s four slow cookers), potato chips, potato salad, macaroni salad and pickles. Beverage options were self-served in coolers on the deck.

This menu was so much easier than cooking hamburgers, and the buffet was easy to maintain (I refilled the potato chip bowl once).
grad cake

Since I don’t like cake and I like making it even less, the centerpiece of the buffet was worth every penny of the $29.48 charged by the bakery at Wal-Mart (and Caswell ate five pieces, so it tasted as good as it looked).

graduation hats

Piece de Resistance: Chocolate Graduation Hats

Google “chocolate graduation hats” or cruise Pinterest, and you’ll find tons of variations on this cute accents. You can use milk chocolate pieces, but I think dark chocolate is closer to the black of a real graduation hat (though I guess graduation hats come in all colors of the rainbow nowadays). I used Reece’s Dark Miniature Peanut Butter Cups, Ghirardelli Dark 60% Cacao Squares, Dark Chocolate Mint M&Ms (because green was my theme) and green Betty Crocker Cookie Icing (don’t use gel icing — this cookie icing hardens, an important characteristic). I put these together in less than an hour yesterday. Like the cake, they tasted as good as they looked.

In the end, the rain stopped just in time, we enjoyed our guests because we weren’t stressed about the food, and we succeeded in making the guest of honor feel important. What more can you ask from a good party?


2 responses to “Great graduation party ideas

  1. Karen Wallgren

    I almost felt we got to be there. The graduation hats were adorable and sounded as if they were composed of my favorite stuff!

  2. Great job on the decorations and food, so cute!

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