Parenting

14 tips for hosting a great graduation party while social distancing

It's been a tough year. It's time to party!

Graduates throwing their hats in the air Credit: Getty Images / Paul Bradbury

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We are all starting to come out of our 2020 pandemic bunkers, but—until we are all fully vaccinated—it may still feel like a better idea to put off the big social gatherings. Just because you are keeping things socially distant doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate your recent grad with a bang! There are plenty of ways to get the party started, all while staying safe. Here are some tips and ideas for a memorable—yet comfortably distant—graduation celebration.

1. Send out real invitations

Invitation
Credit: Getty Images / natasaadzic

Make it official with real invitations

It's not a party if there aren't any guests! This isn’t a time for a text-invitation. Make the lead-up to the event feel extra special, with some fancy invites. You can either go snail mail or design some fancy virtual invites—whatever you choose Minted has you covered. All of Minted’s invites are designed by independent artist, so you can be sure to find an invite to match the personality of your grad and the tone of their party.

Order graduation party invitations from Minted

2. Troubleshoot ahead of time

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Credit: Getty / FG Trade

Make sure Granddad knows how to work Zoom before the party starts.

When you are making those invites, be sure to make all of the details clear, and keep the less tech-savvy guests in mind. Clearly state the time and what virtual meeting platform you plan to use to host: Zoom, Google Meet, or a live stream on Facebook—make sure all of the details are clear. Give older or less tech-savvy loved ones a quick tutorial a day or two before on whichever platform you are using so you don't have to spend the whole party troubleshooting tech issues with Grandpa.

3. Look the part

Grad dressed up
Credit: Getty Images / JLBarranco

Don't let the cap and gown go to waste: Have them wear it for their virtual grad party.

We know athleisure has been the sartorial trend du jour, but it’s time to dust off the dress up clothes or—better yet—let your new grad splurge on something new. A new graduation dress or sharp new shirt is just what they need to give off the best graduation day vibes.

4. Accessorize!

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Credit: Party City

Glitter glasses at some pizzazz to your socially distant party.

Add to the fun with some celebratory accessories, like grad glasses, a graduation tiara, or a custom graduation T-shirt and cap. And don't forget about the little ones: If your graduate has just completed kindergarten, elementary school, or middle school, get them their own graduation getup to add some pomp and circumstance to the day.

5. Host a drive-by parade

Drive by parade
Credit: Getty Images / gruizza

Organize a surprise drive-by parade so friends and family can safely celebrate the grad.

Just because you can’t host a party in your living room, doesn’t mean your new grad can’t feel the love. Drive by parties are all the rage these days, and they don’t show any sign of stopping. Play some music, throw some streamers on the trees, and set up outside with refreshments so your grad and sit back and bask in the adoration of loved ones and friends.

Get graduation day balloons at Party City for $14.99

6. Shout out how proud you are

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Credit: Party City

A lawn sign shouts out, "A grad lives here!"

This is a big year, so boisterous lawn sign announcing that "a graduate lives here" is in order. Big or small, and whether it’s customized with your kiddo’s name, face, or alma mater, a yard sign is a shout out to your kid’s epic accomplishment.

7. Book a photo session

Grad photos
Credit: Getty Images / digitalskillet

It's still possible—and a great idea—to have professional grad photos taken.

This was a momentous year, by all accounts. No matter if it’s from kindergarten, middle school, or high school, graduating this year is an accomplishment that’s for the books. Be sure to chronicle this achievement with a photoshoot of your amazing graduate. Shoott is a new photo service that is absolutely free to book. You get a 30-minute session with a local photographer and pay only for the photos you want. What you get are lightly edited digital downloads that you can print, save, or send out in graduation announcements to friends and family near and far.

8. Have friends and family make video cards

Video cards
Credit: Getty Images / fizkes

Video cards are fun for grads and guests alike.

For an idea that's more interactive than a two-dimensional greeting card, have friends record their best wishes for and fun memories of your graduate. The Marco Polo app lets users make short videos that the grad can enjoy, reply to, or simply save for years to come. Once in there they can view other people's video messages and record their own with fun filters and voice effects. Unlike Snapchat, Marco Polo's video messages don't disappear, so your grad will have a sentimental virtual memento from graduation day that they can look back on when they are finally able to head off to their college campus.

Get the Marco Polo app

9. Make a slideshow

Slideshow
Credit: Getty Images / iBrave

Put together a slide show to celebrate the graduate.

Take a trip down memory lane with a slideshow of your kid's accomplishments. We like Animoto, a user-friendly online slideshow maker that comes with a variety of themes and makes it easy for you to upload your photos and images. You can even import photos directly from Facebook and Instagram. Animoto allows you to easily upload your slideshow to YouTube or Facebook to share with all of your guests, for easy party-time viewing.

Get the Animoto drag and drop video maker

10. Speech! Speech!

speech
Credit: Getty Images / fizkes

Ask a few guests to give heartfelt speeches about the graduate.

This isn't a normal graduation party, so the celebration doesn't have to be traditional either. You can nominate someone (or multiple people) to give an inspiring commencement speech for your recent grade. Or, if your graduate is the type that likes to hold court, why not let them give the commencement address to party guests? Find inspiration from Speak Up!: Speeches by Young People to Empower and Inspire, which has 45 speeches by children and teenagers who have stood up for causes they believe in.

Get Speak Up!: Speeches by Young People to Empower and Inspire at Books a Million for $25

11. Pop some bubbly!

champagne
Credit: Getty Images / Poike

Raise a glass to the graduate.

This is a day to pull out the good crystal, pop a cork, and say a toast. Companies like Drizly and Saucey can deliver champagne—or non-alcoholic drinks, for the under-21 set—the day of.

12. Order a fancy dinner—or dessert—in

Fancy dinner
Credit: Getty Images / GMVozd

Order in from the grad's favorite restaurant, to make the night special.

Make it feel like a momentous occasion and order a snazzy dinner spread from that trendy restaurant your grad has been dying to try. While you’re at it, finish off with some of our favorite cupcakes—because a party is nothing without dessert.

13. Host a game night

Game night
Credit: Getty Images / Marilyn Nieves

A virtual game night can be lots of fun.

You can, of course, come up with your own game night, but this is a way to make it feel really special. Watson Adventures will host a personalized event with a live host that will keep the games moving and keep everyone laughing. Their customized game night includes a photo scavenger hunt, a mystery message decoding game, and a virtual graduation trivia game. They organize teams and prepare questions that are focused on your graduate and their particular interest. They use Zoom to bring the party together, plus their own app to deliver the questions, collect the answers, and keep score.

Visit Watson Adventures

14. Have a dance party

Dance party
Credit: Getty Images / fizkes

Put together a playlist and get all the guests moving.

You can definitely host a dance party yourself, with a Spotify or Apple playlist. Create the playlist before the party, and when it’s time to hit the dance floor, play the playlist through the computer (Zoom works best) and get dancing. If you want a glitch-free event without any computer feedback on the audio, you might consider hosting a DJ that specializes in virtual events, like Golden Bell Music. For under $500, you can have a 100-person party with two rotating DJs and a horn section! For a more modest $100 to $200, you can have 20 guests and an hour of curated music from a live DJ.

Plan a party with Golden Bell Music

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