7 High School Graduation Party Ideas That Rock

Graduation Pool Party

Looking for fun and memorable graduation party ideas? We don’t blame you. Your graduate has earned it after passing all those finals and facing all the big college and career decisions ahead. Here are some ideas to help them cut loose with friends and spend quality time with family.

1) Luau Graduation Party

Graduation Luau party

A Hawaiian luau party is a fun and lighthearted way to celebrate your graduate. Better yet, it lends itself to great food! Family and friends can come dressed in Hawaiian shirts, straw hats (photo booth idea?) and you can provide tropical leis, grass skirts, neon sunglasses, or shell necklaces as party favors. We’ll take you through how to pull off the perfect luau graduation party from start to finish.

Luau Graduation Party Invitations

Graduation Luau Party
Pink Green Luau Graduation Invitation by Invite Shop

Let your guests know about the luau party theme with a colorful invitation detailing the date and time of the event and other pertinent details. Customize your invitations with the help of an online invitation company that can help you capture your luau vibe. Be sure to send your invitations about four weeks in advance so your guests have plenty of time to plan their attire. After the party is over, the graduate can take the luau theme full circle by sending out luau themed thank you cards to guests.

Luau Party Food & Games

A luau implies a feast, so a large spread with multiple food options is customary. Traditional foods include kalua pork, teriyaki chicken, macaroni salad, sticky Japanese rice, and a good variety of tropical fruits. Here are some great easy recipes to get you started:

You might also consider serving a signature “mocktail” (or alcohol-free cocktail) for your teenage guests, such as virgin pina coladas, strawberry daiquiris, or mai tais. You can save money (and reduce the risk of broken glass) by using disposable cocktail glasses, which have more of a visual punch than plastic Solo cups without putting your good stemware at risk.

In terms of luau games, the limbo is what typically comes to mind, but don’t limit yourself to this old classic. Other luau graduation party ideas include hold hula hoop competitions, bowling with coconuts, or offer island karaoke featuring tropical-themed classics by the Beach Boys, Bob Marley, and others. You can even go all out and have a trained dancer teach a mini hula lesson to your guests. Feeling crafty? You might also consider a lei-making table to bring out your guests’ craftier side.

2) Graduation Pool Party

Graduation Pool Party

A graduation pool party is a great way for the graduate and their friends and family to kick back and relax. Guests can attend in swimwear, sarongs, panama hats, and flip flops, which are fitting for a casual, carefree party. Party favors might include personalized soda bottles, mini beach balls, or handheld fans that guests can use to keep cool while sitting poolside.

Graduation Pool Party Invitations

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Beach Ball Pool Party Graduation Invitation by Invite Shop

It’s important to set the tone for your party with your invitations. With a colorful theme and casual fonts, you can let your guests know that the party is a low-key affair. Invite Shop lets you add your own creative flair by fully customizing the invitations you select.

Pool Party Food & Games

When planning food for your graduation pool party, think light and lighthearted. A long hoagie sandwich with a large selection of chips will be filling for your guests without leaving them feeling too heavy for swimming. You might also consider some pool party themed snacks and finger foods, like these fun beach ball cake pops.

Graduation Pool Party
Photo via Bakerella.com

Make a splash with fun graduation pool party games like water volleyball or ask your guests to come armed with squirt guns and super soakers for an epic water gun fight. If your venue space has plenty of room for guests to roam, water balloon fights are a big crowd pleaser, or you can simply limit the game to the water. Last but not least, you can get non-swimming guests involved in the fun by turning them into judges in a competition for who can create the biggest cannonball splash or the most intense belly flop.

3) Country Themed Graduation Party

country themed graduation party

Barns aren’t just for housing farm animals. These days, barns are excellent settings for country graduation parties, especially if you’re expecting a large number of guests. Haybales and simple metal folding chairs make for easy seating, while a red checkered tablecloth adds cheer to every table. Guests can break out the flannel shirts, cowboy boots, bolo ties, and flashy belt buckles for this occasion. For party favors, think bandannas that guests can wear during the party or even moon pies for guests to take home and enjoy.

Country Graduation Party Invitations

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Kiss My Class Funny Graduation Invitation by Invite Shop

Kick off your graduation party theme with rustic graduation invitations from Invite Shop. On theme and on trend, these invitations will get your guests excited about celebrating with the graduate, country style!

Country Graduation Party Food & Games

Country themed graduation parties are great occasions to serve comfort foods like fried chicken, mashed potatoes with white gravy, corn on the cob, and coleslaw. In keeping with the southern theme, you can serve sweet tea and lemonade in mason jars. For dessert, southern favorites include pecan or buttermilk pies, peach cobbler, or Mississippi mud cake.

One of the most popular country themed graduation party ideas is a country hoedown. The family of the graduate can two-step to country legends like George Strait or Willie Nelson while the younger crowd can show off their dance moves to modern country favorites like Florida Georgia Line or Carrie Underwood. You can arrange for a variety of activities, like hayrides, horseshoes, or cornhole, for those who prefer to sit out the dancing. Finally, conclude your festivities with a bonfire and s’mores.

4) Backyard Graduation Party

Hosting a backyard graduation party helps cut down on the expense of pricey event venues while providing guests with a more intimate environment to celebrate the graduate. You can also easily do party prep in your own home and kitchen, which is a big timesaver. Scour the house for those embarrassing childhood photos you can include in a fun display table showcasing your graduate’s high school memories and accomplishments, such as trophies, awards, corsages and boutonnieres from homecoming and prom — even that acceptance letter from the university they will be attending.

Backyard Graduation Party Invitations

backyard graduation party
Rustic Backyard BBQ Graduation Invitation by Invite Shop

Your guests need to know what to expect at the graduation party. The blank canvas of your own backyard allows you to host a casual or formal event, depending on your decor or theme. Appropriate invitations will let them know whether the event is casual or formal.

Backyard Graduation Party Food & Games

For at-home celebrations, we recommend a simple backyard barbecue. Burgers, hot dogs, chips, and yummy sides like baked beans and potato salad will do the trick. You can stick with traditional games like darts, croquet, or bocce ball, or add in something quirky like a giant-sized Jenga game.

Have a blank book open where teachers and older relatives can pencil in their advice to the graduate on college, careers, and life. Looking for something more active? Silly string fights are always a big hit, or you can even set up a few makeshift obstacles in your backyard and let the graduate and their friends enjoy a few games of bazooka ball, which uses foam balls to provide all the fun of paintball without the painful welts!

5) Outdoor Graduation Party

outdoor graduation party ideas

Renting a covered space at a city or state park is one of the most popular outdoor graduation party ideas. These spaces get snapped up quickly during graduation season, so we recommend making your reservation as far in advance as possible. An outdoor graduation party is a great option for people who live in small homes or apartments that can’t accommodate many guests.

Outdoor Graduation Party Food & Games

Bringing mass quantities of food to an outdoor venue can be a logistical nightmare, which is why outdoor parties are perfect for potlucks. Plan on preparing the main dish using the barbecue grills on site, while asking your guests to bring a side dish, salad, or dessert of their choice. Be sure to include the potluck request on your outdoor graduation party invitations.

Take advantage of park amenities to provide activities for your guests. Many parks are outfitted with volleyball nets, basketball courts, disc golf baskets, tennis courts, and more. You can arrange for tournaments where your guests can compete for trophies or simply bragging rights. For non-athletic guests, you might consider putting together a scavenger hunt where guests can search for items in the immediate vicinity.

6) Black and White Graduation Party

A black and white theme is perfect for a formal family dinner to celebrate the graduate. Aside from being represented in the decor and place settings, you can request that your guests wear black and white attire as well. Don’t think of limiting the palette as a restriction, but as a means of preserving the event’s elegance. Set the tone by selecting a formal invitation design from Invite Shop that establishes the formality of the event.

Black and White Graduation Party
Modern Black and White Stripes Gold Confetti Graduation Invitation by Invite Shop

Black and White Graduation Party Ideas

For food, you will have to be creative, which is why we recommend enlisting the help of an experienced caterer. Think white-coated brie cheese and shiny black olives as hors d’oeuvres, black and white risottos, black bean and couscous salad, and dark chocolate covered pound cake for dessert. Or you could go simpler with white margherita pizzas, chicken alfredo, and a blackberry and white chocolate layer cake.

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Photo via SeriousEats.com

During your formal sit-down dinner, arrange for a special time where each family member has an opportunity to share a fond memory with the graduate or a special piece of advice. As the host, you can also plan icebreaker-style questions aimed at coaxing family members into sharing their most memorable moments from high school and/or college. For party favors, consider black and white professional photos of the graduate in tasteful, black and white frames.

7) Mexican Fiesta Graduation Party

A Mexican fiesta is a colorful way to celebrate a graduate. Encourage guests to wear ponchos, embroidered fiesta dresses, serapes, Western shirts, sombreros, and other outfits to match the theme. Just be sure to make note of any attire requests on the invitation.

Mexican Fiesta Graduation Party
Nacho Average Graduation Invitation by Invite Shop

For party favors, think festive maracas and decorative jars of jalapeno jelly. Help your guests get in the fiesta mood with Mariachi music playing in the background or go all out and hire professional Mariachi group to liven up your party for a couple hours.

Fiesta party food & games

Traditional Mexican cuisine provides a lot of delicious options. We recommend a simple taco bar with all the fixings, including pico de gallo, shredded pepperjack cheese, guacamole, and freshly chopped tomatoes, lettuce, and cilantro. For dessert, there’s sopapillas and churros as grab-and-go treats and tres leches cake to finish you off.

As for games, you’re never too old for a pinata (especially if it’s filled with checks and small cash gifts for the graduate!). Other fun games might include a hot pepper eating contest and a cascarónes smash, aka, letting your teenage guests break confetti eggs on each other’s heads to their hearts’ content.

These are just a few high school graduation party ideas. Which one would work best for you? What ideas would you add?

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