April 17, 2015

128 Great Graduation Ideas

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I can’t believe it, but graduation is right around the corner!  If you know someone graduating from preschool, high school, college, or anywhere in between- you are going to want to check this post out, because we are sharing…

Over 100 Graduation Ideas!

128 Great Graduation Ideas- everything from grad gifts to parties to photo ideas


Whether you’re looking to print a cute graduation card, searching for a meaningful grad gift, planning a whole graduation party, or just looking for inspiration for a graduation photo shoot- you’re gonna find what you’re looking for here.  

{Trust me, you’re gonna want to pin this baby right now!  Even if you don’t know anyone graduating this year, you’re going to want to save these gems for future reference.}  

To make browsing easier, we’ve divided the ideas into categories.  Below you’ll find… 

  • 19 CARDS FOR GRADS
    • 7 Free Printable Cards
    • 12 DIY Cards
  • 42 GIFTS FOR GRADS
    • 19 DIY Gifts
    • 14 Store-Bought Gifts
    • 9 Meaningful Jewelry Gifts
  • 59 GRADUATION PARTY IDEAS
    • 13 Theme Ideas
    • 22 Food Ideas
    • 24 Decorating Ideas
  • 8 GRADUATION PICTURE IDEAS

That way you can just scroll down to the section you’re looking for.  

Ready. Set. SCROLL! First up…

 

19 CARDS FOR GRADS

19 Cards for Grads

We’ve divided the graduation cards into two sections- free printable cards if you just want a quick and easy option, and DIY cards if you’re more of the crafty-type. 

7 FREE Printable Graduation Cards

7 Free Printable Graduation Cards

Free Printable Graduation Cards

1.  Lightbulb Graduation Cards- Three printable lightbulb cards to wish the grad a bright future.

2.  Free Printable Congrats CardThree fun and bright printable “Congrats” cards.  

3.  Congratulations Card KitThis free, printable kit includes 2 congratulation cards, 2 gift tags, and 1 sleeve.

4.  Smarty Pants Graduation Card-  Just print the free card and attach a smarties.  From preschool to high school to college- you’re never too old for a little candy.  

5.  Paper Airplane Graduation Card- Let your grad know “the sky’s the limit” with this fun, 3D paper airplane card.

6.  App Store Gift Card PrintableJust print the free card and attach a gift card to the app store to let your grad know he or she is “app”-solutely amazing.

7.  Graduation Money Holder CardJust print the card and insert your money.  I’m pretty sure most graduates appreciate cold, hard cash.  

12 DIY Graduation Cards

12 DIY Graduation Cards

DIY Graduation Card

8.  Graduation Cap Pop-Up Card- Isn’t this pop-up card fun?  The tutorial looks easy, and it even includes a downloadable template.

9.  Graduation Cap & Gown CardThis would be an awesome card for any male graduate.  I love that it includes the cap, gown, diploma, and even a tie.

10.  Con”grad”ulationsWish the grad con”grad”ulations with this cute card.  Don’t you love the paper tassel?

11.  Graduation Bookmark This is actually an invitation to a graduation party, but I think it would also be fun as a DIY card the grad can keep and use in college.

12.  Graduation Gift Card HolderThis fun grad cap card has a space to insert a gift card, cash, or check.  It even has two different templates to choose from.

13.  Graduation Pop-Up Gift Card Holder- I love how this pop-up card springs forward.  There’s even a video to show you how to put it all together.

14.  Grad Hat Fold Card with Money PocketI just love how she spelled out the graduation year with the dollar bills.  For this year just grab a $20 bill, a $1 bill, and a $5 bill. 

Homemade Graduation Card

15.  Folded Graduation Petal CardI love how it all folds up.  You could even stick a gift card or small present inside if you wanted.

16.  Graduation Money Holder BoxFollow the tutorial to make this origami graduation box, then insert some rolled up dollar bills.

17.  Gift Card Booklet-  This gift card book was actually made for Valentine’s Day, but I think it would make the perfect graduation card!  Just switch out the design on the front.

18.  Graduation Card in a BoxIsn’t this card impressive?  If you’re the crafty, card-makin’ type, you should definitely check this out.

19.  Graduation Exploding BoxIsn’t this fun?!  It’s very similar to our Exploding Love Box but with 8 sides instead of 4.  A little more labor-intensive, but a dramatic presentation! 

42 GIFTS FOR GRADS

42 Gifts for Grads

We’ve divided the graduation gifts into three sections.  DIY gifts if you’re looking for something creative and homemade, store-bought gifts if you’re looking for something easy and practical, and jewelry gifts if you’re looking for a meaningful and girly gift.

19 DIY Graduation Gifts

19 DIY Graduation Gifts

Creative Graduation Gift

20.  Graduation Candy Can-  What grad wouldn’t like to get a can full of candy?  Just stick the candy gram graduation poem on the outside of a can, then fill it up with the corresponding candy.

21.  Graduation Candy Gram-  OR just make a fun candy gram poster.  Here’s a fun one you can copy.

22.  AW-some Graduate GiftJust grab some A&W rootbeer and the free printable for an easy, cute gift for the grad.

23.  Rolo Graduation GiftJust wrap this printable label around a roll of Rolos.  I love that she stuck in some money too.  

24.   “Hats Off to You”-  I just love how cute and easy this grad gift is.  And who wouldn’t love a jar full of grad cap peanut butter cups?

25.  “You are One Smart Cookie”Just attach the graduation tag printable to some cookies!

26.  Graduation Giant Candy Bar Wrapper-  It doesn’t get any easier than this!  Just wrap the printable wrapper around a giant chocolate bar. 

Homemade Graduation Gift

27.  Graduation BubblyDecorate a bottle of bubbly with a miniature graduation hat and cap.  If you’re giving this to a high school grad {or if you don’t drink, like me} then just use a bottle of sparkling cider.

28.  Mason Jar Graduation Hat GiftFill a mason jar with the grad’s favorite treat or candy, then add the printable grad cap on top.  {You could even fill it up with M&Ms or candies in their school colors}

29.  Giant Diploma Graduation GiftUse a cardboard tube, some paper, and red ribbon to create a giant diploma you can stuff with treats and goodies for the grad.

30.  Graduation Mason Jar Money GiftFill a mason jar with quarters or spare change and then add the printable tag.  What high school grad wouldn’t love to have some laundry money to take to college?

31.  Your Hard Work Has “Paid” OffHere’s another fun money gift.  You can fill the jar with quarters for laundry OR rolled dollar bills like they did- depending on your budget.

32.  “Oh, The Places You’ll Go” FrameHere’s a fun, personalized DIY gift idea you can make using a frame and some vinyl.

33.  Adventure KitWouldn’t an adventure kit be a fun and unique graduation gift?  Just personalize it with different, small gifts they can use on their new adventure.

DIY Meaningful Graduation Gift Ideas

34.  Adventure AwaitsIsn’t this gift packaging darling?  Wrap up your gift in a map so they can take it on their new adventure.  

35.  Photo Pillow- You won’t believe how easy this DIY photo pillow is, and it’s a great gift idea for a grad to take to college so they can always have family nearby.  

36.  Graduation LettersIf you’re looking for a thoughtful, meaningful gift- this one’s a winner!  Can you imagine receiving a whole bundle of letters from friends, family, and all the important people in your life?

37.  Graduation BookOr, instead of a bundle of letters, you could compile them into a graduation book.  What a keepsake it would be to have the advice, memories, and wishes of everyone the grad loved in one place to take to college.

38.  College Survival Kit- Wouldn’t it be fun to give a high school graduate this freshman survival kit?

14  Store-Bought Graduation Gifts

14 Store Bought Graduation Gifts

Graduation Gift Ideas

39.  New Adventure Journal- A cute journal to document their new adventure.  They’ll want to record all of those fun college memories.

40.  Personalized JournalAnd we had to include this personalized journal for recording their wishes and dreams in.  

41.  Quote Wall ArtWe just love this framed wall quote.  Tell your grad to hang it in their dorm and remember that they can do anything they set their mind to.

42.  Call Your Mother Pillow-  Hee hee.  This is something I would give my kids when they leave home.  Just in case they need a reminder. ;)

43.  My Wish for You Keepsake BoxHow sweet is this keepsake box?  Write down your wishes for your grad and put them inside for safe-keeping.  

44.  Turn a Bible Verse into Artwork-  Such a sweet and meaningful gift, and isn’t this the perfect verse for a graduate?

45.  Just In Case You Ever Wonder by Max Lucado-  A sweet book to send them away with- so they always know you’ll be there.

Best Graduation Gifts

46.  The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch- This inspiring book makes a great graduation gift.  It’s one of my all-time favorite books of wisdom.

47.  Just Who Will You Be? by Maria ShriverA great book to help high school graduates figure out just who they want to be.

48.  The Graduate’s Survival GuideA great guide to help graduates learn to manage money in the “real world.”

49.  The Healthy College CookbookWithout mom’s home cooking, they just might need a cookbook- and this is a great one.

50.  Laundry Basket {with Quarters}This is one of the most popular graduation gifts for a good reason.  You can never have too many quarters when you’re in college.  

51.  High Quality College Backpack-  If you’re looking for a high quality backpack for your grad, this is a great one.  I love that it has a space specifically for a laptop or tablet.

52.  Luggage Set- A practical gift they actually need and will use.  In fact, I am still using the luggage set my parents got me when I moved away from home.  

9 Meaningful Jewelry Graduation Gifts

9 Jewelry Graduation Gifts

Graduation Necklaces- such a sweet, meaningful grad gift

53.  “Oh, The Places You’ll Go” Bracelet- This Dr. Seuss quote is a graduation favorite, and I love that you can personalize it with the graduation year.

54.  Dr. Seuss Quote NecklaceOr instead of a bracelet, check out this cute quote necklace.

55.  Compass Necklace-  So she can follow her dreams, but still find her way back home.

56.  Key to Success Necklace- Let her know you think she can do anything she puts her mind and heart to.

57.  “Class Of” Penny NecklaceA penny necklace featuring your grad’s graduation year.

58.  Be Free Bird Necklace-  The perfect graduation gift for a girl- trying out her wings on her own.

59.  USA Heart Necklace-  The perfect gift for a girl leaving home for college.  Because your heart will always be with her.

60.  Love You to the Moon and BackSo even when she’s away, she can wear this and know how much she is loved.  

61.  Personalized Hand-Written Note Necklace-  Now this is a keepsake she’ll cherish forever!  I love that it not only includes your words, but also your handwriting.  

Oh, and don’t forget to check out our 15 Graduation Cash Gifts!

How to Give Cash as a Graduation Present

59 GRADUATION PARTY IDEAS

59 Graduation Party Ideas

We’ve divided the graduation party ideas into three sections.  Below you’ll find: creative graduation party theme ideas, fun graduation food ideas, and cute graduation decorations.    Basically, everything you’ll need to plan one rockin’ graduation party.

13 Graduation Party Theme Ideas

13 Graduation Party Theme Ideas

Graduation Party Theme Ideas

62.  The Tassel was Worth the HassleAmy’s Party Ideas shares some fun ideas including a darling mortar board backdrop and mason jar tassel drinks.  

63.  Picture Your FutureHostess with the Mostess has so many great ideas for this theme including a polaroid inspired banner, yearbook favor boxes, and a develop your own “slide”rs bar.

64.  Key to Success-  Celebrations at Home did an amazing job carrying out this party theme with a “Keys to Success” Dessert table, DIY key favor tags, and an amazing guest table display. 

65.  One Smart CookieGet it Together used this theme and put together the most darling “One Smart Cookie” Bar.  

66.  Sail Away-  Your Homebased Mom has a lot of darling ideas for this nautical theme including a fun photo booth, picture display, and fabric pennant banners.

67.  Oh, The Places You’ll GoB Lovely Events rounded up a bunch of fun ideas for this Dr. Seuss theme including a clever rhyming invitation, colorful decorations, and a Dr. Seuss guest book. 

Best Graduation Party Themes

68.  Through the Years-  Celebrations shared ideas for this casual, but sophisticated theme including a school lunch inspired menu and lot of fun photo ideas. 

69.  School-ThemedOh Sugar Events went all out on this fun graduation party.  You’ll definitely want to check out the black board banner and chalkboard back drop.

70.  Glam GraduationPear Tree shares some fun ideas for adding glitter and glam to your grad party.  Check out the gold streamers in the photo booth and those fun, glam grad gold party decorations.

71.  Follow Your DreamsPink Peppermint Design went above and beyond with this fun grad party theme.  Just look at that metal print and those gorgeous acrylic blocks.

72.  All StarPear Tree has another fun graduation party- this one’s for all the grad athletes.  Don’t you love the football-shaped tissue pom and the personalized napkins?

73.  Celebrate- Frog Prince Paperie created such a fun, bright party with the “Celebrate” theme.  AND she’s offering her party printables for free, too- check it out!

74.  Instagram-Themed Graduation Party-  This graduation party in a box from The Thinking Closet is so fun!  And it comes with a free printable too!

22 Graduation Party Food Ideas

22 Graduation Party Food Ideas

Graduation Party Food Ideas

75.  Graduation Chocolate-Covered Strawberries- How fun are these chocolate covered strawberries- complete with cap and gown?

76.  Diploma CookiesThese diploma cookies are so clever and SO easy!

77.  Graduation Cupcake ToppersPretty sure this is the perfect graduation party cupcake.  

78.  Graduate Cupcake Toppers- Or if you prefer something a little simpler, just stick in some paper cupcake toppers.

79.  Mini Cupcake Graduation CapsThese mini graduation caps would be so fun on a big party tray.

80.  Reeses Cup Graduation Hats- Just throw a bunch of them in a bowl for guests to grab.

81.  Graduation Year CupcakesI love how this is so simple, but has a huge impact.  Just put the cupcakes into the shape of the graduation year.

Creative Graduation Party Food

82.  Diploma Fortune CookiesThese diploma fortune cookies look surprisingly simple and come with printable fortunes to stick inside.

83.  Chocolate Pastry “Diploma” Rolls- Okay, don’t these diploma pastry rolls look divine?  And they only require three ingredients!

84.  Little Debbie Diploma CakesOr if you’d rather not bake at all, just use these Little Debbie cakes.

85.  One Smart CookieAny assortment of homemade or store-bought cookies would work for this cute food display.

86.  Book WormsWhy not include some gummy worms in honor of your book worm?

87.  Smartie PantsOr some smarties candies for your smarty-pants grad?

88.   Smarties & Nerds-   Here’s another fun ideas- fill one jar with smarties and another with nerds.

Grad Party Food Ideas

89.  School Colors Candy JarHow easy is this?  Just fill a giant glass jar with M&Ms or other candies in the grad’s school colors.

90.  Class RingsCandy ring pops make great class rings.

91.  Graduation Candy FavorsHow cute are these Rolo graduation caps?  I love how they added a picture of the grad to personalize it.

92.  Graduation Cap Bottle ToppersTop off any bottled drinks or sodas with these cute graduation caps

93.  Graduation Sodas-  So cute but so simple!  You can even use the grad’s school colors if you want, like this. 

94.  Ceramic Number DishesThese ceramic number dishes would be perfect for a graduation party- just fill with little candies.  

95.  Diploma NapkinsI love this idea- wrap up the eating utensils with paper napkins and tie them with some ribbon to resemble graduation diplomas.

96.  Graduation Table Setting- Oh, and if you’re looking for a fun graduation table setting- this one’s a winner!  

24 Graduation Party Decorating Ideas

24 Graduation Party Decorating Ideas

Decorating Ideas for Graduation Party

97.  Line the Walkway or Driveway with BalloonsIt makes a big impact but only takes a small budget!

98.  Line the Walkway or Driveway with Pictures- You could even line up the pics from past to present so guests can watch the graduate “grow up” as they come in.    

99.  Graduation Garage SignWelcome the graduate and guests to the party with a gigantic garage greeting.  It makes a big statement and is surprisingly inexpensive.

100.  Personalized Graduation Photo BannerYou can even personalize a banner with the grad’s name and picture.

101.  Graduation Yard SignHere’s a fun yard sign to help decorate and let guests know where the party is.  

102.  Grad WreathIsn’t this DIY grad wreath cute?!  And you can make one for about $13.

Grad Party Decor

103.  Wall of MemoriesMake a wall of memories using pictures of the grad- past and present.

104.  Photo BalloonsOr tie the pictures to the ends of strings attached to helium balloons! 

105.  Glitter Year CandlesThis glitter year candle craft was intended for New Year’s but I think it would be perfect for a graduation party!

106.  Grad Cap Card BoxHere’s a fun little touch- a box in the shape of a grad cap for guests to put their cards in.  

107.  Graduation Cap Paper LanternOkay, how fun are these little graduation cap paper lanterns?  They come 4 in a pack and are super cheap.

108.  Graduate Life-Size CutoutIf you’re looking for a high-impact decor idea, check out this life-size graduate cut-out.  Wouldn’t it make the perfect photo opportunity?  

Grad Party Decoration Ideas

109.  Balloon Graduate- Or check out this graduate balloon man!  Isn’t he fun?

110.  Memory JarInstead of a traditional guest book, leave out a memory jar for guests to fill.

111.  “Oh, The Places You’ll Go” Guest Book-  Or ask guests to sign their name and leave a message inside a book to give the grad.

112.  Envelope Guest BookHere’s another fun guest book idea- glue envelopes inside an empty journal or notebook for guests to leave personal letters and notes for the grad.

113.  Graduation Signature Guest Book Picture FrameOr skip the guest book altogether and ask guests to sign a picture instead.  That way the grad can frame and hang it on their wall.

114.  Words of Wisdom-  This was set up at a wedding reception, but I think it would be great for a graduation as well.  Send the grad off with words of wisdom from all his family and friends.

Fun Graduation Party Ideas

115.  After Graduation FundI’ve seen “honeymoon fund” jars at weddings, but I’m sure any graduate would appreciate a little cash to use toward college tuition and books.

116.  Graduation Photo Booth PropsSet up a graduation photo booth and capture some priceless pictures and memories.

117.  Graduation Photo Booth BackdropIf you don’t want to make your own, here’s a fun photo booth backdrop that is perfect for a graduation party.

118.  Sunglasses as Graduation Party FavorsHere’s a fun idea- pass out cheap sunglasses as a party favor.  After all, the grad’s future is so bright- they’ll need to wear shades.  ;)

119.  Grad Cap Treat BoxesThese grad cap treat and favor boxes are pretty much perfect.  

120.  Free Graduation Party PrintablesCheck out this printable chalkboard graduation party pack from Catch My Party!  They’ve done most of the work for you- just print.

8 GRADUATION PICTURE IDEAS

8 Graduation Picture Ideas

Whether you’re planning a whole graduation photo shoot, or just looking to snap a great photo of your grad in their cap and gown on graduation day- here are some great photo examples for inspiration.

Cap and Gown Graduation Photo

Sources {A} {B} {C} {D} {E} {F} {G}

121.  Graduation Sign- Just have the graduate hold up a chalkboard or poster with their message.  What graduate isn’t excited to shout out from the rooftops that they are DONE with school?!

Graduation Portraits

Sources {A} {B} {C} {D} {E}

122.  Graduation Year- Use giant number props or a chalkboard sign to display their graduation year.  You could even have the grad show the year using his fingers.

Then and Now Graduation Photo

Sources {A} {B} {C} {D} {E} {F}

123.  Then & Now Photo- It’s always fun to have the graduate hold up a picture from when they were a child.  If they have a picture of their preschool graduation or first day of Kindergarten- even better.

Senior Graduation Photography

Sources {A} {B} {C} {D} {E}

124.  Throwing Grad Cap- Nothing shows the celebration of graduation quite like a graduation cap flying in the air.

Fun Cap and Gown Photo Ideas

Sources {A} {B} {C} {D} {E}

125.  Blowing Glitter- Here’s a fun idea, have the graduate blow a handful of glitter toward the camera.  Because nothing says “party time!” like some glitter.  ;)

Class Ring Graduation Photo

Sources {A} {B} {C} {D} {E}

126.  Class Ring-  If the graduate has a class ring, make sure to capture a close-up.

Senior Photo Session Ideas

Sources {A} {B} {C} {D} {E}

127.  Acceptance Letter or Diploma- Acceptance letters or diplomas are great photo props for senior or graduation photo sessions. 

Silly Graduation Photo Ideas

Sources {A} {B} {C} {D}

128.  Silly Graduation Photos- And finally, here are some fun and silly graduation photo ideas.  I just love the photo of the celebrating parents.  Now that’s one to frame!

And there you have it- 128 GREAT graduation ideas!  Didn’t I tell you we found some fun ones?  

Oh, and with graduation and the end of the school year right around the corner, you might want to check out our 101 Summer Boredom Busters and our Summer Boredom Buster Printable Pack.  You’ll be needing it before you know it.  ;)

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