Amy’s Free Ideas

Seasons > Special Days > Graduation Party Decorations

Graduation--whether it’s for kindergarten, elementary, middle school, high school, or beyond, it is an accomplishment worth celebrating. It’s the perfect time to showcase your child’s accomplishments, commend them for their hard work,  and to make them feel special.

Decorations can be any color. Many graduation decorations have a black background with lots of bright colors. Check out the dollar store first, to see what they have, since they are usually cheaper than a party goods store. The centerpiece shown at the right is one example. The Dollar Tree near us had lots of decorations this year, as well as the solid colored paper plates and napkins that allow you to choose particular colors. Any trophies, award plaques, medallions, or special awards make great table decorations, too.

The runner down the middle of the table is just paper, with curling ribbon on top for added detail. Another option would be to make the paper runner into a timeline (print out important events and dates on the paper, and tape the sheets together, or draw it by hand.) At the party, provide pens or markers and let the guests write stories about the graduate. If the runner is black or another dark color, be sure that the markers are specially made to show up on black. Also, if the tablecloth is fabric, test a scrap of the paper runner with water to see if it bleeds--if there is a spill during the meal, you don’t want it to ruin the tablecloth. If the student has gotten any awards, they could be displayed on table, too. Snapshots depicting events during those years would be fun, too.

Instead of paper plates, use white plates and clear plates, then sandwich in what ever design or slogan you want between the plates. This one has a black circle, bits of paper confetti, and a message printed off the computer.

This is the same idea, but without the black background. More confetti could be sprinkled on the table. Other options might be to print out photos of the grad (on regular copier paper) or cut out wrapping paper or napkins to fit between the plates.

The year they graduate is a another idea to put under the glass. Or make an edible date--bake cookies using number cookie cutters to cut out the date, or “write” the date with m&m’s or other candy on the plate.

Make cute little graduation caps with square and half round chocolates. These are made with “Ghirardelli” Squares for the top, and “Dove” chocolates for the base. “After Eight Dinner Mints” should work, too. Make tassels with icing or melted white chocolate or candy melts, sold in craft and specialty cooking stores.

These are diploma cookies. Make or buy sugar cookie dough, cut squares out, roll them up and bake until lightly golden. “Tie” them with icing ribbons or real ribbons. Both of these ideas were adapted from the Family Fun website. Check them out for more graduation party ideas for kindergarten or elementary age kids.

In America, most graduation ceremonies include giving graduates a certificate to verify that they have completed the required work, and they usually wear a black gown and mortarboard (graduation hat) for the ceremony (sometimes these are in school colors.) So these symbols of graduation make good decorations. Just add balloons, and it looks quite festive. These decorative certificates are just rolled up copier paper tied with ribbon, and the mortarboards are decorations purchased at a party goods store. If you are just using them for decorations, and don’t intend for anyone to wear them, you can make your own pretty easily, since you only need the top part. Cut squares from poster board. Tie string in knots at both ends. Fasten one end to the middle of the square with a brad. Untwist the other end up to the knot to form the tassel. Make a bunch so you can spread them all over the table and room.

Dollar stores often sell “Congratulation” swags . If you can’t find any locally, you can make your own. Print the letters on the computer or by hand. When you cut out the letters, be sure to leave a tab at both sides of the top of the letters, and fasten them together with brads (or staples if you can’t get brads.)

A tray of cupcakes makes a yummy centerpiece.   You can special order m&m’s in the school colors, or just pile a candy dish high with the graduate’s favorite candy.

Many American supermarkets sell plastic or paper picks with graduation caps or the year to poke into cupcakes for quick and easy decorations. You can make your own by printing the date in bright colors onto sticker paper or address labels, and sandwich the end of the toothpick between the sticky sides of the label. Poke the other end into the cupcake. Of course you can write them by hand on regular paper and glue them-- it will just take more time.

To make a “book” cake, bake one cake in a 9x13 sheet pan and another in a 9x9 pan. Put each cake on a cardboard cake board (sold at Walmart and craft stores in the cake decorating section.) Ice the top and one side like a cover (in school colors?) and ice the other 3 sides with white icing. Run a serrated knife along the white sides to make the icing look like pages. Stack the cakes. Embellish with plastic decorations you have purchased, or make them out of paper.

Younger children don’t have trophies or medals to display, but a picture of them can make them feel special. More centerpiece ideas: a stack of books, including yearbooks for those years, topped with your child’s graduation cap. A stack of gifts with a photo of the student. A large bowl full of water balloons would be colorful, and invite wild celebrations OUTSIDE, after the meal.

If your graduate was involved in sports, using school colors might be a fun way to decorate. Use their jersey or medals and add lots of balloons and streamers in those colors in various places around the room where the festivities will take place.

Balloons are quite inexpensive, and come in all colors and sizes, so they are an easy way make a room look festive. Some stores sell sticks with a special end for holding balloons. These make decorating with balloons so much easier, and can eliminate the need for helium balloons. You can make a balloon bouquet ,which is much cheaper than fresh flowers. Hang curling ribbon from the balloons to make them even more exuberant.

Seasons > Special Days > Graduation Party Decorations