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Party Planning - Theme Party Ideas - Graduation Party Ideas, Graduation Party Supplies
Party Resource Guide
Presented by Event & Wedding Planners


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Planning a Graduation Party

Hosting a graduation party for a deserving graduate is a wonderful way to demonstrate how proud you are of them and to show them just how important they are in the lives of those closest to them.  Not everyone loves huge parties, so consider the graduate's preferences when putting together your guest list.  The party should be as upbeat as possible, and should honor the graduate and his or her achievements.  Whether your having a small party or a large affair and expect a crowd, we've got ideas from "Getting Started" to the " Graduation Cake".


Getting Started

Creating a Budget is the first thing you need to do. How much you want or can afford to spend should be set firmly at the outset, and the amount adhered to. For some, food may be the most important item, others may want to spend more on entertainment or the location. 

The key to pulling off a coordinated event: Evoke your theme throughout the affair. Whether that theme is as general as a season or a feeling, or as specific as a special flower, it should be the subtle thread that ties everything together. Your location, invitations, flowers, menu, cake, and favors should all cleverly reflect one common concept. Then, get as creative as you can!

Party Slogan Ideas

If you are selecting a theme for a graduation party based on school colors, you will still need a theme "slogan" to carry from invitations, to decorating, to favors. To the slogan, add the graduate's name, and year of graduation. The most important factor in your planning is to let the graduate know that your wishes for the future are straight from the heart!

  • "Our Hats Are Off To You...13 Great Years in School"
    We have hats for all themes and budgets.
  • "Dreams of Tomorrow"
  • "How Brightly You'll Always Shine!"
  • "Reach For The Stars"
  • "Celebrating Today. . .Embracing Tomorrow!"
  • "Carpe Diem!" (Seize the Day!) 
  • "The Sky's The Limit"
  • "What Dreams May Come"
Elegant 2012 Photo Cards 4x6 Matte Finish Invitation Each 2012 Striped Photo Cards 5x7 Glossy Finish Invitation Each
Elegant 2012 Photo Cards 4x6 Matte Finish Invitation Each 2012 Striped Photo Cards 5x7 Glossy Finish Invitation Each

The First Frontier


Where you hold your graduation party will reflect your style, taste, and priorities. The theme you choose may dictate the type of facility you use for the party! Finding a location is one of the first things to cross off your list because the hot venues are often booked a year in advance. And of course, until you know where you're going to have your event, moving on to other decisions, such as ordering invitations, flowers, decorations and finalizing the menu, is impossible. 

Remember, the weekends around graduation get pretty busy. You will be competing with other graduation parties, weddings, baby showers, team and club banquets to name a few. To find a date that works, compare calendars with your family and friends . As soon as you've picked the date, let your out-of-town guests know so they can plan the trip. 

If you are expecting out of town guests, call a few local hotels to gather room rates, and don't hesitate to ask if they offer a group discount rate. Many will allow you to reserve a block of rooms for the weekend, and then guests can call in and pay for their own room. On a separate insert in your invitation, include hotel names, rates, and a code for your block rate, along with a small map of where the hotels are located in relation to where the party will be held.

Having Your Party at Home:

An open house may be the least expensive way to go and easier than a sit-down meal for a large number of people. You may also be able to cut some costs by borrowing tables and chairs, as well as using disposable tableware. However there are other considerations to make before deciding that your home will be the least expensive alternative.

While your own abode may seem perfect on a sunny day, the only time to assess its appropriateness is during a monsoon. That said, if you want to have your graduation party at home and you expect a crowd consider these questions:

  • Should a weather disaster strike and you're having the party outdoors, is the house big enough for back-up?
  • What is the bathroom and/or septic tank capacity?
  • Where will the guests park their cars?
  • How up-to-date and powerful is your electricity? Should you consider renting a generator?
  • Does your kitchen have sufficient space for a caterer to work if you choose to hire one?
  • Who is available to receive deliveries of rentals, food, flowers, and so on?
  • How much time for set up and break down (assembling and dismantling a tent and so on) is required and can you live in your house while it's going on?
  • Who is responsible for putting the house back in order post-party?

Finding a Location:

There is no right or wrong location for a graduation party…your home, a park, Country Club, school gymnasium, community center, bowling alley, local YMCA…anywhere that can accommodate your group and party preferences!

  • Ask other parents where they had their graduation parties.
  • Open your local newspaper to the society page and check out where other's are holding their events.
  • Ask caterers, florists, and bakers what location sites they've worked at and loved.
  • Call your local Chamber of Commerce. They can provide you with event sites.
  • See what listings your local phone book has under: hotels, art galleries, restaurants, country clubs or clubs.

Some venues may have pricey rental fees, however, if your graduation party dictates a creative venue, price should never be an issue

Here are some venue suggestions, along with the traditional halls and picnic sites. 

  • Hotels & Restaurants
  • Movie Theater
    Host your event with an Opening Night feel. Yes, some local theaters will close down on a slow evening so that you can host your event there.
  • Museum & Art Galleries- Cultural theme. A venue that's perfect for an elegant event.
  • Condo and Apartment Clubhouses: These venues can be affordable and perfect for small social gatherings.
  • Airport Hanger: A smaller airport may have a small hanger to host your graduation party.
  • Golf Courses & Country Clubs: Hit the links! What a great place for fun in the sun. Combine golf with your graduation party.
  • Car Dealership: What a place to host an event. You may find a dealer who will open his showroom after-hours and even have a couple of sales people hand around to answer questions about the cars on display.
  • Amusement Parks: (some of these host a graduation night)
  • Historical Mansions & Plantations
  • Old Barns
  • Ranches & Campsites
  • Skating Rinks
  • Yachts & Cruise Ships
  • Ballrooms & Dance Halls 
  • Convention Centers
  • Veterans & Military Organizations

Get creative! Even a bare warehouse can be turned into a "fantasy party." 

Also remember, many guests may be "coming and going" due to the likelihood of several parties happening at the same time. 

If your graduate has one or two very close friends, don't hesitate to combine the party if the teens like the idea. If you are planning on hosting the party with other parents, or if you are expecting a big crowd, rent a tent to be set up outside your home. Most rental businesses stock these tents and will even deliver and set them up

Sorting Out Locations:

When choosing a location and caterer there are some things that you should know about. 

Two catering concepts worth knowing are on premise and off-premise. In hotels, restaurants, private clubs, and banquet halls, the catering services are in-house or "on prem." For private homes, museums, and galleries and others, you need to hire an off-premise caterer. 

Some locations have caterers they allow or recommend. If you have fallen in love with an off-premise location or have designs on a brilliant caterer, make sure they can work together. By the same token, keep in mind that sometimes great food and a gorgeous on-premise location are mutually exclusive. If you feel the food is equally or more important than the location, start by finding a caterer, who in turn may lead you to a location.

Tents and More Tense

If your graduation party is being held outside and you're not sure the weather will cooperate or you expect a large crowd, you may need to consider putting up a tent. Remember, tents are neither simple or inexpensive. 

Putting up a canopy is neither costly nor complicated, but a flimsy awning does absolutely no good if it's raining, freezing cold, or stifling hot. The only way to be absolutely secure is to have a full-fledged tent. Here's what you need to consider:
  • Make sure your property has an appropriate spot for a tent.
  • If your property resembles the Badlands, erecting a tent without flooring is risky. Not having a floor leaves you vulnerable to potential fiascoes. Off-balance tables and chairs, an uneven dance floor, and most ruinous, water seepage. Add hundreds of feet poking divots in the lawn and, well, you get the picture.
  • If you are having your graduation party catered, you will need an additional tent for the caterer. And where you have more than one tent you need canopies and walkways between them.
  • Consider how you'll light and decorate the tent. Even if you plan something simple, it can prove expensive to disguise that great expanse and glaring, industrial tent poles.
  • Heating, albeit primitive, is affordable, but air conditioning is very expensive and energy scarfing. Depending on where you live and the season, you may need one of them-- so be prepared.

Graduation Party Themes

A graduation party can be planned around the grads hobbies, interests, a new occupation, school colors or the goal of the graduate? Use one of these as your theme and build from there. What field is he/she going into? What sort or activities does he/she enjoy? Is there one thing in particular that he/she is looking forward to after graduation?

As an alternative to centering the party around school colors and a general graduation theme, we recommend that you center your theme around the graduate's interests, hobbies, passions, or hopes and dreams for the future .


    1. Golf – "Graduating Suits You To A Tee!", or "Teeing up for Indiana University!
    2. Baseball – "Grand Slam Graduate…Chase, Class of 2000!", "Take me out to the Ballgame of Life!"
    3. Football – "Touchdown for Sam's Graduation Party!"
    4. Volleyball – "Serving Up Wishes for a Brilliant Future!"
    5. Basketball – "Slam Dunk Graduate…Jacob, Class of 2000!"
    6. Swimming – "You deserve plenty of strokes…Happy Graduation Chelsea!"
    7. Soccer – "Max has met his "Goal"…Graduating with the Class of 2000!"
    8. Wrestling – "Our Hopes are "Pinned" on a Fantastic Future!"
    9. Skiing – "Hitting the Slopes of Life…Wendy, Class of 2000!"
    10. Snowboarding – " 'Snow wonder your future looks so bright…nothing is downhill from here!
    11. Tennis – "Serving up wishes for an Ace Graduation", "Game, Set & Match to a World Class Graduate"
    12. Cheerleading – "Give a yell, Give a Cheer…Lauren's Graduation's Here!"
    13. Cross Country/Track – "Reagan has reached the Finish Line!"
    14. Cycling – ""Wheel" be celebrating Molly's Graduation!"
    15. Bowling – "Bowl Em' Over Shane!"
    16. Martial Arts – "A Focused Future…Lucas, Class of 2000!"
    17. Fishing – "Casting Wishes for a "Reel" Successful Future!"
    18. Sailing/Boating – "Setting Sail for New Horizons!", "Anchors Away for an Awesome Future!"
    19. Ice Hockey – "Jason Shoots and Scores Another Goal…Graduating with the Class of 2000!"
    20. Sports Fanatic – "Happy Graduation Sport!"

TRAVELING- "A World of Wonder Awaits!"

NATURE - Hiking/Camping – "Happy Trails Graduate!" Environmentalist – "Only 18 (19)…Far too Young to be Extinct!", "Graduation Safari"

JIGSAW PUZZLES- "You've made this picture complete for 18(age) years!!"

MUSIC- "Set the Future to Music", "In 13 Years at School, You've Never Missed a Beat!", or "The Beat Goes On…Tom's Graduation 2000"


PRO WRESTLING - "Stone Cold Steve (graduate's name) celebrates Graduation slammin' style!"

FLOWERS/GARDENING- "Everything's Coming up Roses"

WOODWORKING/CRAFTING/SEWING- "Crafting a Happy Graduation For You!", "Sew…You're Graduating??!"

HORSEBACK RIDING/EQUESTRIAN-" Wild Wild West!" or "Happy Graduation Buckaroo!"

FLYING/HOT AIR BALLOONING/SKYDIVING- "Flying High Into the Future!", or "The Sky's the Limit"

PHOTOGRAPHY/ART- "Picture This…Samantha is Graduating!"

SCI-FI BUFF – "You made it to the 21st Century!", "The Future looks so Bright!", "Boldly going where no Graduate has gone before…Steve, Class of 2000", "2000…a Graduation Odyssey!"

RAINBOWS/BUTTERFLIES – "Beauty in the World We See…Rainbows, Butterflies and our Graduate Julie!

ACTING/PERFORMING/DANCING – "Show Stopping Graduate…James, Class of 2000", "One Last Dance!"

We've only hit the tip of the iceberg here…have fun being creative! Once you have selected a theme and a slogan, center your invitations, decorations, food, graduation cake, and party favors around the theme.

The Activities:

Most teens and young adults do not need a lot of activities. They prefer to just to mingle, talk with friends, listen to music & dance.

Air Band - This is one of the best ways to kick-off your event! You will hand-pick ten people from your guest list to participate. These participants must be outgoing and enthusiastic. These participants will be called to the front just prior to the dancing. They will be introduced one by one as great musicians to fanfare and adulation. Each will be given an inflatable instrument to "play", guitars, saxophones, keyboards and even drums. The band will be asked to "warm-up" by playing a song together. They won't know what they will be playing until they hear the first few notes from the sound system, but once they do, it's wild! Your audience will go crazy watching and clapping along to your band (give it a catchy name). By the end of the song, your entire group will be up on their feet, and most will be on the dance floor. Although you are only five minutes into the dance time, your party will be in full swing.

One of the best investments you can make to increase the participation and energy of your event is to add additional staff members. Standard are an Emcee and a DJ. More elaborate parties can feature Dancers/Party Motivators who dress in the same attire as the Emcee and are terrific in leading group dances, preparing for skits like YMCA, and passing-out "Party Enhancer" items during the dancing. The more interactive you want your event to be, the more staff you should add. A good rule of thumb for a very interactive evening is one staff per 75 guests.

Party Enhancers: Adding specialty party giveaways such as glow items, tambourines, maracas, hats, inflatable guitars and saxophones, leis, sunglasses, etc. are a great way to turn your event into a party.

Purchase some inexpensive autograph books, a graduation autograph bear or white T-shirts, set out pins or permanent markers so guests can sign. 

Have videotapes of the senior prom, school sports events, and the graduation ceremony itself playing for guests to watch.

In your invitation, ask each guest to come to the party with his or her own toast, tribute or remembrance, in lieu of a store bought gift. This can take many different forms: A personal note, a doodle, a tape recorded message, a video segment, a message in song form, a poem, a skit, a photo collage, slide presentation, or a homemade music video. The graduate will be tickled with these gifts straight from the heart

If the idea of having guests come with a prepared message doesn't appeal to you, set up a video camera in an area with a decorated backdrop, and ask guests to stop by at some point during the party, and record a more spontaneous message. Have each guest start by saying "David, you are special to me/our family because…". For a more light hearted or funny memento, have each guest start by saying "Tiffany, I think your future holds…", or "Max, I think you are most likely to…in the future". Throughout the party you will create a terrific tribute, filled with warm memories, funny stories, and the smiling faces of those who came to honor your child.

If your graduate is going off to college, research the college and the city where it is located to create a trivia game. If the graduate is going to work for a new company or will be moving to a new state, research the company or state for trivia questions.

Ask the graduates present to tell what they will remember most about their high school or college years and their friendship with the guest of honor.

Add excitement to your party with a balloon drop. 

A dance along video is a great activity for a kindergarten graduation, include dances like: The Hokey Pokey, The Twist, The Bunny Hop, The Mexican Hat Dance, The Chicken Dance & More.

If you will be having a dance, have your DJ pass out some fun grad party items between sets of music. Choose some fun music to keep your dance floor hopping.

Time in a Bottle 
Time flies when you're having fun, so seize the moment and preserve it for the future in a
graduation time capsule. Ask your guests to bring a photo, document, or small object that expresses what was special about their high school or college years. Place these mementos in the capsule. As the capsule is filled, each grad can tell what they are contributing and what it means to them. Place everything in a sturdy trunk or duffel and open it in five or 10 years. Store your graduation capsule for a designated amount of time, and make plans to open it at a special reunion party. Create lasting memories for future generations to share.

Especially perfect for Graduations…cover a wall with seamless paper and allow guests to leave messages, clever doodles, or creative outlines of themselves for the guest of honor. A really fun keepsake! Start by creating a message of welcome or a greeting to the guest of honor on the sign prior to the party. The graduate can clip the doodles and messages after the party and preserve them in a scrapbook!

Hiring a Band for Entertainment:

Talented musicians, like prime locations, go fast. No matter how much time you allot for planning your event, finding and booking a band (if you plan to have one) should be one of the first things you get done. But beware: looking for the perfect band can bring on audio overload. From time to time you may need a little "band-aid" in the form of a few days off to keep you from hiring the next group you see because you can no longer distinguish one from the other.

To find the perfect combo for your party do some investigating. 
  • Ask friends if they have been to any parties lately where the band kept the crowd on their feet all night?
  • Call the banquet manager of the nearest large hotel. Better yet, ask the captain or maitre d'. He usually doesn't have a vested interest in promoting a particular band--but he does care a great deal about one that runs a good party. 
  • Music agencies and band representatives usually handle a number of different kinds of bands and this is the most common way to find a band of whatever size and style your interested in. 
  • Call the job-placement office and post "Band Wanted" posters at music colleges. 
  •  If you like the kind of music that is showcased at a particular nightclub, call the booker for that club for recommendations and for ways to get in touch with a favorite band's agent. 
  • Look under bands, music and weddings in the Yellow Pages. 
  • Other vendors such as photographers, caterers, and others who work on site with bands usually know who's hot---and who's not.

When you're evaluating a potential band, remember these caveats:

  • If you're given an audio or video of the band, consider its quality. Find out when the recording was made and under what conditions. If recorded live, the quality may be uneven. Studio recordings may be technically flawless, but bear no resemblance to what the band sounds like live.
  • Many contemporary bands use samples--digital recordings of specific instruments stored on computer disks and played on a keyboard--to augment their sound. You can't tell from an audiotape whether a band uses samples, so be sure to ask. Otherwise, you may feel confounded when you hear a trumpet solo with nary a trumpeter in sight. Ideally samples are used to enhance instruments being played rather than to replace them.
  • If you're interested in a band named for a famous bandleader, find our whether he or she is still with the band or if the current musicians have simply bought the name. There may be many bands for this persona.
  • A final note: A well-fed band is a happy band. (If your graduation is for a college grad and you will be serving drinks the band wouldn't mind a few beers, incidentally.)

Hiring A DJ

A DJ used to be as low-budget a choice as macaroni and cheese but today that's not the case. Remember that a DJ is only as good as the CDs he or she brings. Even though pros have an inventory of zillions, make a list of specific songs you want. If your DJ will also act as master of ceremonies, consider paying for two people, a front person and a spinner.

Remember, If you use a Music Agent they do not own the DJ equipment or library of music, thus each system and DJ they send out will have different equipment and a different music library. Music agents are typically listed in the Yellow Pages under entertainment. 

DJ Services and individual DJs are listed under Disc Jockeys. A disadvantage of using an individual DJ is that if something were to happen to him/her, you may be out of luck in finding a replacement. With a good DJ Service, you will always be guaranteed a DJ, no matter what. One disadvantage in using a DJ Service depends on if they use "subcontractors" or have employees.

DJ Services using subcontractors, by legal definition, lose control over the DJ's performance, how he/she presents him/herself, equipment and music requirements and even when he/she has to arrive for a function. Typically, employees of a DJ Service will have more rules and guidelines to follow to meet the DJ Service's reputation.

But most importantly, when searching for a DJ, make sure you can either meet or speak with the DJ that will be assigned to your event. Also, many services only have a certain DJ that can handle specific events, so be certain that the DJ assigned has worked with your age group and has done Graduation Parties in the past. Make sure that the company, DJ Service or Music Agent, will guarantee the DJ you choose, at no extra charge. Also, services should provide you with planner sheets and song lists to help plan your party. Review these sheets with your DJ before the show and make sure that he/she will have all of your music requirements.

Ask potential DJs these questions before you hire. What will he wear? Will he need a draped table for the CD player? How big are the speakers and can they be camouflaged


The Foods  
While it may seem like a thrifty and personal touch to plan on cooking or preparing food for the party, you may find that it is generally best to do as little cooking as possible on the day of the party. Whenever possible choose food that can be prepared a few days prior to the party, or hire caterers, and purchase prepared food from restaurants, delicatessens, and food service markets. There is no need to create extra stress when the party is upon you, and you will have more time to mingle and enjoy the festivities.

A buffet set-up is easiest if the graduation party is in an open-house format. Serve a menu to match the theme of the party if you are using a specific theme, or serve traditional teen favorites such as a taco bar or built-to-order nachos, mini pizzas, burgers and hot dogs, or giant deli sandwiches (Subway™ has a great 6' sandwich). Great staples for a buffet style finger food meal include chicken wings, chicken strips (offer 3 or 4 interesting dipping sauces), meatballs (Swedish or BBQ), mini egg rolls, whole water chestnuts wrapped in bacon, veggies and dip, and an assortment of sandwiches made on mini buns (about 3-4 bite size). Make everything ahead of time, and store hot items in a warming tray, or in an oven set at 200 degrees until the feeding frenzy begins! Scatter several bowls of munchies around the areas where your guests will be mingling…Chips, pretzels, nuts, M&Ms™, popcorn, and Chex™ Mix.

Add a few hearty dips that can be made ahead. Here are a few that are extra easy to make, and are always a big hit:

  • CREAM CHEESE DIP: Purchase cream cheese in block form, and top with salsa (flavored salsas are great), cocktail sauce and crabmeat, green pepper jelly, or jam (any flavor works, but apricot is delicious!). If you are feeling adventurous, combine a couple of packages, and mold them into the shape of a graduation cap. Serve with a variety of crackers. Triscuit™ thins are perfect with this dip.
  • ARTICHOKE DIP: Mix 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 1 cup mayonnaise ("light" is okay to use), and 1-24 oz. can of artichoke hearts, chopped into small pieces. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, and serve with crackers. This dip can be served warm, or at room temperature.
  • EASY CHEESY DIP: Add one large block of Velveeta Cheese, one 16 oz. can of chili without beans, and one 16 oz. jar of salsa to a crock pot. Stir occasionally. The dip is ready when the cheese is completely melted. Serve with bite-sized tortilla chips.
  • BAKED BRIE: Hollow out an oval loaf of French or sourdough bread, cutting the bread so that you have a "lid". Fill the hole with Brie cheese, and put the lid back on. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Serve with small chunks of bread, or crackers. If the Brie is not to your taste, fill the bread with any other type of dip, such as a creamy spinach dip.
  • SHRIMP COCKTAIL: Serve on ice, along with cocktail sauce. This is a little more costly than most items you might plan to serve, but it will make your guests feel special, and the color looks terrific on a buffet.

It is also perfectly acceptable to serve only cake and punch, or a small dessert buffet at a graduation open house.

If you are entertaining a crowd with a good sense of humor, add a fun farewell to school by renting or borrowing the "cafeteria" trays from a local school to use as either serving dishes, or as plates for guests to eat from. As an alternative, stack "brown bag" lunches on a serving table for guests to pick up!

Fun Graduation Treats

Grad Caps

Cap off your child's graduation party with a these treats. Place a miniature peanut butter cup, bottom up, on a plate. Top with a small dollop of frosting or peanut butter, then press on a chocolate covered graham cracker.  For a tassel, tightly roll up a small square of fruit leather. Cut fringe in one end and attach the other end to the center of the graham cracker with another dab of frosting or peanut butter. 

Strawberry Jell-O Cake: Make jell-o in a grad pan and just outline it in white icing and you're finished! 

Graduation Recipes by Betty Crocker - Mini Cupcake Mortarboards, topped with edible tassels. - Graduation Cakes & Cake Supplies. - Take a look at the coolest Graduation cake photos.

Kathy's Kakes LLC - Graduation Cake Photos


Graduation Resources: - craft supplies, stickers, tassels & etc.




 Theme Parties N More is a wedding & event planning company located in Cypress, TX. Our party & wedding planners have put this website together to provide our visitors with ideas for planning their events, this includes links to products that can help you to make your event extra special. In accordance with the FTC Guidelines we are disclosing that some of the vendors that we link you to, pay us a commission when you purchase products from them, but some of the vendors do not provide us with any compensation.


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(c) March 2000 All rights reserved. You must obtain written permission prior to using any of the contents on this website.

(c) March 2000 All rights reserved. You must obtain written permission prior to using any of the contents on this website.