Graduation Party Menu Ideas

Cheryl Cirelli
graduation cake
Add treats to the menu!

A fantastic menu is essential for any graduation party. Offering a variety of menu choices will not only please your guests, but can guarantee that the guest of honor will be presented with some of his favorite food items as well.

Easy Graduation Party Menu Ideas

A graduation party menu can be simple or elaborate, themed or basic. Whether the party is a casual open house or if it uses an elaborate party theme, the menu should reflect the tone of the occasion. Popular graduation party menus include:

Pizza Party

pizza

A perennial teenage and college favorite, pizza is appropriate for both high school graduation parties and college graduation parties. Pepperoni and cheese pizzas are the most popular, but adding veggie, meat lovers, gourmet, Hawaiian, or other unusual pizzas can make the menu more unique. Personalized pizza toppings are another way to spice up this menu without sacrificing the popularity of the meal.

In addition, if you really want to stick to the pizza theme, serve up several dessert pizzas as well, like chocolate or vanilla pizza, apple-cinnamon pizza and more.

Barbeque

An outdoor graduation party is the perfect opportunity for a barbeque. Items perfect for grilling include:

  • Hot dogs
  • Burgers
  • Ribs
  • Chicken
  • Bratwurst

The menu can be filled out with a variety of items such as:

  • Pasta salad
  • Corn on the cob
  • Chips
  • Baked beans
  • Watermelon and other summer favorites

Brunch

There is no better graduation party menu for the morning after an all-night school party than a casual brunch. Serve favorites such as:

  • Pancakes
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Donuts
  • Fresh fruit
  • Muffins
  • Bacon and/or sausage
  • Toast

For beverages, offer a variety of juices and some gourmet flavored coffees to keep everyone awake for another day of celebrating.

Finger Foods

A finger food menu plan may be best for a casual open house event that may host dozens of guests throughout the day.

  • Chips and dip
  • Veggie and fruit trays with dip
  • Deli trays
  • Sausage balls
  • Stuffed mushrooms
  • Chicken wings
  • Cheese and crackers
  • Assorted desserts

Taco Bar

taco bar

Throw a graduation fiesta with a taco bar. Include the following items to use as a base:

  • Soft and crunchy tacos
  • Taco bowls
  • Tortilla chips

Add filling and topping such as:

  • Seasoned beef
  • Shredded chicken
  • Sour cream
  • Refried beans
  • Onions
  • Olives
  • Cheese
  • Lettuce
  • Salsa

For dessert, serve churros or fried ice cream.

Home Cooking

If the graduate is returning from college or will soon be leaving home, a home-cooked menu may be the most welcome of all. Their favorite dishes from Mom's cookbook will be welcome treats to savor. Some home cooking options to consider are:

  • Pot roast
  • Fried chicken
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Meatloaf and mashed potatoes
  • Lasagna

Sit-down Dinner

For more formal occasions, a sit-down dinner menu may be in order. If your party is designed to serve a more intimate gathering, this could be a perfect choice. You'll want to plan your menu several weeks in advance of the party. A sit-down dinner should have a variety of choices so that even the pickiest eater finds something to eat:

  • Main course: Plan your menu around a main course, such as roast duck or sirloin steaks. You can also serve a meat and a seafood choice.
  • Sides: You typically can't go wrong with serving some sort of potato, a couple of different salads, a nice selection of vegetables and one or two bread choices.
  • Dessert: Top off the entire meal with a decadent dessert, such as a rich chocolate cake.
  • Drinks: For beverages, serve iced tea, water and soft drinks, and coffee.

Dessert Buffet

cupcakes

An evening event can incorporate a delicious menu of different desserts, including a graduation cake, as well as a variety of other treats. Candies or mints in school colors, a sundae bar, assorted cookies, cupcakes, and brownies, and graduation-themed fortune cookies are all sweet options.

If you aren't hosting a party during a regular mealtime, forgo the typical dinner menu and instead opt for a dessert only menu. You can be creative and set up a make-your-own-sundae party. To do so, you'll need several ice cream flavors and a lot of "fixings," such as:

  • Sprinkles
  • Chocolate chips
  • Nuts
  • Gummy bears
  • Cherries
  • Chocolate syrup
  • Bananas
  • Whipped topping

Themed Menus

If the party is themed, the party menu should follow that theme. Luau party food, for example, can include tropical fruit, grilled fish, and colorful drinks.

Other themed menus could include:

  • Thai food, featuring large pot of Pad Thai
  • Italian food, featuring spaghetti and meatballs
  • Asian food, featuring fried rice and an assortment of egg rolls and wontons

Party Menu Planning and Tips

Graduation parties can be small, informal gatherings or larger, elaborate affairs. When planning the menu for the celebration, take several factors into consideration such as number of guests you are hosting, your budget, and any special food preferences and restrictions.

A carefully planned menu can be a culinary catastrophe if it isn't served properly. To make your celebration an easy and stress free affair, keep these tips in mind:

  • Use disposable tableware and cutlery to make cleanup a snap. You can position trash cans around the area to encourage guests to clean up after themselves.
  • Use desserts such as decorated cookies as clever graduation party favors.
  • Consider an alcohol-free party menu, since many guests may be recent grads or high school students.

Variety Is Key

There are many great menu ideas to choose from when planning a graduation party. From casual eats to decadent treats, there can be options for everyone, even the pickiest of guests, at a graduation party to enjoy.

Graduation Party Menu Ideas