Graduation Centerpieces

Stephanie M. Kelley
floral mortarboard centerpiece

A large part of the decorations at any graduation party are the centerpieces. Centerpieces can represent the interests of the graduate, feature school colors, or be paired with a theme. Make or purchase the one that fits your party's style.

Floral Bouquet With Mortarboard

Incorporate the graduate's school colors into a beautiful centerpiece. When using fresh flowers, it's best to make these the same day as the party.

Supplies

  • Decorative mortarboard
  • Artificial or fresh flowers in school or neutral colors
  • Wired ribbon in coordinating or complementary colors
  • Tissue paper in school colors
  • Vase
  • Hot glue gun
  • Water tubes (if using fresh flowers)

Instructions

  1. Arrange the flowers into a pleasing arrangement and tie with floral wire. If you are using fresh flowers, you will want to add some water to the tubes and attach to the bottom of the stems.
  2. Stuff the tissue paper into the vase and fluff so the ends fan out in a pleasing arrangement.
  3. Create a large bow out of the ribbon and wire.
  4. Hot glue the mortarboard to a wire that is taller than the floral arrangement.
  5. Put the bow into the arrangement. The bow usually sits just above the rim of the vase and below the flowers.
  6. Put the wire with the mortarboard into the vase. Arrange the piece so the hat appears to be sitting on top of the bouquet.

After the party, you can give the bouquet or bouquets to the graduate or to important guests such as grandparents or teachers. Alternatively, you may decide to wire the flowers and create an arm bouquet to lay in the center of the table.

Books Centerpiece

books centerpiece

Books are the cornerstone of education and can make a cute and inexpensive centerpiece.

Supplies

  • At least three books
  • Wide ribbon in school colors or the graduate's favorite color
  • Short clear vase
  • Flowers in a neutral or school color

Instructions

  1. Gather some text books from the student's collection or buy copies of the graduate's favorite stories to use in your centerpiece designs. You can often find very cheap used books at your local library branch.
  2. Stack the books with the largest book on the bottom. Stack the books three at time to use as your centerpiece. If you want a taller centerpiece, use four or five thick books.
  3. Wrap a ribbon around the books and tie a knot and bow on the top of the stack of books. Using a wired ribbon will help you achieve a nice looking bow.

You can enhance your centerpiece by putting a vase filled with artificial or fresh flowers on top of the stacked books. If you are using table numbers, use a decorative font to create the numbers and frame them with a small, decorative frame to display on top of the stack.

Graduate Photo Tree

photo tree concept

Create a photograph tree as a centerpiece for a graduation party.

Supplies

  • Bare branches or small tree in vase or jar
  • Photographic prints
  • A jar
  • Glass river rocks (clear or colored)
  • Ribbon
  • Paint, glue, glitter (optional)

Instructions

  1. Resize photos of the graduate so they are all the same size. Photos should be 4"x 6" or smaller and printed on stiff paper such as photographic paper or cardstock.
  2. Take a loop of small ribbon, about three inches long, and glue the two ends to the backside of one photo.
  3. Glue another photo onto the back. Make sure that both photos are oriented the same way. If you are using a horizontally oriented photo on one side, you will have to use another horizontally oriented photo on the back side. Create at least five of these photos for each table.
  4. Cut bare branches from a tree or pick up small trees/shrubs in a glass or jar. You can leave them bare or you can spray paint them in a color from the graduate's school or you can even cover the branches with glue and glitter.
  5. Place the branches in a tall vase that is filled with clear or colored river rocks.
  6. Hang the photos from the bare branches to complete the centerpiece.

A variation of this centerpiece is to attach the photos onto the branches using small clothespins.

Chalkboard Centerpiece

chalkboard centerpiece

Chalkboards are iconic symbols of the school years, so consider using them in your centerpiece arrangement.

Supplies

  • Mini chalkboard with wood frame
  • Piece of chalk
  • Ribbon (wide and wired is good)
  • Bucket
  • Rocks or Styrofoam
  • Dowel stick
  • Hot glue gun
  • 2 tassels (in graduate's school colors)
  • Screw and screwdriver

Instructions

  1. Fill the bucket with rocks or hot glue a piece of Styrofoam into the bottom of the bucket.
  2. Screw the back of the dowel stick to the chalkboard.
  3. Hot glue the tassels to the top two corners of the chalkboard.
  4. Hot glue a piece of chalk to a bottom corner. If you want to allow guests to write on the chalkboard, use two pieces of Velcro to attach the chalk to the board.
  5. Stick the dowel stick into the bucket.
  6. Tie a ribbon and bow around the bucket.

As a finishing touch, write a message on the chalkboard. You could write the year of the graduation, "Congratulations", or another message.

Stenciled Balloons and Mortarboard

stenciled balloons with mortarboard

Create a festive arrangement out of balloons and a mortarboard.

Supplies

  • Helium-filled balloons in school colors
  • Mortarboard decoration or balloon weight
  • Ribbon or string
  • Stencil of mortarboard, school mascot, or another image
  • Craft paint
  • Paint brushes

Instructions

  1. Lay the stencil on an inflated balloon tied to a chair or other item at a working level.
  2. Use craft paint to paint the image onto the balloon.
  3. Allow paint to dry.
  4. Attach more ribbon or string from your helium balloons onto the mortarboard balloon weight.
  5. If you are using an actual mortarboard, you will want to check the weight to make sure that the mortarboard is weighted enough so it doesn't float away with the balloons.

Add details to achieve a finished look, consider adding shredded metallic paper or river rocks around the mortarboard and some LED tea candles to complete the look.

Commercial Centerpieces

Some people would rather purchase their party centerpieces.

  • Globe - Many graduates set out to see the world upon graduation. Celebrate the graduate's interest in world travel or their determination to start changing the world by using a globe as a centerpiece. You can include some sharpie markers next to the globe that guests can use to sign globe, turning it into a unique guest book.
  • Gold foil cap centerpiece - This gold graduate cape gleam and burst centerpiece is almost 15 inches high and features a burst of gold foil graduation caps.
  • Multi-colored balloons with base - Add a touch of color to your tables with the colorful balloon centerpiece. The centerpiece is around nine inches tall. It features a mylar balloon with a mortarboard cap and the word "Congrats Grad" on it. The base features black stars.
  • Graduation cascade centerpiece - This centerpiece features mortarboards cascading from the center post. It is made from metallic and board-stock.
  • Cheers photo centerpiece - Display pictures of the graduate in this four frame centerpiece. The word "Grad" is displayed on top of the frames. Insert photos of your graduate into the four slots.

Use What You Have

A great way to save money on centerpieces is to use items that you already have in your home or can borrow from friends or family. Consider using simple, clear vases filled with flowers or helium balloons in school colors at the center of each table. Centerpieces don't have to be elaborate or expensive to be attractive.

Graduation Centerpieces