Create the perfect atmosphere at the graduation party venue with fun and festive decorations regardless of whether you're celebrating a high school, college, or even kindergarten graduate. You may choose to purchase some decorations, or if you are crafty, you can create some unique décor items.
Graduation Year Decorations
Numbers that represent the graduation year are often used at graduation ceremonies. Graduation parties often include the year in their décor as well. You can incorporate the number in various ways.
Tissue Paper Numbers
Make large numbers out of cardboard to use as decorations. These are best used indoors or outdoors on a still, dry day.
- Box knife, craft knife, or scissors
- Tissue paper in school colors
- A pencil
- Craft glue
- Paper cutter (optional)
- Use a pencil to trace the numbers of the graduation year onto the cardboard. It is best to use a block font. The numbers could be large or small depending on how you intend to display them. Use larger pieces of cardboard, such as the sides of a refrigerator box, for large numbers. Smaller cardboard numbers can be cut from boxes of various sizes.
- Use a knife or scissors to cut numbers out of cardboard.
- Cut the tissue paper into squares. A 1-inch square is a good dimension, but you can cut them into 1.5- to 2-inch squares if you want the tissue a little longer. You can save time by cutting several layers of tissue paper at one time; consider using a paper cutter.
- Take one piece of tissue paper and put it on the eraser end of your pencil and fold the tissue paper around the pencil. Put a dot of craft glue on the outside of the tissue paper on top of the pencil's eraser.
- Take your pencil and turn it upside down on top of one of your numbers so that the tissue paper will stick to the number. This will create a nice fluffy look.
- Repeat this process with each tissue paper square until all the numbers are covered.
Mix and match the colors or decide to have one color on each number. You can use these numbers on a wall as a backdrop behind your main table or thread them on invisible wire and hang from the ceiling. Outside, hang a small version on the food table or large version on the porch.
A quick and easy project you can make to display your graduate's graduation year numbers is to make a garland.
- Scrapbook paper in school colors
- Yarn, ribbon, or string
- Glue, tape or hole punch
- Number stickers
- Cut a triangle, flag, or another desired shape out of the scrapbook paper. Repeat the process four times, one for each of the four numbers in the year.
- Apply the number stickers onto the scrap book paper shapes. Put one number sticker on each of the shapes.
- Cut the ribbon, string or yarn. The length at which you cut it depends on how large you made your shapes and how big of a wall or space you are trying to span.
- Attach the shapes onto the yarn, ribbon, or string. Attach them to the string with tape or glue or punch two holes on the top corners of the shapes and string them on ribbon.
- Hang your decoration on the wall, front of the food table, or front of the guest book table with tape.
Commercial Number Designs
Celebrate the graduation year with a few more purchased items.
- Balloon numbers - Fill jumbo mylar number balloons with helium and use them as a centerpiece or just a decoration to fill in an empty corner.
- Marquee lighted numbers - Marquee numbers are trendy and can be used on buffet tables or as window decorations; they are perfect for an evening party.
- Number stand-up - A stand-up is a great party decoration; if you can't find the graduation year, you can put together several individual stand-up numbers to create your décor.
Help keep everyone's mind on the guest of honor by displaying a variety of photos of him or her.
3D Photo Collage
A 3D photo collage is an unusual twist to the traditional photo display, and companies like Collagery are great places to get this done. However, you can also make a version at home if you are feeling crafty. The display can greet guests at the party entrance or hung on hallway walls.
- Foam core
- Photos of the graduate
- Scrapbook paper
- Craft knife
- Stickers and other embellishments
- Choose a variety of photos of the graduate, friends, and family. You will want to choose photos from his or her childhood up until graduation. Make copies of the photos to use because you will be cutting them up and you won't want to cut the originals.
- Cut some of the photos into various shapes or trim the background off so the graduate is cut out.
- Glue scrapbook paper to a piece of foam core.
- Glue some of the photos onto foam core and trim the excess foam core away.
- Arrange the photos onto the scrapbook paper so they make an attractive design and glue them in place.
- Glue the photos that were mounted onto foam core onto the board to give it a three-dimensional look.
- Add stickers and other embellishments onto the board to complete the look.
Photos on Balloon Strings
A unique way to display the guest-of-honor's photos is from balloon strings. Use them inside only as they will likely disappear outdoors.
- Helium balloons on curling ribbon
- Photo-copied photos
- Choose your favorite photos of the graduate.
- Print the photos of the graduate onto lightweight copy paper. You can either scan the photos into a computer and print them at home or take them into a copy store.
- Trim the photos so that there is no white showing.
- Take the curling ribbon from the bottom of a helium balloon and sandwich the ribbon between two photos.
- Glue the photos together. You will have to choose two photos that are oriented the same way to give it the best appearance. For example, you will have to glue two horizontal photos together and two vertical photos together. You do not want the photo from one side to overlap and show from the other side. You may have to do some trimming to get rid of extra paper around the photos.
This project will have to be done just before the party because helium balloons tend to deflate rather quickly. You may also have to experiment to find the right weight for the photos. If your balloon will not float with the photos attached, you may have to use a hole punch to put a hole on the top of each photo and loop the ribbon through it.
Purchased Photo Decorations
A photo is worth more than words; let everyone see your graduate's happy face with these additional decorations.
- Photo yard sign - Use this photo yard sign as an outside decoration for your party. Add a stake and everyone will know where to gather!
- Lifesize standee - Make a lifesize standee of the graduate in his or her cap and gown and place near the party's door.
- Photo book - Share the graduate's favorite photos in a professionally printed, bound book. Put it out near the guest book for people to browse.
Mortarboards and Graduation Icons
Mortarboards and diplomas are iconic images associated with graduation. These iconic images are perfect for placing throughout the party space, like on buffet tables.
Decorate your table with handmade mortarboard plates.
- Paper or plastic plates in theme colors
- Matching paper or plastic bowls
- Black napkins
- Turn the bowl upside down.
- Glue the bottom of the plate to the bottom of the bowl.
- Cut a small black napkin in half.
- Cut vertical strips along the bottom of the napkin. Stop with about a thumb's width left from the top.
- Roll the napkin and glue or tape together.
- Fluff out the bottom strips so the napkin resembles a tassel.
- Glue to the bottom of one of the plate corners.
- The plate can still be used as a plate or guests can use the finished product as a hat.
Turn your party napkins into diplomas for your party decorations.
- White lunch napkins
- Plastic forks, knives, and spoons
- Black ribbon
- Simply place the plastic cutlery in the middle of a luncheon sized napkin.
- Roll the napkin around the cutlery
- Tie the black ribbon around the cutlery and tie a bow to create a diploma appearance.
More Iconic Graduation Decorations
Pick up a few more basic decorations to round out the celebration.
- Graduation party kit - This kit includes five diploma and five mortarboard centerpieces and some party scatter. Look for it in blue or another school color.
- Congratulations Grad banner - Hang a banner on a wall at the party venue, or against an outside wall. It features mortarboards and diplomas and has a black, gold, and silver color scheme.
- Mortarboard card box - This adorable mortarboard box is the perfect place to house all the greeting cards given to the graduate.
Not all decorations have to cost money. Print off the free graduation chalkboard quote "The Tassel Was Worth the Hassle" from Birds and Soap and frame it. Place it near the guest book or on the dessert table.
You can use many of the things you may already have at home to decorate for your graduation party, such as vases filled with artificial or fresh flowers in school colors, clusters of balloons, and basic crepe paper streamers. No matter how you decide to decorate for your party, know that the most important element of any party or celebration is the love felt by the graduate from their friends and family. You do not need to spend a lot of money on décor items to accomplish this goal.