Celebrate their high school graduation with a great party!

High School Graduation Party Ideas

by Dollar Stretcher Contributors

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High School Graduation Party Ideas

My nephew is graduating in June. We are looking for original ideas. We are planning a sweets table with brownies, cookies, cake, and candy. His school colors are red and black. Are there any suggestions for red and black candies? We wanted a photo booth, but they are so expensive. Is there a creative person out there that has done a DIY photo booth? Also, do you have any other creative, fun ideas to use for a high school graduation party?
Connie P.

Set Up a Selfie Booth

When you say "red and black candies," what pops to my mind is licorice. Since it comes in long strands, you could do all kinds of interesting things with it like spelling out the school's name or "Class of 2016."

As for the photo booth, it depends on what you have to work with. If you just search "DIY photo booth," you will find a lot of suggestions using different types of equipment. But since kids these days always take photos with their phones anyway, why not just have a selfie booth? Just set up a backdrop of some kind, and they can snap shots of themselves or each other in front of it.

Framed Memories

A great idea for any party is to go to a thrift shop and buy an old picture frame, the larger the better. Paint it any way you want if it's in bad shape. Have the party goers hold it up in front of themselves, alone or in groups, and have someone snapping photos of their "framed" selves. If you want, add some homemade or purchased props on sticks or straws, such as party hats, mustaches, funny glasses, and speech balloons. You could download and print the pictures then or send them later.

Through the Years

My son's graduation party included a display of his annual school photo from kindergarten through senior year. We pinned these to a large bulletin board. Attendees really enjoyed the visual journey of a boy growing up through the school years!

Get the Graduate Involved

We celebrated both of our kids' graduations with big parties.

I also looked into a photo booth and found it prohibitively expensive. I gave the kids the job of making a fun backdrop for a corner of the party area (we had a tent in the backyard). The basis was from a roll of heavy craft paper. They decorated it with ribbons in their school colors, banners (little triangular shaped ones) that they made themselves, the class year boldly across the top, etc. There are a lot of inspirational ideas online for photo backdrops. Try it out ahead of time, especially in a breeze. You may have to weigh the bottom by duct-taping a dowel or something else heavy to the back edge. Or you may have to have it against a house wall, etc. It will work for indoor parties, of course, too. Test it out with various lights to find a good spot inside. The idea here is that everyone now has their own camera on their phone. The kids will be sharing the photos with each other before they even leave your party, and the young ones can coach the older ones on how to do that!

The photo backdrop project led to the kids having their friends help out with more decorations. We broke out all of our Christmas light strings and let them go to work. They made all kinds of banners (ideas from Pinterest) and table decorations using the school's colors. It looked great and they had fun doing it. I didn't let them near any of the food preparation, but with decorations, nothing could go wrong.

Use Past Pictures as Decorations

The one idea I love seeing at graduation parties is baby/childhood pictures put on the tables. It's a great decoration and a way to see how they've grown from the drooling thing that just came from the hospital to the young adult about ready to go off to college. It also provides an excuse to go from table to table to see all the pictures and maybe even mingle with people at the party you've never met before.

Keep It Simple. Keep It Fun.

My daughter's graduation party received rave reviews and we were on a strict and very lean budget. As guests arrived, they posed for pictures. We used empty frames of various sizes purchased half-off from Goodwill and spray painted in various colors for people to hold up and pose behind. For fun, we had silly hats, feather boas, and giant novelty sunglasses purchased from a dollar store for additional props. A family friend who dabbles in photography used our digital camera to take everyone's photo. These photos were printed later and used as thank-you notes. An additional copy of each photo was placed in a keepsake scrapbook of memories of the party.

Since the reader asked for suggestions for red and black themed candy, may I suggest licorice and jelly beans? They both come in various forms and in both black and red varieties. Anything red like candy, paper goods, etc. can be purchased at deep discount the day after Valentine's Day. Most candy will keep well or can be frozen until closer to the day of the party. Disposable tablecloths are expensive, but remnant bolts of fabric can be purchased at a local discount fabric store very inexpensively. If it is cut to size with pinking shears, no sewing is needed. We used pages torn from a discarded encyclopedia for placemats. Finally, everyone was asked to sign my daughter's grad photo, which we inexpensively framed with an extra wide mat especially for this purpose. A decorated cake enough for all of our guests was not in the budget. However, my daughter loves a layered dessert made from sandwich cookies called dirt desert. It was served in a giant flowerpot complete with plastic daisy for less than a third of the cost of a cake. The menu was simple. It included classic pulled pork with everything bought on sale, made ahead, and frozen until the big day. Keep things simple and do not get caught up in paying extra for items just because they are printed with the year of graduation, especially if those items are going to be thrown away!

Related: Creative Graduation Gifts

Fun Cookie Idea

Use Pirouette cookies and tie with red and black ribbons. They look just like diplomas. It's a super cute and super easy to decorate your tables!

Find Ideas on Pinterest

You can find a lot of recipes on Pinterest. For a photo booth, I used wrapping paper. You can buy frames made out of Styrofoam or make your own with poster board. It came out very cute and very inexpensive.

Shop party supplies and decorations at The Oriental Trading Company!

Find Photo Booth Instructions on Instructables

The website Instructables has several "how-to" pages on building a photo booth. If that one doesn't suit, you can search the site for DIY photo booth and you will find more.

Easily Share Photos

You can create a flickr page or an Instagram account and just have the guests post the photos they take with their phones to those sites. For the candies, you can use food coloring. You can also make rock candy very inexpensively and homemade gummy candies.
Tanya (via Facebook)

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