A graduation party is an opportunity to celebrate one of life’s biggest achievements. Thus, for many people, it’s the perfect time to pull out all the stops on party planning! However, that can also mean more stress when it comes to putting everything together for the big day. Don’t sweat it! These ten tips for graduation party planning will get you inspired with cool ideas and help you plan a graduation party that your friends, family and, most importantly, your graduate will always remember.

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1. Invest in your outdoor entertaining setup.

Have you been thinking about investing in some awesome outdoor kitchen gear like a fire pit or a new pellet grill? If you’ll be having a warm weather outdoor party, now could be the perfect time to upgrade your setup! To make sure the backyard is ready in time, many homeowners prefer to install ready-to-use upgrades rather than starting a large custom project. All-in-one outdoor kitchen kits are especially popular because they provide an instant upgrade without the hassle and expense of a fully custom outdoor kitchen.

2. Combine graduation parties so multiple recent graduates can celebrate together.

Graduations often happen in bunches, so it can be challenging to schedule a party without stepping on someone else’s toes. Often, the best solution is to take a “more the merrier” attitude! Coordinating with other families who want to celebrate their graduates can give you access to more resources for the party, and it helps prevent guests from having to choose between multiple people’s graduation events. Note that since this usually means increasing the size of the guest list, it’s usually best to have the party either in the largest backyard available or in an outside venue.

3. Get your outdoor spaces in shape.

If you’re going the backyard route, give your yard and garden some extra love before the main event. Make sure your grass is mowed and your garden is weeded, and think about adding some bug control measures such as citronella candles or bug zappers. Give your patio a thorough washing, and don’t forget to set up some lights if the party will keep going after dark.

4. Add a photo booth or a photo backdrop with props.

Adding a photo booth or backdrop is a great way to give everyone some memories to take home! Most party rental companies offer these, and they’re available in numerous different themes to fit the vibe that you want for your graduation party. You can also take it a step further and order a custom backdrop with your graduate’s name from one of the many custom printing companies that offer them.

5. Consider a smart grill so you can socialize during the party.

Getting to hang out with family and friends is one of the best parts of a graduation party. That’s why more and more people are choosing smart grills, such as WiFi pellet grills, for their main cooking tools at the grad party. These grills give you the awesome ability to check on your food remotely, so you can enjoy a drink with your favorite people without burning the burgers.

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6. Consider renting out a restaurant or venue.

Although it typically costs more than a backyard shindig, renting a restaurant or another venue for the graduation party can be a big time and effort saver if you’d like someone else to take care of the details. Plus, it’s an especially awesome way to celebrate if the graduate has a favorite restaurant or other local spot. Just make sure to book as far ahead of time as possible — many popular graduation party venues will fill up months in advance.

7. Get some fun personalized party supplies.

Personalized stuff is a fun way to let your graduate feel the love. Customized banners, decorations or even cups and napkins are all common for graduation parties, so check out the options available in your area. Of course, you also want the graduate to feel like it matches their style, so seek out a place that offers plenty of decoration options and let them choose their favorites.

8. Create a way for people to leave messages for the graduate.

Try setting up a guestbook or another spot where people can sign their name and leave a message of encouragement for the person graduating. Some people even like to create a “wisdom jar” where people can add a slip of paper with some life advice, whether it’s funny or serious. This can help make the bittersweet partings of graduation more bearable, as well as giving the graduate something meaningful to look back on when they remember this time.

9. Make photos part of your decorations.

A graduation party is all about celebrating the journey, and what better way to remember that journey than with some photos of the graduate at every stage of their life? Dig up some cherished photos and incorporate them into your party decorations. There are tons of ways to do it, from hanging them on streamers to creating a collage. Just make sure to use copies rather than originals so you don’t lose any pictures that are precious to you!

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10. Plan some games and activities for guests to participate in.

Enjoying good company will naturally be the focus of a graduation party, but some games and activities are a great way to get everybody relaxed and feeling the vibe. You could choose something graduation-centric, like a quiz about the graduate’s life, or stick with classic outdoor party games like cornhole, badminton and giant Jenga. If there will be young kids at the party, make sure to provide them with something to do too!

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