Who Do You Invite to a Graduation Party?

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Graduation season means it’s time to start sending out invitations to your closest friends and family to celebrate your big accomplishment. But with so many people to invite, where do you start? Think about the people you’re closest with, those who have helped you most throughout your academic career, and then create an invitation list based on that. That way, everyone will be invited who needs to be – and no one will feel left out! Now that you have your guest list figured out, here are some tips on how to put together perfect graduation party invitations.

Who Gets an Invitation

It’s important to know that graduation party etiquette is pretty standard, so you can consult existing lists for your own planning purposes. For example, it’s not uncommon for friends and family members to be divided into two categories: close and extended. Close friends are those who shared your college experience with you; extended friends are acquaintances from high school or others who have followed your success.

Ideally, graduation party invitations should be extended to both groups; however, don’t feel pressured if you only have time or budget to focus on one group or another. Additionally, if you live in close proximity with someone—even if they aren’t on a traditional guest list—it’s important not to overlook them. If you’re having an outdoor graduation party, make sure to invite neighbors who might otherwise feel left out of your special day. 

Don’t forget: The bigger your guest list, the more complicated things get! Keep your event manageable by sending personal invitations rather than printing off cards at home and asking people to RSVP. And if you’re looking for graduation announcements ideas, use our guide as inspiration for themes, décor, and menu items! Don’t forget to check out our graduation cake recipes.

Who Doesn’t Get an Invitation?

It’s best not to invite coworkers (you don’t want your party plans taking up all of your lunch conversations) or anyone else you see on a regular basis. It’s also wise not to invite extended family members or anyone you wouldn’t feel comfortable having at your house for an extended period of time. 

Guests should be people who support you, want you to succeed, and will come away from your graduation celebration knowing more about what it means for you than they did before. If in doubt, take their RSVP response as no. If someone asks if he or she can bring someone along, that’s one thing—but don’t give them your approval without asking first. 

Never ask friends to pay for their own food and drinks—that includes cover charges at bars! That goes double if you are hosting them. Just say no. And finally, make sure your guests have rides home. Don’t assume that everyone is going to stay until the last call—and don’t plan on giving them a ride home yourself. Plan ahead by making sure there is always a cab outside waiting for guests as needed.

What to Include in the Invitation

When you’re putting together graduation party invitations, take into account how many people will likely be invited. Don’t get overzealous and send invites to people who wouldn’t want to come. Make sure that you put some information about grad dress, what will happen at your party and when it’ll be—and, of course, where and when you plan on holding it. 

Even if your party is informal (at someone’s house), make sure that you know where everyone is going before graduation day so that there’s no confusion. If you have a specific theme in mind for your party, include that as well. If not, then leave it up to your guests to decide what they wear or bring. And don’t forget an RSVP date. 

No one likes showing up unannounced only to find out their invitation was lost in the mail or never received. Include one just in case; otherwise, you may end up with a lot of disappointed friends and family members. 

Also, even though it might seem like common sense: For security reasons, don’t list your address on your invite. Instead, tell people to contact you for directions ahead of time. This way they can avoid having unwanted visitors show up at their door unexpectedly. It also helps keep any potential stalkers from knowing where you live. Finally, don’t forget to put all the necessary details in a place that’s easy to find once people open their envelopes.

When Do I Send the Graduation Party Invitations Out?

The average graduation party invitation will usually go out 4-6 weeks before your graduation party. It takes time for people to respond and remember your event (and then find someone else to come with them if they can’t make it). 

It’s best to give people as much time as possible. However, if you are on a tight schedule, you can do a save-the-date card, where you send out an invitation that says The Smith family invites you to celebrate (insert date here) at our home! RSVP: (insert phone number or email address). Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience that may result from extending invitations after many of us have already received our diplomas. 

This is our way of thanking all those who helped us along the way. We hope you’ll be able to join us in celebrating what we’ve accomplished. It also allows you to get a head start on your planning. It’s easier to plan ahead when you know how many guests you can expect. Plus, some people might not be able to attend but would like to send gifts or cards instead. 

When sending out a save-the-date card, include information about what type of gift(s) would be appropriate and whether or not there will be an open bar so guests know how much they should bring if they plan on drinking alcohol during their visit.