Checklist for Ordering Graduation Party Invitations

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Did you know that more than three million high school students graduate in the United States each year? It's not hard to see why most of us spend our May and June weekends attending graduation parties and open houses for graduating friends and family. While graduation season is indeed exciting, it can also be a bit hectic and stressful if one of the parties you're dealing with happens to be for your own special graduate. The decision-making portion of your party planning does not need to be overwhelming. Just follow these steps to take you from the initial plan to mailing the invitations.

1. Select a Party Type

The first decision you and your teen need to make is what type of graduation party you want to plan. One option is to hold two separate parties, one for relatives and one for friends. Another is to hold a single large party for everyone. While the size of some families allow for a formal sit-down dinner or restaurant party, others need the kind of room you find at a backyard barbecue. You can even throw a graduation potluck or appetizer buffet. An open house is a flexible option if you plan to celebrate the graduation at home.

2. Make a Plan

Determine who will be responsible for the graduation party planning. While some young people like to be a part of the planning, others prefer to leave it up to their parents. Finding out what your teen prefers before you proceed with irrevocable party arrangements will prevent disagreements and hurt feelings later on.

3. Determine a Date and Time

While the day of graduation is by far the most popular date for graduation parties, it may make sense to select an alternate date. You don't want friends and family to have to rush around to attend multiple parties. You also don't want your graduate to miss a friend's party in order to attend his or her own. If you must throw the party on graduation weekend, consider Sunday afternoon rather than Saturday. Don't rule out the weekends before and after graduation as well. However, if graduation Saturday is your only option, consider an open house. Start a few hours after the graduation ceremony and wrap things up later in the evening. This will give your guests plenty of time to stop by and enjoy the festivities.

4. Select a Party Location

The weather in late May and early June is generally pleasant in most parts of the country. After being cooped up all winter, having an outdoor graduation party will be appreaciated by all. You can throw your graduation gathering in the backyard, at a park or even at the beach. Other popular party venues include restaurants, meeting rooms and churches. Consider both the size of your guest list and convenience when selecting a party location.

5. Gather the Guest List

Who should be invited to the party? Anyone who will be happy to share in your graduate's success! Be sure to include extended family members from both sides of the family as well as friends of both the parents and the graduate. You can also invite your neighbors and acquaintances from church or other social organizations as well.

To avoid confusion and hard feelings, make sure your invitations are addressed to clearly indicate who is invited. For example, if you are inviting a friend of your teen plus his or her parents, you may want to address the invitation to "Bob and Crystal Smith and Family," or even just "The Smiths." If you address it with just the teen's name, the parents will likely believe they are not invited.

6. Selecting, Ordering and Mailing Invitations

You may be able to purchase graduation party invitations from your son or daughter's school along with graduation ceremony announcements. However, a more creative, personal and usually less expensive option is to order your graduation party invitations from an online vendor. Design a graduation party invitation using your teen's school colors or pick one that fits with the theme of the graduation party. You could even customize the invitation with a fun photo of your teen.

Include your son or daughter's name, the date of the party, time of the party and location of the party on the graduation party invitation. You may also opt to include the school name, the class year and an RSVP request. In general, open houses do not require an RSVP. However, if you are planning a sit-down dinner, hiring a caterer or renting a venue, you may benefit from a pre-party count of those who plan to attend. In such cases, an RSVP request is encouraged.

Mail your graduation party invitations at least three weeks before the event. To accomodate out of town guests who need to make travel plans, be sure to send your invitations much earlier. If you're short on time, some online merchants will print, address and mail your graduation party announcements within one business day of your order.

Purchase extra graduation announcements or party invitation and a few extra thank you notes. Thank you notes should be written and mailed no more than one month after your party (and the sooner the better). To make the process easy, create a list of who gave you what as you open your cards and gifts.

Every graduation gift, whether sent by mail or delivered in person, should be acknowledged with a thank you note. Mention the gift received specifically in each note. If you receive money, do not mention the specific amount in your thank you. Mention how you intend to spend your graduation money.


John Welsh is the CEO of and has published numerous articles on greeting cards, invitations and direct mail as well as articles on graduation announcements. Visit his website to learn how to quickly and easily create professional looking invitations announcements.

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