Need a way to celebrate your graduate if everyone can’t get together? These easy ideas will help you host a special virtual graduation party!
The last year has been one for the history books, hasn’t it?
AnnMarie’s son didn’t have an actual graduation ceremony last year because the shut downs had just begun.
My girls didn’t have any of the “seniors rule the school” privileges (like the senior bell for a 10-minute earlier dismissal they were so looking forward to!).
But after a year like this, we’re celebrating all the little things even more.
Like the fact that their high school will be doing an in-person graduation ceremony!
It’s gonna be outdoors.
The number of tickets will be limited so grandparents and extended family won’t be able to attend.
There’ll be masks and social distancing.
But at least it’ll be one semi-normal part of their senior year!
We want to still celebrate this milestone with our family members who won’t be there physically.
A virtual graduation party!
I’ve put together a checklist for you to plan a virtual graduation celebration for your high school or college senior too.
Even when life returns to “normal,” you may still find a virtual graduation party is a great idea if your family doesn’t live nearby.
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1. Pick a Virtual Host
The first thing you’ll need to do is choose which host you want to use for your virtual graduation party.
Over the past year we’ve all become familiar with using Facetime, Zoom, Microsoft Meetings, Google Hangouts, Skype, and even Facebook Meeting Rooms.
Choose which option will work best for the size of your group.
Depending on how many people will be attending, you might want to figure out how to connect the largest screen in your home to your computer or phone. That way you’ll have a better view of all the guests!
You may want to consider doing a technical run-through before your party with anyone not familiar with whichever platform you’ve chosen.
After all, you want the time blocked off for the celebration to be about the graduate, not trouble-shooting technical issues!
2. Pick a Date and Time Frame
The platform you choose as your host may have a time limit on how long your virtual party can last.
One workaround is to create two events with a short break in between.
Think of it as a potty break!
Then simply share two links with your guests.
However, since virtual gatherings have a different feel to them than an in-person event, it’s still a good idea to keep your virtual party on the shorter side.
An hour to an hour-and-a-half seems to be the perfect length of time.
3. Send Out Invitations
All celebrations begin with an invitation, and a virtual party isn’t any different.
While you may opt for paper invites for most parties, a virtual party is a perfect time to try out using a digital invitation.
I love how easy it is to use Paperless Post or Minted for a stylish and customizable invitation.
They both offer free options for digital invitations!
One thing I love about Minted is you can add on a printed Thank You card that coordinates with the style of digital invitation you choose.
This makes it even easier for your graduate to send out those thank you notes for any gifts they receive.
Another option to consider is a service like RSVPify that lets you create a free personal event dashboard where you can send out invites, reminders, and include all the links your guest might need in one place.
With most of these invitations, you can include the link for your virtual event right on the invitation.
If you don’t have the link yet when you send out your invites, be sure to send out the links to everyone who’s attending a few days before your party.
4. Consider Sharing the Livestream of the Graduation Ceremony
Okay, so this might not be part of the virtual graduation party, but it’s still a great idea!
Many schools are now offering a livestream of the graduation ceremony itself.
After all, just because the number of tickets is limited doesn’t mean the number of people who want to see the graduation is smaller too!
Check with your school for the livestream link and share it with your guests.
5. Send a Reminder
One down side to virtual events is they can sometimes be easy to forget.
Help your guests make it to the celebration by sending out a reminder one week before the party and again one day before.
Be sure to include the link for the party and any necessary passwords with each reminder.
6. What About the Snacks?
Alright. So this one’s a little tricky.
When you have a party in person, of course you’re serving food!
But when everyone is attending your gathering from the comfort of their own homes?
It’s just a chance to get creative!
We’ve got a few options for you to choose! If you come up with another way, let us know in the comment section.
- You can serve up your graduate’s favorite foods. Everyone at your house can enjoy the food before and after the virtual gathering.
- Share your graduate’s favorite recipes with your guests and they can make the dishes to enjoy at their homes.
- Order pizza (or whatever you’d like!) to be delivered to all your guest’s homes just before the virtual party begins.
- Make up a goodie box or care package filled with snacks and treats and send them to your guests to enjoy. Just be sure to send them at least a week in advance to make sure they arrive in time.
- Order food from an online source listed below and have it shipped to your guests.
7. Don’t Forget to Decorate!
There’s nothing like fun decorations to make it feel like a party!
Be sure to decorate the area where you’ll be during the virtual graduation party.
It’s easy to make a photo banner or a burlap banner to hang behind you.
Hang some streamers.
Order some balloons!
Fresh flowers are always a way to make a space feel special.
Make some paper mache numbers featuring the graduation year to sit on the coffee table.
Have fun making the space look festive for the virtual guests.
Be sure to check how the space looks from the camera that will be used during the virtual party.
8. Collect Wisdom and Wishes
Commencement is the perfect time to collect words of wisdom and advice to share with the new graduate.
After all, their lives are going to change significantly as they leave high school or college behind!
This may take a little advanced planning, but you can gather this advice and well wishes from everyone before the party and compile it into a book to present at the gathering.
We’ve shared complete instructions for creating this kind of a gift here.
If you don’t have time to create a book before the party, encourage guests to send cards filled with their wishes and wisdom.
After the party, place the cards into a scrapbook for the graduate to look back on (which also preserves loved ones’ handwriting!).
9. Take a Picture with Each Guest
If your graduation party was in person, you would be taking a photo of the graduate with each guest.
Just because this party is virtual doesn’t mean you have to skip the pictures!
Simply switch the screen to single person view and get a picture of the graduate with each virtual guest.
And be sure to get a picture of the graduate in front of the screen with all the guests too!
10. Create a Virtual Slideshow
You’ll want to have some activities planned for the virtual graduation party too.
This is the perfect time to show a slideshow featuring photos of the new graduate!
Set up the virtual room so you can share your computer’s screen and play the slideshow for all the guests to enjoy.
You could use pictures from just high school or college, or even choose 5-10 pictures from each school year from kindergarten (or even preschool!) up to graduation.
Be sure to end the slide show with a side-by-side photo showing the graduate on the first day of kindergarten and then in their cap and gown.
Don’t forget to set it to music!
After the party’s over, you can share the slideshow with all the guests for them to enjoy again later.
11. Play Some Games
It’s hard to really “visit” with a big group of people in a virtual setting, so games are a great way for everyone to have fun together.
You can customize a trivia game about the guest of honor using an app like Kahoot.
Or play a traditional-style trivia game by Trivia Maker.
Outburst is another option that’s fun for just about everyone.
Our families all love playing Jackbox games and everyone can get in on the fun since they’re played from your phone!
12. Open Gifts
The guest of honor can take some time to open cards and gifts with everyone.
While cash is always appreciated, graduation is also a great time to give a sentimental gift.
We’ve got a roundup of meaningful gift ideas if you’re looking for something unique.
13. Photo Thank You Cards
Thank you cards give you the opportunity to send a memento to each virtual party guest.
We love the photo cards from Minted!
You can have the card include a photo of the graduate in their cap and gown.
Then, slip a print of the photo of the graduate with the guest taken at the party into the envelope.
A virtual graduation party may not be the same as getting to see loved ones in person, but with these ideas you can still make the celebration special for everyone.
If you have any questions or suggestions, contact me or leave a comment!
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