Graduation Celebrations That Don’t Focus on Food

I like a party as much as the next gal (just ask my friends!), but when graduation season hits—as it already has—I was not the one hosting a bunch of kids and neighbors for a big bash in the backyard. I didn’t have a graduation party when I finished high school—I got an electric typewriter from my parents and a “fancy” dinner out with my family. Yes, that was an age ago, I know. Graduation parties are so popular these days that if you don’t host one you almost feel like you’re in the wrong somehow. But you’re not. Call me a curmudgeon, but with so many others throwing parties, when it came time for my first-born to graduate, I figured the world didn’t need yet another buffet of burgers, dogs and heavily-frosted bakery cake. My kid didn’t feel slighted in the least and happily attended his friends’ parties.

Blueberry Sorbet
If a big cookout is your preference, consider fruit-first desserts like this Blueberry Sorbet and check out our tips for keeping the event healthy.

Other ideas for celebrating the graduate

There’s nothing wrong with throwing a party of course, (and if you’re looking for tips on how to handle those backyard bashes or buffets, we’ve got a few suggestions) but there’s something really nice about bucking the grad party trend. It puts the focus on the graduate and his or her accomplishment, and not on being the perfect host or trying to one-up the Jones’ graduation shin-dig.

Here are some ideas for celebrations that don’t revolve around food and drink (and a load of work for you). Consider using the money you saved by not having a big party, and put it toward one of these ideas instead:

  • I know of some people who do really extravagant things like take their graduate (plus their best friend) to Europe. That would be awesome, yes, if out of reach financially for most of us. Still, it’s a lovely idea if you have the resources!
  • On a smaller scale, but just as special, a short trip with your teen might be just the thing for some bonding time. Choose somewhere he or she has always wanted to go and then just do it.
  • Have an activity-focused adventure. A weekend hiking trip, a rafting trip, horseback riding, or biking trip—all would be fun!
  • A spa date is fun for girls—maybe you could cover it for a few of your daughter’s friends, too, for more of a celebration feel.
  • Most teens LOVE music, so concert tickets to see his or her favorite band (with a few friends) would be most welcome.
  • Along the same line, sporting event tickets can make a great celebration, too. Go out for a special dinner before or after the game.

There’s always the graduation gift option

You could just go the gift route instead of the experience route. A nice watch or grown-up jewelry is traditional and is likely to be kept for a lifetime (I still have the ring my grandfather gave me for my high school graduation). And a practical gift that the graduate could use in the next chapter of his or her life, such as a computer, makes a thoughtful group-given gift.