All Ages

Tips and Ideas for Throwing an
At-Home Graduation

by Devon A. Corneal

at home grad
Image credit: Nutthaseth Vanchaichana / EyeEm/Getty Images

The Class of 2020 is graduating under truly unusual ­— and in many ways, devastating — circumstances. With schools closed, everyone from preschoolers through grad students are missing out on long-awaited celebrations. Our students will transition from one stage of life to another without caps and gowns, extended family visits, commencement speeches, parties, or being physically handed diplomas.

Despite these circumstances, you can still celebrate your graduate at home. If you’d like to make your graduate’s day special, we have some suggestions for a do-it-yourself graduation day that no one will ever forget!


Dress For the Occasion

If your graduate left school before they got their cap and gown, it’s time to get creative. You can try to order online, or dig deep for your inner artist and make your own. Guests at your home ceremony can take the opportunity to dress up too – it might be a nice break from sweatpants and t-shirts.

Set the Stage

Homemade banners, balloons, and streamers can all help make your living room or backyard feel more festive. Lawn signs make sure everyone knows you’ve got a graduate in the house and are great keepsakes. Make a video scrapbook or an old-fashioned photo album of memorable school moments and don’t forget to take loads of pictures. You’ll want to remember this day for years to come, even if it isn’t quite what you expected.

Compile a Playlist

In addition to the traditional Pomp and Circumstance graduation march, you can take your pick from a range of songs often played at graduation ceremonies. Your list is only limited by how cheesy you and your graduate want to get. If you’re stumped, check out one of the variety of graduation playlists users on Spotify have put together.

Invite Everyone

If you’re socially distanced from extended family and friends, make use of Zoom or your favorite video call platform to invite your nearest and dearest to join you in a remote celebration. Set an agenda with speeches and toasts (BYOB, of course) and let your graduate bask in the attention.  You can even go the extra mile and send online invitations for the big day!

Get Some Help From an Old Favorite

Oh, the Places You’ll Go! is one of the most popular graduation gifts — and with good reason! Dr. Seuss’s inspiring, classic tale explores all the places your grad can go and all the things they can be. From printable diplomas to activities for all ages, this celebration guide has everything you need.

Give a Commencement Speech

Since you won’t be able to enjoy the wisdom of a graduation speaker, tap someone with the honor of giving a very personalized speech designed to highlight everything your graduate has overcome to get to this day and to celebrate their next steps. If you want to be part of something bigger, join YouTube’s Virtual Graduation for the Class of 2020 on June 6th or Facebook’s week of graduation celebrations, which begins on May 11th. Make sure to check with your child’s school to see what virtual ceremonies they may be holding and tune in if you can.

Hold a Procession

There’s something magical about seeing rows of seniors walking together into a graduation venue. Since your child can’t be with their peers, see if you can coordinate with other families to arrange a drive-by processional. Or ask friends to drive by your home with the windows down to cheer this huge accomplishment.  If all else fails, decorate your car and take a lap around your neighborhood or town.

Make a Meal to Remember

Does your grad have a favorite meal or dessert? Get out your cookbook and get to work! Or call your local bakery or favorite restaurant for takeout. Gathering around a bountiful table is one of the many ways to mark important life events, and this one is no different.

Don’t Forget The Gift!

In an untraditional year, a thoughtful graduation gift is all the more important. They might be stuck at home now, but let’s not forget all the places they’ll go once this quarantine is over.