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How to Celebrate Graduation in 2021

How to Celebrate Graduation in 2021

You can still celebrate your 2021 graduate with these socially distanced graduation party ideas.

Every graduate—whether preschool, middle school, high school, or college—should feel special about the things they have accomplished this year. While your child's graduation might not be able to happen as imagined, you can still create a special celebration that adheres to social distancing guidelines. Here are some fun ideas to celebrate 2021 graduation—whether it’s college, high school, middle school, or preschool graduation. 

High School and College Graduation Party Ideas

Turn the house into a bar with a personalized food and drink menu.

Have you seen those viral videos of families who have turned their homes into bars—complete with a bouncer, DJ, and bartender—for kids turning 21 in quarantine? You can do the same for your college graduate, with school-themed drinks and a menu of foods he loves. It’s not quite the same as a university commencement, but it’s personal and super festive.

Create a moving montage.

Commemorate the years with photos and videos of your child’s high school or college experience. Use her favorite song and imagery from the school; then ask her friends if they have any funny or memorable moments on video that you can include. 

Have a pretend diploma ceremony with a placeholder diploma and special guest speakers.

If your family works together and gets creative, your child can have a “graduation day” full of laughs and surprises. Create a makeshift diploma and have family members give speeches about the school and your child’s experience. (Friends and relatives can Zoom in to give their own commencement addresses!) You can also play guest of honor trivia after the speeches end. Good luck not fighting over who gets to give your child her diploma!

Have a party and invite your child’s friends—on Zoom or in-person and socially distanced—so everyone can celebrate together.

There’s no doubt your child is missing his friends right now. If you’re not yet comfortable having people over for a gathering outside, throw a virtual grad party for him and invite all of the family and friends who would have attended a regular party. Serve food and drinks, and let the memories and friends make this a party your graduate will never forget!


Middle School Graduation Party Ideas

Ask your child’s favorite star to record a graduation message.

It’s a lot easier than it sounds! Using Cameo, you can pay an actor, athlete or influencer—like Tony Hawk, Lindsay Lohan, Carole Baskin, Floyd Mayweather, or Perez Hilton—to send your child a personalized video message. You can even schedule a video call with one of them!

Purchase a marquee message.

New York sports are finally allowing fans again so if your family is comfortable attending a game, you can congratulate your child up on the jumbo screen. If you’d rather watch the game from home, consider calling a favorite radio station or local news channel to ask for a shout-out.

Graduation movie marathon.

Luckily, your middle school graduate has many graduations to come even if she didn’t get a big ceremony this year. Give her a sneak peak of the future by watching some of these family-friendly, graduation-themed movies together:

  • High School Musical 3: Senior Year (Rated G, Disney+)
  • Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (Rated PG-13, Amazon Prime)
  • The Graduate (Rated PG, HBO Max, iTunes)
  • The Lizzie McGuire Movie (Rated PG, Disney+)
  • Grease (Rated PG, Amazon Prime)
  • Legally Blonde (Rated PG-13, Netflix)
  • A Cinderella Story (Rated PG, Disney+)
  • Crossroads (PG-13, Cinemax)
  • Pretty in Pink (PG-13, Amazon Prime)
  • Paper Towns (PG-13, Amazon Prime)
  • Jack (PG-13, Disney+)
  • Never Been Kissed (PG-13, Hulu)

Preschool Graduation Party Ideas

Make DIY graduation hats and gowns.

Whether your school provides a cap and gown, or you need to find one yourself, let your little one doodle out a decoration to put on top of the cap. Or, let him loose in Michael’s craft store to pick out his favorite stickers, pins, buttons, gems, sequins, etc. to decorate the gown.

Post a graduation lawn sign and have a drive-by parade.

It’s clear that drive-by parades are a fun energy booster and a great way to feel loved without getting too close. Invite friends, family, and neighbors to drive, walk, scoot, or bike by the house to cheer for the graduate.

Organize a visit from your kid’s hero.

If your little graduate is fascinated by fire trucks and sirens, ask your neighborhood fire or police department to come by for a socially distanced, special visit. If the loud noises and lights aren’t for your child, invite over another one of her local heroes—like a favorite teacher, sanitation worker, librarian, or doctor.

RELATED: This is What Teachers Miss Most About Teaching in Person

Invite some animals to play.

Ask your friend or neighbor if you can borrow their dog or cat to play in the backyard for a few hours. If your child’s favorite animal is more exotic, you can hire a reptile handler—like My Reptile Guys—to put on a show in your backyard!

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Melissa Wickes

Author: Melissa Wickes, a graduate of Binghamton University and the NYU Summer Publishing Institute, is the production editor for NYMetroParents. She's written hundreds of articles to help New York parents make better decisions for their families. When she's not writing, you can find her eating pasta, playing guitar, or watching reality TV. See More

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