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Small Family Graduation Party Ideas


These easy family graduation party ideas can be done at home to remind everyone what a joyous occasion graduating truly is whether they are graduating from kindergarten, middle school, high school, or college. Even if you aren’t inviting everyone you know, these party ideas work great with just immediate family.

Balloon bouquet next to a food and drink table for a graduation party.
Gather your family for a small graduation party.

Host a simple graduation party

A graduation party to celebrate the end of high school or college is a must! Even if you don’t want to throw a rager with tons of friends, you can gather the family for a simple celebration.

Having extended friends and family with you to celebrate a special occasion is awesome, but it’s not always possible for a variety of reasons.

Related: Gift Card Gift Idea for Graduates

You can still host a fun family graduation party that will let your grad know you are proud of their accomplishments. 

Hosting a small celebration with your immediate family is easy and doesn’t have to elaborate. It should be fun and make your grad feel extra special.

Easy graduation party ideas for a small gathering

This is my favorite type of home entertaining! It’s all about using what you already have, adding some thoughtful touches, and enjoying the people you are with.

These graduation party ideas will help you put together a fun celebration without a bunch of added stress. There’s enough stress right now.

This should be about love and togetherness and is a great way to spend time together – you know, instead of just watching TV. 

It’s all about special touches and effort.

Whether you’re having a party or not, don’t forget to send out graduation announcement cards! It’s another easy way to give your grad a little extra fanfare. 

Wish station or bucket list station

Patterned note cards on a party table to record graduation wishes or bucket list idea.

No matter how old your graduate is, they have a full life ahead of them. Setting up a wish station is a fun way to share your wishes for them and for them to jot down a few of their own. 

Lined, decorative cards (these are made for scrapbooking, I think, but are perfect to cut out and have guests use!) become a keepsake that your child can save and look at whenever they want to. 

You can have other friends and family write and send notes to include as well. It’s an easy way to include them when they can’t be at your party. 

Similar to my Balloon Bouquet bucket list gift idea for grads, you could also set this up as a bucket list station. Write down bucket list items you want to do as a whole family and have your grad write some goals for their own life. 

We did this as a family over the holidays and it was so fun. It makes crossing items off our list that much more special. 

While this activity is joyful, it’s also a way to encourage your child to take life by the horns and set goals.

This easy graduation party idea won’t take all that long but will leave a lasting memory. 

Turn on some music

If your family is anything like mine your TV is on ALL the time. But sometimes it’s fun to change things up and put some music on. Loud. 

I have a bunch of playlists that would be great for a small family party. Check them out:

  • I call this one Beach at Sunset – it gives off warm summer evening vibes and is super enjoyable. My kids love this one too. 
  • I have a Rap Playlist that is great for talking to your teen about ALL the things. It encourages conversation or will just get everyone dancing. Definitely has bad words…
  • My Memorial Day playlist is upbeat and fun and would be a good one to change up the mood in your home. 

Set up a lemonade bar

Flavored lemonade drink station, set up on a table, for graduation party.

A serve-yourself drink bar is a fun idea for any party. And this lemonade bar works well even if your family party only has 3 people. 

Using store-bought, flavored lemonade (or make your own) set out a few varieties on a tray. Then let your family members pour their own drinks. 

It’s a super simple way to make it feel decadent without being wasteful. Whatever doesn’t get finished can be put in the fridge for later use.  

I also love to set out iced tea. Again, it’s super easy to serve and it gives even more options to your drink bar. Provide a few slices of fresh citrus as a garnish and you’ve created a full-on party feeling without a ton of work. 

It could even be done with a few types of soda. Or an ice cream float bar. 

Or make a smaller version of a non-alcoholic mimosa bar

Graduation party appetizers

A tray of guacamole sitting on a food table next to a bowl of chips and a few types of salsa for an easy graduation party.

You don’t need a big elaborate spread to have it feel like a legit graduation party. Some simple snacks are all it takes to keep everyone happy.

You can never go wrong with chips, salsa, and guacamole. All of these things are store-bought to keep things really easy. I picked up a regular salsa for the purists and a pineapple salsa for the more adventurous.

Blue corn and regular tortilla chips make your snack table look a little more party-ready.

Or do a variety of potato chips and dips. Do whatever your family loves. Of course, you serve a full dinner but an afternoon snack time is unexpected and a way to gather everyone together. 

If you want to serve a few more easy appetizers, here are a few more ideas:

  • This Hot Artichoke Dip is a family favorite. It’s full of cheesy flavor and goes well with tortilla chips. 
  • Make a Cheetos Crusted Goat Cheese Log. I know this sounds crazy. But when your family loves junk food like mine does, it’s fun to incorporate it into recipes! 
  • Baked Salami Chips are always a good idea! They’re salty and crispy and super easy to make in the oven. 
  • Dried Beef Roll Ups are an appetizer recipe that a lot of people don’t even know they need to make. It’s creamy with a horseradish kick. You will CRAVE these easy finger foods! 

Desserts for a graduation party

Don’t want to serve something savory? Or want to do a little of both? Here are some easy desserts for a graduation party:

  • Cupcakes are always a good idea! From plain to Alcohol Infused Cupcakes (depending on your grads age) cupcakes are super festive and totally customizable. Prosecco Cupcakes anyone? 
  • Caramel Banana Bites are like banana cream pie but WAY easier! 
  • Candy Popcorn is super simple to make and you can use different flavors of Jello to make school colors! Plus this tastes delicious! 
  • Cinnamon Walnuts are a fun and sweet snack idea that you can make ahead of time and have out for your party afternoon.

If you’re looking for a showstopping dessert idea that will make your party feel extra special try one of these:

  • Faux Croquembouche with Donut Holes! It looks like that fancy dessert you see on TV but requires no skill and uses store-bought donuts.
  • Make a Brownie Cake! Used boxed brownie mix to make several tiers that you can stack on top of each other to make a statement.
  • If you haven’t made a Pie Cake before, now’s the time! It’s a pie baked inside a cake! And it’s really easy to make. Everyone will freak out about it!  

Easy graduation party decorations

Balloon bouquet next to a party table.

I typically don’t like to decorate in a themed way. I kept things bright and colorful rather than using traditional graduation elements like diplomas etc. But it is really easy to add those. 

Printable graduation banners and other graduation decor is available to buy or download and doesn’t require much crafting skill at all! 

Colorful big balloons are always a fun way to decorate. They are easy to get, typically inexpensive, and come in tons of exciting colors, styles, and patterns.

A big balloon bouquet like I am showing here and a simple wall banner are really all you need! 

Ways to include out-of-town family

Schedule a Zoom

A family Zoom or virtual meeting call is something we all have probably done at this point.

They totally stress me out, with everyone having their own conversations, or trying to figure out how to have the camera show their whole face and not just their forehead…

But my kids LOVE them! We’ve done them for multiple birthdays and they really are a great way to gather the family together to celebrate someone! 

If you don’t love the Zoom software there are other alternatives out now that do the same things.

A car parade

You’ve seen car parades done for birthdays but they can be done for anything that needs to be celebrated. You could have your local friends and family decorate signs and drive by at one time. 

These are always a fun idea! 

A group gift

It’s easy to have the family go in on a group gift idea. Whether it is just having them send a special message or an actual gift, give them plenty of time to sort out the logistics of this. 

Having different families send a variety of gift cards is a cute idea that you can present as a Balloon Bouquet gift. This can work as a party decoration and gift. I love things that serve more than one purpose! 

Do you have a graduate this year? I better get to work planning my son’s little family graduation party! School will be over soon and then it will be time to celebrate! 

More easy party ideas

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