Senior Graduation Party Planning Guide

This is the last hurrah, your big send off. You want to go out with a bang with a memorable party that gave your friends and family one last chance to celebrate together. But boy, is planning stressful! Use our guide to navigate the timeline over the months before graduation. Use our checklist to make sure you don't forget a thing and check out our Grad Prep Guide for all the swag you'll need too!

4-6 Months Before: Venue / Date / Time

3 Months Before: Guest List

2 Months Before: Invites, FB Event & Specialty Orders

1 Month Before: Decor & Food


The very first step in planning your party is picking WHERE it will be. And if you're choosing a rented location this also means selecting your date early to get it reserved.

  • At home | In-expensive, convenient & personal! For in-home parties you may consider renting tables/chairs if needed to expand your seating.
  • Pavilions or Patios | Often in-expensive and allows for a large number of guests easily. Can risk last minute change of plans if too windy or rainy. We suggest Cosmo-Bethel & Nifong Park shelters in Columbia, MO and Hickory Point Golf Pavillion in Forsyth, IL and 1912 Barn in Niantic, IL.
  • Indoor Banquet Hall | This is a great option to host a larger party than you can at home or to co-host a party with a friend. Many have tables/chairs provided to allow for a lot of seating and indoors means no stress over weather.

WHEN: March/April

Party Plans .....

A bit of party planning is required before you order invitations, of course. You'll need to know WHERE & WHEN the party will be. Keep in mind graduation weekend and the weekend BEFORE are often packed with parties. This can hinder other's ability to attend your party if theirs or others are happening at the same time. A new trend we saw in 2023 was post-graduation summer parties. June/July parties can allow for more friends (and even out of town family) to attend and give you the chance to host a uniquely themed party like a pool party. It also pushes a lot of the last minute planning on your end to after graduation time allowing you to be present and enjoy grad time.

Signature Mat & Magazine

There are a lot of people (friends, family, teachers) who have been a part of your 18 year journey to graduation. Our signature mats and magazines give them a place to wish you well, provide some parting words of advice and send their love with you to the next chapters. All in a stunning piece of art featuring your favorite senior portraits.

We suggest a classic black and white image in your mat and up to 24 favorite images in your magazine. SHOP these and all grad products now.


Banners & Signs

Hey parents... you're proud. Like REALLY REALLY proud right?!?! We know, and banners and signs are how we scream that proud OUT LOUD. Yard signs are a great way to celebrate your grad leading up to graduation (grandparents LOVE to do this too). Plus, a series of yard signs can help direct guests to your party with banners being the perfect bold decoration!

Browse designs HERE, but remember we can custom design for you! Consider including some baby/child images for a 'how it started, how it's going' design. Order signs in sets of 4 or 8 for the best deal.

WHEN: may

Thank you Cards

We know it's good etiquette to send thank you cards, but designing, writing and sending them can often get overlooked in the busy days post-graduation. Let us custom-design a card that can even include your own thank you message to streamline the process and give your friends and family a beautiful heartfelt thank you for their graduation gift and their years of support and love.

Thank you designs are available in your personal Card Suite just like grad cards too (request yours here).

WHEN: may / June

Final Family Portrait

Last, but certainly not least... your family is about to shift a bit. While they'll always be your babies, these kids are about to not be children anymore and we think the best way to commemorate this shift is one last family portrait with what we call the OG family. Up next they'll be additions like husbands and wives and babies, but first it's time to close the chapter together with a beautiful family portrait.

Of course, our senior graduates get this family session 100% free as our gift to you. But you only have through this summer to get that scheduled. IL sessions can be scheduled directly HERE (MO seniors email us to schedule).

WHEN: NOW - August
check out southern living's article for more on graduation ETIQUETTE (INCLUDING grad gift tips)!
And it's never too late to recommend us to a friend (earn $100 per referral) or drop a review!