The Best Graduation Party Ideas: Class of 2020

"I want to do something to recognize our boys and this milestone--even in the midst of all this craziness."

That was a text I received from my friend Cheryl.  

On March 13th, 2020, my son and the rest of his senior class left high school for what would end up being the last time.

No one knew how significant this day would be. It was their last time in high school classes, the last time seeing teachers, the last time (at least for the foreseeable future) to see friends.

The pandemic changed too many things to count. 

2020 balloons Like the graduation party things were a bit tangled
These 2020 balloons seemed to understand this was no ordinary year.

The high school did a great job recognizing the Class of 2020. Teachers and administrators delivered caps, gowns and yard signs to each student's home.

There was a drive through graduation one Saturday, followed by a streamed virtual ceremony on Thursday.

Three other moms and I decided to do a socially distant, backyard celebration after the ceremony.

Given the shelter-in-place restrictions, it was the best we could do.  

It was a team effort for sure as the other moms and I divided up responsibilities.

5 Easy Grad Decorating Ideas and Party Tips

Even though it was a backyard, socially distant party, it was one of my favorites.

The boys were SO EXCITED.  I'm not silly enough to think it was because they had just graduated...rather, it was the thrill of seeing their friends face to face after months apart.

I was really happy with how the party unfolded. If I could only do 5 things for a graduation party, these were my absolute favorite:

1. I created a giant personalized sign for each graduate

Birthday Butler made graduation signs for high school graduates

Each sign had 'Congratulations!' with the logo of the school the graduate will be attending. 

What I Did

  • Created a 20" x 30" sign for each grad with the name of the school they would be attending
  • Hung the signs side by side on our pergola.
  • Draped the sign in fabric of their school color. 

How I Did It

  • Found school images online
  • Designed each sign (PicMonkey)
  • Uploaded and printed out (Costco)


  • 3-4 hours for sign design, pick-up and hanging
  • If you aren't comfortable with creating images, you can always outsource it to FiveRR or Upwork.

    Celebrating graduation creates special memories even during a pandemic

    I hung the signs from our pergola.  Two words:  binder clips! 

    2.  Moveable Class of 2020 Banner and Celebration Stand a Huge Hit

    As you've probably gathered, I love party banners! Even more, I love being able to move them where I want them, without having to bother with tacks, string, Command hooks or a ladder.

    Graduation wouldn't be complete without a Class of 2020 banner. We enjoyed the banner inside our family room...

    Class of 2020 graduation banner from Birthday Butler

    A graduation banner displayed on The Celebration Stand. 

    And then before our guests arrived, I simply carried it outside and added it to the wall of party fans.

    3.  An explosion of party fans make a statement.

    Normally, I have a wooden sign that hangs above my backyard fireplace. For the graduation party, I hung party fans from the sign.  This was key because it it can be challenging to know where to put the fans otherwise.

    I added some graduation specific decor--a cap, Class of 2020, sunglasses, etc.--made of cardstock.  I really liked how the arrangement made a statement.

    To kick it up a notch, I put The Celebration Stand and Class of 2020 banner on the mantel in front of the fans.

    Celebration stand and banner from Birthday Butler hanging above an outdoor fireplace

    A wall of party fans and the Class of 2020 banner.  

    4.  I decided where we would take pictures of the graduates BEFORE company arrived.

    This may sound like a trivial detail, but it made a HUGE difference!  Nothing frustrates me more than when I don't get a "good" photo of the guest(s) of honor.

    It also helped that I:

    • Asked graduates to bring cap, gown and any sashes or medals
    • Determined ahead of time where I wanted pictures to be taken.
    • Promised the boys these would be the ONLY photos we took all night. 

    (What is it with teenagers not wanting to have their picture taken?!  They'll happily take dozens of selfies!)

    High school graduates sitting near a beautiful pool and pergola with college signs hanging above them

    5.  I made a fruit plate with YAY 2020 cut out of watermelon.

    I'm not sure why, but I think fruit always tastes better if someone cuts it up for you...this is probably because fruit always takes longer to cut-up then I think!

    I love adding words and numbers in unexpected places and this fruit platter was the perfect spot.

    I sliced a thick slab of watermelon and then used cookie cutters to make YAY 2020.

    It was delicious! 

    Plus, being able to make fruit into words is a great party trick!

    YAY 2020 delicious fruit platter celebrating a special milestone high school graduation

    There was so much more that I did---after all, your baby only graduates high school once!

    If you'd like to see more graduation decorating and party tips, click here and if you're looking for a great graduation gift idea click here.