Virtual Graduation Tips

Congratulations Class of 2020

After a history-making spring, graduation looks different for many members of the class of 2020. You can still create the meaningful, memorable celebration your child deserves. Whether you’re marking your student’s completion of college, high school or even middle or elementary school, make it matter. From ceremony to diploma to party, we’ve got virtual graduation ideas for you.

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A Virtual Graduation in Three Parts

Due to school closures and global concerns, you now find yourself hosting a graduation celebration from home. With a little bit of planning and imagination, you can create an event to show your grad how proud you are of what they’ve achieved. One helpful way to get started is to think of your event in three parts.

  1. Ceremony: Give your grad the opportunity to dress up, walk across a room, a hallway or a driveway and accept some type of diploma. (Hint: Despite the occasional “I feel silly” comment your student may make, we’re confident they’ll be glad to have this memory.)
  2. Celebration: Decide how others can honor and cheer for your student. Plan to serve your grad’s favorite foods and perhaps a tasty treat.
  3. Graduation Gifts: Make gifting extra-special (yet affordable) in these uncertain times.

The Ceremony

Set the scene in your backyard or living room with a row or two of chairs for the grad’s “procession.” Their destination? A makeshift podium or well-chosen photo op space, such as in front of the fireplace or by a backyard fence dressed up with some festive, school-theme decorations. Choose a “Guest Speaker” to say a few inspiring words and someone to hand over a ceremonial diploma (you can download from many online options).

Does your grad have access to their cap and gown (or perhaps one a parent or sibling has tucked away)? If not, encourage them to wear something with their school logo. For other attendees, wear something special that tells your grad “You Did It!” Consider going beyond business casual with head-to-toe looks in their school colors – or customize tees with a special message to fill this event with photo-op potential.

To Zoom or not to Zoom?  Technology is great, if sometimes glitchy, so think about which portions of your celebration make the most sense for virtual guests (such as grandparents or siblings). Invite them in advance to participate via Zoom, Facetime chat or another channel. Consider a practice chat if this is a new experience for some.

TIP: IF YOU INCLUDE VIRTUAL PARTICIPANTS IN ANY PART OF YOUR CEREMONY, BE SURE TO TAKE SCREENSHOOTS OF ONLINE ATTENDEES TO SAVE.

The Celebration

Embrace the historic situation in which you’re throwing this grad party. It’s going to be different, but it can still be special and memorable. A few heartfelt DIY decorations and simple party supplies are all you need to create a festive atmosphere.

Snack plate with graham crackers decorated as six-inch rulers

Take some time before your celebration to flex your baking muscles and experiment with something special, think three-tiered cake with all the trimmings. Not feeling the kitchen vibe? Tie ribbons around rolled wafer cookies, such as Pirouettes or Piroulines, to create edible “mini diplomas.” Education-theme treats, like graham cracker ruler cookies, are also fun and easy to prepare.

If your kiddo is moving up from elementary or middle school, consider decorating cupcakes or cookies together. Use the baking time to talk about their next big step. This may help to calm whatever anxieties they could be having, and their answers might surprise and inspire you.

Celebrate with the neighborhood by placing a sign or balloons at the end of your driveway. Schedule a “car parade” time (a 10-20 minute time window during which folks can drive past your home and honk to salute your grad).

Zoom on! Let your guests (present and virtual alike) deliver toasts, good tidings and tidbits of wisdom.

Gift Your Grad

This is certainly a season for meaningful presents. And it’s fine for graduation gifts to arrive after the big day. The anticipation of things on-the-way can add brightness to challenging days that may be ahead. Still, if a few distant friends or virtual attendees can mail gifts in advance, your grad might enjoy the sense of physical connection on the celebration day.

Giving cash? It’s always appreciated, even modest amounts. Tuck some bills into a new wallet or purse, so graduates can delight in an unexpected extra; or slip a check into an inspiring book, like, Oh the Places You’ll Go!, for a last-page surprise.

For your “mini-grads” moving on from middle school to high school, confidence is key. A great new pair of sneakers, helpful tech or apparel featuring favorite colors, themes or teams can help them feel empowered as they get ready to make new friends and learn new things.

After the celebration, collect well-wishers’ messages (such as toasts or tidbits of wisdom) plus screen-shots from Zoom calls, perhaps a news clipping or two to remember the date in history and other special words or mementos into a customized book that your grad can keep for inspiration and encouragement as they move forward.

diploma image