May 12, 2020
2020 will be a graduation to remember. With most schools canceling all in-person gatherings, parents and families are going to have to get creative.
Whether your child is graduating from high school or college, it is a milestone to be celebrated. We often see high school graduation as a cross into adulthood, and we view college graduation as a bridge to the working world, to adulting in a new way.
Some may be tempted this year not to celebrate at all. My son is one of those. He informed me that no party, ceremony, etc. was needed for his high school graduation this year. My response? No can do, son. Not only is it good for him to be acknowledged and honored, it is also a milestone for our family and it matters to mark it.
I encourage everyone to do something to make this year’s graduation special. I truly believe that some of the things we do this year to celebrate may even be more impactful than a big, school-led event. It’s an opportunity to make it especially meaningful and tailored to our individual child.
We have an entire podcast episode dedicated to this topic on The Open Door Sisterhood Podcast if you want to listen to more ideas there!
There are usually two parts to graduation:
The ceremony and the fun traditions.
Let’s break down both:
The Ceremony – replacement ideas:
A Backyard Ceremony-
Have a small gathering with a few close friends and/or family. Set up chairs. Make a “stage” of some kind. Assign people roles (ie. parents announce the name and give the diploma, Grandma gives a “special award,” someone sings a song, or gives a graduation commencement speech, etc.
This option would be especially fun if your area allows a few close friends to do it together. The graduates walk in to music, sit down, and enjoy the program. Have them throw their hats in the air at the end.
What I like about this idea is that it can be more faith-based than a normal public school ceremony would be. A family could even invite a pastor, youth leader, etc. to be involved as well (and still have “social distance”). It would be really fun to organize a very special (private) commencemen speaker that all of tthe kids would love.
A Special Dinner-
Make your graduate the “guest of honor.” Set the table in festive school colors and break out the best toasting glasses you have. Have the graduate do a walk down the driveway or street to music (live or on a bluetooth speaker).
At dinner, toast the graduate. Each person at the table can affirm the graduate in some way, from a special memory, to something special about that person, etc. Make sure a “speech” is given sometime during the meal.
The “Fun” Traditions of Graduation – replacement ideas:
Senior Skip Day
Take a day off homeschooling and allow the graduate to do something a little crazy and fun with another person or two. Some ideas: hiking, horseback riding, scavenger hunt, take-out bonanza, etc.
Senior All Nighter
Parents set up “stations” in a designated home. This would be best executed with a few families involved (quarantine approved size). Delegate and assign which family is doing what.
Some all-nighter station ideas:
-music – MUST HAVE – rent speaker if needed
-blackjack/ texas hold em
-sumo suits (can rent)
-photo booth area
-pizza, mexican, or other food
-door prizes (gift cards, college items, etc.)
-balloons / streamers in school colors
Many senior classes watch the sunrise together in the fall, and the sunset together in the spring. This would be an easy one to duplicate because social distancing measures could be easily managed.
Gather some senior friends, picnic blankets, and a picnic and go watch the sunset on a high vista.
It is tradition for most senior classes to do a fun “prank” in their final month of school. These are harmless and a great bonding experience in most cases.
Gather some seniors and come up with a fun prank to pull on teachers or fellow students. Ideas:
-put plastic pink flamingos all over someone’s yard
-set multiple alarm clocks in someone’s room or house
-fill someone’s room with balloons or beach balls
-line someone’s car with post it notes. bonus: write fun notes on them
-do a flash mob dance in front of a teacher’s or principle’s house
-let 10 crickets loose in someone’s car
-write out the graduation year in white paint on someone’s lawn (it can be mowed out)
-have a slumber party on the front lawn of the school
The Mother-Daughter Tea is a fun tradition for many seniors. Often the senior boys will serve the girls and their moms. Though it won’t be quite the same, it would be easy to set up a special tea in the yard of your home.
-order white gloves
-have everyone wear hats & pearls
-make scones and serve with clotted cream or lemon curd
-have a variety of teas
-borrow a silver teapot to make it fancy if you can find one
-play classical music
-have everyone reflect on a favorite senior year memory and share
Murder Mystery Dinner
If your student would like something less “focused” on him or her, this idea is a good one. Basically reenacting the game Clue, each person is given a character and a script. They dress up like their character and play their roles throughout the evening. It’s a lot of fun! The more people get into their character, the more fun it is.
Plan a delayed trip
Many seniors, especially in college, plan some kind of trip to celebrate this major milestone. Though a camping trip could be planned now, and may be a good substitute, planning a trip for spring 2021 may ease the pain of missing out this year.
Organize a VidHug video for your graduate
VidHug is a platform that allows a person to make a surprise group video easily and without a lot of work (sign me up!) You could have teachers, fellow students, mentors, youth pastors, coaches, etc. all send your graduate a message that they can watch for years to come.
More ideas are mentioned on the podcast.