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Although the ever-busy “graduation season” is beginning to slow down, graduates will continue to pop up here and there throughout the year.

With graduation celebrations of all kinds --- small or big, traditional or contemporary, college or high school, May or December --- come etiquette rules that, when followed, ensure that all flows smoothly and no one is offended. From who should be invited to what to include in an invitation, this post will explore some of the most common aspects of graduation invitations and parties to help you ensure you are following the rules of proper etiquette --- graduation style.

When To Send Grad Invitations & Accommodations
When creating invitations, it’s important to keep a few things in mind. First on the list is a timeline. When should you send graduation ceremony and/or party invitations? Experts recommend sending invitations three to four weeks before the event. This window of time allows guests plenty of time to make schedule modifications and prepare a gift.

More time may be required for out-of-town guests who will need to make lodging arrangements. If your list includes a large selection of out-of-towners, consider reserving a block of rooms at a local hotel. While you are not expected provide or pay for accommodations, it’s a nice gesture and will encourage guests to actually attend. Many hotels will even give you a discounted rate for reserving a block a block of rooms without any money down. It’s a win-win for you and your guests.

Invitations Basics: What to Include, Wording, and More
While there are endless themes, colors, formats, styles, and prices to choose from when designing graduation invitations, some elements are essential. Whether you are designing invitations yourself or you are ordering them online, be sure to include the following information on the invitation:

  • Graduate’s full name: The traditional route calls for the graduate’s full, unabbreviated name complete with a middle name. For a more modern approach, opt for no middle name or just an initial. Names of parents can also be included.

  • School name: This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s been forgotten many times for us to omit this!
  • Date and Time: Include the date of the ceremony and/or the graduation party. Be sure to distinguish the two from each other if they differ.

  • Location: Include the location and full address of both the graduation ceremony and the party. Although local guests may not need this, out-of-towners will.

  • What to Expect: Include party details such as food, drinks, festivities, etc. so your guests will have an idea of what they can expect.

  • RSVP: Although some flexible, informal gatherings will not require an RSVP, other more structured parties will. If you need to have an accurate head-count, include an RSVP card for invitees to send back. You can also include a phone number or email address for invitees, but its best practice to include a traditional response card.

  • Photo: This depends on your personal style preferences, but including a favorite senior photo or snapshot of the graduate is a great way to make an invitation seem more personal.

What to Expect -- Gifts and Thank You Notes
Unless you specifically noted otherwise, guests will typically bring a gift for the new graduate. Although gift-giving is customary, registering for grad gifts is a big no-no. Many guests will give cash gifts anyways --- allowing the graduate to allocate those funds to something he or she really wants.

And, yes, graduates really should hand-write thank you notes for each gift -- monetary or otherwise. Sending hand-written paper thank yous through “snail mail” is a great way to preserve the time-honored art or traditional personal communication. That means that texts or Facebook messages just won’t cut it.

Although physically writing thank you notes is necessary, elaboration is not. A simple two to three sentences expressing sincere gratitude is enough to communicate true appreciation. Having and using good manners, such as writing thank you notes, is a valuable life skill that comes in handy for all sorts of situations.

Graduation Accessories from Invitations4Less
No matter what you need for your upcoming graduate, Invitations4Less has you covered. From announcements and invitations to thank you notes, we have it all! We also understand that the whole process may be new and slightly overwhelming, so we are here to answer any questions you may have. Get ahold of us today to get started.

By Abby Teunissen
Abby is passionate about embracing diversity, fostering learning, and supporting rural communities. She lives with her husband and daughter on a grain and cattle farm near a small town in Northwest Iowa. When she’s not whipping up blog posts or plugging away on other digital marketing projects, Abby enjoys spending quality time with her family, tending to her garden while soaking up all the Vitamin D she can get, helping her husband around the farm, and patiently awaiting her long overdue letter from Hogwarts.


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