Graduation Etiquette

If you have a high school or college graduate, or if you’ve been invited to a graduation ceremony or party, you may have some questions about the etiquette of graduations. Below are some common questions, and my (hopefully) straight forward answers on graduation etiquette. Congratulations and enjoy the party!

 

FOR FAMILIES OF THE GRADUATE:

Q – When and to whom do you send graduation invitations?

  • The graduate should give those to the closest family members as soon as possible (3-4 weeks for in-town guests and 6 weeks for out of town guests).
  • If you receive a graduation invitation, you should RSVP immediately so the graduate can give the invitation to someone else.
  • Also, if you receive an invitation, you should still send a gift even if you can’t make it to the ceremony or party.

Q – When and to whom do you send a graduation announcement?

  • These may be sent before the graduation, but it is even better to send them after the graduation.
  • Those receiving an announcement are not obligated to send a gift, but it is nice to at least send a card congratulating the graduate.

Q – When and to whom do you send a graduation party invitation?

  • Send the party invitation 3-4 weeks for those in-town, and 6 weeks for guests from out of town.
  • A formal paper invitation is best for this formal occasion, but if money is an issue, you may use an electronic invitation instead where people even RSVP online.

Q – When should the graduate open gifts and thank people for the gifts.

  • Unless a guest has requested that the graduate open his/her gift in person, it’s best for the graduate to spend time mingling with the guests and then open the gifts later when everyone is gone.
  • Within a month, the graduate should send a hand-written thank you note for all gifts received. A “thank you” email or text is not appropriate.

 

FOR THOSE RECEIVING GRADUATION INFORMAITON

Q: How much should I spend on a graduation gift?

  • Spend or give what you feel comfortable giving. It will also depend on how close you are to the graduate as you will want to give more for a family member or close friend.
  • For a high school graduation gift you would typically give a minimum of $25 and for college $50 would be the minimum. Again, this is based on your budget and how close you are to the graduate.
  • Buy gift applicable to what they will be doing after graduation.

Q – What should I do if I’m attending a graduation party?

  • RSVP on time.
  • Behave yourself and don’t drink too much.
  • Know your table manners (buffet tips & basics like elbows off table).
  • Bring a hostess gift.
  • Bring something for the graduate (gift and/or card).
  • Understand that the graduate cannot just hang out with his/her friends, but should in fact talk to all of the guests especially those coming in from out of town.

 

FOR EVERYONE:

Q – How should I behave during the graduation ceremony?

  • Be respectful of those around you (for example, don’t stand up and video tape blocking others’ view)
  • Put your cell phone on vibrate during the ceremony and restrain from posting anything negative (or unflattering pictures) about the event on social media.
  • Don’t yell or be really loud when they are calling your graduate’s name because it means others might not hear the name of the next person called.

 

Hope these graduation etiquette tips were helpful. If you have any etiquette questions please email me at [email protected], or go to my website for information and videos on etiquette for adults and children.