High School Graduation Etiquette | Do Say Give

High School Graduation Etiquette 101


Graduation Gift Etiquette

It’s graduation season, and that means graduation announcements, invitations, parties, and gifts. We’ve heard from so many DoSayGive readers asking what is the proper etiquette for various high school graduation scenarios. But not to worry: We have answers for all your graduation etiquette questions! 


First, it’s important to know your school and community’s local traditions. These guidelines are a great starting point but if you have a rising senior it’s always good to ask moms of former graduates to know how things are done at your school and be aware of any special traditions or etiquette that may be signature to your community! 

What is the difference between a graduation announcement and a graduation invitation?

Graduation announcements are sent to inform friends, family, and any other recipients of your child’s graduation and do not include an invitation to the actual ceremony or a graduation party. An invitation formally invites them to the ceremony. 

To whom should I send a graduation invitation? 

Graduation invitations — or invitations to attend the actual graduation commencement ceremony — are typically reserved for close family, so parents, siblings, and grandparents. Many schools limit the number of invitations allowed due to capacity at the ceremony venue, so be sure to double check prior to sending out invitations. 

And while some schools will give actual graduation invitations to mail out, you can find many affordable options online to send on your own, either in the mail or digitally — from Minted to Shutterfly, and many more!  Send invitations 4-6 weeks in advance. 

To whom should I send a graduation announcement?

Graduation announcements are sent to extended family, close family friends, and anyone with whom your graduate had a close relationship — such as a family they babysat for regularly, a coach or extracurricular teacher who had an impact on them, youth pastors, or anyone on your typical holiday card list. If they wouldn’t recognize your graduate in person, then you probably shouldn’t send them an announcement!

When should I send a graduation announcement?

Graduation announcements are traditionally sent within the two weeks following the graduation ceremony. Many people choose to send them the month of the graduation ceremony, however. Write on Time has affordable graduation announcements and Minted has a good selection as well. 

Does my graduate need to write thank you notes for all gifts and gift cards? 

Always the answer is yes! Joy Creative Shop has some great options for young men and women. Use code DSG10 for 10% off. 

Graduation Gift Etiquette


If I receive a graduation invitation, do I need to send a gift?

Yes! We have a wonderful guide to help you find a thoughtful gift. Right now Well Bowed is offering 15% off with code DOSAYGIVE for all personalized gifts. 

If I receive a graduation announcement, do I need to send a gift?

While it should never be expected,  sending a gift is the appropriate thing to do. But you do not have to spend a lot to send a thoughtful gift . Our guide has gifts in all price points and this post has great gifts starting at under $20! If you do not know the graduate well and do not want to send a gift, you can always send a lovely congratulatory note. 

How long do I have to send a gift after I receive a graduation announcement?

Typically, it’s best to send a gift as soon as you receive a graduation announcement. But do send a gift within 1-2 months post-graduation date to ensure they receive it in a timely manner.

What is the appropriate amount to spend on a graduation gift?

This is completely dependent on budget and how well you know the graduate. For close relatives (grandchild, niece or nephew, etc.), gifts may range from $50-$500. For close friends, $50-$200 is appropriate. And for acquaintances, friends of your high schooler, babysitters, or neighbors, $20-$50 is appropriate. This is just a starting point though – use your best judgment!

Who should I buy graduation gifts for?

If you have a high school graduate, consider buying gifts for their close friends. Otherwise, it’s thoughtful to buy graduation gifts for close family and friends, babysitters you’ve known for a long time, and even neighbors’ children (if sent an announcement). But do remember that you don’t have to spend a lot! We have a whole post dedicated to high school graduation gift ideas that are budget friendly and personalized filled with plenty of ideas.

Is it okay to give a gift if I didn’t receive an invitation or announcement? 


Graduation Party Etiquette


What things should I consider when planning a graduation party? 

The number one thing to consider is the date! May is filled to the brim with graduation parties, so be sure to check with friends to ensure you’re not planning a party on the same night or at the same time. Many schools have a graduation party calendar so you can double check before sending out invitations or booking a venue. Also, consider the type of graduation party you’d like to host: Would your graduate enjoy an afternoon tea or a backyard BBQ? A bigger bash or something more intimate? This will inform budget, the type of invitation you’ll send (mailed vs. digital), and so much more.

Who should I invite to a graduation party?

With any party planning, it’s best to start with your budget and go from there! Do you want a family party? Close friends of your graduate? Or a big bash with everyone in between? See our party planning checklist here

Do I need to bring a gift to a graduation party?

If you plan on buying a gift, the graduation party is a great time to bring it. Many parties will have a gift table for you to drop off your gift, but if not just discreetly give it to the host so they can ensure it’s placed somewhere safe. If you plan on giving a gift card, be sure to hand it directly to the host or guest of honor so it doesn’t get lost in the mix.

If I bring a gift to a graduation party, do I need to send another if I receive a graduation announcement or invitation?

No. One graduation gift suffices, whether you receive a ceremony, announcement, or party invitation (or all three).

As always, if you have any other pressing graduation etiquette questions please comment below! And if you’re looking for thoughtful (and practical) graduation gifts, be sure to browse our graduation gift guides:

High School Graduation Gifts

College Graduation Gifts

Tags are from Joy Creative Shop.

Ornaments are from Lo Home.

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