Countdown to Graduation: How to Prepare for the Big Day 

Summary: Learn how to prepare for graduation with this helpful guide for parents. 

Reflecting on your child’s first day of kindergarten, squeezing their little hand as you walked together toward their classroom, evokes bittersweet emotions. The distant memory seems so recent, emphasizing the truth behind the sentiment, “the days are long, but the years are short.” Now, as you begin preparations for their high school graduation and the celebrations surrounding it, we want to help you make the most of this momentous occasion and create even more cherished memories. 

Preparing for Your Child’s High School Graduation 

To ensure a smooth experience during your child’s graduation ceremony and the days surrounding it, we compiled a graduation checklist containing helpful tips and reminders. This checklist will help you stay organized and focused on this exciting time in your child’s life as you prepare for graduation: 

Order special keepsakes to commemorate their time in high school. 

Class rings are a long-time tradition, originating nearly 200 years ago at the United States Military Academy at West Point. These rings symbolize a united group, and your child can design a ring that reflects their unique style and interests while honoring their experiences in high school. Yearbooks also serve as a sentimental keepsake for many, and someday, your child will appreciate the opportunity to look back and remember what life was like at that time. Plus, the handwritten stories and inside jokes from friends help preserve some of the most special memories that can be cherished for a lifetime.  

Schedule senior photos. 

You’ll have the chance to take many photos of your child in their cap and gown at graduation, but you should consider hiring a professional photographer who can take high-quality, aesthetic photos before the big day. Skilled graduation photographers can capture your child’s personality while still getting some of the fun traditional shots, like throwing their graduation cap up in the air. 

Tell your loved ones. 

High school graduation is one of life’s major milestones that you will want to share with your family and friends. Graduation announcements should be sent about three weeks before the graduation ceremony, and you’ll want to have thank you cards available so your child can properly thank those who send a gift or other thoughtful gestures. While it’s best practice to send a thank you card right away, etiquette dictates that you have one to two weeks. 

Find the perfect outfit. 

There will be lots of photos taken the day of the graduation ceremony, so you and your child need to find the right outfit. Remember that most ceremonies occur toward the end of May or beginning of June, and depending on where you live, warm weather is something to consider and whether it will be inside or outside.  

This is a special occasion, so attendees should dress nicely in professional or business casual attire. And don’t forget nice shoes to pair with their cap and freshly steamed gown. 

Decide the best way to celebrate. 

High school graduation is cause for celebration and the perfect excuse to throw a party—all in honor of your child. Whether a big blowout or a small gathering, there is no wrong way to celebrate this accomplishment. Compile your guest list of friends and family and send out invitations a few weeks in advance. Depending on what type of party you plan to host, you’ll want to consider whether you’ll need to rent tables and chairs and if you’ll need dishes and cutlery.  

And of course, no party is complete without decorations and delicious food! Consider your budget, the number of guests, and whether you plan to prepare food or order catering services. If you plan to do the cooking, you can provide an easy, full meal for guests with options such as taco or pasta bars, barbecue, pizza, or Italian subs with side dishes. If you prefer to stick with finger foods and appetizers, you can provide an assortment of options, including sheet-pan sliders, small sandwiches, chips and dip, pigs in a blanket, chicken wings, and desserts. Or leave the cooking to someone else and order catering services from one of your favorite local restaurants. 

Take tons of photos and videos. 

When I graduated from high school, I somehow only got one photo taken, and it’s with a couple of my closest friends who I knew since elementary school. I can’t stress enough how much I cherish this picture. So, even if your child protests, take plenty of photos throughout the day of your child with their family and friends as well as pictures throughout the ceremony. Be sure to ask someone to take a photo of you with your child—this is a big day for you, too! 

Relish the day. 

With so much excitement surrounding graduation, it’s easy to get caught up in the chaos. Remember to enjoy the celebration and take in the whole experience. Focus on the precious moment when your child’s face lights up as they receive their diploma, cheer loudly and proudly as their name is called, and remind them how proud you are of their hard work and accomplishments. 

It’s been a long road toward graduation for you and your child. As their parent, you played an important role in their academic success and achievements, and there is so much to be proud of. Now, you and your child can look forward to the next great adventure as they step into adulthood and life beyond high school. 

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