How to Celebrate a Virtual Graduation This Year

Updated: May 6, 2021
As the COVID pandemic winds down, many graduations are being celebrated in person this year; however, virtual graduations are still happening in many areas. Here are our favorite ideas for celebrating a virtual graduation with friends and family this year.
Virtual Graduation_Featured

After more than a year of living through the COVID-19 pandemic, we are entering the time of year for school graduations, and they continue to be less than normal. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is starting to relax its guidelines, however large group gatherings are still generally not recommended, particularly if they are indoors. Even though this year may not be back to normal, that’s no reason to leave your graduating student feeling disappointed.

More: The Top 10 High School Graduation Gift Ideas

Graduations can still be celebrated virtually. This may even allow for family and friends to join in on the celebration who otherwise might not have been able to attend. Keep normal traditions such as sending a graduation announcement with a graduation photo so that your student feels recognized for their achievement. Whether high school graduation or a college graduate, the accomplishment deserves recognition.

Here are 10 ideas to help celebrate virtual graduation this year, making it memorable and meaningful for the graduating scholar.

FaceTime Dinner Party

Facetime Dinner

Make your high school graduate feel special with a dinner party, inviting all of their guests to join via FaceTime. You can personalize invitations found on Etsy or Minted sharing details on how to join. Invite a guest speaker to give a toast to make your graduate feel extra special and honored. Create or order their favorite meal, and enjoy with all the important people in their lives via a video call. Celebrate all their hard work and perseverance that not only comes with the end of a hard school year but the end of their high school or college career.

Slideshow of Video Messages

Video Slideshow

Request that family members, friends, teachers, neighbors, and other meaningful people in your child’s life record a brief video message. You can splice all the messages together for a meaningful montage for your child. Even though it’s not in person, having this recorded message from the people who have helped shape your child and have cheered them on during their education is a gift that can keep on giving. If they need a boost of motivation or a feel-good moment they can replay their favorite messages even after graduation is long gone.

Yard Signs

Yard Signs

Yard signs with special messages have become increasingly popular over the last year. You can hire a company to come and spell out something special displayed across your yard for everyone to see. Your graduate will get a kick out of seeing a big bold message on display in their front yard. Most yard sign companies can personalize messages with school mascots, school colors, a graduation cap or diploma, balloons, special characters, etc. Typically they are rented by the day but each company varies.

Virtual Watch Party

Watch Party

A virtual watch party is a great way to partake in a graduation ceremony. Whether your student is in person and you just stream the virtual graduation ceremony, or it is all virtual, you can enjoy watching from the comfort of your own home or a venue. If you’re able to stream the graduation ceremony outside, and can safely participate in social distancing, it would be fun to host a virtual watch party with everyone in one place. The excitement of cheering all together when your student moves the tassel on their graduation cap will provide a sense of normalcy.

Virtual Tour of College Campus

College Tour

Many colleges now offer virtual tours of their campus that can be viewed anywhere with a wireless connection. If you’re having a virtual graduation celebration, consider showing the virtual tour to friends and family for everyone to “ooh” and “ahh” over. Your high school graduate will be excited to show off their new school and the pride and anticipation will build. Locate special areas of campus and ask your grad what they are most looking forward to.

Drive-By Event

Drive-By

Set up a designated time for friends and family to have a drive-by parade. Streamers, signs, and car horns are a great way to shower the graduate with some much-needed fanfare. They’ll get to see some of their favorite faces, even if just for a few minutes at a safe socially distanced space. If your student doesn’t typically love large gatherings and socializing, this is a great way to draw attention to their achievement without having to mingle with guests for long periods of time.

Celebrity Shout Out

Celebrity Shout Out

Cameo is a great way to purchase personalized messages from your favorite stars. If your child has a favorite celebrity, athlete, or idol, check and see if they are on Cameo. You may be able to purchase a personalized congratulations shout-out message and surprise them on their graduation day. They’ll love hearing from their favorite celeb, especially when it’s because of all of their hard work. This is definitely something they will save and watch over and over again.

Themed Virtual Backgrounds on Zoom

Zoom Backgrounds

The days of Zoom gatherings are far from over! You can purchase or create your own special-themed virtual background to make the event feel proper and special. A graduation background, topped with Pomp and Circumstance playing in the background will make your graduate feel like they are at a real commencement ceremony. Make sure to dress them up and have them move their tassel as you hand them their diploma! Family and friends from afar will enjoy tuning in for your own virtual graduation ceremony.

Group Games and Activities

Group Games and Activities

Virtual events call for virtual games! You can find a template online, or create your own activity to spice up your virtual grad party. Some ideas include virtual Pictionary, lightning scavenger hunts, Trivia, Guess the Movie, Charades, Read my Lips and so much more. Most games don’t require any supplies, or you can purchase inexpensive games on Amazon. Kick back and celebrate the big day with your graduate while having some much needed laughs.

Driveway Chalk Collage

Chalk Collab

If the weather is nice, invite family and friends to come by the day before, or earlier in the day. Have various colors of chalk available, and ask everyone to leave a special message, doodle, or drawing for the graduate. Fill the driveway or front sidewalk for a memorable social distance celebration for your grad. They will love walking along and seeing and reading all of the messages of congrats and well wishes from family members, friends, and loved ones. This is a creative and easy DIY for everyone to participate in.

Final Word

Even after the coronavirus is under control and events can go back to normal, there are benefits to continuing some virtual traditions. If you have friends and family spread out across the globe, they might normally miss out on the graduation celebrations. Now they can Zoom in, participate in a video call, or leave special messages for big events.

While celebrating virtually might not feel the same, it eliminates a lot of the time and spaced needed for hosting an in person party. You can still provide the fanfare needed to make your graduate feel honored and celebrated, while including everyone regardless of where they are located. Decorations, favorite food, and party supplies are still a must even for a virtual graduation party!