Graduation Etiquette and Preparing for the Next Chapter
Graduation Day is right around the corner, and there are many anxious parents in the middle of planning a perfect day for their grad. Celebrating this milestone is always more pleasurable when those involved are mindful of a few simple courtesies. I’m sharing my graduation etiquette tips for parents, guests and the graduate below.
For the Parent(s)/Graduate:
Send out invitations well in advance. A commonly asked question is, “When do I need to send out graduation invites?” To facilitate travel plans for relatives and friends that will be coming from out of town, it’s best to send the invite out four to six weeks before the event. This allows enough time for guests to RSVP and plan their trip accordingly.
Offer suggestions for accommodations. If you are inviting out-of-town guests, include all the information they will need prior to their arrival. If you don’t plan on hosting 15-20 extra guests at your home for the weekend, also provide hotel suggestions which are in the near vicinity.
Make dinner reservations early. If you know you’ll be celebrating with a large group at a restaurant after the ceremony, be sure to book the venue. This will help ensure guests will be seated without a lengthy delay after arriving to the restaurant. Graduation weekend is notorious for long waits and anxious and tired guests ready to relax after a full day of festivities.
RSVP promptly after receiving a graduation invitation. Since graduates often receive just a few tickets to the ceremony, it’s best to let them know right away if you’re not able to attend. They may have others they’d like to include and this gives them enough time to arrange alternate plans.
When to send/bring a gift. There’s a distinct difference between a graduation announcement and an invitation. Due to the limited number of tickets that graduates receive for the actual ceremony, it’s understandable that not everyone can be invited. However, if you are in attendance, it’s safe to say that you are important to the family and the person who is walking across the stage. It is a mannerly gesture to give a keepsake (or cash) to the new graduate. If you receive an announcement, let your relationship to the graduate and the family be your gift-giving guide. I shared Graduation Gift Ideas in my previous post here.
For the Graduate:
Express your “Thank you” in writing. It is polite to send out thank-you cards to each and every person that sends a gift — be it a card, present, or money. They should be handwritten, not typed or sent by an email or text. Mention the gift specifically and how you intend to use it. Even if it’s not something you “love,” you are thanking the giver for their thought and effort.
In person is not the same as a note. Even if you thank the gift giver in person, it’s still customary to send a thank you note. It’s best to send your letters out within the first week after graduation, before you get busy with summer plans.
Don’t forget the special people in your life. I wrote an entire blog on “Thanking Your Teachers,” recognizing those who have made an impact on your life is a generous act of kindness that won’t go unnoticed or be soon forgotten. Everyone from the school nurse, to the cafeteria food service provider deserves your gratitude before you move on to your next adventure. If they call you by name and have made an impact on your life during your school career, say “Thank you” in words or deeds.
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