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How to have a memorable graduation ceremony at home

You may not be able to celebrate your college graduation in the traditional sense right now, but here are some ways you can still make it memorable at home

Maggie Lu's avatar

Maggie Lu

May 21 2020
coronavirus, student, university, uncertainty, covid-19, graduation, college,


University closures across the world have left the Class of 2020 unable to celebrate their important milestones like graduation and prom in the traditional manner. While it is disappointing to cancel these in-person gatherings with friends and family, here are some ways to celebrate in a fun and meaningful way at home with the people you live with.

Cater celebratory food and decorations from local businesses

Whether it be pizza or cakes, celebrate while giving back to the community by buying your favourite savoury and sweet treats from local restaurants. Many local restaurants now offer to-go food or delivery right to your door.

For example, you can make a DIY sandwich bar by ordering breads, meats, vegetables and condiments from your local deli shop. For desserts, check to see if your local bakery shops are selling cookie and cupcake decorating kits, and frost your creations with your school colours.

Dress your table with personal touches such as flowers and centrepieces from local flower shops and nurseries.

Start a graduation hashtag for your school to share memories and photos

Hashtags are popular on social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram and are a good way to find multiple photos/posts on the same subject. What better way to share memories with your friends and classmates than by contributing to a virtual yearbook of memories under a hashtag?

Get creative by photoshopping everyone in their graduation caps and gowns into one picture, share “then and now” photos of you on your first and your last day of school, or share how you’ve been celebrating at home, whether that be your graduation outfit ideas, food recipes or party decoration tips.

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Have a backyard photoshoot

All graduation days, especially high school and college ones, are marked by photoshoots in stuffy, billowing polyester robes with the tasselled cap and diploma. Why should this one be any different?

So wear your favourite outfit, take family photos or selfies, and strut down a makeshift walkway. For added effect, play the iconic graduation classic Pomp and Circumstance March as you walk to collect your “diploma”.

For decorations, try festooning the fences with streamers, making your own banners or bunting, tying balloons to the chairs, or tying pictures on strings to tree branches. DIY some photoshoot props by cutting out graduation symbols from paper and taping them on to sticks. Budding branches and flower sprigs around your lawn or backyard can also make for a lovely spring bunch.

Host a virtual party with friends and family

There are a wide variety of group video chat options, from Zoom to FaceTime to Google Hangouts. You can even theme the gathering by having everyone colour-coordinate in school colours, agree on a theme, or have everyone bring out their best party hats and face paint.

Make singing off-key even more fun by hosting a virtual karaoke party. Bring some snacks with you, like punch and popcorn, settle in front of the laptop and sing live with friends. You can use apps like Smule to do this, or just all dial into the same video-conferencing app.

If you want to surprise someone with a graduation party, let their other friends and family know, but have that person dial into the call without any particular reason. Everyone can then surprise the grad by shouting “Congratulations, ______” and by shooting streamers, holding banners or photos of the new grad up.

Tune into virtual commencements hosted by social media platforms

Social media platforms are hosting virtual commencements for all 2020 graduates. For example, Facebook hosted a livestream graduation event on 15 May with speeches by public figures such as Oprah and performances by artists including Miley Cyrus. You can watch some of the highlights on the Facebook Watch page.

YouTube is also hosting a 2020 virtual commencement with guest speakers including Barack Obama, BTS, Lady Gaga, Beyonce and Taylor Swift and others on 6 June.

Furthermore, iHeartRadio is bringing together a star-studded ensemble to record speeches as podcasts for the Class of 2020. Hillary Clinton, Bill and Melinda Gates and John Legend are among those slated to speak. Find them now in the iHeart podcast special “Commencement: Speeches for the Class of 2020”.

Although your original graduation plans have been shaken up, there are still ample ways to make your stay-at-home graduation memorable. During this time of crisis, make sure to adhere to public health guidelines and adjust your plans as needed to ensure you and your loved ones’ well-being. Above all else, no matter where you are, wake up on your graduation day knowing that your hard work and dedication will not go unrecognised. Here’s to the Class of 2020!

Read more: The best celebrity graduation speeches 2019

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