From Gifting to Invites: A Guide to Graduation Etiquette

From Gifting to Invites: A Guide to Graduation Etiquette

Graduation season is approaching, but if you haven't already decided who to send a graduation announcement to or who should make the graduation party invite list, don't panic. has compiled the most pertinent graduation etiquette information, so you (and your grad) know exactly when to set up a graduation registry, who to invite to the graduation ceremony and how long to wait after receiving a graduation gift before sending a thank you. 

Why Graduation Etiquette Is Important

For most students, graduation is the most monumental moment of their lives, marking the close of one chapter and the beginning of the next. And Gift Lists, or gift registries, are a way to rally friends and family behind a fresh start. By giving an item that the graduate wants and/or needs, you are showing your support. For a celebration that's steeped in etiquette, it's important to follow the traditions, but one piece of graduation etiquette that we believe needs to be revised: The idea that you can't include graduation registries on invitations. Throw that rule out the window because taking the stress out of gift giving (and making sure the item provides value to the receiver) is more meaningful than an outdated Emily Post belief. 

What Are Graduation Invitations?

Not to be confused with graduation announcements, graduation invitations are meant to serve as the actual invite to one of the events surrounding graduation, whether it's to the commencement ceremony or a graduation party, so it's important to be clear with the wording. 

While traditional graduation etiquette says that mentioning a Gift List on graduation invitations is a no-no, there are way more pros than cons to including one. First, you save the gift giver time, stress and energy. You also ensure that the graduate is receiving items that they actually will use. Finally, it aligns the intention and impact of the gift to create a wonderful experience for all involved. 

What Are Graduation Announcements?

A graduation announcement is not an invitation to an event—merely a formal boast about the graduate's accomplishment—so you should make sure the wording is clear. For graduates, graduation announcements can serve as a great first foray into networking, creating and maintaining connections with parents' friends or family members who may have contacts in the graduate's field of interest. 

If the announcement includes an invite to the ceremony or a graduation party, then announcements should be sent at least two to three weeks before the event. If the announcement does not include a party or ceremony invite, then it can be sent out any time two weeks before the ceremony and up to four weeks after. 

Graduation Ceremony Etiquette

Graduation ceremonies are usually the pinnacle of pomp and circumstance, and traditional graduation etiquette around the ceremony should be followed. Schools generally give each graduate a limited, set number of tickets. Once you know the date and venue of the graduation ceremony, as well as how many people can be invited, you should begin sending out formal invitations. 

Sending Out Ceremony Invitations

Figuring out who to invite can get tricky with a limited number of tickets. Usually, they are reserved for parents and grandparents; however, anyone who's been influential in the graduate's academic career is fair game. Make sure to consider both who you want to be there, as well as who wants to see your ceremony. Clearly state on invites that RSVPs are needed immediately. Invitations should include the date, time, location and RSVP information. 

Responding to Ceremony Invitations

Because spots at a graduation ceremony are limited, if you receive an invite, you should respond as quickly as possible. If you can't make it, politely decline with a brief explanation. If you receive an invitation to the graduation ceremony, then it's appropriate to respond with a gift—whether or not you're able to attend.  

The Graduation Party Guest List

Creating a guest list is the first step of planning a graduation party. The number of guests will help dictate the perfect location and the budget required. Make sure to include the graduate in the process of creating this list. Generally speaking, extended family, friends and people who've had an impact on the graduate during his/her academic career should be invited. 

Graduation Gift Etiquette

If you receive a graduation announcement, sending a gift isn't required, although a card congratulating the graduate is always appreciated. If you're invited to the ceremony or the graduation party, then you should ideally bring a gift. The gift amount depends on your financial situation and your relationship with the graduate; anywhere from $20 to $100 is considered appropriate.

Graduation Registry for Students

While traditional graduation etiquette does not dictate graduates set up and share a graduation registry, it's a new courtesy that all upcoming graduates should consider. Get the items you actually want, while saving your guests the time and energy of finding that perfect graduation gift. Create your always-on registry for graduation, and beyond, now on 

Start Creating Your Registries!

As mentioned previously, traditional graduation etiquette does not require graduates to make a Gift List or graduation registry, but having one can save those attending time and stress, while making sure graduates receive exactly what they need. There's nothing wrong with asking for what you want, so don't delay! Make your graduation Gift List now on


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