Elegant Etiquette – Graduation Etiquette

I am thrilled to announce the return of my Elegant Etiquette Series! It has been almost over two years since I have properly worked on this series, so I am really excited to have decided to bring it back properly.

Alyssa J Freitas is one of my favourite Etiquette bloggers in her 20s and I am thrilled she will be the very first guest poster while I am away!  I have been reading Alyssa’s blog for so long now and her tips and advice on etiquette are the perfect mix between tradition and modern life. They always hit the mark! I had the pleasure and privilege of interviewing Alyssa on SDLW a little while ago, and you can read that interview here if you would like to know more. Today she will be sharing her advice on Graduation Etiquette now that, that season is well and truly among us!


Congratulations on your (or one of your friend’s, sister’s, brother’s, boyfriend’s, girlfriend’s, cousin’s) graduation! Can you believe it’s finally here? Graduation season comes with relevant etiquette to ensure your celebrations are fun, welcoming, and enjoyable for all. Today we’re going to discuss some common graduation situations and how to properly handle it all.

I was invited to two parties at the same time…how do I navigate this?

How very popular you are! While it is great to have so many friends you can sometimes end up having to decide where to spend your time. There are a couple of options here:

  • You can choose to go to one party based on any criteria you like (what’s closer, more convenient, who are you better friends with)
  • You can start at one party and then make your way to the other, being gracious to both hosts and letting them know that you promised to make a stop elsewhere
  • You can freak out and not go to either party
  • OR (my favorite option) you can go to one party and treat the other host to a special meal or fun activity to celebrate another time

What’s most important is that you are honest and transparent so feelings do not get hurt.

What sort of gift should I bring for someone? How do I know if I’m exchanging gifts with friends who aren’t having celebrations?

I am a huge proponent of giving gifts that are experiences rather than physical things. Taking your friend out for a mani/pedi before graduation or spending a day in the city together (on you!) is a memorable and fun way to commemorate this special occasion. If you want to physically bring something you could create a handmade card with a coupon for *insert fun thing to do together here* on the inside.

When it comes to figuring out if you are exchanging gifts or not, this is where the communications skills you built up over college will come into play. If you have been invited to a party you should not come empty handed; bringing a small gift like flowers or offering to provide snacks or fruit is helpful. If there is not a formal celebration involved then you can go one of two ways: You can bring up gifts in conversation and ask if they wanted to exchange or you can suggest that you take one another out on a fun adventure to celebrate. For example, plan to go to a concert together and if you’re both graduating you can each buy your own ticket.

I’m having a family/friend party. Please. Help. Me.

It can be tough to bring together people from different areas of your life (or at least it seems daunting, but I promise you can do this). What you must remember is that even though this is your graduation, your first and most important role as a host is to make sure everyone feels at ease. Creating a fun environment and being conscious of your guest list and expectations (if your grandmother is there, you most likely won’t be having a rave with your sorority sisters and frat brother friends) will go a long way. Here are some tips to ensure that your celebration is a success:

  • Send out invitations 2-4 weeks prior
  • Invite people who you believe will get along well together
  • Be respectful to whoever is paying/physically hosting the party. If your parents are kind enough to pay for the celebration, do not overburden them by going crazy with the amount of people you invite
  • Pay attention to all your guests, especially those who are from out of town. Although it is fun to hang out with your friends, if your grandparents have traveled for miles to be with you make sure to spend some quality time with them
  • Remember to send out handwritten thank you notes for any gifts you may receive; a text message is not acceptable

If you face any of these common troubles, just remember like I mentioned before that the goal of etiquette is to put others at ease. When in doubt, consider how you would want to be treated and enjoy this exciting time!

Thank you so much for joining us at SDLW Alyssa! Alyssa will be back to share another post soon, but in the meantime, be sure to head over to her own wonderful blog to see more of her great posts!