Updated January 23, 2023
Congratulations! You made it through school and now you’re probably fishing the internet looking for the best Graduation Party food ideas for your celebration.
WARNING: Read this post before you consider those cute and trendy Grad party food ideas on Pinterest because they may lead to a disaster.
Here are some crucial Graduation Party food dos and don’ts that we’ve seen stand in the way of having an absolutely perfect party.
We’ll also give you tips on what to do instead that’ll make the planning process fun and easy!
Keep posted as we keep adding new ideas we remember all of the time.
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1. Don’t Let Guests Use Their Hands
It’s nearly impossible for every guest at your Grad Party to not put their fingers all over those grapes (pictured above).
Display fruit for guests so that it’s pretty to look at yet easy to eat (like above)!
Don’t forget tongs or a large spoon to make your fruit accessible and sanitary, sticks and skewers are even better!
Same goes for the popular cookie, lunch meat, and crudite platters that people have to grab with their hands.
Arrange crackers, meats, or cheeses in individual portions, or at the very least provide tongs or utensils.
2. Don’t Have Chocolate
We know you’ve seen a ton of these trendy candy bars with clever candy pun names but be warned: Don’t serve chocolate, especially loosely wrapped, if your Grad party is outdoors and in a warm or sunny climate. Within minutes that chocolate will become mushy and cause a mess when handled, it’s happened to us.
Instead opt for hard candy that’s securely wrapped like ring pops.
Here are some other candies that make great puns for a Graduation candy bar :
- ring pops
- Tootsie Pops
- Tootsie Rolls
Display your candy in fillable acrylic letters for a show stopping candy pun bar for any gender. They may be available to rent for cheap at your local event rental company or you can purchase them here on alibaba or here on etsy.
You can use one acrylic letter, or two for initials, or your whole name, or a phrase like “Yay” or “Grad. They also have numbers available. Everyone will want to take a picture of this candy bar. It will definitely double as a photo backdrop!
Candy puns are the best way to put a Graduation party food spin on an otherwise ordinary candy bar without chocolate. Don’t forget those candy pun labels!
3. Don’t Have High Maintenance Food
Unless the Queen of England is going to be in attendance you may want to save the super fancy gourmet food for your Wedding. Food that requires a lot of prep time, set up, or is difficult to cover are all foods you may want to avoid. Rather than serving gourmet food, dress up quick and easy delicious dishes that have mass appeal.
Instead opt for low maintenance food like Walking Tacos (above) that require very little prep time and will save you on paper plates, plus they’re delicious. You can cook the taco meat and have it stored in a crock pot or covered hot plate if you’re worried about bugs.
For a super quick and easy Graduation Party food idea everyone will love, order boxed pizzas and packaged snack foods! You’ll be able to ditch the utensils.
You want something that’s easy for guests to pick up and easy to throw out.
4. Avoid Pasta and Rice Unless You Can Properly Store It
If your Grad party may be a long one you may want to rethink that pasta and rice. If left out too long and not stored properly, cooked pasta and rice can grow bacteria. Just read this article about a College student and his friend who ate left over noodles and rice and became gravely ill.
5. Don’t Leave Food Uncovered
Depending on your location you run the very high risk of serving your guests bugs or germs in their food.
Do you live in a windy climate? We’ve been to a Grad Party that had similar to the above chips and salsa bar and it turned into a nightmare.
Not only did bugs fly into the salsa but a gust of wind blew off the chips and we watched a real life recreation of the Alfred Hitchcock movie The Birds as they all feasted on the chips scattered on the lawn.
Covering food is just as easy and will put your mind at ease. Repurpose plastic drinking cups and use take out boxes, food tents, a simple dinner plate or platter over a bowl, a covered casserole dish, a crockpot, a smoker for bbq, or even an apothecary jar.
GRAD PARTY FOOD HACK: Use plastic Sterilite drawers to store or display your desserts or food for a BUG FREE party! Either use them on the table and label each drawer to display cookies, candys, desserts, and even food for guests, OR store them under the table behind the tablecloth to easily replenish food when the platters run out!
Don’t forget the drinks! You can use cupcake liners, mason jars with lids, or self serve drink stations to keep bugs out. You can also serve boxed or canned soft drinks and juices.
You can use those same plastic cups for your cupcakes and treats too!
You don’t have to say good bye to those fancy DIY cupcake stands…
Just place plastic cocktail cups over your cupcakes.
Bonus: Don’t Forget the Citronella Candles to Keep Bugs Away!
6. Don’t Only Offer Junk Food And Candy
It’s your Grad party so splurge a little but be sure to offer healthier options for your guests. Friends or relatives with heart problems or who are diabetic will appreciate the gesture.
Put out fruit next to the candy, vegetable crudite next to the chips, and salad next to the hamburgers and hot dogs.
Don’t forget an alternative to sugary sodas and sports drinks too!
7. Avoid Batch Foods And Dips When You Can
There’s always that one child or tipsy adult who dips their chip directly into the bean dip after they already took a bite!
Yes, we’ve actually seen this in action at parties and it’s mortifying. The chances of it are greater if little kids are coming and adults are drinking.
Keep germs at bay by putting dips, guacamole, and even salad in single serving plastic cups or glasses that guests can quickly grab to prevent absent minded double dipping.
Usually with self serve batch food you get random spills and messy accidents on the tables, individual portions will keep your food table clean.
8. Don’t Serve Large Portions
To avoid wasting a ton of money on excess food, serve smaller portions at your Graduation Party, especially if you’re having a larger party.
Most guests don’t end up finishing everything on their plate.
With smaller portions guests can get second and third helpings if they choose.
You can still make all of your favorite foods just cut them into smaller pieces or serve them in smaller helpings.
You’ll end up wasting a lot less money on excess food!
9. Don’t Forget The Hand Sanitizer
After 2020 we all appreciate the presence of hand sanitizer at the table! Make these visible and available for guests to easily use.
10. Prepare for a Breeze
If you live in a windy climate please don’t forget to secure any table clothes or napkins.
11. Prepare for Trash
Keep those trash cans visible and handy. If they’re eye sores then don’t worry about covering them up to fit your Grad Party theme!
We hope this list helps you plan the Graduation party you’ll never forget. Congrats Grad! The future is yours!
Don’t forget to pin for later!
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