With graduation season coming up soon, you may be planning a graduation party for yourself or a family member.
There are so many things that go into planning a graduation party. For example, you need to figure out who you want to invite, how to send invitations, what kind of decor and activities you want to have at the party, etc. (See our list of graduation party ideas for tips on all of these things.)
Next up, you need to figure out what kind of food and drinks you will serve at your graduation party! Today, we’re sharing the best graduation party food ideas to help you out.
First, Tips for Choosing the Food for a Graduation Party
What’s great about throwing a graduation party is that there are so many different kinds of food and drinks that you can serve depending on what kind of party you are throwing.
For example, if you are throwing a high school graduation party, you could serve some tasty mocktails and a candy buffet, or if you are throwing a college graduation party, you could serve mixed drinks to your guests.
Also if you are having a more laid-back graduation party, you could choose to just serve appetizers and snacks or if you are throwing a dinner party, you could go all out with a full buffet.
And don’t forget about the best part, which is desserts. There are so many fun themed options out there.
So, if you are throwing a graduation party this year, check out these delicious food and drink ideas that you and your guests will love.
Graduation Party Appetizers & Snacks
Classic Charcuterie Board
We have to start with appetizers and snacks that you can serve to your guests at your graduation party.
One awesome way to serve snacks to a crowd is by making a charcuterie board! Charcuterie boards have been super popular recently because they are fun to make and are so beautiful and Instagram-worthy.
So, for your graduation party consider making your own charcuterie board! And, don’t worry if you have never made a charcuterie board before because this tutorial will show you everything you need to know.
Best-Ever Fruit Salad
Another great appetizer option for your graduation party is a fruit salad.
Fruit salads are always a great addition to a buffet-style dinner, so if you are going to do this type of dinner for your graduation party, you should consider adding a fruit salad to your list of snacks you will be serving. (We have to have some healthy things on the menu!)
And, what’s great about a fruit salad is you could buy them already made or make them yourself with your favorite fruit. All you need to do is buy a ton of fruit that you like and chop them up and mix them together to get the perfect fruit salad to serve to your guests.
Just watch this quick tutorial on the best fruit salad recipe!
One other graduation party appetizer option you should consider is kabobs.
What’s great about kabob’s is you can provide your guests with plenty of options, such as meat or vegetable kabobs, so that everyone will be able to try them depending on their food preferences.
This tutorial shows a great recipe for vegetable kabobs that your guests will love!
Chili Lime Baked Shrimp Cups
If you want a graduation party food idea that’s easy to make yet super impressive, you need to try making these chili lime baked shrimp cups.
While these look like a chef made them, the recipe is actually super simple and you can bake them in the oven. This would be an easy option if you’re preparing the food yourself. No one will believe you made these from scratch!
Any Party Food Ring
If you are having a dinner party for your graduation or even if you are serving your guests with a buffet-style dinner, a party food ring is always a great choice as an appetizer option.
There are so many varieties of party food rings you can try. They can be anything from pigs in a blanket to sandwich roll-ups, to cheesy garlic bread with marinara to dip.
The video above shows you 9 different party food rings you can whip up in no time. Make a few and your guests will love you!
Spinach & Cheese Tarts
Little puff pastry appetizers are a classic graduation party food idea that everyone loves!
Again, there are tons of options in this category. You can buy them pre-made at Trader Joe’s, or whip up something fancier like these homemade spinach cheese tarts.
The tutorial above shows you exactly how to make these yummy appetizers. Definitely make a lot because your guests will love these.
Graduation Party Meals
Make Your Own Tacos Bar
You will also need to consider what kind of meals you will want to serve at your graduation party. If you don’t want to do a traditional buffet or a dinner party, you have another option. You could put together a food bar instead.
For example, a great option for a food bar is tacos! Everyone loves tacos and all you have to do is provide a bar with ingredients so your guests can make them themselves.
There are so many great tacos recipes out there, but I would recommend this recipe, which will help you make tasty tacos with two different fillings.
Order Pizza (or Make Homemade)
I am sure you have also probably served pizza at an event before. While it’s not the fanciest option on this list, honestly you cannot go wrong with a good pizza.
The tutorial above shows you how to make homemade pizza (if you want to be fancy about it), but honestly just order a few different types from your favorite spot and call it a day. No one will complain about eating pizza, I promise.
If you want a fancier or more sophisticated style dinner, you could choose to serve your guests sushi.
You could even choose to serve the sushi buffet-style if you aren’t doing a dinner party! Just make sure to have plenty of different kinds of sushi for your guests to choose from. This is something easy that you can have catered from a local restaurant.
Variety of Sliders
Literally everyone loves sliders and they make a great graduation party food idea if you’re feeding a large crowd.
Sliders can be either an appetizer or dinner option, depending on how formal your party is. (I’d do them as a dinner for a more laid-back affair, but definitely make them an appetizer for a fancier party.)
The tutorial above shows you 10 different slider ideas that you can make yourself to feed a crowd.
Another meal option for a dinner party or a buffet-style dinner is pasta!
Setting up a pasta bar for your party is an easy way to serve your guests food while also saving money — pasta is so cheap and easy to make.
So, if you are having a larger graduation party, I would recommend serving pasta to make it easier for you! The tutorial above shows you how to set up a pasta bar with all the toppings you’ll need.
As mentioned before, serving a buffet-style dinner is a great way to serve your guests food at your graduation party if you are not having a formal dinner.
This is one that you definitely want to have catered. A catering company or restaurant can set up the whole buffet for you with all the foods you love and bring the trays and warmers to keep the food at the perfect temperature. Then all you have to do is sit back and enjoy!
A gourmet-style sit-down dinner is perfect for those of us throwing a smaller dinner party for our graduation. This will make your graduation party feel more fancy and sophisticated.
If this is the kind of graduation party you are going for, I would recommend serving a few different food courses with meat or vegetable plates as the main course depending on the preferences of your guests.
One of the most popular fancy dinner meals is steak, so if you want to learn how to make a steakhouse dinner at home, watch this tutorial!
Graduation Party Desserts
Cake is perfect for literally any occasion and a graduation party is such a great chance to have fun with a beautiful, customized cake.
The video tutorial above shows you how to make a graduation cap cake that will absolutely wow your guests!
Also, if you’re hosting a large party, you can make this cake as the centerpiece and serve your guests from a larger sheet cake so there’s enough for everyone. (Pro tip: Costco has sheet cakes for super cheap!)
Grad Cap Cupcakes
If you want to do smaller desserts or even if you would just like to have more dessert options other than cake, cupcakes are a great choice.
And, you of course can get some cupcake toppers to match the rest of your cute graduation decor!
Just watch this quick tutorial on how to make delicious graduation cupcakes for your party.
If you love cookies, you can also totally serve them as a dessert option at your graduation party.
If you are having a fancier graduation party, you may be thinking that cookies are not fancy enough to serve as a dessert, but don’t worry because you can make cookies that will be more fitting for a party.
For example, I am sure you are familiar with themed iced cookies like the ones above. These are a classic party cookie that everyone loves and you can make them at home by using this tutorial! (Or get them made by a local bakery — no shame in your outsourcing game.)
Graduation Cake Pops
Another option for your graduation party dessert is making graduation cake pops. How cute are the ones above?
I love cake pops because they’re way less messy than cake and cupcakes and they don’t require any utensils. They are a bit labor-intensive to make but once you get the hang of it, they’re easier than you think.
For a shortcut, you could also buy pre-made basic cake pops and decorate them with little graduation caps, as seen above.
Marshmallow pops are another cute alternative to cake pops or cupcakes. They’re the perfect little dessert snack that looks so impressive on a table, and you can customize them with your school colors, for instance.
The video tutorial above will show you exactly how to make these super cute marshmallow pops at home.
Graduation donuts are another super cute option for a dessert that you can serve to your guests.
You can pick up a ton of different flavors for your guests to choose from, and if you want them to look a bit fancier, you can have them customized with your graduation year (as seen above), or even your name.
Graduation Party Candy Buffet
A candy buffet is one of my personal favorite desserts at parties. It’s easy for everyone to get exactly what they want, and candy tables are so beautiful that they act as decor in themselves.
To set up a graduation party candy buffet, get a bunch of bowls, jars, or cake plates, and load them up with your favorite bulk candies. You can follow a color theme or just grab your personal favorites for everyone to try.
For the finishing touch, label your candy options with cute graduation labels like these pre-made cards. So cute!
Graduation Party Drinks
Of course if you are throwing a college graduation party you will want champagne! Champagne is a great kind of drink to have at any celebratory event, especially graduation. (Sparkling cider is a great non-alcoholic alternative, too.)
Also, I am sure you have seen the tradition of popping a champagne bottle as a way to celebrate your college graduation. So, make sure to have some extra champagne bottles, so you can do this too.
If you are having a larger graduation party and you want a drink that you can pre-mix for a large crowd, fruit sangria is a perfect choice.
You can completely customize sangria based on what you like — red or white wine, favorite fruits, sweet soda or seltzer as a mixer, etc. You can also make a non-alcoholic sangria as an alternative. Sangria is so pretty and is really simple to make in bulk.
If you want to learn how to make the perfect fruit sangria, check out this quick tutorial on how to make authentic red sangria.
Of course you can also choose to just serve mixed drinks if you would like. You could choose to have a bar set up for your guests. Or, you could make specific drinks to serve.
Mojitos are always a crowd pleaser and they only require a few easy-to-find ingredients.
If you are looking for a great cocktail recipe to make some fun cocktails for your graduation party, watch this tutorial on how to make a mojito!
Dessert cocktails are also a fun option to serve your guests drinks because they are so delicious. They are super trendy right now as well, so all your guests will love them.
There are a couple of different kinds of dessert drinks you can choose from. For example, you could do espresso martinis or Irish cream martinis.
One of the best dessert cocktails that you should consider serving is the Irish cream chocolate martini. Just watch this tutorial to see exactly how to make it for your guests!
Now if you are having a high school graduation party or you don’t drink, you will want to find a different way to serve awesome drinks at your graduation party. In this case, mocktails are your BFF.
One of my favorite mocktails is the virgin cosmo seen above. It’s fresh, refreshing, and feels super fancy. Plus, it’s really easy to make.
Which graduation party food & drink ideas from this list do you like the most?
For more tips on graduating in style, see our guide to 25 Perfect Hairstyles for Graduation.
Which ideas will you be using for your graduation party? What food ideas are you most excited about trying?