Graduation Invitation Etiquette

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Stick with the following Etiquette help for Commencement Ceremony Invites, Graduation Party Invites, Gifts and Announcements and you won't go wrong. 

Announcement Etiquette covers who to send to, when, what is in the pack, how to address and fill the envelopes, and question and answers.

Graduation Party Invitation Etiquette covers  when to send party invitations, a wording checklist for invites, items to include with the invite, how to address the envelopes, tips, FAQs, and  visitors questions.

For Commencement Ceremony Invitation Etiquette there is who to invite, when to send, wording, what to include in the envelope and recipients’ duty. 

Also covered in Party Invitation Etiquette and Announcement Etiquette is how to include the Commencement Ceremony Invite in the overall envelope. 

There are also printable checklists to help. 

Finally Graduation Gift Etiquette, when to give a gift and what to do when you receive one.


Let's start with Graduation Party Invitation Etiquette.

When to Send Graduation Party Invitations

graduation party save the date card
  • If any guests will have to travel to your event then you should give them at least 6 weeks notice.

  • For a very formal celebration where guests may prefer to bring a present then they too should be given 6 weeks notice.


  • An all-day open house celebration however allows some flexibility and invitations don't need to be sent more than 3 to 4 weeks prior to the event. N.B. If it's a themed party then you may want to give them slightly longer to organize a costume.

  • If you are organised well in advance consider sending a save the date card (simply print the one here on card). Your guests can simply plan their time and be assured that a formal invite will arrive in plenty of time.

Wording Checklist for Graduation Party Invites

Clearly you need to have:

  • name of the party hosts

  • name of the graduate

  • date of party

  • venue details

  • time (start and end)

  • dress code

  • RSVP details


You'll find great wording on the graduation invitation wording page.

Items To Include with The Graduation Party Invite

There are a few items listed below that could be included with the invitation if appropriate. They do help the recipient: 

  • Directions - provide both a map and written directions and make sure you include the phone number of the location in case people get lost.

  • Dress Code – if you are having an unusual party then be sure to state the dress code.

  • Response Cards

  • Return Address Labels

  • You may also be adding a Commencement Ceremony Invitation and Reply Card.


How to Address the Envelope Correctly

garduation party invitation envelope
  • The mailing envelope will bear the handwritten names of everyone who is invited and their address without abbreviations. 
    For example:

    Mr Ross & Mrs Sophie Edwards 
    111 Abbots Drive, Apartment 112 
    Dallas, Texas

  • Make sure you address your invitations properly by using the US Postal Service Zip+4 Lookup. This will allow you to find the zip code and whether the address is a "street", "drive", "road" or other.

  • It's best if you use a calligraphy pen to address the envelopes and fill out the invitations.

  • Include the return address.

  • Filling the envelope correctly can add a little bit of extra polish. The order from the bottom up should be Invitation, Reply Envelope and Reply Card.


Recipients should try and reply as soon as possible to help the hosts plan the party! 

Graduation Party Invite - Tips

  • A guest list of 100 guests does not require 100 invites. Remember you only need one invite per couple.

  • The names of those invited, including children if they are also invited, are written in full on the invitation. 
    For example: David and Jane Andrew.


  • Always order extra invitations. They will inevitably be used up and it's cheaper to order them initially.

  • An Open House Graduation Party certainly allows you the freedom to invite everyone. You can extend invitations out to neighbors, friends, extended family, teachers, mentors and more. Indeed invitation etiquette can be relaxed.

  • Consider giving guests the option not to buy gifts.

  • Make it clear if a meal is planned

  • As well as following invitation etiquette, be sure thank you notes go out to those who give gifts.

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Commencement Ceremony Invitation Etiquette

Ceremony Invitation
Commencement reply card
Commencement ceremony invitation envelope


There are some simple guidelines which ensure you use the correct etiquette for your invitations. Of course, you should issue the invites as soon as you know the Graduation date and the numbers of tickets you will have.

Who Should Receive A Graduation Ceremony Invitation


Numbers are always restricted at Graduation and it is likely that you will have to be as fair as possible. Parents, siblings and Grandparents may not all be able to attend. Hopefully you can invite at least one Grandparent from each side. 

Everyone will understand the restrictions you have in terms of numbers.

Wording For A Graduation Ceremony Invitation

An invitation to a Graduation ceremony will need:

  • Parents’ names (unless the invite is from the Class)

  • Graduates name (the invite may be from the Graduate)

  • School

  • Venue

  • Time/Date

  • RSVP details

You may be adding the announcement details and ,possibly, inviting guests to a reception after the Ceremony.

Please see the great range of invitation wording for Commencement Ceremonies.


Graduation Ceremony Invitation Envelopes

The envelope enclosing the Ceremony invite will:

  • Be formally addressed to the recipient

  • Include the Ceremony invite

  • Include a Reply Card

  • Include a Reply envelope, addressed with mailing paid

  • A Reception Card (if you are having one).

  • Return address label on mailing envelope


Once the recipient has replied you can send them their ticket.


Graduation Ceremony Invitation Recipients Duties

Duties for recipients are simple to do but do need to be carried out in a timely manner:

  • Recipients should reply as soon as possible.


  • There is an expectation that recipients should buy a gift.


FAQ's on Graduation Invitation Etiquette

invitation-etiquette
  • Is it rude to put an end time on an invitation?
    Etiquette says No, it is not rude. If time is an issue, you must absolutely do it and people need to know that so they can arrange pick up times. It's helpful for everyone.
  • I'm unsure about whether to use RSVP or regrets only on my invitation.
    I'm against regrets only. It's a negative. You're asking only the people who aren't going to come to your party to make themselves known. Most times people who are not going to show aren't going to bother to contact you either. With an RSVP you get to hear the good with the bad and get excited about your event. Place the correct postage on the RSVP card or envelope.

  • How do I include a return address?
    Put this on the back flap of your invitation envelope. Center it and leave your name out.

  • We are having a joint graduation party, how do we ensure that guests only buy gifts for the graduate they know?
    The wording you use on the invite or an insert can respectfully ask guests, if they are buying a gift, to buy only for the graduate they know.


Your Graduation Invitation Etiquette Questions


There are a lot of graduation invitation etiquette visitors questions here. Each question has an answer. You may find that any questions you have are covered! For example: 

  • How to word Joint Party invitations

  • Should the host add a dress code?

  • What to do about an insert when the arrangements changed after the invites were printed

  • It is acceptable to put an Announcement in with the party invitation


Please ask your own question, I am very happy to help! 

Graduation Gift Etiquette

graduation gift etiquette


Graduation gift etiquette is fairly simple, but there are some circumstances where a little thought is required. I hope to give you a full explanation here plus the answers to many visitors’ questions.

There is NO obligation to buy a graduation gift, however the following guide should help you decide if you should give a gift.


  • Commencement Ceremony Invitation – if you receive one you would normally give a gift. Take it with you or have it delivered close to the ceremony day. If you cannot attend the ceremony just send it to be delivered close to graduation day.


  • Graduation Party Invitation – if you receive one you would normally give a gift.


  • Announcement – there is no requirement to give a gift. However, most people do give a gift. If you are sending an Announcement make sure you send them to people who do know the graduate.


  • Joint Party - expect guests to buy gifts only for the graduate they know. Word the invites accordingly.


  • Gift List - Perhaps not the right thing to include with Announcements and Invitations. Guests can contact you for gift ideas if they wish.


  • Money - money is a great gift and can help set the graduate up for the next steps in their life. Approximately $20 (friend)to $100 (grandparents) would be the amounts to think about. However anything you give should fit in with your budget.


  • Dollar Amount - stating the dollar amount you wish your guests to give is a no.


  • Multiple Party invites - can be difficult. You may simply need to decide on your overall budget and split the amounts equally between the Graduates.


  • Class giving Announcements to each other - no need to give a gift.


  • See visitors gift etiquette questions, and answers.


The Graduate should send thank you cards out within 2 weeks of receiving the gift.


Graduation Announcement Etiquette

If you have to restrict the number of guests you invite to your celebration then sending those you cannot invite a graduation announcement is a tactful way of saying that they are important, you do care and you would like them to hear the news. Consider adding 'no gifts' to those who are not invited to the graduation ceremony. 

Your Graduation Announcements should be on the same stationery as the invitations. Click here for full details on Graduation Announcement Etiquette. 

Well that's it for graduation etiquette. Hope it's helped a little. Good luck with your Graduation activities! 

Do You Have Any Invitation Etiquette Tips Or Questions?

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What Other Visitors Have Said

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Miscellaneous Graduation Invitations Etiquette Questions 
My daughter is graduating from high school and works part time. She has a close relationship with the ladies she works with. Is it OK to send a group …

Graduation Gift Etiquette Questions 
Invited to 2 graduation open houses and received one graduation announcement. Are gifts required for all three of these? missysue In reply …

Graduation Invitation Wording Etiquette Questions Not rated yet
I'm helping a friend with her daughter's college graduation invitations. She wants them to serve as an invitation to commencement exercises for guests …

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