Graduation Party Food

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Buffet, desserts (my favorite!), treats, finger foods, breakfast and drinks ideas that your guests will love and you will find stress free! 

Party Food - my favorite subject! Personally I love a cold buffet, it's not only the easiest option but also a very delicious one. Because of the variety involved it has something to suit everyone which is great because most graduation parties tend to be multi-generational.

Some other reasons that I love a cold buffet include:

  • It leaves you free to enjoy the party and mingle with the guests rather than being stuck in the kitchen checking the oven.
  • Friends and relatives will be only too happy to bring a bowl of something with them to help out so don't be shy about organizing who brings what up front.
  • Everything can be prepared in advance and even laid out prior to the first guest arriving so that the only task to be done is to top up any dishes that are running low.

So I have added "cold buffet" to the top of my list but there are obviously lots of other graduation party food ideas that may suit your party style better. Please read on and enjoy:

Graduation Party Food - Cold Buffet

When I make a buffet, here is what I include:

Graduation Party Food - Salad Bowl 


  • 1 Torn iceberg lettuce
  • 10 Baby tomatoes, halved
  • 1 Chopped cucumber
  • Cracked black pepper. 

Method: Add some lemon juice and toss the ingredients above. The lemon juice will help to keep the salad fresh.

When: Should be made on the morning of the party. 

How many: Approximately 20 people. 

Graduation Party Food - Curried Rice


  • 6 cups of uncooked basmati rice
  • 1 cup of mayonnaise
  • ½ cup of double cream
  • 4 table spoons of curry powder
  • 1 cup of raisins or sultanas. 

Method: Boil the rice and cool. Add all the other ingredients to the rice and mix well. 

When: This can be made the evening before the party. 

How many: Approximately 20 people. 

Graduation Party Food - Pasta Salad


  • 500g of uncooked pasta
  • 5 spring onions chopped
  • 1 cucumber chopped
  • 1 red pepper chopped
  • 250g of cheese cubed 
  • ½ a cup of salad cream or mayonnaise. 

Method: Cook the pasta and let it cool then mix everything together. 

When: Can be prepared the night before. Just add some more salad cream or mayonnaise prior to serving. 

How many: Approximately 20 people. 

Graduation Party Food - Potato Salad and Coleslaw

There is no point in making these when perfectly good versions can be bought from your supermarket.

Graduation Party Food - Crisps, Pretzels, Nachos, Breadsticks & Nuts 

Display these in pretty dishes and make sure you have plenty in stock. After all they can keep if they are not required.

Graduation Party Food - Crusty Bread

Everyone will probably want some of this so again, make sure you don't run short and you should have some with and some without butter.

Graduation Party Food - Cold Meats 

Your cold meats platter can consist of the following: 

  • Chicken wings
  • Chicken drum sticks
  • Ham
  • Cold cocktail sausages. 

And if the budget permits and the numbers aren't too great then: 

  • Sliced roast beef
  • Salmon. 

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Graduation Party Food - Desserts

Graduation Party Food - Trifle


  • Sponge (shop bought is fine) - enough to cover the bottom of a large glass dish
  • 4 table spoons of strawberry jam
  • 1 strawberry jelly
  • 1 large tin of fruit cocktail
  • 1 medium carton of custard
  • 1 chocolate flake
  • 1 small tub of double cream - add a little sugar to taste 

Method: Bottom layer - sponge & spread the jam on top. Next layer - add tin of fruit Next layer - make jelly according to pkt instructions and pour over Next Layer - after jelly has set add the custard Next layer - now beat the cream and smooth on top of the custard Top - sprinkle some chocolate flake. 

When: Prepare everything the day before and just do the cream on the morning of the party. 

How many: Approx 15 people. 

Graduation Party Food - Chocolate Orange Trifle


  • Chocolate sponge cake (shop bought is fine - enough to cover the bottom of a large glass dish
  • ¼ cup of fresh orange
  • 4 table spoons of marmalade
  • 1 large orange peeled and split into segments
  • 1 medium carton of custard
  • Large bar of dark chocolate. 

Method: Bottom layer - sponge & spread the marmalade on top. Next layer - sprinkle the orange juice on top to make the sponge slightly soggy Next layer - add orange segments Next layer - melt chocolate and mix into the custard Next layer - now beat the cream and smooth on top of the custard Top - sprinkle some chocolate flake. 

When: Prepare everything the day before and just do the cream on the morning of the party. 

How many: Approx 15 people. 

Graduation Party Food - Strawberries & Meringue


  • Lots of strawberries
  • Box of meringue nests
  • Pouring cream. 

Method: Put the washed strawberries in a bowl, the crushed meringue in a separate bowl and the cream in a jug. People can just help themselves. 

When: Can be prepared the night before. 

How many: Depends on how many strawberries.

Graduation Party Food -Fresh Fruit Salad


  • 110g sugar
  • 275ml water
  • 120 ml fresh orange juice
  • 120ml pineapple juice
  • Lemon juice
  • Bunch of green and black grapes
  • 2 oranges
  • 2 bananas
  • pack of cherries - halved and stones removed
  • 2 apples
  • Tinned or free pineapple and peaches
  • Pack of strawberries
  • Fresh cream for serving.

Method: Put the water and sugar in a pan and bring to the boil and let it simmer for 10 minutes then allow to cool. Next add the orange juice and pineapple juice to complete the syrup. Next just peel and slice the fruit and add it to the syrup. NB. Leave the bananas and apples to the end - see below. You can cheat slightly and bulk up with some tinned fruit as well.

When: This can be made the previous day and kept in the fridge - the only think I like to leave until the last minute is adding the bananas and apple. When I say the last minute - I mean an hour or so before the party starts. If you cover them in lemon juice before adding them then they stay nice and yellow.

How many: This can feed 20 easy!

Graduation Party Food - Ice Cream Sundae

This is a fabulous graduation party food ideas for a hot summers day and if you can get someone to volunteer to be the ice-cream sundae server then you are sorted. 


You don't need to use all of these ingredients, just to give you an ideas though. 

  • Say 3 different flavors of ice-cream
  • Chocolate sauce
  • Strawberry sauce
  • 100 and 1000's
  • Chocolate flakes - halved
  • Waver
  • Whipped cream
  • Jello
  • Mini marshmallows
  • Plastic ice-cream Sunday dishes and plastic spoons.

Method: The idea is that each visitor could order exactly what they fancy.

Graduation Party Food - Iced Lemon Flake

This is absolutely gorgeous and no wonder when you see the list of ingredients:


  • 2 lemons
  • 3 chocolate flakes
  • 3 eggs separated
  • 1 large tin of condensed milk
  • 1 small tub of double cream.

Method: Whisk the egg yolks and condensed milk until thick. Add the lemon juice and rind. Lightly whip the cream and fold into the mixture with the broken flakes. Whisk the egg whites to soft peak stage and fold in. Put in the freezer. Prior to serving, remove from freezer and put in the fridge for half an hour.

When: Within 1 month of the party.

How many: Approx 20

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Graduation Party Food - All American Cheesecake

Very fattening but who is counting calories at a party!

Firstly, you'll need an 8 inch round baking tin (where the sides loosen and the bottom can detached)


  • 10 digestive biscuits (grahams crackers)
  • 2 oz butter
  • 8oz Philadelphia cream cheese
  • 3.5 oz caster sugar (finely granulated sugar)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 5 to 6 oz double cream
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence


  1. Melt butter in the microwave.
  2. Crush the biscuits (I use a food bag and a rolling pin, just crushing a couple at a time)
  3. Mix crushed biscuits and melted butter together and press into the tin.
  4. Mix the cream cheese and sugar together.
  5. Add the whisked eggs and vanilla essence together then mix with the cream cheese.
  6. In a separate bowl whisk the double cream, sugar and vanilla essence to soft peaks.
  7. Fold the cream cheese and cream together and spread mixture on top of base.
  8. Leave in the fridge for a couple of hours to set.
  9. Remove from the tin and decorate whatever way you want – I like to sprinkle a flake on top.

When: The day before the party.

How many: Approx 12 slices. You could always use a rectangular baking tray and cut the cheesecake into small squares - you'll get lots more pieces this way.

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Graduation Party Food - Fruity Pavlova

This looks sooooo impressive, yet it is incredible easy.


  • 4 egg whites
  • 8 oz caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornflour
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar


  1. Whisk egg whites until very stiff.
  2. Whisk in sugar a third at a time.
  3. Mix the cornflower and white wine vinegar together and fold gently into mixture with a metal spoon.
  4. Spread onto baking sheet which has been covered with grease proof paper, make a well in middle of mixture with a spoon and cook for 1 hour at 150C.
  5. Allow to cool before sliding off from the grease proof paper.
  6. Now to decorate I add lots of softly whipped cream and then lots of mixed fruit heaped on top. To keep the fruit looking good, chop it all up and mix with some lemon juice before piling on top of your pavlova.

When: The meringue could be made a couple of days before. However I'd add the cream and fruit on the day of the party.

How many: Approx 10

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Graduation Party Food - Barbecue

Graduation Party Food - Chicken Sizzle Sticks

If you can get someone to volunteer to go on the barbecue then this is definitely a great graduation party food idea. You get a lot of mileage out of a little bit of chicken with this recipe.


  • Soy sauce for marinating
  • 1 lb of chicken cut into long thin strips (as thin as your butcher can cut them - approx 3 mm)
  • ½ cup of tomato sauce
  • ½ cup of chili sauce
  • 5 table spoons of lime juice
  • 2 table spoons of brown sugar
  • Barbecue sticks (wooden ones soaked in water to prevent them burning). 

Method: Marinade chicken in soy sauce for at least 2 hours. Mix all other ingredients together to make a sauce. Thread the chicken onto barbecue sticks (bit like a wiggling worm). 
Prior to cooking brush some sauce on them. 

When: Chicken could be threaded onto sticks the night before and left to marinade over night. Sauce could also be prepared the night before. 

How many: You could manage to get about 30 sticks.

Graduation Party Food - Mixed Grill Skewers


  • mini sausages
  • bacon
  • cherry tomatoes
  • flat mushrooms (halved)

Baste approx 10 skewers:

  • 8 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp mixed herbs

Method: Add a sausage to the skewer, followed by a mushroom, followed by rolled up bacon, followed by a cherry tomato and so on......... Mix the basing ingredients together and baste the skewers frequently while cooking.

When: The baste could be done the night before but the skewers should be made up fresh on the day of the party.

Graduation Party Food - Dessert


  • bananas
  • chocolate buttons.

Method: Keep the skin on and slice them down the middle and slot some chocolate buttons inside. Next wrap the banana in tin foil and place them on the barbecue for approx 7 mins. Eat them while hot and still in the foil with a teaspoon - yum, yum!

When: Cannot make in advance.

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Graduation Party Food - Breakfast

Go for a continental style breakfast to keep things simple. How about:

  • A selection of yogurts - you could display these in a large container filled with ice to keep them chilled.
  • You could borrow a couple of toasters and have someone on toast duty keeping the plates piled up.
  • Have a selection of spreads, cheese and jams.
  • Croissants are also a nice idea - with chocolate spread - yum yum!
  • A selection of cereals of course.
  • A selection of fruit to choose from all cut up in individual dishes - melons, strawberries, kiwi, pineapple with separate dishes of yogurt and raspberry coulis to spoon over the top.
  • Also worth having a selection of bagels and frosted doughnuts. Order the doughnuts ahead so that you can quickly pick them up on the day.
  • Have an omelette making area with a cook on duty and everything prepared in advance. That is the omelet mix and possible fillings like chopped mushrooms, chives, tomato, onions, cheese, ham and green peppers.
  • Have a coffee bar serving fresh coffee and a fruit juice bar making fruit juices on request.
  • Another one of the great graduation party food ideas is cooking pancakes on a griddle and have optional toppings and syrup.
  • Bake scones in various great flavors like apple and cinnamon, treacle or just add raisins, for example.
  • Serve delicious banana loaf
  • Serve all kinds of smoothies
  • Corned beef hash makes a great addition to the buffet
  • Buttermilk pancakes with syrup and other toppings like blueberries
  • Eggs Benedict
  • Hard boiled eggs

You could also have someone cooking sausages on the barbecue and serving them inside rolls.

To drink, you'll need a selection of chilled fruit juices, coffee, and tea. Ideally if you could hire a large urn for your hot water (safely set up and away from children!) and then people could just help themselves by adding their own coffee or tea bag etc.

Remember to have loads of paper plates/bowls and plastic cutlery and bin bags around to make everything as simple as possible.

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Graduation Party Food - Finger Foods

Here are some finger-licking graduation party food ideas:

  • Mini Oat Cakes - just buy a packet of mini oat cakes, and garnish them with some cream cheese, smoked salmon and dill or chives. Alternatively, add some pate and a cranberry.
  • Volavons - these are little pastry cases that you can add any garnish to that you fancy. Some prawn cocktail perhaps or egg mayonnaise or some chicken covered in a curried mayonnaise………..
  • Mini quiche - bought and cut into tiny squares.
  • Chicken legs or chicken wings.
  • Sandwiches with various fillings. You could purchase a graduation cap cutter and cut your sandwiches with it.
  • Crusty bread - I like to serve some with and without butter.
  • Popcorn, Mozarella Straws, Chips, Nachos, peanuts………
  • Fresh fruit ice lollies
  • M&Ms

For dessert, how about a chocolate fountain - you could buy, borrow or even hire one of these. The things for dipping could include:

  • Marshmallows
  • Pineapple
  • Strawberries
  • Kiwi fruit
  • any other fruit which doesn't go black if left out.

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Graduation Party Food - For Kids

There is no need to go to great lengths preparing graduation party food for pre-school children. Generally they are too excited to eat very much graduation party food and when they do eat it tends to be the simple stuff.

I would suggest putting a lot of little bowls out containing the following: 

  • Bowl of grapes
  • Little boxes of raisins
  • Cubes of cheese
  • Little cocktail sausages
  • Potato chips and potato rings
  • Mini Quiche
  • Mini sausages and sausage rolls
  • Vegetables and dips
  • Breadsticks
  • Sandwiches with just cheese
  • Sandwiches with just ham.

For afters ice-cream will always go down well and how about adding a dish of sweets that can be sprinkled on top of the ice-cream. 

To prevent spillages I'd opt for little plastic bottles of fruit juice with the non-spill tops or even better - mini bottles of water. 

If you are concerned about them getting their bottles mixed up then put a sticky label on it with their name or let them choose a sticker for their bottle that they will easily recognize.

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Graduation Party - Drinks


An easy non-alcoholic drink would be a large fruit bowl filled with tropical fruit juice and lemonade to give it some fizz and add some chopped fruit to make it look really exotic. Use a ladle to fill the cups.


A lovely celebratory alcoholic drink is a Kir Royal - Just mix a little Creme De Cassis (berry liqueur) with some champagne and add a spoonful of chopped strawberries. You could even make the glass fancy by dipping the rim in some lemon juice and then into a bowl of sugar.

Make Your Own Glass Charms

You could make some glass charms so that people don't get their glasses mixed up. Just buy some stretchy silver or gold thread. Make collage with lots of tiny graduation clip art images, or even photos of the graduate at various stages in their life, get the sheet laminated, cut them all out use a hole punch to make a hole for the thread.


If you are concerned with spillages around your home then plastic bottles of fruit juice with the non-spill tops or bottles of water would be ideal.

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Graduation Party Food - Kiosks

If you have the space at the party venue you can arrange excellent graduation party food kiosks and little bars with lots of different catering options in them. Your guests can choose their favorite graduation party food and even enjoy trying out a few dishes. Some of the options could be:

  • An Italian pasta bar with lots of freshly cooked pastas and a variety of tasty Italian sauces to top it off.
  • A Mexican Taco bar, again with everything ready for guests to order a delicious Taco of their choice.
  • A kiosk with BBQ which can be served as sandwiches.
  • A deli style sandwich bar with lots of fresh deli sandwich fillers. Think also of the different types of sandwiches you get all round the world. For example Italian Panini sandwiches.
  • A kiosk with burgers and hot dogs
  • A kiosk with coffee, tea, candy, pastries and cheesecake.
  • An oriental style takeaway kiosk with freshly made oriental food and fortune cookies.
  • A curry bar with a buffet style arrangement or lots of curry dishes, accompanied by rice.
  • A kiosk serving ice cream and custom made chocolates.
  • Deli sandwiches kiosk with all the ingredients ready to take guests orders
  • Serve fruit trays

A simple way of arranging this one is to hire local businesses to cater a kiosk. The graduation party food kiosks and bars you choose will of course depend on your budget, venue and party theme.

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Graduation Party Food - Quantities

You will want to have enough graduation party food for everyone. There is always some uncertainty over the numbers who will attend. If you have a small party then it is safest to assume they will all come. If you are having a large party then you might like to think through who will definitely attend and who may not. You know your guest list best and may wish to make a call on the numbers, plus add a safety margin. If you are having an open house party the graduate may have invited friends to come along that you were not expecting so you may need extra graduation party food to be safe. 

You may also wish to consider having say 5 to 7 main dishes and 2 or 3 desserts. 

Using you numbers and the quantities in your recipes you can calculate the quantities required. If you wish to err on the safe side and you know you will have too much graduation party food then you can plan for that. You could buy containers that would let guests take home a portion of their favorite graduation party food.

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Graduation Party Food - Treats

There are a number of graduation party food treats you can have available during the party:

  • Gingerbread Cookies: Using a good recipe you can create the gingerbread cookies. Prior to cooking you can cut them into any shape you wish. You can make ABC shapes, graduation cap shapes or even say baseball bats if that is the graduate's favorite pursuit.

  • Graduation Caps: Place miniature peanut butter cups upside down on a plate. Add peanut butter to the top and place a chocolate covered Graham cracker on top. A piece or fondant could be made into the tassel.

  • Frozen treats like fruit and yogurts.

  • Bowls of candy treats like Jelly Belly jelly beans, chocolate raisins and other classic candies.

  • Plus little bowls of personalized M&Ms look and taste fantastic. You can personalize them by selecting a particular color, certain wording and even a photo.

~~~graduation party food ideas~~~

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Graduation Party Food - Ideas

Some other graduation party food ideas are:

  • Soups, including French Onion soup.

  • Meatloaf

  • Pot Pies

  • Mashed Potatoes

  • Pizza

  • Macaroni Cheese

  • Chili

  • Beef Stew

  • Curry Dishes, including a variety of hot, medium and mild curries with labels on them so guests can eat what they feel comfortable with. The great thing about curry dishes is the mix of glorious colors, wonderful smells and superb tasting foods. You can add Pakora starters which can be potato, vegetable, mushroom or chicken, for example, to liven up your graduation party food.

  • Sausage Burritos

  • Classic Yogurts

  • Soy burgers

  • Tapas style olive oil potatoes

  • Make hard boiled eggs and put the graduate's name on them.

  • Serve BBQ sandwiches with coleslaw, baked beans and fresh salad.

  • Baked potatoes can be provided with a selection of toppings like coleslaw, baked beans, egg mayonnaise and chili.

  • Tortilla Wraps, which you may buy from a local restaurant and have delivered at the right time.

  • Burritos

  • Handmade chocolates for dessert

  • Pizza bread

  • Chocolate covered treats can be fun. Have a chocolate fondue with strawberries and other fruit. You can also have chocolate covered fudge, chocolate cookies, chocolate muffins and cupcakes.

  • Pizza has so many different varieties. To add a different touch serve all kinds of gourmet pizzas.

  • Serve Cappuchino coolers

  • Belgian Waffle Dessert - This is a simple dessert with a warm Belgian Waffle, maple syrup on top and all topped by vanilla ice cream or fresh cream.

  • OREO Dessert - Another simple dessert is to have vanilla ice cream, butterscotch sauce and OREO cookies crumbled topped with fresh cream.

  • Chili - Tortilla chips, melted cheese, spicy chili beef all topped with sour cream and jalapeno peppers.

  • Mushroom Soup (serves 4) -Ingredients are butter for frying, 1 small onion (peeled and finely chopped), ½ lb of mushrooms,(cleaned and finely chopped), 2 tablespoons of flour, 2 pints of chicken stock, salt, freshly ground pepper, pinch of grated nutmeg, 1 bay leaf, ¼ pint of fresh single cream, chopped fresh parsley.
    Melt the butter in a saucepan
    Add the onions, mushrooms and cook gently for 5 minutes.
    Stir in the flour and continue cooking for another 2 minutes, stirring constantly
    Gradually add the chicken stock and bring to the boil while stirring
    Add the salt, pepper, nutmeg and bay leaf.
    Lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
    Before serving, remove the bay leaf, stir in the cream to taste. Add to your serving bowls and sprinkle on the parsley.

  • Guacamole (serves 4) - Serve with tortilla chips, for example.2 ripe avocados
    Juice of 1 lemon
    1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
    1 garlic clove, crushed with ½ teaspoon of salt
    ½ lb tomatoes, skinned, seeded and finely chopped
    dash of Tabasco sauce
    Freshly chopped parsley
    Preparation- Cut the avocados in half safely, remove the stones and scoop out the flesh onto a bowl. Mash the lemon juice into the flesh with a fork. Add the remaining ingredients and blend well together until the guacamole is quite smooth. Transfer to a serving dish and top with freshly chopped parsley.

  • Nut And Orange Salad (serves 4)4 heads of chicory with the leaves separated
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    2 large oranges, peeled, pips removed and sliced into rings.
    2oz of walnuts chopped
    ¼ pint of Vinaigrette dressing
    Put the chicory in a salad bowl, sprinkle with salt and pepper, add the orange rings and walnuts and mix together. Pour in the dressing and toss the salad well before serving.

  • Cucumber Raita (serves 4) - A Cool And Refreshing Dish1 Large cucumber, peeled, halved, seeded and sliced into small strips.
    ½ teaspoon of salt
    1 teaspoon of sugar
    10oz of natural yoghurt
    2 tablespoons of freshly chopped mint
    Freshly ground black pepper
    1 tablespoon of olive oil
    Put the cucumber strips in a bowl and sprinkle with salt and sugar. Stir and leave to drain in a colander. Mix the cucumber and yogurt together with half the mint and lots of pepper. Put into a serving dish. Pour the oil evenly over it and decorate with the remaining mint. Chill till serving time.

  • There are all sorts of things to do to keep guests safe such as making sure young children do not touch hot food containers. Keep your guests safe at all times. That also includes graduation party food preparation and serving. Hot food and cold food are meant to be kept at the right temperature. To help, you may decide to set out smaller quantities and when they are finished put out more graduation party food.

  • Hire a popcorn maker and have a few flavors available freshly made. I think it will be fun for guests of all ages. You can also give guests a bag of popcorn as part of their favor pack.

  • Celebrate produce from your local area. Use the best local ingredients for as much of the party food as possible. That could extend to the gourmet burgers too, for example.

~~~graduation party food ideas~~~

Good luck with your graduation party food. Just keep the graduation party food simple and you can't go wrong!

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