Hats Off to These 2022 Grad Party Trends

Goodbye graduation cakes and balloons, hello food trucks and photobooths
Graduation Cap

Photo by Raven Domingo

In Minnesota, graduation parties can be expensive rites of passage to honor the student with pictures, cake, and lots of balloons. Pulled pork sandwiches, graduation cakes, and lines of family and friends are common—but for the class of 2022, party-goers may see some new trends. Here’s a look at what’s emerging or popular this year. 

Digital Invitations

Sending out party invitations in the mail weeks in advance can be expensive and time consuming. Graduates are creating event announcements on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms instead, where it’s easy to see RSVPs and other details.


T-shirts, playing cards, and wooden Jenga blocks serve as new forms of a guestbook. Party guests can sign their name, write an encouraging note, or leave a funny memo for the graduate to read later. Photobooks to sign or video guestbooks, created by recording a short message for the graduate, are also popular options. 

Doughnut Wall

Brunch-themed parties during the morning are a growing alternative to afternoon and evening events. And what better way to celebrate than by having doughnuts? Attach hooks to a corkboard and set it against the wall for a backdrop for hanging doughnuts. Alternatively, consider hiring a food truck for old-fashioned and mini doughnuts.

Combined Parties

According to Finance Buzz, the average cost of a graduation party in Minnesota is over $1,100. If a sibling, cousin, or friend is graduating at the same time, the graduates could consider having a joint graduation party. This helps party-goers too who may have to hit multiple parties on the same day. 


Decorating with balloons is a classic way to add a pop of color to a party. Graduates might be surprised and disappointed to find out about the recent helium shortage. DollarTree officials are warning they “once again” are experiencing a shortage of helium, and Party City retailers say the shortage could negatively impact sales of balloons.

Lining the Driveway

Use photos to line the driveway. School pictures (one for each year) come in handy for this, as party-goers can watch the graduate age as they arrive. Simply attach a wooden stake to each picture, place the stakes along a drive or walkway, and design a path to follow.

Cookie Bar

Instead of a graduation cake, guests may be surprised to find cookies as a dessert item—whether chocolate chip or macadamia nut. Some companies cater and deliver to events, like Thumbs Cookies or Cookie Cart. Rebecca German, a high school graduate from Hutchinson, chose cookies for her graduation party: “Personally, I just like cookies, but the idea of having no cake to slice and no frosting or wrappers to clean up afterward definitely added to the appeal.”

Outdoor Parties 

Although having a graduation party in the back yard or at a park is not a new idea, outdoor parties have been popular in the last two years. Celebrate out in the open air, during the turn of the season while spring flowers bloom. Consider renting a large tent for the occasion, choosing from Ultimate Events, JS Tent Rental, or other rental and event services near the Twin Cities and across Minnesota.

Photo stations

Grad parties wouldn’t be complete without a photo booth or backdrop. Streamers, balloons, lights, and curtains are all popular options. Add fun props to pose with, and get ready to snap some shots.

Summer Dates

Having a party later in the summer is also an option. What’s the appeal? There’s more time to plan, and coordinating dates with other graduates is easier to do. According to the JDK Group, a catering and events company, “Time affords you the chance to think about what theme you’d like to run with for the party.” May and June are busy months, and that might be reason enough to set a later date.

No Party at All

Some graduates are opting to travel instead of having a graduation party. Katie Viles, a college graduate this year, notes that the decision was simple. “The work that goes into just planning and setting up the party itself is enough of a reason to choose a different option,” she says. “Traveling is a great compromise because I still get to celebrate my accomplishments with the people who helped me succeed, but on a smaller scale.” Whether the destination is the next state over or another country, it’s all about finding a place to create memories and, as Viles says, knock a few things off of your bucket list.

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Joanna Johnson is an editorial intern with Greenspring Media. Currently, she is attending Hamline University, where she is studying English Literature, playing violin for the orchestra, and painting in her free time. As an avid storyteller, Joanna loves writing about arts and culture, design, travel, and health.