For the past several weeks, our lives have been turned upside down in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools, businesses, and public services have been temporarily halted in order to work as a nation and community to stop the spread of the virus. Now, with things changing daily, many states are choosing to keep schools closed for the remainder of the 2019/2020 school year and students and teachers are switching to online learning. Graduating high school and college seniors (and even those transitioning from other milestones, such as kindergarten) are grappling with the cancellation of graduation ceremonies, parties, and even family events. While social distancing guidelines and statewide stay-at-home orders mean limiting gatherings and staying at least 6 feet away from others, it does not limit our ability to celebrate! Are you ready to boost your graduate’s spirits? We’ve compiled 15 of the top ways to social distance and still celebrate your graduate this spring.
Organize a Group Video Call
Birthday parties, book clubs, and yes, graduation parties are making their way in the digital world. A longtime staple for corporations and remote workers, video conferencing tools have seen a huge uptick in downloads and users in the past several weeks. Universities, K-12 schools, churches, families, and groups of friends are now using these tools to connect and be together while still maintaining social distancing.
Organize your grad’s celebration with friends and family by inviting them to log on to a video call at a designated time. Surprise your graduate by having participants sing, cheer, swap stories about their time as a student, offer up toasts, and spend time together celebrating this milestone.
Tools We Love: We have had success using popular conferencing sites and apps such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, and Houseparty, all of which allow multiple users to be on the same call at one time. Find the tool that works best for you!
Create a Video Montage
Who doesn’t love a good video montage? Especially when it includes messages from friends and family across the globe. In lieu of sending party invitations, send an email to friends and family and ask them to submit a short video expressing their love and congratulations to your graduate.
For those who are tech-savvy, or simply love a creative project, you can use video editing tools like iMovie or Adobe Premiere Pro to compile each individual video into one movie. Add some music and photos to transition between clips.
Tools We Love: If compiling movies and making montages sounds like a challenge, we’ve got you covered! Try using VidHug to invite, record, and compile your video. Through the platform, you can send an invitation to all your family and friends, they record their video on any device, and the VidHug team compiles your movie so it is ready for graduation day.
Celebrate the Day of the Grad
Every graduate has their favorite things: foods, activities, games, hobbies. Make a plan for graduation day to be designated the “Day of the Grad.” Take the day to celebrate everything your graduate loves. If your grad is currently part of your household, make the day a family event. Start with their favorite breakfast, followed by a movie marathon, video game competitions, backyard board games, and a day full of their favorite snacks. Does your grad love to be outside? Build your own backyard disc golf course, or introduce the family to games like Bocce Ball or Spikeball.
If your graduate is living elsewhere during this stay-at-home season, send them a gift basket of all their favorite things so that they can celebrate in place. Send a combination of fun ingredients for their favorite foods, a favorite movie, book, snacks, or gift cards.
Tools We Love: If time is limited, consider using Amazon to send a care package of your graduate’s favorite things.
Have a Graduation Block-Party
Whether your graduate lives at home or is living in a different city, state, or across town, they are surrounded by neighbors who would love to help them celebrate. Pick a designated day and time to have neighbors hang signs in their front windows, and even step outside (maintaining appropriate distance, of course) to cheer, shout, bang pots and pans, and create a celebration in honor of your grad.
If you don’t currently live with your student, ask roommates and friends to help spread the word to the neighborhood. Just make sure to get your graduate outside at the right time so that he or she can enjoy the community-wide celebration.
Tools We Love: Purchase a custom photo yard sign here.
Host a Backyard (or Virtual) Graduation Ceremony
Many graduates have already received their caps and gowns, which they will now never wear in a ceremony. Host your own graduation ceremony (with or without the gown!) and give your grad a chance to be recognized.
Small, backyard ceremonies with family (for those who live together) will provide great photo opportunities. Take snapshots with your grad to add to a future memory book. For virtual or backyard ceremonies, ask your graduate to share some of their favorite moments in school, their favorite achievements, and their plans for the future. Take time to celebrate the things they are proud of accomplishing in this past season and dream about what lies ahead.
Organize a Graduate Card Exchange
Your graduate isn’t the only one feeling the quarantine blues. Work with your grad to organize a class-wide card exchange. Students can make cards to celebrate their classmates, share their favorite photos from the school year, and write down fun memories. So much of our connection these days is digital, but by mailing (or delivering) cards, your graduate and classmates can enjoy the experience of receiving handwritten notes and memories that will last a lifetime.
Tools We Love: Instead of purchasing pre-made cards, create a poster from postcards! Have everyone in the class send a postcard to every student. When all of the postcards have arrived, the back of each card combines to make a fun graduation poster.
Make a Virtual Yearbook
With the school year ending unexpectedly, seniors are missing a multitude of end-of-the-year celebrations, including prom, sporting events, and signing senior yearbooks. But this year’s seniors aren’t lacking creativity, and some are already going virtual with their senior memories.
How do you create a virtual yearbook? Some seniors are using hashtags on Instagram to create a space for their classmates to stay in touch and share photos from the school year. Another option includes creating a Facebook group specifically for the graduating class of 2020.
Tools We Love: To go above and beyond in gathering memories, thoughts, and photos from an entire graduation class, we love (for obvious reasons) the tools available at Newlywords. Your graduate and their classmates can all collaborate to make a memorable yearbook that gets shared via PDF or printed and shipped to their door.
Film Your Graduate
With parties and celebrations at a standstill, your family and friends are missing an opportunity to hear about your graduate’s future plans. Help them celebrate with you by filming a short video (on your smartphone, tablet, or camera) of your graduate. Share what lies ahead, how they are feeling, and their gratitude for family and friends that still want to celebrate their achievement.
Tools We Love: Create a group message in WhatsApp to send your video. That way friends can respond instantly and share their thoughts and encouragement with your graduate.
Sit Down to a Family Dinner
Nothing says “Cheers” quite like a dinner in your honor. Help make your graduate feel celebrated by cooking their favorite meal and hosting a family dinner complete with cake, gifts, and laughter. Is your grad not at home? Order their favorite meal and have it delivered to their door. Then grab your device and have a family video call over dinner as you eat, chat, and celebrate together from a distance.
Give the Gift of a Dorm/Apartment Shopping Spree
Graduation isn’t just the end of a school year, it is also the beginning of a new season. Celebrate your grad’s accomplishments by gifting them with an opportunity to prepare for what’s ahead. One way to take your grad’s mind off of the present is to let them fill their Amazon gift list with fun items for college or their future apartment. Send the list to family and friends and spread the love as dorm/housewarming gifts show up throughout the summer.
Share Your Favorite Books
Marie Kondo may recommend we keep a limited number of books in our possession, but any book lovers would beg to differ. Lift your graduate’s spirits by inviting family and friends to send their favorite book or a book that will provide encouragement, inspiration, or pure entertainment for your graduate. Encourage people to have books shipped from online stores or even give virtual books via Kindle.
Tools We Love: Not sure what book to give? Consider a subscription to Kindle Unlimited, giving your graduate access to thousands of books in every genre.
Encourage Lifelong Learning
While your graduate may be done (for now) with their traditional schooling, their graduation is a great opportunity to encourage their hobbies. For students who love working with their hands, give the gift of art supplies or tools they can use to pursue their respective hobby. If your graduate likes learning new skills, gift them online courses that will help them learn something new, fun, and creative. Encourage their aspirations even in the midst of the unknown.
Tools We Love: Whether your graduate loves to write, create music, act, play sports, or cook, we love the options available from MasterClass. Professionals from around the world teach online courses for almost any skill or hobby.
Deck the Halls With Graduation Décor
Sometimes a little bit of decorating goes a long way. Imagine your graduate waking up to a house (or room) full of banners, streamers, balloons, and all things graduation. Hang some encouraging quotes from the living room walls or decorate their chair at the dining room table. Just because the house isn’t full of family and friends doesn’t mean it can’t be full of graduation cheer.
Celebrate with Mascots and Merch
Whether your graduate is leaving high school, college, or beyond, help them create fun memories using their school mascot and merchandise. Turn an old high school T-shirt into a fun pillow or pillowcase, or if you’re extra crafty, add it to a quilt. For those graduating or heading to college, grab a hoodie, banner, or other fun products from the school’s online shop. Celebrate where they came from and where they are headed with memorable merchandise.
Tools We Love: Give the gift of a t-shirt quilt without the hassle. Memorystitch lets you choose the size and color of your quilt, you send them the shirts, and they do the rest.
Create a Memory Book
Before sending your graduate off on their next adventure, give them a collection of fun photos and memories from their life prior to graduation. Memory books are a great way to remind your grad that they are loved, celebrated, and fully prepared for their next stage of life.
Tools We Love: Traditional memory books and photo books include a collection of photos that you have sourced. At Newlywords, you can invite your entire family or group of friends to participate in making a more complete book of memories. With both PDF or printed books available, you can work behind the scenes with family to collaborate, share, and create a memory book that your graduate will cherish for years to come.