While we practice social distancing to control the spread of COVID-19, we’ll have to get creative as we celebrate the Class of 2020. Check out these ideas and tips for making graduates feel special while staying safer-at-home.


Ceremonies and celebrations:

1. Host a virtual graduation party

  • Unfortunately, it’s not currently safe to have a huge in-person party with friends and family. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get everyone together! Host a virtual graduation party on a video service such as Zoom, and let your graduate feel special from a distance! Consider having one party for friends and one for the family to keep crowds small and conversations meaningful.

2. Hold your own graduation ceremony at home

  • While group graduations are canceled, that doesn’t mean you can’t host your own! Decorate your living room, dining room, outdoor space, or anywhere else in the house and give your graduate their own personal graduation! Create a memorable – and exclusive! – graduation ceremony they’ll remember for years to come!

3. Create a celebratory backdrop for virtual parties and ceremonies

  • Create a festive backdrop for your grad to sit in front of during virtual graduation parties and their school’s virtual graduation. Use their school’s colors to really make it feel special!

4. Save the date for June 9

  • If your graduate is a student at a Philadelphia public school, that means their virtual graduation is still on! The School District of Philadelphia will be holding virtual graduation for all graduating seniors on Tuesday, June 9 at 11 a.m. And be sure to stick around for the official SDP graduation after-party, hosted by the Kimmel Center! There will be guest speakers, music, and more! To learn more, check out the School District’s website.

5. Join in on “20 for 20” on June 9 at 1 p.m!

  • Once graduation is over, make sure the whole neighborhood knows! The District is asking the entire city to join in congratulating the students and showing “graditude” for their efforts by participating in their “20 for 20” event. Step outside your home or place of work on June 9 at 1 p.m, which is the conclusion of the virtual graduation, and make 20 seconds of noise for the Class of 2020. You can applaud, play music, sing, whistle, honk a horn or even do that unique Philadelphia custom of banging a pot or pan. It’s that simple: 20 seconds for the Class of 2020.

6. Host a drive-by graduation parade

  • Invite family and friends to decorate their cars and drive by your front door to celebrate! Your graduate can even dress in their cap and gown and wave to friends and family from the front step.

7. Have a walking graduation party

  • Celebrate your graduate while also getting healthy by having a walking graduation party! Let your friends and family know what time you’ll be walking by so they can celebrate your child from a safe distance!

8. Bring the restaurant home

  • Support your graduate’s favorite restaurant by picking up the food and bringing it back home! Enjoy a special meal with one another to commemorate your graduate’s great achievement.

9. Plan for a party in the future

  • Just because you can’t celebrate together now doesn’t mean you won’t be able to later! Sit down with your graduate and plan a graduation party for later, when it’s safer to come together and celebrate.


Do-it-yourself ideas:

10. Make a photo wreath of past graduations

  • Let your graduate know that they follow in a long line of other family and friends who’ve graduated by making a special graduation wreath! Print out pictures of family members, friends, and even your graduate’s kindergarten and 8th-grade graduations to create a fun and beautiful keepsake.

11. Make a video montage with friends and family

  • Take the traditional graduation card and upgrade it to a special graduation video! Invite friends and family to record a special message for your graduate, and create a video with them using services like Apple iMovie or Tribute. This special video will be something your graduate can enjoy and cherish for years to come.

12. Have a graduation photoshoot

  • While some of Philadelphia’s parks are closed during COVID-19, there are many nature trails and spaces still available for you to enjoy. Get your graduate outside for a fun and unique photoshoot to celebrate their achievements!

13. Create a high school memory book

  • Graduation is the culmination of years of hard work and dedication by your graduate. Remind them of all they have done the past four years by creating a memory book of their time in high school! This fun gift will make them feel special and will be a wonderful keepsake for years to come.

14. Create a time capsule

  • This is a big moment for your graduate! Give them something to look forward to by making a physical (or digital!) time capsule with some of their school memorabilia to open at college graduation, union graduation, or another major life moment! Have your graduate write a note to their future self with encouraging words or hopes for their next chapter!

15. Surprise them with a t-shirt quilt

  • Over 4 years in high school, it’s possible that your graduate has accumulated a lot of school shirts. Help your graduate remember all the good times that they had by creating a quilt made of all of their high school t-shirts. It will keep them warm and serve as a great reminder of all the good times that they had.

16. Write a song for your graduate

  • Want to make this moment special with an artistic twist? Write about it! Create a song or poem about this special time in your graduate’s life to give them a personal piece of art to cherish for the rest of their life!

17. Make a memory jar

  • Give your graduate a special keepsake made just for them with a memory jar! Ask friends and family to send you notes of their favorite memories they have with your graduates, and fill the jar so your grad can look back on all the wonderful times they’ve had with loved ones!


Show your support:

18. Share your support online

  • It’s your graduate’s special day and everyone should know! Shout out your graduate (and any others you may know!) on platforms like Twitter and Instagram. Be sure to use the hashtag #OurClassOurFuture and joining the hundreds of other proud families and friends celebrating their graduate!

19. Prepare for the next chapter

  • Graduation is the culmination of a lot of hard work during high school. But it’s not the end – it’s just the beginning! Use this time now to get ready for your next step. Help your graduate fill out their FAFSA, explore careers, and connect with mentors who will help them in the next chapter of their lives.

20. Acknowledge this moment and all the hard work along the way

  • After in-person classes ended and our lives changed abruptly, it can be easy to overlook all the work it actually took to make it to this moment. High school graduation is the culmination of almost 12 years of study and effort on the part of your graduate. Make sure that they take a minute to feel proud of all that they did, so they know they can do anything that they want in life!


Join the School District of Philadelphia for the Class of 2020 Virtual Graduation.