Drive Thru Graduation Party

When my daughter’s high school announced in March that it would have to close it’s doors due to our global pandemic, we were all very concerned, but thought it would be temporary. Then while her school was still closed in May, and announced that it would not reopen for her to finish her senior year, we started to think about what this would mean for graduation. Through the tears (mine) and disappointment (still mine), we wondered, could we figure out how to throw a Drive Thru Graduation Party?

The short answer is of course we could, and the long answer takes up the remainder of this blog post! I have a ton of experience hosting kids birthday parties at home, with a whole bunch of them taking place in my front yard. Though I searched high and low, there were no existing examples or inspiration on google or pinterest of how to do my own drive thru graduation party. Let me just quickly preface this post by saying that we took the health of our family and guests very seriously and did not take any chances with any aspect of our celebration.

Choosing a Theme

Banners, signage and a dessert table backdrop sign are all things I do on the regular. But, for some reason, I was struggling with the overall vision and concept – and then it hit me. My daughter’s High School sent a lawn sign to display in the yard, so why not match that? Their logo is black with a rainbow assortment of squares on it, and rainbow is such an eye catching color scheme, decision made!

With some decorations ready to go in the black and rainbow design, I still wanted more! My daughter and all of her friends had been (obsessively) playing the Nintendo Switch game of Animal Crossing since the shutdown started – so much so, that she added her avatar to her graduation cap (she is the one in the middle of the photo above). This gave me an additional idea to illustrate her character in a graduation setting to add to the graphics of the party decorations.

Eye Catching Balloon Garland

This is the first time I’ve wanted to attempt a balloon garland like this and I was so intimidated by the thought of it, I asked a friend for some help. While I couldn’t exactly hire Brittany of Pop Culture Memphis to come and put one up for me (mainly because she is in Memphis, and I am in Southern California), I did hire her to plan it and send me all the supplies for it-except for the electric balloon pump.

She was SO helpful in making the vision a reality! It was one less thing I needed to worry about and figure out on my own. But, there was still so much more to do:

  • our yard needed to be really festive
  • the decor had to call immediate attention to what kind of event
  • this had to really celebrate the guest of honor
  • our event needed to be mostly socially distant (I say mostly, because some of those invited were already in our “bubble”)

Party During a Quarantine

One other item I designed was a 9 ft. tall teardrop banner to attract attention from the street. I chose our “Animal Crossing” avatar illustration for it, added her name, and had it printed online. Yes, it was a little bit expensive, but two things: one, we were able to leave it in the front yard for a month after the party to continue the festive mood (the neighbors loved it!) and two, my budget for her original party (had there not been a pandemic) was WAY more than I could spend on this front yard drive by.

That is my son looking like a security guard, this pic makes me laugh. Okay, where were we? I wanted to be sure that guests were treated to one of my signature dessert table spreads, but I couldn’t let them touch anything. My friend Kristin made DELICIOUS salted caramel cupcakes, and the graduate herself made fruity pebble treats, ALL individually wrapped, stickered and packaged in a handled gift bag. DONE!

While some chose to stay in their car and honk and wave from a distance, some donned their mask and “smiled” for a 6ft. photo with the guest of honor. For those who stayed in their cars, we had a couple of those claw grabber tools to hand out the gift bags of sweets. I also bought some popper streamer tubes and (don’t tell my daughter this) dropped them off at local family and friends houses so that they could pop them at the graduate from their cars.

For Our Graduates

We had multiple graduates from my daughter’s class come to celebrate “together”. High School graduation is a pretty big deal, and I wanted her friends to feel like this event celebrated them as well, so all of our graduates were given purple orchid leis. I was not going to let any of her friends get away without a cap and gown photo, so a few at a time came up to the balloon garland for a quick snap (there was a really good breeze on this day as well, and that worked in our favor!).

the wrap up

I wish her party and her graduation as a whole could have been different. I wish EVERYTHING could be different right now. She did tell me that her party was everything she wanted, and that makes me feel a little better. I would like to give a shout out to my sister – the ever present and oh SO talented photographer, my husband for cleaning the front yard within an inch of its life to make it look as good as it did, to my son for being my shadow and gopher all day, and to my daughter, for putting up with it all.

And while this is a party set that you can’t buy on our site (that thing called copyright), I hope that you have the ideas and inspiration to set up a party of your own. Birthday, graduation or baby shower, we’ve got the printable decorations to get the party started!


More Customizable Party Themes for Your Front Yard Party
You can easily customize all of these party themes to celebrate in style!

We also have GREAT BIG GIANT photo booth props in Graduation and Birthday themes to make your car parade way more festive!

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