Graduation Party Ideas – “Keys To Success” Theme

graduation party shabby chic table for "keys to success" theme

This spring I set out to create graduation party ideas with a “Keys to Success” theme. I wanted a pretty, but relaxed party for a college graduate who’s ready to enter the working world and needs to know the keys to success. I was inspired by the shabby chic or Anthropologie style and I love how all the elements came together.   

I designed 3 separate areas for this party and will highlight each one in a different post so as not to send you into photo overload all at once. I’ll start with the seated table, which for me is always a great place to get my creative juices flowing.  To see the “Keys to Success” dessert table and decorative Key & favor guest table visit these links.

graduation party shabby chic table for "keys to success" themegraduation party shabby chic table for "keys to success" themegraduation party shabby chic table for "keys to success" themegraduation party shabby chic table for "keys to success" themegraduation party shabby chic table for "keys to success" theme

Get The Look:

  • I started with a golden hued fabric with a cotton plant graphic which is both modern and earthy at the same time. I used less than 2 yards to create table runners for each table, which ties all the party spaces together visually.
  • Next, I had already spotted these fantastic printed paper place mats from Cake {via Daily Grommet} and knew they would add the perfect touch to this table. Also important is that they come in a pad of 50 so they’re a savvy item to use for large parties – and easy clean up! The logical choice was to use my clear glass plates so the design would show through. Glass plates are only $1 at the Dollar Tree so you can stock up for all your entertaining needs.
  • One of my favorite details of this party design are the napkin treatments that double as place cards. I found metal frames/book plates at the craft store, added jump rings to each side, and looped ribbon through to tie around the napkin. Just print out the guest’s names on color coordinating card stock and attach it with double-sided tape. They can even be used as take-home favors too.
  • Another budget-friendly choice was to use canning jars for drinks, but to dress them up I topped them with a crochet doily and secured it with bakers twine. The doilies keep bugs out of drinks, and the open weave holds a straw securely in place.
  • To bring our “Keys to Success” theme to the table I placed keys and key holes around the table. I’ve been collecting the keys for $1 each for about 2 years, and have amassed quite the collection. I knew I would find a great use for them “one day!” The key holes were part of the metal scrap booking/crafting section at Michael’s.

graduation party shabby chic table for "keys to success" themegraduation party shabby chic table for "keys to success" themegraduation party shabby chic table for "keys to success" themegraduation party shabby chic table for "keys to success" theme

  • For the centerpiece I used golden billy balls, white babies breath, and white hydrangeas to match our party’s color palette. These were divided among a collection of yellow vases lined down the center of the table {again, collected over time}.
  • TIP: Did you know you can buy large hydrangea heads and divide them to get several arrangements. Great money saver!
  • For the center of the table, a bird cage was used to make the flowers even more of a focal point. Green mossy filler around the base adds more color and texture.
  • Pennants bring a collegiate element to the celebration. These were printed out, attached to wooden skewers, and inserted into the flower arrangements. The large pennant was a free download from The Pretty Blog.

I hope you’re inspired with ideas for hosting your own graduation or other celebration. See the rest of this party shoot for even more details here: “Keys To Success” party.


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About Chris

Chris Nease is a party stylist and home entertaining expert with over 15 years of experience. In addition to her work as founding editor of Celebrations At Home, Chris is an editorial stylist and has contributed to, SheKnows, and countless other websites. Most recently she was featured in Celebrate magazine, and her work has been published in Woman's World, Ocala Style, Yum Food & Fun for Kids, and Cottages & Bungalows.


  1. This is seriously adorable!!! I love that fabric, I’ve almost purchased it a few times, ha! I am totally going to use the doily/mason jar idea!!! GREAT job!

  2. Chris, what fantastic styling. Any grad would be lucky to attend such a chic party. We love how you worked in the Cake vintage paper placemats, they fit with your theme perfectly! Can’t wait to see more!

  3. Chris, you are such a pro at details. I adore the doilies over the tops of the mason jars and the little hanging tags off the top of the glassware is just gorgeous! This screams Anthropologie! Love. IT.

  4. I just did a yellow ombre post and found this table setting as great inspiration!

  5. This is just FABULOUS. Loving all the details and the color scheme! :)

  6. I love all of the antique keys! Perfectly done.

  7. Thank you all for your sweet comments!

  8. Chris – this party theme is just stunning. Thank you so much for linking up at my link party. Just to let you know I featured your wonderful project on homework today. Stop by and grab a featured button. Thanks again for linking up your project – have a wonderful weekend.
    carolyn | homework

  9. When my daughter graduated last year, I went with a total non-traditional Daisy Shabby Chic theme! It was sweet and lovely! You have some wonderful ideas here…love the doilies over the glasess!

  10. This is beautiful! Please come link up to my Saturday Link Party…

  11. Brilliant idea! I love the keys and anything vintage looking. The color combo is awesome too! I’d love to feature this on my blog later this week with full credit to you, hope that’s okay!

  12. Meghan says:

    I love everything about this party! Where do you pick up your keys from? I know you said that you’ve amassed them over a couple of years, but I’m not sure where I should look for such things.

    • Thank you Meghan! I picked up the keys in the $1 aisle at Michael’s. They tend to get them in from time to time.

  13. What craft store did you find the tiny metal frames/book plates? This party is gorgeous!

    • Thank you, Ricka. I found those at Michael’s, but Hobby Lobby & JoAnne’s has similar items too.

      • Thanks for your response! I will go look at each of those stores locally. I’m planning a tea party for my daughter, and these would be awesome for the table scape.

  14. Where can this fabric be purchased?

  15. I love the golden hued fabric!! where can I buy it?

  16. CAROLE GRAY says:





    • Carole, I got that at Michael’s and it’s not too large. Maybe 10″ tall(?).
      I am going to want to see photos of your completed party! :-)

  17. Jaqueline DeAssis says:

    It’s just gorgeous! You are such a great artist.


  1. […] I love the way the golden yellow pops against the neutrals of brown and cream/white.  To see the seated table in part 1 of this graduation shoot visit the […]

  2. […] with the addition of a Key display that’s framed and placed prominently.  You can see the coordinating seated table and dessert table […]

  3. […] morning I came upon the Celebrations At Home, the blog of  Chris Nease, who is a party stylist and home entertaining expert with over 15 years […]

  4. […] of years but wasn’t completely smitten until I got this vintage style above and used it in my Keys to Success tablescape. The impact these papers make on a tabletop are amazing and economical – great to use for […]

  5. […] an economical and stylish way to serve drinks, canning jars are one of my favorite things. I like to dress them up with ribbon, twine, bakers twine, lace, etc, according to the occasion. The mini 4 oz size is also […]

  6. […] Photo Sources:  Table – Kristeen Labrot Events on HWTM,  Tutu jars – Icing Designs on On To Baby,  Frames – photography by Sara Lucero on On To Baby,  Tea Cup –  A Style Collective,  Favor jars –  A Petite Soiree,  Centerpiece –  Modern Moments,  Chair –  HWTM,  Silver tray chalkboard –  Style Me Pretty,  Place setting –  Celebrations At Home […]

  7. […] like all-purpose pub glasses for water, iced tea, or other beverage. In addition, 8 oz wide-mouth canning jars make fantastic glasses for casual occasions.  What I love about them: they add an air of […]

  8. […] Keys to Success Graduation Party Theme – Celebrations as Home […]

  9. […] Graduation Party Ideas – “Keys To Success” Theme — Celebrations at Home says: September 22, 2012 at 4:17 pm […]

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