Backyard Graduation Party Ideas with Boxed Lunch

Awesome backyard graduation party ideas complete with picnic-style boxed lunch and outdoor decorations. These DIY tips work for any budget and are really great for daughters, but can also be tailored to sons. Start planning your celebration for the graduate now!

shabby chic graduation party with boxed lunches

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When it comes to graduation party ideas and themes, I’ve got you covered. This party has a little bit of shabby chic style, but it’s done with a picnic theme in mind.

It’s got kraft paper accents, boxed lunches, party tables and decorations. And it’s completely different from the classic black & gold graduation party or this keys to success theme.

Outdoor graduation party

Setting up the party outside makes perfect sense for a graduation celebration. It can play host to a small or large gathering, and you can make it as simple or ornate as you want.

boxed lunch place settings

If you’re party is small enough, or you have extra helpers, serve a pre-packed boxed lunch that can be set out just before guests arrive.

You can place them at each place setting, or set up a central table with all the boxes on it and let guests get their own. You can order the lunch boxes in bulk here.

what to put in a boxed lunch

Use tent cards or name cards to write down what’s inside the box, and tie it on. You can fill them with deli wraps, mini club sandwiches, classic pasta salad or pesto pasta salad, and fruit.

Indicate what type of meat is used in the wrap when writing on the card. Provide vegetarian options too.

Provide bamboo or wooden forks for guests to eat with. They look picnic party-worthy and they’re biodegradable.

Find out what to serve for a graduation party whether it’s in a lunchbox or a backyard cookout. I’ve assembled a whole bunch of recipes and ideas for you.

Table décor

backyard party table setting with boxed lunches

Create a table runner using simple kraft paper rolls. It’s an inexpensive way to add interest and it’s easy cleanup.

personalized graduation table runner

Attach custom photo circles to the kraft runner to add a personalized touch. You can incorporate circles and dots as a recurring theme throughout the party.

Serve punch in blue canning jars for a pop of color, and top them with these lids that allow a straw to go through while keeping bugs out. In this case, blue is the main accent color but you can use your school’s colors for more personalization.

Party decorations

shabby chic graduation dessert table
mini popcorn bags pinned to wire gate

Get these vintage-style bags of kettle corn. They make great snacks to grab if you’re waiting for lunch or to take home for later.

Pin them to a vintage wire gate or to hanging twine attached to an empty frame or two posts. That way they become part of the décor.

graduation cake topper

The cake is traditionally the main item for dessert. Order a specialty cake from the bakery and top it with a diy mini cake banner topper.

macarons under wire cloche

Include delicious macarons and golden graduation party punch to the table.

shabby chic graduation party ideas, notes for the graduate

Special activity

Provide note cards and let guests write down thoughtful sentiments. It makes a very special keepsake for the guest of honor. Here are some ideas.

  • Guests can write down something they love about the graduate.
  • They can write down a special time or moment they had together.
  • Write down a special memory they have about the guest of honor.
  • Give some words of wisdom to carry into the future.

Place pencils in a monogrammed mug that the graduate can take with her, and have an attractive caddy ready to hold the notes.

gifts in wire basket

A wire basket makes a fantastic place for guests to place their gifts. Dress it up with themed items like the graduation year, and a graduation pennant.

graduation party decoration

Fill an urn or vase with Styrofoam and top it with moss or paper filler. Insert numbers for the graduation year or school pennants for décor.

Add a special accent that shows off where the graduate will go to college, or their career path.

shabby chic graduation party ideas, favors table

Frame photos of the graduate and place them on tables throughout the party. You can use photos from when they were a baby all the way up to now.

For the easiest graduation decorations possible, place a stack of books and a rolled up “diploma” on the table. For a little extra effort add a DIY graduation cap.

Party Favors

Toffee candies make great edible favors. Place some in kraft paper sacks so guests can take a bag home with them.

Doesn’t this make you want to host a backyard graduation party or picnic with boxed lunches? Would be a great idea for family reunions too!

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  1. Darling Chris! I especially love the box lunches. And that cake is wow! 🙂

  2. Rousse, I found these in the $1 aisle at either Target or Michaels a couple of years ago. I haven’t seen them since. I’ve seen the solid kraft, or the black and white polka dot boxes online though.

  3. What a fun party! Can you tell me where you printed the round photos? I am unable to get a successful google search on those!

  4. my daughter’s graduating from 8th grade in june and when we saw your post on instagram she fell in love with all of it. may i ask where you got the kraft wrapping paper table runner? thank you so so much for the inspiration and for being so generous in sharing your talents!

    1. Thanks Ann. So glad to hear she liked it. I picked up the wrapping paper from HomeGoods. You can find it at most places that sell wrapping these days. I think I’ve even seen this one (with the dots) at the Dollar Tree before.

  5. Hi Chris,
    Love all your ideas! I am having a HS graduation party for my daughter. Approx 80 people possibly more. I am looking for food buffet ideas, something simple and how much food per person? The party will start in the afternoon and people will come and go especially the kids. Any thoughts?

    1. Hi Darlene,
      While I can make food suggestions, the amount for that size crowd is a bit outside of my realm of expertise and more of a catering question, unless you have people bringing potluck style.
      I would stick to foods that can be made and served in large batches, like pulled pork, beef, or chicken bbq {with buns}, hot dogs, hamburgers, even a fajita station. These would appeal to both younger and older guests.
      If you want to do it more ‘open house’ style wtih people coming and going, I would suggest party trays from your local grocer, caterer, or restaurant. Those are nice, too, because they’re usually already sold in quantities for 20 people, 50 people, 100 people, etc.

  6. Thanks Brenda. I thought the bags were so cute – you never know what you’ll be inspired by!

  7. I love every detail about this party. The one that really stands out to me though is the fence gate with the bags of pop corn pinned to it. That makes a wonderful background for the cake table and brings your eye up. Well done!

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