What to Do at a Graduation Party: 8 Sober Ideas


High school graduation is more than just a party — it’s an exciting milestone and a moment for teens to acknowledge all the hard work that went into 13 years of school. Congratulations!

Of course, such a significant achievement does call for a celebration! Unfortunately, the pomp and circumstance of graduation parties can be spoiled by underage drinking. A recent study found that more than 834,000 young people between the ages of 12 to 17 had participated in binge drinking. It’s safe to say that some of that binge drinking took place on graduation day.

It’s smart for teens to celebrate graduation (or any milestone) without alcohol. That’s why we put together this list of things to do at a graduation party, so teens can celebrate the beginning of a new chapter safely and soberly!

The Health & Legal Risks of Underage Drinking

Whether it’s at graduation or any time in a teen’s life, alcohol can have dangerous impacts on a young person’s brain. The adolescent brain is not fully developed until about age 25. High school grads may legally be adults at age 18, but their brains still have a lot of growing to do. Talk to your teen about the effects of underage drinking, including:

  • Disrupted brain development and decreased brain activity
  • Increase in stress and anxiety
  • Difficulty processing and storing memories
  • Increased risk of developing a substance use disorder

Underage drinking not only poses health risks but can also lead to legal problems for teens and parents. Before allowing your teenager to drink, you should know that it’s illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to consume or possess alcohol in North Carolina. Anyone convicted of providing alcohol to someone under 21 could face fines and community service for a first offense.

Our state also upholds a zero-tolerance policy toward underage drinking and driving. There’s no amount of alcohol a teen can drink before getting behind the wheel of a car. Penalties can include having your driver’s license suspended, fines, and community service.

What To Do at a Graduation Party Instead of Drinking

So, what to do at a graduation party to make it memorable and safe? Here are some creative ideas for teens that don’t involve a drop of alcohol:

  1. Fill a Snack Bar With Unique Treats: Everyone loves treats! Consider setting up a churro bar or a snow cone machine to add a fun and unique twist to your party. Adding fun food can make the day memorable and sweet!
  2. Theme Parties: Consider a theme! Whether it’s a beach theme, retro, or movie night, picking a theme can make decorating easy and more fun. It makes the celebration memorable and allows guests to dress up.
  3. Offer Some Family-Friendly Fun: Yes, your teen is graduating, but who doesn’t love acting like a kid every now and then? Cornhole, darts, volleyball, touch football, or other games can keep people entertained, busy, and having fun without alcohol. It’s great for younger siblings and adults too!
  4. Mocktail Hour: Serve delicious, creative mocktails. This shows teens that fun and tasty beverages don’t need to include alcohol.
  5. Music and Dance: Dance the night away! Hire a DJ or set up a good speaker system and a dance floor. Music brings everyone together and keeps the energy up!
  6. Photo Booths With Props: Set up a photo booth area with fun props related to the graduation theme. It’s a great way for guests to capture memories of the day.
  7. Walk Down Memory Lane: Create a “walk down memory lane” with photos and memorabilia of the graduate’s journey from kindergarten to high school. Looking back on the past can be fun, and can also be a great way to start conversations.
  8. Guest Book or Message Board: Have a guest book or a message board where friends and family can write messages of encouragement and advice for the new graduate.


Take the First Step to Prevent Underage Drinking

Finding something to do for a graduation party that doesn’t involve alcohol is just one step. Create a safe environment and open dialogue about the dangers of underage drinking to make a lasting impact on your teen.

While North Carolina is a zero-tolerance state, preventing the other physical, emotional, and academic impacts of underage drinking are still important to keep in mind. This graduation season, ensure celebrations are safe and sober.

Start the Conversation and Take the Pledge to prevent underage drinking today!