March 22, 2010 08:00 ET

Graduation Announcements 101

Tips for Announcing the Big Day With Style

MISSION, KS--(Marketwire - March 22, 2010) -  (Family Features) You've done the hard work, put in the long hours -- and now graduation is finally here. Whether it's for high school or college graduation announcements you'll want to spread the news and celebrate with friends and family.

There are certain specific etiquette rules that apply to this unique special occasion. These tips will help you create graduation announcements and invitations that reflect who you are while celebrating in style.

What to Send
If you want people to attend the graduation ceremony, you need to send out graduation invitations.

  • Schools often limit the number of guests you can invite and will issue event tickets. It's best to only invite family members and closest friends.
  • Send invitations 10 to 14 days before the event. If guests must travel to attend, give them at least 6 weeks notice.
  • Most recipients will assume a gift is expected, so if you do not wish to receive one, add "No gifts, please" to the card.
  • Include clear directions and parking instructions to the venue.

To let a larger group of people know about the big day, send out graduation announcements.

  • They can be sent at any time, even up to two weeks after the ceremony.
  • Announcements do not mean that a gift is expected, so, again, you may want to add "No gifts, please" to the card.

If you're planning a graduation party, you should send out a separate invitation just for that event.

  • Party invitations should be sent 3 to 4 weeks in advance.
  • Include directions and/or a map.
  • Be sure to indicate the dress code.

Making it Personal
These days, you can go as formal or as informal as you like with graduation announcements and graduation party invitations. One way to make it truly unique is to create personalized photo announcements. Add your own special message, school and degree information, and a photo of yourself. Some online services save you time by printing and mailing the cards directly to the people on your list.

A Personal Follow-Up
When graduation is over, it's important to thank those who attended the ceremony and those who sent gifts. Using personalized stationery or photo thank-you cards is another great way to express your gratitude in a unique way. Take photos at the party with each guest or with their gift -- then create a special photo card for each person. With a site like there's no minimum order, so you can create a personalized thank you card for each recipient.

If you're feeling really creative, include a photo business card with your picture and new contact information -- it's a memorable way to help people keep up with you as you start a new chapter in life. Find out how to make your custom photo cards and photo graduation announcements at