Among the struggles of this year, the Class of 2020 faces the disappointment of lockdowns and social distancing resulting in limited graduation ceremonies – or no opportunity to walk at all.
Augusta University’s Office of the Provost decided only last week that instead of the limited four guests per graduate, no guests would be allowed to attend commencement this Friday, Dec. 11. Social distancing mandates still discourage large gatherings and the usual parties or outings expected for graduation celebrations. Times such as these call for some creative celebration solutions. Here are seven ways you can celebrate the 2020 graduate in your life, safely and spectacularly.
Send them a gift
This classic way of showing support will not go unnoticed. Whether you ship a physical gift or send them a digital gift card, the graduate in your life will certainly feel noticed and supported by you. Some great graduation gift ideas are a subscription box, a small tech gadget, food or a gift box. Consider any local shops and restaurants your graduating friend loves. Add a thoughtful note and the congratulations are complete.
Throw a video party
One thing that is wonderful about video parties is that you can invite anyone across the globe to join. That friend they made in Italy during their study abroad trip? Their favorite cousin who moved three states away? They can come; the only obstacle is time zones. Ask the graduate which faces they would love to see and take care of the rest. Be sure to incorporate virtual games that center around the main theme of graduation and the graduate themself. Or keep it simple –ask everyone to join the party with their favorite drink and prepare a one or two minute toast to honor the graduate.
Honor them with a social media post
Because of the limited or canceled ceremonies and celebrations, many 2020 graduates may feel undervalued or unseen. Creating a thoughtful social media post, while a small gesture, can be a kind way to shine the spotlight on your friend or family member. This lets them know that not only do you recognize their achievement, you want to share the joy of their achievement with others. Use appropriate photos if you have any. And don’t forget to tag them!
Pay for their graduation photoshoot
A photoshoot is a great, safe way to highlight this momentous achievement in someone’s life, and paying for it is a thoughtful and easy gift for a graduating student. If they have already done this or are planning to do it, ask if the cost is covered and if not, would you be able to do the honors? If they haven’t had a chance to schedule a shoot but you know they would enjoy having this memory commemorated, you could find a photographer and schedule it for them.
Collaborate on a video gift for the graduate
Honor the graduating student with a compilation of videos from loved ones. Send out a call for such videos from friends and family that the graduating student would love to hear from but can’t because of distance or circumstance. Make sure you specify the content expected, video length, landscape or portrait mode, a deadline and how to submit the video to you. Sometimes specific prompts can help your contributors, such as “discuss your favorite memory of James” or “Tell Ragen why you are proud of her.” Make sure you give yourself enough time to edit the videos together and download the final product on a disk or thumb drive to give to the recipient. This can be a special gift that the graduate will return to again and again as the years pass.
Have a small gathering cook-out
Large in-door gatherings are a bust, but a small group of family or friends can be safe and fun if the necessary guidelines are followed. Host a grill-out in the backyard to honor the graduating student. If it’s chilly out, have a bonfire. Bust out some champagne and toast the graduate.
Host a ceremony at home
You can take the outdoor party idea to the next level by staging an outdoors, socially-distanced graduation ceremony. This can be as brief or as grand as the graduate would like it to be. A fun way to approach it is to research the basics of a graduation ceremony and get the invited group to pitch in. Their roommate can be the keynote speaker. The diploma can be a rolled up piece of cardstock. The graduating student can even deliver their own student speaker address. And after-party hors d’oeuvres can take place immediately at a table close by. This type of intimate ceremony can easily be more entertaining and satisfying than most university commencements: it’s focused, free and performed with the people you love most.
Whether or not you consider the above ideas, be sure to let the graduating student in your life know that you care and are proud of them. Augusta University is immensely proud of its students for making it through this challenging year. You can watch Augusta University’s commencement ceremonies virtually at augusta.edu/stream.
To find out more about graduation and job-hunting in 2020, listen to the latest episode of In the Wild.