4 Ways to Celebrate Class of 2020 Graduates

With graduation canceled, it’s more important than ever to pay tribute to graduates. Here are some thoughtful ways and gift ideas that can help you celebrate this important coming-of-age moment, even in uncertain times.

Schools are closed and in-person graduation ceremonies are delayed or canceled for this spring, but young graduates are nonetheless reaching a meaningful milestone as they wrap up their high school and college educations virtually. Family and friends can help graduates celebrate these years-in-the-making accomplishments, even in the absence of the traditions to which we’re all accustomed, with new, creative—and safe!—ways to celebrate.

“Celebrations shouldn’t be skipped entirely because we can’t do things the way we usually do,” says Aileen Avery, author of Gift Rap: The History and Art of Gift Giving.

Graduations are more than mere parties, after all. Marking the passing of time with ceremonies is an ancient practice, Avery points out. “It’s important to celebrate graduation because of the shift these rituals represent,” she explains. “A student is going from childhood into adulthood; or from a student into the working world. In modern times, many of us don’t have a rite of passage as we go from child to adult, so these graduations represent that for us.” 

Certain traditions, like ordering class rings, are easy to maintain virtually, despite social distancing. The class of 2020 can also still send out graduation announcements, for example. “This provides relatives and family friends the opportunity to send presents or funds to the graduate, as they would have in normal circumstances,” says Avery.

If you know of a young grad who will be throwing their cap at home instead of in an auditorium this year, these fun and inventive ideas can help you communicate that their accomplishments matter and the future is still bright.

1. Make a Visual Display

Let the whole neighborhood know you’re celebrating a graduation by decorating the exterior of your house—if your graduate doesn’t protest too much. Hang a colorful sign, anchor balloons in your yard, display your graduate’s jersey or awards on your front porch, or wrap your front door with streamers in your kid’s college colors. If your grad is embarrassed by the thought of an external display, you can do the same thing inside your four walls. You can also ask friends and family to make signs of their own, then schedule a time for them to drive by your block to cheer from their car windows.

2. Compile Congrats Videos

Ask friends and family to record a video for the graduate, offering their congratulations and well-wishes for the future. Have them send their videos digitally and then edit them together with music and a slideshow of school photos throughout the years. “This makes things so personal,” says Avery, noting that distance is no object for such a project. You can include the request for the videos in a note with the graduation announcement, to help get the word out.

Add a personalized video greeting to any present—and have it delivered instantly by text or email—when you gift using GiftNow.

3. Shop for College Colors

High school students are often eager to show school spirit as they look forward to heading out on their own. Create a collegiate care package with a t-shirt, hoodie sweatshirt, or hat from the graduate’s future alma mater— all easily giftable with GiftNow via American Eagle’s Tailgate line.

4. Give a Memorable Gift

By pooling together with other friends or family, you may be able to buy a significant gift that will help a young graduate transition into the next step of life. Not sure what to gift? “Gift ideas that are hopeful and future-thinking are always good,” says Avery. A new laptop, smartphone, or other equipment can help new grads during their job search or help launch them in their new career, along with professional-looking or personalized laptop carriers and cases. Or go a bit more personal with a classic gift, such as a watch or earrings.

For more ideas on how to help the Class of 2020 celebrate this year, check out these inspired gift ideas that Gen Z will love!

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