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Home Blog FranklyStein Navigating the ABCs of graduation etiquette — FranklyStein

Navigating the ABCs of graduation etiquette — FranklyStein

Last year I got a graduation announcement in the mail from a friend I hadn’t seen in a while. After I recovered from the shock that her daughter was old enough to graduate from high school, I started to wonder what I should do. Did the announcement mean I should send a gift?

Before I had a chance to do anything, the announcement got buried on my kitchen counter, and I forgot about it. And it turns out, that was OK. When you get a graduation announcement, a gift isn’t necessary. I could have sent a congratulatory note but in this case, my friend just wanted to share the news that her daughter was graduating. That’s what graduation announcements are for.

Graduations are tricky. There’s a lot of tradition and etiquette involved and some of it seems to require a degree to decipher. If you have a child graduating this year or know someone who is graduating, we have some tips on graduation etiquette that might help to help. It includes everything from who to invite to what gifts to give.

My twins are graduating from eighth grade this year. We went through this last year with my oldest and, in my mind, it’s an occasion to be marked but not celebrated extensively. In a way it’s a pretty big deal. They are leaving a school they’ve attended since kindergarten, but they aren’t getting a degree or anything. They still have a few more years of hard work for that.


Their grammar school sends them off with a graduation ceremony at a nearby church. There are awards and certificates given. The teachers honor each student, and the students honor their teachers. There is a slideshow that shows how far they have come and a brief reception with cookies and punch. It’s a sweet ceremony and perfect for the occasion. There’s no “prom” like dance, no white dresses and no huge party. It doesn’t detract from the main event coming in four years.

And I know that four years is going to go fast! I’m already worrying about how to handle my oldest’s graduation in three years. It’s tradition at her all-girls, Catholic school that graduation takes place in the music hall. It’s a beautiful room, but it can barely fit the graduating class much less all of their friends and family. I’ve heard that each family gets two seats in the music hall and the rest watch the ceremony on a big screen in the gym. I’m not sure exactly how that’s going to work. I guess by then my current third and eighth grade sons will be mature enough to mind their manners and help their grandparents find good seats.

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BreakFAmFranklyStein is a blog by Chesapeake Family Magazine editor Betsy Stein who lives in Catonsville with her husband, Chris, and four children, Maggie, 14, Lilly, 13, Adam, 13, and Jonah, 9.


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