The etiquette of graduation invitations: Please advise!

I have gotten a note from one of our regulars with a bunch of graduation invitation conundrums:

  1. Do you send invitations to all the neighbors on the block? Just ones you are friends with? Our regular was hurt that a neighbor they are good friends with didn’t send her an invitation. She doesn’t believe it was intended as a slight just that the teen wasn’t responsible enough to get them out in time.
  2. Do you send invitations to old college roommates or people your kids have never met? The same regular got an invitation from her college roommate’s daughter whom she had never met and she thought that was odd. Do you send a gift to that person? Do you just send a card?
  3. Do you send invitations to old friends that live literally thousands of miles away?
  4. Who actually writes and send the invitations? It is good old Mom or does the graduating teen have to do it? (I totally think the teen!!)
  5. How far in advance should they be sent?
  6. What about the thank yous?

I am always more than happy NOT to get graduation invitations. I think for the most part they are just requests for money. I can think on one graduation invitation that moved me. It was for a little guy I babysat. I went to his graduation party and his mother introduced me around as his babysitter. I was very proud of him.

Are grad invites just a request for presents or meaningful? Do you want them or are you just as happy not to get one? Do you want them from kids of old roommates that live thousands of miles away or just close by family members and friends?

– Theresa Walsh Giarrusso, Momania. I have increased my Twitter activity. I am sending out great stories for moms each day focusing on health, fitness, sex, entertainment, food, travel and obviously parenting! So follow me on Twitter at @AJCMOMania!)

67 comments Add your comment


May 24th, 2011
10:19 pm

I am so amazed that anyone would buy a high school grad a Porsche that I can hardly respond to any of the other comments!


May 25th, 2011
5:56 am

i thought jarvis’ reply was great lol

the teen should do all of the addressing and thank-yous…duh! only people who care should get an invitation. when my daughter graduated i had her send them to distant relatives we hadnt seen in a while because people in my family are like that-whether they can go or not they always want an invitation-they want to know what is going on…so we do that even not expecting a gift or visit. its nice for the grad to get money as a gift-but we sent invites to people that we knew cared to know that it was happening-not to get gifts.we were pleasantly surprised at a few of her dads family that came. that really made her feel good as she and her dad havent had much contact in years. as for neighbors-where i live it is such a small and tight community-almost everyone here goes to the ceremony because we always know someone who is graduating. we sent invitations to people here who are very close friends-just mainly for the momento. the graduation package we had gives a time line for everything-including at what point in time to send the invitations, so all the ‘when do i do this’ was pretty much taken care of.


May 25th, 2011
7:03 am

@cynthia…I am thinking it is a joke, about the car BUT I do know someone who bought their 16 year old a Lexus ( when she got her license). Lives here in Atlanta!


May 25th, 2011
8:02 am

I want to go fishing!!!!!! I grew up trout fishing in the Rocky Mountains!!!


May 25th, 2011
8:04 am

I can even bait my own hook!!


May 25th, 2011
9:47 am

JOD: Most of our high school graduation announcements went to family and close, close friends, those who actually knew our kids and would be happy to know the details of their graduation. I tended to address the invitations, because I’ve got the nicest handwriting — plus, I do calligraphy, and I just enjoy it. But thank you notes are DEFINITELY on the kids!

Having just done the college graduation, we sent those to close family only, for fear of appearing money-grubbing. My son’s announcement had his name in it, along with the degrees and majors he was being awarded — it was a little simpler than the high school invitation, but had a nice embossed card, etc. Nice not to have that little “calling card”! At this point, I HOPE he’s written the thank you notes — but as I told him, if he doesn’t know to write a thank you note at this point, it’s all on him!


May 25th, 2011
7:46 pm

I paid $32.67 for a XBOX 360 and my mom got a 17 inch Toshiba laptop for $94.83 being delivered to our house tomorrow by FedEX. I will never again pay expensive retail prices at stores. I even sold a 46 inch HDTV to my boss for $650 and it only cost me $52.78 to get. Here is the website we using to get all this stuff,

Martha White

May 25th, 2011
8:39 pm

Actually, there is no need to send announcements weeks before any event to which the recipient is not invited to attend. It is perfectly correct to mail an announcement afterward, just as with wedding announcements. Only invitations need to be mailed in advance.


May 25th, 2011
9:48 pm

I HATE getting graduation announcements. They are sent specifically for money or gifts (call it what you want, but we all feel guilty if we ignore the invitation). They are usually from family or distant friends. When my son graduated, if I did not send the family/friend a gift I did not send them my son’s announcement. If I sent a gift and they never sent a thank you (I drove the daylights out of my son but he hand wrote every one one of his thank you notes.)they are permantely deleted from my gift list. With Facebook and email there is absolutely no excuse for not at least acknowledging the gift. I sent my nephew a graduation gift, a wedding gift and a baby gift. Not one thank you. On top of that, I sent him a graudation announcement for my son and he did not send a gift. The worst part, my nephew has an MBA and he is married to a beautiful, educated woman. Go figure!


May 25th, 2011
10:02 pm

Who gives a crap that your brat graduated high school. Teachers are pressured into passing everyone these days. It’s no big deal. Go do something with your life and stop acting like you’ve accomplished anything.


May 26th, 2011
8:09 am

Let’s see, isn’t this blog about a month or two late to really have any impact… tweet tweet


May 26th, 2011
8:54 am

Aon, I sent my step brother a Graduation Gift ( from college) and a wedding gift. Nothing.
His Mom married my Dad about 15 years ago, when he was in his early twenties. We do not even get a Christmas card from him and his wife. I do not know their address now, so I could not send anything when my own two graduated. Go figure.


May 26th, 2011
10:41 am

Oh my Oh my! What to do, whatever should I do???
I open the announcement (its an announcement by the way, not an invitation),say to myself, wow, good for them and that is the end of the story. If someone is close to me, then I already know what is going on and I buy a gift…or i don’t.

been there

May 26th, 2011
3:47 pm

I remember having to decide this when I graduated (back in the dark ages). I made a list of about 20 people, close relatives and friends. My mom said “Oh, no” and I had to order almost 100 announcements. She included all kinds of relatives saying it was payback time for all the gifts she’d sent out over the years. I did address all the announcements by hand (pre computer printing!) and wrote out all the thank you notes also. I did get many good things for college and much needed cash to set things up in the dorm. I’m sure things have changed a bit but I’m sure the hand written thank-you note is still a MUST. Even if the gift was cash I had to write a special note how it was used for the college fund. I still have some of the congratulation cards 30 years later. I didn’t get a car for graduation either; bought my first car with my first salary after college which I’m sure is unheard of now.

Boner Scab

May 26th, 2011
5:14 pm

So I was blowing a load on Snookies face the other day and I thought to myself, I need more chicks in my life.


May 27th, 2011
7:24 pm

O.k., I know, writing thank you notes is proper and expected. But, if the only reason you are giving a gift is to be recognized and thanked for it, then you shouldn’t give a gift to begin with. I’m sure I have given gifts and not gotten a thank you note afterward. I couldn’t begin to tell you who they are and I really don’t care. I gave the gift because I wanted to and I’m sure they appreciated it whether they said so or not. Was it rude to not write a thank you note? Probably…but I didn’t give the gift to get accolades for giving a gift. I gave a gift because I cared. You don’t have to be recognized for every act of giving.


May 31st, 2011
4:19 pm

I’m with Jarvis here, this is an unvitation. I received an unvitation to the graduation, (no after party) for the daughter of an ex-friend who made a point to not speak with me in over 3 years. I sent a check to her daughter but I have to admit I was bitter about it. Was going to do something for her anyway but hated the in your face begging, wish people would be more thoughtful!!