How to Set up a Homeschool Graduation Memory Table
A helpful guide to make a beautiful display that will welcome your guests to your celebration!
Make the graduation memory table reflect your child and show his or her maturation through the years.
A graduation memory table is a wonderful way to decorate your graduation party and honor your hardworking homeschool senior. Start early, gathering photos, mementos, and decorations months before your high school graduation event.
If space allows, set it up well ahead of your event and rework the arrangement periodically as you add new objects. Stand back and see how it looks from a distance. Some people prefer a perfectly symmetrical plan while others like a more scattered tone. Both work, but you do want an overall balanced composition from floor to ceiling.
The Table for the Graduation Memory Table
Choose a table that works for your space. It can be small or large, round or rectangular. The main consideration is that you can fill it nicely without it being overly crowded. If you don’t have enough objects to fill up a large table, opt for a smaller table. The display doesn’t have to be massive to be attractive or meaningful.
Garnish the table with a tablecloth, possibly layered with runners. A t-shirt quilt made from years of wearable memories makes a very unique tablecloth although it may not mesh with a color scheme that you have in mind. You can browse your local party store for pre-made graduation decorations, or DIY by using a simple color scheme. As homeschoolers, you can choose your own high school colors or opt for the colors of your teen’s college choice. Here are ideas for embellishing the front and corners of the table:
- pennants or banners
- tissue paper flowers
- oversized tassels
Adding Height to the Graduation Memory Table
It’s boring to simply have a dozen objects laid out on a table. Approach the graduation memory table like a storefront window display or a convention exhibit. Be sure to add height so guests will see the table from a distance and be coaxed to come over and look. Use the wall behind the table or create a backdrop with a foam display board set on the tabletop. Or you could use a large folding screen positioned behind the table.
One trick to add height to a table is to arrange boxes on your table as display mounts. By covering the boxes with cloth, no one knows what’s underneath and will focus on the objects you are displaying. You can also add a tall floral arrangement or a bouquet of helium balloons to add height to the overall appearance.
Photographs for the Graduation Memory Table
Photos are the first thing that come to mind for a memory table, and no graduation celebration would be complete without a nod to the previous eighteen years. If you don’t have a fancy set of annual portraits for each year of life or school, it’s fine. Just gather an assortment of photos throughout the years, trying to find images that include favorite activities and beloved people. It means so much to a guest to see himself in a photo on a memory table! One easy way to display a collection of photos through the years is to use a large, folding portfolio.
Of course, the senior portrait can be prominently displayed on this table in an attractive frame held with a plate stand, or in an attractive folio that can also hold the graduation announcement. Photos can also be positioned on cardstock affixed to a wooden skewer and added to a floral arrangement. Arrange photos on foam board or choose one or more of these unique options:
- affixed onto large letter cutouts for your graduate’s first or last initial
- affixed onto large number cutouts for your graduate’s year of graduation
- arranged on a wooden pallet
- clipped onto string or wire stretched across a large open frame
- framed into an assortment of matching or mismatched frames
- uploaded into a digital photo frame that displays them in a slideshow
Meaningful Objects for the Graduation Memory Table
Awards are a great addition to a memory table: certificates, medals, trophies, plaques, and ribbons. If possible, include newspaper clippings related to the awards and/or include the object itself. For example, if your daughter won a ribbon in the state fair for a sewing project, include her handiwork with the ribbon on the memory table.
Other ideas for a memory table are:
- sports uniforms or equipment
- musical instruments
- hobby implements
Many homeschoolers limit the memory table to objects representing high school years, but there’s no reason you can’t include things that go farther back such as a favorite toy or stack of books that were beloved read alouds. The point is to make the memory table reflect your child and show his or her maturation through the years.
Decorations for the Graduation Memory Table
You can use the cap and gown itself as part of the decor if you like. If the event where your table will be displayed is a ceremony, and the cap and gown will be in use, you can purchase an extra cap and tassel for the display table. Be sure to display the diploma here, too. Fill in the gaps among the personal objects with floral arrangements, balloons, or store-bought decorations.
Add an Interactive Element
The graduation memory table is a good place to position your party participation object because everyone is drawn to the table to take a look. While they are reminiscing and laughing, they will be prompted to sign a guestbook, write a short note of encouragement, or initial whatever memento you have chosen: a photo matte, a white cloth stuffed animal, a tote bag or blanket, large cut out numbers (for year of graduation), Jenga tiles, etc.
There’s no right or wrong way to set up a graduation memory table. The idea is to make it reflect and honor your teen, so enjoy the process of reminiscing over old photos and memorabilia instead of worrying about impressing your guests. Happy homeschool graduation!