Graduation Celebration Ideas (With a Few Specifically for UMD Grads!)
Every spring, thousands of students graduate from the University of Maryland College Park, starting an exciting new chapter in their lives. It’s a time to celebrate, and many families want to recognize their graduate with a memorable event before they take their next big step. Check out our recommendations for how to honor your UMD graduate’s hard work.
Venues for a Graduation Party
Regardless of the number of guests or general atmosphere you’re aiming for, there are plenty of venues to consider as you’re planning a graduation party near the University of Maryland.
The Hotel at the University of Maryland
7777 Baltimore Avenue, College Park, MD
Maximum capacity: 1500+ guests
The Hotel at the University of Maryland was specifically designed to accommodate a variety of catered events, optimizing space while providing the four-diamond service for which we are known. Our top-notch executive chef and state-of-the-art kitchen can meet nearly all catering needs in-house, and our team of expert event planners are full of tips for planning a graduation party to remember.
Plus, you can count on the latest audio-visual equipment for all of your graduation celebration ideas, including the obligatory slideshow full of embarrassing baby photos or maybe a mashup of favorite videos from the past four years. And if you want to include guests from afar, tech-forward hybrid solutions create a seamless experience for virtual attendees, too. From large ballrooms to intimate spaces, The Hotel has something for every graduation party.
11920 Grand Park Ave, North Bethesda, MD
Maximum capacity: 240 guests
This versatile events venue can accommodate large groups in the beautifully appointed ballroom or intimate gatherings in the smaller reception rooms. Pinstripes’ versatility isn’t what sets it apart, though. Luxurious bowling lanes, bocce courts, and a cozy outdoor fire pit allow you to craft an unforgettable celebration.
All food is prepared in-house, and Pinstripes offer numerous dining options to suit every need. Choose from passed hors d’oeuvres during a cocktail-style reception or interactive stations for customized cuisine. However you choose to celebrate, Pinstripes Bethesda offers an engaging atmosphere for a memorable UMD graduation event.
The Vistas at Richland Golf Club
50 Glenbrook Drive, Middletown, MD
Maximum capacity: 162 guests
The Vistas at Richland Golf Club is a fantastic venue for any important event, graduation parties included. It offers functional space and outstanding value for residents of the entire Baltimore-Washington, DC region. Situated just 10 minutes from the city of Frederick, its proximity to major area roadways makes the Vistas an incredibly accessible location. A gentle rolling landscape creates a dramatic backdrop for the most memorable photos, and the French country-style clubhouse complements any décor, including your beloved red and gold.
Florida House on Capitol Hill
1 2nd Street NE, Washington, DC
Maximum capacity: 150 guests
Florida House is a restored Victorian home full of beautiful furnishings, original details, and stunning architecture. Located on the corner of East Capitol and Second Street NE, this elegant, historic setting has a spectacular view of the Capitol Dome. Florida House is within walking distance of several famous D.C. landmarks as well as plenty of public transportation options. The main level and garden are perfect for a stand-up cocktail and appetizer event, while the upstairs offers a welcoming atmosphere for a relaxing dinner.
Tonic at Quigley’s Bar and Restaurant
2036 G St NW, Washington, DC
Maximum capacity: 120 guests
Located in the heart of Washington DC’s historic Foggy Bottom neighborhood, Tonic at Quigley’s Bar and Restaurant offers classic American cuisine with a contemporary Southern twist, and the kitchen staff is full of delicious graduation food ideas for every taste. The back garden lounge includes a private bar with space for 50 seated guests or up to 120 standing. For smaller groups, the covered patio is a great option for an outdoor event. With space for up to 30 guests, each event includes a cocktail server and space for a small buffet.
The Crown & Crow
1317 14th Street NW, Washington, DC
Maximum capacity: 230 guests
With London pub vibes circa 1910, this 3800 square-foot space is one of our favorite venues for a graduation party. The interior is embellished with ornate chandeliers, plush burgundy booth seating, and authentic antique fixtures. If you love a vintage feel, the Crown and Crow could be the perfect place to celebrate a UMD graduation. Plus, it’s prime location in the historic Logan Circle neighborhood makes it a convenient spot for any party. Separated into two different areas, a smaller Crow Bar and a larger back Crown Bar, there are several options for events up to 230 guests.
Graduation Food Ideas
There’s one thing every party needs, and that’s good food! Of course, there are plenty of delicious options to consider for your graduation celebration. Ideas are easy to find with a simple Google search, but we have a few to get you started.
Easy Appetizers and Shareables
When it comes to finger foods, you want to ensure that they’re as easy to prepare as they are delicious.
Sliders – What’s better than a warm sandwich in two bites? Usually, you think of sliders as delicious mini burgers, but there are plenty of slider options that pack big flavor in addition to the classic cheeseburger variety. Think eggplant parmesan, French dip, or chicken and waffle sliders. The options are endless and there surely a slider for every taste.
Mini Sandwiches – If you’re looking for finger foods that can be served cold, go for sandwiches instead of sliders. These are even simpler to craft, as you can create a few different sandwiches, cut them into quarters, and voila, finger food! Go light with cucumber sammies, classic with Italian cold cut bites, or turn your caprese salad into a two-bite caprese sandwich, instead. Grilled Appetizers – You can’t go wrong with grilling for graduation. Check out this list of grilled appetizers from Food and Wine that includes shrimp and lemon skewers with feta dill sauce, squash ribbons and prosciutto with mint dressing, grilled pizza, spiced tomato kabobs and much more.
Prepare Ahead Finger Foods – A tray of bite-sized hors d’oeuvres is sure to get the party started. Make a few of these easy-to-prep passables ahead of time so you can spend the day of your party celebrating instead of stressing in the kitchen.
Iconic Maryland Foods
If you don’t have at least one of these iconic Maryland foods at your graduation party, can you even consider yourself a Terp? Here are a few classic graduation food ideas with a Maryland twist.
Steamed Crabs – Many Marylanders will tell you they were born with the ability to pick a crab. Smothered in Old Bay, steamed crabs will always be considered an iconic Maryland meal.
Crab Cakes – Maryland crabcakes have become so popular that restaurants across the country try to create their own versions, so why not celebrate a UMD graduation with an MD classic?
Utz Crab Chips – If you’re going the more casual route, Utz crab chips are 100% necessary. No, you won’t find actual crab meat on the chips, but they’re perfectly seasoned with Chesapeake Bay crab seasoning and they’re delicious.
Thrashers French Fries – If you’ve visited Ocean City, Maryland you’ve probably tasted Thrashers French fries, seasoned with your choice of salt, malt vinegar or both. Any graduate raised in the great state of Maryland would love to celebrate with a bucket or two of Thrashers fries.
Natty Boh – The official beer of Baltimore sells 90% of its product in Maryland. The beer is so beloved, you can find artwork all over the state of the one-eyed, mustached man who lives on the side of a Natty Boh can. It’s a must have beverage for any UMD graduation party.
Catering Options Near the University of Maryland
And of course, if you’re planning a graduation party and prefer a catered event over a DIY affair, many venues have delightful choices. Catering menus like those available at The Hotel at the University of Maryland are full of passed, plated and buffet options for every taste, atmosphere and budget.
Book Your Stay in College Park, MD
Stay at The Hotel and you’re sure to be close to all the festivities including the UMD graduation ceremony itself. Rest up for the fun in one of our luxurious guest rooms, and perhaps enjoy a relaxing post-party spa treatment before heading home. However you choose to celebrate graduation, we can’t wait to welcome you to The Hotel at The University of Maryland!