As we all know, COVID-19 has changed the lifestyles of hundreds of millions. Due to increasing regulations, schools across America closed early, which in turn has resulted in the cancellation of many in-person graduation ceremonies. The University is no exception. For many of our graduating fourth year students, this pandemic means no graduation parties, pictures and celebrations with friends or Final Exercises on the Lawn until at least October. However, there are still many ways for fourth years to make the most out of their virtual graduations.
Graduating fourth-year College student Chelsea Cho recalled a mini-photoshoot she had done with a friend shortly after finishing her final project. Ironically enough, it was also at the place she had celebrated her high school graduation four years earlier — a true full-circle celebration.
“A couple friends and I had gone there for a picnic my senior year,” Cho said. “I don’t think it was intentional to do it in the same place as four years ago, but … I’m definitely lucky enough to even be able to do that.”
Beyond celebratory social distancing photoshoots, this article also details some alternative food, activity and entertainment ideas that are worth implementing into an at-home graduation party — after all, your academic achievements deserve proper commemoration. These ideas may be simple and affordable, but they will definitely be memorable and something to look forward to, especially during this time of isolation.
First, here are some must-haves at every graduation party. Although it is good to support local businesses during this unprecedented time, if you want to save a bit of money, there are many simple and delicious recipes you can make at home. The most versatile and affordable must-haves for your graduation party would have to be these three dips — a creamy parmesan dip, a honey mustard dip and a green goddess dip — created by food blogger Kristen Stevens. All the ingredients are likely already in your refrigerator or pantry, but if you don’t have something and would prefer not to go to the grocery store, there are some alternatives you can use to get them delivered to your house.
Prep Time: 3 to 5 minutes per dip
Yields: one serving each, approximately 4 to 5 people
Creamy Parmesan Dip:
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
½ cup grated parmesan dip
1 cup thick, plain yogurt
Black pepper, optional
Honey Mustard Dip:
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon white vinegar
¼ cup dijon mustard
¼ cup honey
⅓ cup mayonnaise
Cayenne or sweet paprika, optional
Green Goddess Dip:
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
½ cup cilantro
1 cup kale
¼ cup lemon juice or water to thin, optional
The instructions to make the dips are fairly simple — all you need is a food processor. To make each dip, simply place all of their respective ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. If you don’t have a food processor, you can still make two out of the three dips — the creamy parmesan and the honey mustard — by using a mixing bowl and a whisk. All three dips can also be made by using a food blender until the dips are a smooth consistency.
Now, with these delicious dips, you and your loved ones can celebrate your virtual graduation with flavor. These dips are affordable, simple, packed with flavor and adaptable. They can be paired with chips, veggies, crackers or even used as a spread on a sandwich. Plus it takes less than 15 minutes and can quickly brighten up your quarantine graduation celebration.
Next, what would be a graduation celebration without taking pictures at a grad party? Although quarantine has been hard for our graduating seniors, it does not need to prevent them from getting as much of the graduation experience as they can. With Zoom — the online video meeting service we know you are all familiar with from classes — you can host online photoshoots with friends and family, regardless of where they may be quarantining.
Taking pictures through Zoom is quite simple and can be taken from the comfort of your own home. First, use the private chat setting in Zoom to invite a designated photographer and then use the screen share option to allow the photographer to view your screen. Once the photographer can view your screen, run a program called DigiCam to give control access to the photographer so that they can screenshot their screen.
Just note that since Zoom tends to lag, it would be best to be on call with each other on another device during the photoshoot as a precaution. Pro tip — use a laptop or a desktop computer during the session to produce better quality pictures.
DIY Graduation Caps
A graduation themed activity to do with your family and friends over Zoom is to make DIY graduation caps. To make the caps you would need an old baseball cap or hat, a cardboard square — simply cut out of a box — glue and other decorative materials. Simply glue the cardboard square to the hat and decorate your cap to your pleasing. These DIY graduation caps are not only a fun way to pass time, but they can also be used for decorative purposes in your bedroom, living room and etc.
While a quarantine grad party may not be how you originally planned on celebrating with friends and family, you can always add some great music to liven up the event — even if it’s a virtual one. Add these five tracks to your burgeoning grad party playlist to help you celebrate your triumphs, remember the good times and look forward to what’s next.
“Dreams” by The Cranberries
The opening lines of “Dreams” may seem on the nose for a graduation playlist — ”Oh, my life / Is changing everyday / In every possible way.” However, the monumental change of finishing college and charting a new course for an adult life is an achievement to be celebrated, and the best way to do so is with the promising power of lead singer Dolores O’Riordan’s captivating voice.
“Sunflower, Vol. 6” by Harry Styles
Perfect for the start of summer, this song has a playful melody and simple, charming lyrics that will make you want to dance in your kitchen, your bedroom — anywhere, really.
“Supercut” by Lorde
Adding “Supercut” to the playlist will prime you for the mess of emotions upon ending your undergraduate career. Your college memories may become a mash-up played on repeat in your head — especially as Lorde sings, “All the magic we gave off / All the love we had and lost” — but you can still revel in them.
“God Only Knows” by The Beach Boys
This track may be a bittersweet way to say goodbye for now to college friends, but the repeated line “God only knows what I’d be without you” can also remind you of formative relationships to treasure for a lifetime.
“forever” by Charli XCX
This new song from Charli XCX off of her forthcoming album — an album made entirely during quarantine — will be a shiny, electronic addition to any grad playlist, as well a reminder to keep your loved ones close. The synth and pop musings of Charli XCX are fresh, sincere and capture a complicated balance of celebration and melancholy.
You can also celebrate your friend’s successes by hosting a graduation parade — drive past their house with presents and celebratory signs in hand, commemorating your friend’s successes from your own car. This type of celebration is currently very common with birthdays and has even gone viral on various social media platforms, including TikTok.
Regardless of how you decide to celebrate, we have saved the most important reminder for last in the hopes that it will resonate with all readers — thank those who have helped you get to where you are today.
Graduating fourth-year Commerce student Scott Liu reminisces as his undergraduate career comes to a close, recognizing the breadth of mentorship and companionship that has helped guide him throughout his time at the University.
“One of the things I’ll miss the most are the professors,” Liu said. “They aren’t here just to teach course material, but also want to help you grow both professionally and personally … it's amazing to see how much [they] care, and I feel like as the years go by, the more we will realize their value and impact on our lives.”
Quarantine has made life difficult for many people, including the graduating fourth years. However, we hope that this article — with its delicious recipes, celebratory tunes and circumstantial alternatives — will impart a message of hope and a reminder to be thankful despite any bleakness this pandemic may try to impose.