The reality has set in and the traditional ceremonies are long cancelled. It is for the greater good, so we have accepted it. The rite of passage that the graduates have worked so hard to achieve, should not go on noticed, though. Life gives us only so many occasions to celebrate, and we do not need to let this crisis stop us.
Since we can't come together to celebrate, let's celebrate apart.
How to plan and how to host a virtual graduation party:
10 Tips to plan, host + execute a virtual graduation.
(1) Send out digital invitations. Go wild or send a text; but let people know that their presence is requested at a specific date and time. The more formal you make the invitation, the more seriously your guests will take it.
(2) Invite/Select a speaker. Select a friend or family member to make a speech; to not only honor the graduate but to recognize the achievement. If they can't come up with proper, positive, inspirational prose, find a well-traveled speech on line and pick someone (ideally NOT on your end of the camera to deliver the words to the graduate.
(3) Get dressed. Get Dressed up. Your graduate deserves this. Even if they are reluctant to shower and put on nice clothes, remind them that we all need reasons to celebrate and this day is important, even if it doesn't feel remarkable. Put on those heels + those Solemates!
(4) Decorate. You're the host. Get balloons, flowers, streamers and even noise makers. There are online resources for virtual festive backgrounds, but make your real background feel fun.
(5) Gift. Source a gift from either a local store that is doing delivery or an online resource. While this experience might feel like a nightmare, the work and sacrifice that it took for the graduate to get where she/he is deserves to be noted.
(6) Celebrate. Have a cake. Call a local bakery if you can't muster one yourself. The local shops are hurting the most right now and need our support.
(7) Create a slide show; share your screen with your "guests".
(8) Ask guests to say a few words to the graduate or send notes across the chat. Encourage them to make signs that say "Congratulations, Grad!" other enthusiastic words of encouragement.
(9) Keep is short, but fun. This is not meant to be recreate a day long exercise. It will be fun - and everyone will be excited to be doing something new, novel, and positive.
(10) Remind the graduate to thank everyone for coming, both on the zoom and with follow-up, good old fashioned hand written notes.
When your zoom begins, make sure to give time for everyone to get logged in. Have small talk at the ready; greet everyone with the enthusiasm you might in real life. This is real life, after all; despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.