Table of Contents

Entertainment & Games

Goals & Considerations

  • Great entertainment is truly the key to a successful and memorable Grad Night.
  • Your entertainment should include things that the graduates are unable to do on a regular basis.
  • Grad Nights typically need at least three different activities (this is the minimum). It is important that the graduates have many things to do during the evening. The more kinds of activities and entertainment, the less chance the graduates will get bored and decide to leave.
  • Activities need to be varied so there are both active and passive things to do.
  • Activities should run simultaneously so graduates can go from one to another. If there is lag time between activities, some graduates will get bored and may want to leave.
  • Typically somewhere between 3 and 4 AM, the graduates will experience a slow period. You may want to introduce something new and different such as a contest or new activity that will spark their interest at this time. This is a good time to begin a stage show such as a hypnotist, illusionist, or magician.
  • The Grad Night volunteers should not be involved in playing the games. They should however, look like they are having a good time while they persuade graduates to join in and try the activities. Lots of smiles go a long way.
  • It is OK to have the same successful activities year after year.
  • Movies, see Video Licensing, Insurance and Licenses.

Word to the Wise: "Politicians" are not usually a good choice as a celebrity guest.

Hiring Celebrities:

Some communities will be able to engage a name entertainer, sport's figure, or other celebrity that the graduates (not necessarily the parents) would enjoy. If the celebrity's participation overshadows the purpose of the Grad Night celebration (too much press, security, etc.) limit their participation to pre-Grad Night activities.

Successful Grad Night Activities


At some Grad Night events, dancing is very popular while other schools report less success. To increase success, try the following:

Word to the Wise: Smoke or fog machines, used as part of a performance by many live bands and DJ's, might not be allowed by the fire marshal and may adversely affect other entertainment and activities. Check with your local fire marshal prior to approving these items.

  • Construct a magic, exciting dance floor area with special lighting and decorations. The dance area should not look like a poorly decorated High School Gymnasium.
  • Carefully choose a Disk Jockey (DJ) or a live band. A live band can be great but a good DJ can also put on a great show using special effects, wide variety of music, large screen live video of the dancers, dance contests, games, etc. Fit the DJ to the event as a Grad Night is vastly different than a school dance. Watch out for bargain DJ's. A top-of-the-line DJ is worth every nickel.
  • Prior to hiring a DJ or a live band, attend a performance and watch the interaction with young adults.
  • Live music can be a major "hit" or a "disaster". If a live band is desired, attend a band performance with the senior advisors. Be aware that bands picked by the seniors sometimes turn out to be unpopular at the Grad Night.
  • Build a small dance floor, crowded is better than empty.
  • Invite a local dance studio to teach the graduates one or two unfamiliar dances (e.g., a swing dance). Beware of trying to teach too many steps at one time.
  • Consider broadcasting the music to other parts of the party. Nothing sets a party mood faster than music. Be sure this is OK with local residents.
  • Songs glorifying drugs or alcohol should be avoided.
  • The band or DJ must wear appropriate clothing. No shirts with inappropriate language or artwork should be allowed.

Star In Your Own Music Video

This is a particularly popular offering at Grad Nights, which supplies Interactive Entertainment, Passive Entertainment and a Keepsake DVD of each participant's performance.

Stage Show Hypnotist

A fun light-hearted, memorable, comedic stage show usually performed towards the end of the event.

Word to the Wise: Ensure all vendors have liability insurance; this is mandatory. (See Sections on Insurance and Working with Vendors).


Often times this is an additional service provided by the DJ.

Walk Around Artists

  • Close-up Magic, Illusion and Slight-of-Hand
  • Comedy
  • Balloon Hats / Characters

Interactive Games

This is a short list. New games are available often.


Black Jack, Roulette, Bingo, Craps, Slot Machines all with play money, tickets or tokens.

Barrel / Toilet Racers

Motorized barrels / toilets that the graduates drive on a set course.

Bouncy Boxing

Inflated ring with oversized gloves.

Bungee Run

Horizontal bungee run within an air-inflated mattress runway.

Climbing Wall

Tilt-up multisided simulated rock climbing wall delivered on a trailer or available at many locations.

Giant Slide

Large inflatable slide. Needs tall ceiling or install outdoors.

High Striker

Old carnival strength tester. Graduates hit target with a large hammer to see if they can make the bell ring.

Human Bowling

Graduates put on helmet and are strapped into a seat inside a large ball. Ball is then given a push down an "alley" into the "pins".

Human Gyroscope (Orbitron)

Outer space movement simulator.

Laser Tag

Large room with obstacles, hiding places, and electronic laser tag equipment.

Money Machine

Blow real money, play money, discount coupons, etc., around inside a booth. Graduates keep whatever they can catch in a set amount of time (usually about 20 seconds).

Obstacle Course

Large horizontal inflatable obstacle course.

Pugil Sticks

Contestants battle to push each other off a padded rail using large padded staffs.

Robo Surfing

Multi-speed surfboard mounted in the center of large air mattress.

Robotic Boxing

Hand-controlled robots in a boxing ring.

Sumo Wrestling

Two graduates are dressed in oversized, full-body, inflatable suits. Participants look like huge Sumo wrestling men. The audience probably enjoys this as much as the participants.

Video Surfing

Body-controlled, video interactive.

Virtual Reality

Participants wear headgear, which allows them to feel as if they are in the scene they are seeing. They use a "joy stick" to move around from room to room and interact in the scene they are watching.


A variety of contests can be created. Be imaginative. Some will fit certain themes better than others. Some may become traditions with graduates coming to the celebration prepared to enter particular contests. Past favorites include the following:

  • Dance Contest
  • Limbo Contest
  • Pie Eating Contest
  • Air Guitar Contest
  • Hula Contest
  • Hula Hoop Contest
  • Trivia Contest
  • Best Legs Contest (with guys)
  • Baby Bingo/Kiddie Kwiz Contest.

Photo contest using graduate's childhood photos or photos of teachers and administrators. Use teen-age photos. Graduates try to match photos with teacher/administrator's names. You could also use "bingo" game as above.

Athletic Activities

Word to the Wise: Use Extreme Caution with water-related activities. These are considered "high risk" events. Ensure you have currently certified trained lifeguards and that you are in control of this area at all times. Also ensure your Grad Night liability insurance coverage includes water-related activities.

Caution--Some athletic activities are considered to be "high risk" activities. Prior to approving an athletic activity, ensure trained, qualified people will properly supervise the event, and ensure your Grad Night has liability insurance that includes athletic events ((See the section on Insurance). Athletic games that have been reported to be popular include the following:

  • Walleyball
  • Basketball
  • Tug-of-war
  • Ping Pong
  • Volleyball
  • Frisbee Throw
  • Bowling
  • Billards

Beauty Related Activites

Face Painting. Airbrush designs.

Tattoo Parlor. Paint small designs on graduate's arm using body paints and henna available from specialty or theatrical supply shops or use commercially available washable decals. Vendors also provide this activity.

Beauty makeovers. Guys as well as girls like to try out different kinds of lotions, creams, make-up and scents.

Hair studio. Fancy, high fashion, or punk hairstyles using lots of glitter and spray-on hair color.

Toenail painting. Boys seem to love this as much or more than the girls.

Fingernail painting. Use nail technicians from local shops to air brush or paint fancy design on nails or do regular manicures.

Special Memories Activities

Graffiti wall. Cover large areas with paper. Have graduates write messages with magic markers and give it to the class for future class reunions. Some schools use this as part of their decorations such as for movies, Grauman's Chinese Theater, New York subway, etc. Use painters' drop cloth, decorative novelty paper, etc.

Time capsule Have graduates bring small items to put into a box to be opened at a class reunion in 10-20 years. Have papers available for graduates to fill out their prediction of things they think will have happened to them by then (marriage, children, jobs, salary, etc.) Include some school memorabilia if graduates don't bring it in. Find a safe storage place for the capsule (remember it needs to be stored 10-20 years).

Video of Graduation / Memories Tape and show complete graduation ceremony as graduates stand or sit in lines for other activities during the party or provide a special room for this.

Class Photos Collect slides of the graduates from early childhood through high school. Project them on a wall near the dance floor or food tables. Let them run continuously all night. Be sure to return photos to lenders.

Video Time Capsule Use a video camera to capture graduate's comments for future use at a class reunion. You might want to have some set questions to be answered by the graduates or you may want to have them be spontaneous. Be sure each person is clearly identified on the tape.

T-shirt, Boxer-Short, Hat Signing or Decorating Provide these items along with permanent markers for graduates to sign, write messages, or decorate. Stay away from paints (bottles or brush-on) because items must then be left to dry.

Special Ideas For Entertainment

Academy Awards Ceremony Use a "homemade" video studio, or as a movie-theme party wrap-up activity. Select a small number of characters from nominated classmates who would have best played that part. The week of the party, have graduates vote on top three candidates in each category and keep the results secret until the party breakfast. Award a small statue, certificate, or other gift. Give the winners an opportunity to make an acceptance speech.

Womanless Beauty Pageant Stage a "beauty" pageant where guys dress up in women's wear. Announce it in time for graduates to make plans to enter the contest and come prepared with costumes, wigs and make-up. Let the girls dress the guys. Award a prize to the guy and the girl who dressed him. Introduction of contestants may be part of pre-party publicity. Award prizes bouquet of flowers, crown, etc. along with a small "real" prize.

Role Reversal Celebrity Couple Two graduates choose a celebrity couple they want to imitate. The guy becomes the female of the couple and girl becomes the male of the couple, complete with costumes. They perform a 2-minute skit in front of their classmates. Give cash prizes.

Balloon Animals or Hats This is always a hit. Hire someone to do this unless you have a parent that is very talented and is willing to do it.

Personalized Activities

Caricatures A talented parent or community member may be willing to draw caricatures of graduates. Most caricaturists can do between 45 and 75 drawings in about 3 hours.

Fortune Teller A crystal ball, gypsy costume, tea leaves, cards, or palm reading done in a dimly lit room creates excitement. Be aware that some parent and/or community members may object on religious grounds.

Home Built Games

(See the Section on Insurance)

Home built "Carnival" style games provide a fun way for graduates to earn prizes or awards. Provide a variety of games to give the graduates different chances. Arrange for plenty of Grad Night volunteers to ensure all games can be operated and be sure to have a few standby volunteers in case assigned people do not show up or need a break.

  • Ring Toss. Use theme related bottles, sticks, or cups as the target. Provide the graduates with plastic or wood rings to toss over the targets. This game can be purchased or made.
  • Sticky Ball Toss. Provide a Velcro ball and theme related target board made of fabric. The Velcro balls will stick to the fabric.
  • Toilet Paper Toss. Provide rolls of toilet paper to toss through the opening of a hanging toilet seat.
  • Suction Darts. Use only soft tipped suction darts. Do not use real darts. Set up a theme related target at a reasonable distance.
  • Tic/Tac/Toe. Build a full size board and use real people as the "X" and "O's."
  • Can Smash. Use extreme caution with this game. Provide a rubber mallet and sturdy table to smash aluminum cans. The shorter the smashed can, the larger the prize (use a home made can measuring device). Ensure Plexiglas walls to protect the spectators surround the smash area. Ensure the Grad Night volunteer has a face shield. This game must be closely supervised.
  • Penny Toss. Participants toss a penny into theme related cups, trays, bowls, or plates. Can be either moving or stationary.
  • Putting Game. Provide a theme related golf putting green. Typically these greens can be home built, rented, or purchased.
  • Jail. Graduates must convince a volunteer judge to issue a warrant for the arrest of another student who must spend time in the jail or perform a challenge to get out.
  • School related trivia games. Test graduates knowledge of activities, traditions, and school functions.
  • Team Challenge. Participants form teams and compete against other teams by solving trivia questions, playing games, and completing physical challenges for prizes.
  • Obstacle Course. Set up obstacle course. Can be run individually or as a relay for a group. This would work best outside.
  • Crab Races. Any wind-up toy will do nicely. Participants cheer for theirs to reach the designated marker first to win. Do not use live animals.
  • Casino Area. Black Jack, Craps, Roulette, Poker, and Bingo. Tables can be made or rented, and volunteers should be familiarized with the table they are working.
  • Guess How Many. Beans in a jar, candy in a cup, or any other small but plentiful item works well.
  • Milk Bottle. Traditional game where three bottles are arranged in a pyramid shape. The goal is to knock all three down with one softball or beanbag. Easy to make, fun to play.
  • Basketball Toss. Basketball hoop with plastic sheet below the hoop to catch the ball. It can be made or purchased.
  • Stand Up Straight. Long necked bottle is placed on its side in the middle of the table. A 3 foot long wooden dowel with 3 foot long string attached to one end is used to "stand the bottle straight. Easy to make.


  • Common everyday games can be used as a starting point for ideas. Creating new games from existing games is fun and many kids already know the rules.
  • Test the games before the event to ensure they "play" as you envisioned.
  • Be willing to change or modify the games during the night. Graduates become very good at playing games and you may need to modify the rules to make the game more difficult.
  • Remember--the idea is for the players to have fun from the first time they play the game to the last time.