Word to the Wise: "Politicians" are not usually a good choice as a celebrity guest.
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.
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.
This is a particularly popular offering at Grad Nights, which supplies Interactive Entertainment, Passive Entertainment and a Keepsake DVD of each participant's performance.
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.
This is a short list. New games are available often.
Black Jack, Roulette, Bingo, Craps, Slot Machines all with play money, tickets or tokens.
Motorized barrels / toilets that the graduates drive on a set course.
Inflated ring with oversized gloves.
Horizontal bungee run within an air-inflated mattress runway.
Tilt-up multisided simulated rock climbing wall delivered on a trailer or available at many locations.
Large inflatable slide. Needs tall ceiling or install outdoors.
Old carnival strength tester. Graduates hit target with a large hammer to see if they can make the bell ring.
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".
Outer space movement simulator.
Large room with obstacles, hiding places, and electronic laser tag equipment.
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).
Large horizontal inflatable obstacle course.
Contestants battle to push each other off a padded rail using large padded staffs.
Multi-speed surfboard mounted in the center of large air mattress.
Hand-controlled robots in a boxing ring.
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.
Body-controlled, video interactive.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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 "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.