Tactful Tuesday: Graduation Edition

As many high-school seniors across the Carolinas are putting on their Sunday shoes, in preparation for the upcoming commencement exercises, many of their loved ones are frantically hunting for gifts, cards, etc.  Of course, high school graduations only happen once, so it is important to make the experience as memorable as possible.  Offering a thoughtful gift is one way to show how proud you are of the student and their accomplishments, but one of the most important gifts you can pass along is knowledge of common etiquette.  Traditional rules of tact are becoming more and more forgotten as generations progress, so it is of utmost importance that you lead by example.  A few rules regarding graduations:

1. If you receive a graduation announcement, but not an invitation, you should still send a gift.  

While giving gifts is never a requirement, it is quite frowned upon to ignore such gestures.  A card is plenty sufficient.   Some individuals opt to send money for the ‘new adult,’ but there are plenty of tasteful, timeless gifts to be given.  Think pen sets, monogrammed stationary, a watch or luggage.

2.  The dreaded ticket situation:  who gets to come?

Immediate family should always be included at the graduate’s ceremony; however, often, schools only provide tickets for a handful of loved ones.  Perhaps Jane is offered six tickets to her high school commencement.  Mom, dad, brother and sister account for four of those tickets, and Grandma J, Grandpa J, Aunt B, Uncle T, and cousin June are left to the wayside.  Some opt to pull names from a hat or choose at random, but the most tactful way to approach the situation is through open communication.  Most family members will understand the situation and will be more than happy to celebrate alongside the family at the graduation party or dinner.

3.  Guests should dress appropriately for the venue, weather and time.

Much like a wedding, the guest attire depends on the commencement location, time and weather (obviously!)  Ladies and gentlemen should always refrain from wearing cargo pants, jeans, or other casual attire.  Ladies should opt for a dress, suit or coordinating separate set.  Gentlemen should feel comfortable in khaki pants and oxford shirts, blazers or suits.  As the time of the ceremony gets later in the day, the attire should become more formal (never reaching a level of formality comparable to black-tie.)

4.  Graduates should dress appropriately for school code, age, weather and time.

Graduates must ensure that their school dress code and requirements are being followed.  Gentlemen should wear pants, like-colored socks and dress shoes.  Typically, gentlemen are asked to wear white shirts and ties as well.  Ladies should wear a dress of appropriate length, but that is not longer than the hem of the commencement gown.  Shoes should be either dark or nudge, and should be of a height that does not impede the ability of the student to walk.

Graduation is a time of celebration and excitement.  Enjoy graduation season, lovelies!





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