23 Simple Food Ideas for a Graduation Party

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If you’re the family member or friend of a graduate, chances are you’re planning a party to celebrate this milestone. But you don't need a big budget to throw a graduation celebration with all the pomp and circumstance. From appetizers to main dishes to desserts and drinks, you'll find a recipe that will please your entire crowd with these simple food ideas for a graduation party.

(Image: eHow)

1. Hawaiian Ahi Poke Appetizer

Poke is definitely trending right now. Not only is it healthy, but it makes for perfect graduation party finger food. This Hawaiian ahi poke appetizer is made in wonton cups which makes for one less plate and fork to wash too.

(Image: Tieghan Gerard)

2. Artichoke Dip Stuffed Mushrooms

Everyone loves artichoke dip and everyone loves stuffed mushrooms, so why not combine both in this tasty appetizer? You can do most of the prep ahead of time and bake them the day of the party.

(Image: Ashley Manila)

3. Creamy Greek Yogurt Spinach Dip

Even though spinach dip sounds healthy, it's often made with less-than-healthy ingredients like sour cream and lots of cheese. This version is lightened up with Greek yogurt and is about to be your new favorite party dip.

(Image: Ashley Manila)

4. Fig and Prosciutto Crostini

Fig and prosciutto crostini might look fancy, but this appetizer comes together in only 10 minutes. Toasty bread, sweet fig preserves, melty cheese and salty prosciutto make this a perfect appetizer for any party.

(Image: Ashley Manila)

5. Italian Antipasti Skewers

Pasta salad gets a majorly cool upgrade with the simple addition of bamboo skewers. Instead of mixing all your antipasti ingredients in a big bowl, thread them onto skewers for a festive starter.

(Image: Ashley Manila)

6. Baked Brie

Get the party started with a baked brie appetizer. All you have to do is unwrap your brie, broil it for a few moments and pair with crackers. Make it extra fancy with any number of toppings from honey to fruit to nuts.

(Image: Jennifer Farley)

7. Bacon-Wrapped Scallops

One of the easiest and yummiest appetizers is bacon-wrapped scallops. You have three of the five ingredients in your pantry (olive oil, salt and pepper), so you can make these with a quick, last-minute trip to the store that will only take five minutes.

(Image: Ashley Manila)

8. Coconut Shrimp

A restaurant-favorite, coconut shrimp is simple to recreate for a crowd. You can make your own without ever leaving the house!

(Image: Ashley Manila)

9. Elote (Mexican Street Corn)

Graduation season is a perfect time to fire up the grill and cook a seasonal favorite — grilled corn. It's the perfect side dish to just about any main you may serve at your party.

(Image: Yvette Marquez)

10. Charred Corn, Chicken and Cheese Salad

Salads are an easy way to add a veggie-heavy option to the table. This charred corn, chicken and cheese salad gets better the longer it sits in it's dressing, making it the perfect dish to make ahead of time.

(Image: Yvette Marquez)

11. Chipotle Cilantro Pesto Pasta

A normal pasta salad is so last graduation season. Give your pasta salad a Mexican-inspired flair with chipotle and cilantro pesto.

(Image: Sala Kannan)

12. Spinach Farro Salad With Orange and Toasted Coriander Vinaigrette

A simple spinach salad gets a delicious upgrade with farro, an orange and toasted coriander vinaigrette dressing. This salad is extra-filling thanks to the farro, and it's guilt-free so your guests can have one or two extra desserts!

(Image: Sala Kannan)

13. Slow Cooker Chipotle Beer Chicken Sliders

You're going to buy beer for the party anyway, so why not cook with it, too? Your slow cooker will do all the work with this simple slow cooker chipotle beer chicken slider recipe. Just buy a bag of slider buns and your guests can make their own sandwiches, giving you more time to enjoy the party.

(Image: Jackie Dodd)

14. Grilled Blue Cheese Burgers

The addition of blue cheese makes these burgers extraordinary. Give this beloved party food staple a much-deserved upgrade with this simple recipe.

(Image: Leigh Ann Chatagnier)

15. Build-Your-Own Tostada Bar

You can have a taco bar any old day — have a build-your-own tostada bar for this special occasion. Set out bowls of shredded chicken, refried beans, cheese, avocado and lettuce and have your guests serve themselves.

(Image: Shaina Olmanson)

16. Minty Chicken Sliders

If there's any time to try out a new recipe, it's for a party. This South Asian-inspired minty chicken slider recipe is about to become your new go-to.

(Image: Neha Agarwal)

17. White Wine Sangria

Ditch making individual cocktails for your guests and make white wine sangria instead. Not only can this recipe be made in a big batch, but it can also be made the night before so the drink soaks up all the fruit flavors.

(Image: Julia Mueller)

18. Refreshing Watermelon Mint Beer Cooler

A beer cocktail is a fun take on your typical party beverage. All you'll need is chopped watermelon, lemon juice, mint leaves, triple sec, sugar and your favorite IPA to make this refreshing watermelon mint beer cooler.

(Image: Jackie Dodd)

19. Old-Fashioned Pink Lemonade

Looking for a non-alcoholic drink to serve? Old-fashioned pink lemonade is a classic everyone will love.

(Image: Leigh Ann Chatagnier)

20. Graduation Cap Chocolate Pops

Your guests will love this festive sweet treat! Chocolate pops in the shape of graduation hats are impressive yet simple to make.

(Image: Flavia Andrews)

21. Brownie Bites

The worst part about baking brownies is cutting the them once they've cooled. Save yourself from the pain of crumbled, broken chocolatey goodness by baking them in a cupcake pan instead. Waste not, want not.

(Image: Charity Curley Mathews)

22. Chocolate Strawberry Cupcakes

Homemade cupcakes are way better than the kind of out of a box or even store-bought versions. Make your own easy chocolate strawberry cupcakes in a few simple steps.

(Image: Jamie Shields)

23. Berry Hand Pies

There's something about hand pies that makes them so much more approachable and appealing than traditional pie. Star-shaped berry hand pies are way easier to make than a traditional pie, too — cutting crust with a cookie cutter is very forgiving!

(Image: Jamie Shields)
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