Oct 21, 2014
Most Likely to Succeed
Abby Heugel, Managing Editor

Find out what tops the ranks for the upcoming graduation season

Remember those high school yearbooks filled with awkward pictures with superfluous captions? They’re making a comeback – graduation season style – to move you to the head of the class for 2015.

Most Popular

PPR: What colors and patterns were most popular in 2014?

Dawn Kirschner

Unique Industries

While traditional graduation parties highlight school colors, party planning graduates are also including some of their favorite colors and design trends to their celebrations. Luau themes, sports themes, candy parties, dots, stripes and chevron patterns were great ideas for less traditional graduation parties this year.

Lisa Bennett

Pioneer Balloon Co.

The colors range from more traditional high school colors to those that are bright and wild. Stand-out themes and color palettes consisted of the graduate’s future career interests or current achievements in sports, music, art, etc. Personal choice patterns often include chevron, polka dots, stripes, animal skin prints, elegant damask and filigree and unique mixtures of patterns.

Biggest Overachiever

PPR: What are the must-have items for every year?


While tableware is important, coordinating accessories like balloons, banners, buffet coolers and entertaining accessories are must-haves. Other fun items like light-up balloons, photo props, cupcake kits, cake banners and paper straws also make great additions to graduation parties.


Creative “photo booth” areas are very popular for graduation parties. This can be great fun, as well as a great way to document the memories of the party. Balloon backdrops (which can be made easily with Quick Link Balloons) and props are perfect for adding that element of surprise to the party.

Best Display

PPR: How should these items be marketed?

Sarah Millies

Creative Converting

Retailers can maximize their sales by pulling together all items in a school color into one section. Don’t make consumers look everywhere to find items to celebrate their school -they will buy more if you do the work for them. And don’t forget to look beyond the Graduation specific decor – wander your store and bring over solid tableware, paper lanterns, tabletop items, hanging decor, etc. in that color to round out the selection and give customers more items to choose from.


Incorporating school colors into display windows and merchandising displays really adds a special touch and makes the graduate and their family feel that the retailer is speaking to them. Advertising in the local high school paper or local publications is also a great way to get the word out that you have products for the graduating class.


Plan an open house/graduation seminar for parents and graduates before the actual season to help them plan and purchase from you. Showcase and highlight the graduation section in your store with party ideas or inspiration boards, theme displays and “grab and go” air-filled balloon creations or centerpieces for the customer’s convenience and offer other convenient products/service packages or bundles to fit different price points for several party themes for customers that are time-sensitive.

Most Likely to Succeed

PPR: What do you predict for 2015?


For 2015 we are introducing our colorful Grad Party ensemble and more than 20 new accessory items for the graduation season. This design allows the party planner to customize their big day by adding their school colors, while coordinating accessories add perfect finishing touches.

Colin Littler

Design Design

We’re playing off the still trending chalkboard theme with our Congrats Grad collection. Not only is this design great for both male and female grads, it also coordinates well with the solids in our Pebble collection. The Celebrate collection works really well for grads because of its multi-color, graphic pattern.


The “Class of 20??” balloon imprints, solid school colors and unique ways to display photos as the main features to the party will prevail. New photo displays can include clothesline picture galleries, video loops, framed pictures and personalized balloons built into centerpieces and photo flowerpots (photos on dowel rods placed within the plant or flower or balloon arrangement.)

Most Outgoing

PPR: How should they address the requests for “personalization”?

Dave Goode

Beistle Company

The Beistle Company offers a variety of custom school-specific products using school names, colors and mascots that are available as both graduation-specific products and others that can be used all year long. This program offers independent retailers something unique in their market area and requires minimum order quantities. In addition, Beistle locates the school mascot and colors and does all of the necessary art.


Our Grad Party and Congratulations sign-in sheets are a great way for family and friends to leave special messages for the graduate. In addition, our new graduation themed photo props are a fun way to create personal memories with party guests.


Just Write balloons can be easily personalized with the graduate’s name using Just Write stickers.


In response to the personalization craze, we’ve come out with new straw flags. In an array of colors and distinct shapes, it’s an easy, decorative and fun way to keep track of beverages at an open house or grad party. Play off any combination of school colors to show spirit and coordinate them with our paper cups and straws.

Most Prepared

PPR: When should retailers start preparing for graduation season?


While most graduations occur in May and June, party planning often begins as early as April. Local stores should build up their graduation section and extra stock of school colors from April until July. It is important to note that graduations occur throughout the year, so maintaining a small section year round is also important.


You should start displaying graduation products in your store in March. Many parents plan their graduation parties far in advance, so they will be looking for products and ideas.

With so many graduation parties going on in a short time in an area, some people would rather do a theme party to make their party unique. Luau grad parties can be fun and lend themselves well to summer outdoor entertaining. Picnics, barbeques and pool parties also work great for graduations, and can be a fun way to be “different”. Set up tables or vignettes showcasing some theme party ideas mixed with graduation decor to give your customers more ideas.


Outline your marketing program and have it ready to start no later than March 1. Incorporate an open house to kick off the season and get customers thinking that your business is their go-to source for party needs. You will also catch the early birds and bring them to you first, and then reinforce the idea that your shop is the place to buy for the middle to late planners who will be looking for creative options to make this a fun and convenient shopping experience.

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