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When to Send Out Graduation Announcements and How to Address Graduation Announcements

An impending graduation can be a significant and stressful event. With the school year coming to a close, the significance of the approaching transition, and friends and family getting excited to celebrate, it’s easy to let details slip through the cracks. Amidst all the chaos, grads often struggle to adhere to an ideal timeline for sending graduation announcements. We’re assembled our best advice on when to send and how to address graduation announcements to eliminate some confusion and get your graduation experience off on the right foot.

When Should I Send My Graduation Announcements?

Ideally, graduation announcements should be sent at least two weeks before the event. Particularly if the announcement includes an invitation to the ceremony or grad party, it’s imperative to give your recipients enough time to respond. Most high schools and colleges limit the amount of tickets graduates are allowed to use, so the window for responses should be as inclusive as possible. If your announcement does not include an invitation, it’s permissible to send it in a wider time frame. Anytime from two weeks before to six weeks after is acceptable, especially as you’ll probably receive replies and gifts in a fairly wide time frame. If it’s relevant for you, the clarification ‘no gifts, please’ should be included somewhere on the printed announcement.

Once you’ve established when to send your graduation announcements, it’s time to decide who should receive one. Anyone who you would send a Christmas or holiday card to is fair game for graduation announcements. Also be sure to include tutors, teachers, classmates, or anyone else closely involved in your high school or college career.

When receiving grad announcements or invitations, do your best to respond promptly. Plan to send a small gift if you can’t attend a party or ceremony, or bring a small gift with you if you are attending. It’s not necessarily required to send a gift upon receipt of a graduation announcement, but a small gift or card is courteous. Cash is the most usual graduation gift, although gift cards or a fun personalized photo gift is a great alternative. If graduation gifts don’t fit in your budget, don’t worry. A heartfelt congratulations card is a great alternative, and will certainly be appreciated by the graduate. Visit our page on graduation etiquette for more helpful tips!

If you’re still on the fence on whether to send graduation announcements at all, read through our reasons to send grad announcements below.

  1. Family and friends want to know. Those closest to you probably already know the details of your graduation, but folks slightly outside the inner circle might not be as informed as you think. Family and friends want to know what’s going on in your life, and will appreciate being included in such a major milestone.
  2. Your family wants to show off your accomplishment. It takes time and effort from everyone in the family to deliver a successful high school or college career, so this graduation is partly their success. Give your family kudos on a job well done.
  3. It’s traditional to announce graduations. Just as with births, moves, and other life events, it’s traditional to share the information with your family and social circle. Graduation announcements come from an era before social media and digital communication, and it’s thoughtful to honor traditional methods of personal correspondence.
  4. Sending grad announcements is a great way to begin networking. That family friend you had a conversation with at last summer’s barbeque? She might remember you’re graduating at some point, but seeing a reminder might just inspire her to get in touch with you about networking and job opportunities.
  5. It’s a keepsake. Graduation announcements often find their way into memory books, photo albums, or other important and sentimental places.
  6. Grad announcements are a great way to thank family and friends. Celebrating your graduation with an announcement is a great opportunity to thank your family and friends for their loyalty and support. A handwritten note or simply your smiling senior portrait makes their loyalty and sacrifice totally worth it.

white and gold 2015 graduation announcements with gold foil and 5 photos

How to Address Graduation Announcements

Graduation announcements should be addressed as formally as birth announcements, wedding invitations, and other staples of personal correspondence. Traditionally, graduation announcements are assembled with two separate envelopes; an inner envelope holding the announcement itself, and an outer mailing envelope. The inner envelope can be addressed colloquially, i.e. “Grandma" or “Uncle Joe," whereas the outer envelope should be addressed formally using blue or black ink. Addressees should be acknowledged by their formal titles, and be sure to avoid address abbreviations. If you’re unsure how to proceed, spell out full names. For example, use “John Smith and Mary Harper" instead of “Mr. and Mrs. Smith-Harper." See the examples below for clarification:

John Smith and Mary Harper
225 Ivy Street
Los Angeles, California 95054

Dr. and Mrs. Greenbaum
85 Norfolk Street Apartment 4F
New York, New York 10001

brown square ticket formal graduation announcements

Depending on your timeline, you might consider including your ceremony or graduation party invitation in the inner envelope with your announcement. When assembling the announcement, don’t seal the inner envelope (doing so just creates more work for your addressees), and make sure to assemble the two envelopes with the seals facing the same direction. Remember to print your return address clearly on the outside envelope, or use matching personalized address labels for a more formal touch.

Take care to use the correct address on your labels, especially when sending college graduation announcements. You may want to include your home address if it’s likely your recipients will receive your announcements well after you’ve moved away from campus. If you’re including a “no gifts, please" request the return address is slightly less significant, but it’s still important to provide your friends and family with updated contact information. Graduation announcements should be sent via first-class mail. If invitations to the ceremony or grad party are included, remember they should arrive no later than two weeks before the event. Announcements on their own can be sent in a wide timeframe, but as always, promptness will be appreciated, and don’t forget to use your matching personalized stationery for thank you notes!

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