Demystifying graduation correspondence

There are some things you know because you’ve been taught, some things you know through experience, and some things you just sort of figure out through observation and equal portions of common sense and courtesy.

Lately I’ve felt convicted about my attitude towards my fellow human beings. Where I used to try and see the good in people, now I seem to only notice an abundance of rude and self-centered behavior. I mostly blame this phenomenon on my spending an inordinate amount of time in grocery store parking lots, but that’s a whole other post and I digress…

As graduation season comes to a close, it occurs to me that there is an unspoken etiquette one must follow when sending and receiving graduation correspondence–at least that’s been my experience. And because I’ve decided it’s better to shine a light than curse the darkness, I wanted to share with you, dear reader, my wealth of information about graduation season, and perhaps prevent a potentially embarrassing faux pas in the future.

I know. You’re welcome.

The graduation announcement

Dear katdish,

Over the past several weeks, I have received several graduation announcements from distant nieces and nephews, children of women in my Bunko group and the young lady at the end of the block I used to buy Girl Scout cookies from. Since many of the graduation ceremonies are being held on the same day, I can’t possibly attend them all. How can I graciously decline these invitations and how do I determine which ceremony I actually do attend?


Perplexed in Poughkeepsie

Dear Perplexed,

Relax. A graduation announcement is not an invitation to the actual ceremony, it is merely an invitation to send the graduate a gift, preferably in the form of a check or money order. In the event that you receive an actual invitation, be advised that the graduate or the parent of the graduate considers to a special friend or relation, therefore the gift should be at least thirty dollars. If you were actually expected to attend, you would have already received a phone call confirming your attendance.

The graduation party

If you receive an invitation to a graduation party, congratulations. You are in the inner circle of close family and friends. You probably already know whether your presence is expected. It’s been my experience that if the graduate is young enough to be your son or daughter, you may politely excuse yourself after hors d’oeuvres and/or dinner has been served so that the young folks can crank the music and get their freak on.

Decoding the thank you card

Thank you so much for the gift! It really means a lot to me. I had a very special day.



The above was an actual thank you card I recently received. Unless you bought the graduate a new car or paid for their first year of college tuition, a generic thank you card is perfectly acceptable. In this age of electronic communication, it’s nice to get a hand written thank you note from anyone, let alone an 18 year old whose main source of written communication is texting on their phone. And while I know the same note may have been written to several people, knowing the kid (and his mother), I also know that his appreciation was sincere.

So there you have it. I hope I’ve helped in some small way to demystify the secret language of graduation correspondence.

Any recent graduates in your life?

Any sage advice to pass on that I may have missed?

« « Previous Post: Why I hate writing, Part 13: katdish, dream crusher | Next Post: Being special » »

9 Responses to “Demystifying graduation correspondence”

  1. jake June 10, 2012 at 11:49 pm #

    “Where I used to try and see the good in people, now I seem to only notice an abundance of rude and self-centered behavior.”

    I may have laughed for about a five minutes on that one. Not that I want you to suffer, but you’re at least humorous about it.

    My mother made sure that I sent out thank you cards, which was less than thrilling, but I’m glad that she taught me about this etiguette, because at least I looked like less of a selfish pig and I guarantee it’ll stick with me the rest of my life…

  2. SimplyDarlene June 11, 2012 at 9:56 am #

    Is this the mere beginning to a Dear Katdish series?

    A girl can hope.

    (Here’s an annoying tidbit maybe you can address in your next installment regarding thank you cards: I’m BIG on sending thank you cards. I’ve taught my kiddo to do it too ever since he could hold a crayola and smear glue on construction paper — under my supervision of course. Nobody in my family or my husband’s ever sends t-u cards.

    Nada. None. Double goose eggs. Zero. Zip. Zilcho.

    But all that has changed since a certain unnamed-inlaw has retired; she has taken up assorted arts and crafts in her spare time. Now she sends t-u cards now that have probably taken her 2.7 weeks and $88 to create. (yep, gotta demonstration and explanation just this week whilst she was passing through en route to 2 graduation events — that’s my feeble tie-in)

    So, here’s my question Dear Katdish, what do ya do with t-u cards like that? Send a t-u for the t-u? What if a person gets a t-u card when there was nothing to thank?

    Contriving in the state of Confusion.

    (Oh, are you taking questions? I don’t know. But I feel better just sharing my dilemma with you.)

    • katdish June 12, 2012 at 10:04 am #

      Don’t think I would send a thank you card for thank you cards. I mean, would she be delighted or offended if you used one of her cards as the thank you?

  3. floyd June 13, 2012 at 9:40 am #

    I can’t count the number of graduation ceremonies I’ve attended… Nieces, nephews, girls I’ve coached, now my oldest two from high school and one from college, another in December. Which is way better than the June ceremonies in Arizona.

    The last one was our oldest’s and it was at Bank One Ballpark… where the Diamondbacks play. Yeah, the college isn’t big enough to hold all the people. Our daughter was one of the last ones called…

    I’m a bit burned out on the whole thing… signed, Aggravated in Arizona.

  4. karenzach June 13, 2012 at 10:31 am #

    We get dozens of these every year. Being teachers and all… Sometimes we go to the parties… yes…we get invited to them too. We received a thank you note last year that took me a week to figure out who it was from!

  5. Helen June 13, 2012 at 11:57 pm #

    I went to a graduation ceremony for my cousin’s daughter a little over a week ago. The sunburn still hurts. Bad me for thinking I didn’t need sunscreen for a ceremony lasting a little more than an hour.

  6. Harriett June 16, 2012 at 6:38 am #

    Crack me up, friend.

    I’m over here from FFF, and I laughed at loud at this.

    It was supposed to be humorous, right?

    As a high school teacher, I got invited to tons of those graduation parties. I learned to decline them — since I went to some early on in my rookie days, and AWKWARD.

    I’m sending this post to my sister. She’ll love it.

  7. Megan Willome June 16, 2012 at 9:38 am #

    I’ll be there with my kids in 2014 & 2017, so I’m glad for the etiquette lesson.

Leave a Reply:

Gravatar Image

XHTML: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>