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Teen-Friendly Grad Party Food Ideas

by Zora Hughes, studioD

You couldn't be more proud of your graduating teen and are looking forward to throwing a graduation party that's equal to her achievements. Since the party will likely be packed with your teen's friends, you'll want to be sure you have set out a spread designed to please even the pickiest teen. Serve slightly sophisticated, yet still teen-friendly dishes that will ensure the graduation party is a hit.

Finger Foods

Plan finger-friendly appetizers such as chopped up fruit and vegetables with dip. A chocolate fountain lends a touch of sweet sophistication to the festivities. For savory palettes, serve up an antipasto and cheese platter with a variety of deli meats, olives and cheeses. Include a nuts platter with different types of nuts or trail mix in different compartments. Other teen-friendly appetizers include pita bread with hummus, mini-bagel pizzas and pigs in a blanket -- Vienna sausages wrapped in pastry and baked.

Build Your Own Meals

Let teens customize their food by serving up dishes do-it-yourself style. For hot dogs and hamburgers, provide the traditional condiments like relish, catsup and mustard, but add a little variety by laying out onions, peppers, tomatoes, coleslaw, sauerkraut and a host of other toppings. Variations on the do-it-yourself theme include a taco bar, potato bar and salad bar. Another cool idea is a grilled cheese station, where the teens can take this classic childhood favorite to the next level by selecting what they want to go inside of their grilled cheese sandwich, such as what type of cheese and extras like bacon, turkey or tomatoes. A hired chef --or just mom or dad -- will then grill up the sandwiches. A self-serve dessert such as an ice cream bar or even a cheese cake bar with sweet toppings can round out the festivities

Grad-themed Desserts

It's not a graduation party without a cake, or at least a cupcake tower. You can either decorate the cake or cupcakes in school colors, or choose your teen's favorite colors. Another idea is to make cinnamon rolls in the shape of diplomas or simply wrap a school-color ribbon around pirouette cookies. Cannolis also make an ideal diploma-shaped dessert.


A mocktail bar is perfect for a teen graduation party, as the teen can sip on sophisticated-looking drinks that don't have a drop of alcohol in them. Plan to have a bartender manning the bar and create a menu of tasty, alcohol-free versions of popular drinks such as pina colada, mai tai and mudslides. During the party, consider having a mocktail contest as well, where the teens pair up and try to come up with the best-tasting mocktail.

About the Author

Based in Los Angeles, Zora Hughes has been writing travel, parenting, cooking and relationship articles since 2010. Her work includes writing city profiles for Groupon. She also writes screenplays and won the S. Randolph Playwriting Award in 2004. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in television writing/producing and a Master of Arts Management in entertainment media management, both from Columbia College.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages, Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images