Theme Party Ideas for a College Farewell

party food image by Bartlomiej Nowak from

Sending a child to college is a "transition for the whole family system," according to Babs Quincy, M.Ed., Counselor at Westminster College. Help your family transition by hosting a themed farewell party. Encourage family members to assist in planning the party so they get used to the idea of the upcoming change. The party will give your student a chance to say farewell to an old lifestyle and be open to the future.


Make a tropical food buffet with offerings like chicken and pineapple kabobs, fruit salad with star fruit, kumquats, mangoes and strawberries, and pineapple cornbread. Partygoers can drink out of coconut shells. Give every guest a grass skirt, coconut bra and lei to wear. Line the perimeter of the party area with tiki torches. Lead guests in chanting farewell to the student. Get the student to give his last hula dance before going to college.

You're A Star

Invite guests to help send your student to college by walking the red carpet with the star for the night. "Paparazzi" can snap photos of the teens partying before going to college. Set out popcorn, soft pretzels with cheese, pizza and nachos for partygoers to eat. Set up a room for viewing movies and play videos of the student throughout her childhood. Show off any awards she has won and ask guests to sign farewell messages in her yearbook.


Set up a bonfire and invite teens to dance the night away before sending their pals off to college with well wishes. Set out glass bottles of soda labeled "I'm going to college" and fill a table with ribs, chili, hot dogs, pasta salad and brownies. Give every guest a small bag with insect repellent, gum and a disposable camera. Collect the cameras at the end of the night and assure people you will get copies made for everyone.

Graduate Roast

Place a "throne" for the soon-to-be college student to sit in at the front of the room. Behind the throne, hang a large caricature of him. Pre-arrange for friends and family members to approach a microphone and share funny stories about the guest of honor. Serve taco salads, cheeseburgers, fries and milkshakes. Record the roast and email copies of it to the guests.


Invite guests to party the night away when you turn your house into a speakeasy, or 1920s bar. Text a secret code to guests and tell them it is the only way they will be allowed into the speakeasy. For example, "Farewell, Colin" or "Good luck at College, Susan." Offer guests small containers of fruit cocktail, meatballs, baked spaghetti, and mozzarella and tomato salad. Set up a bar where guests can get a variety of non-alcoholic drinks to complete the "bar."