Special thanks to Minted for sponsoring today’s post.
When my son graduated from high school last year, the months leading up to graduation were a blur. On top of the normal chaos of our days, there were also dozens of senior events, college and financial aid forms to complete, and graduation details to track and manage. And though I should have known based on my experience choosing birth announcements, that memory had faded over the years so I was overwhelmed when it came time to order graduation announcements. I went about the process all wrong, wasting precious time I didn’t have, and stressed about it the entire time. Based on my experience, I’ve put together these graduation announcement tips to save you time, trouble, and anxiety.
Graduation Announcement Tips
When I say I went about the process all wrong, I mean that I went through the steps in the order I thought was logical. It wasn’t until afterwards, I realized I could have saved myself a lot of stress and time if I had gone through the process in a different order. What I did:
- Googled “graduation announcements” to find a place to order from.
- Checked out 5 different sites to compare choices and prices.
- Decided on a site and spent a couple of HOURS looking at the different designs to choose ones to present my son for his opinion.
- Showed the choices to my son and went back to the drawing board when he said, “I kind of like this one, but I wish it was vertical instead of horizontal.”
- Worked on something else for a week because I dreaded resuming the search.
- Found one we both liked and then drew a blank when it came to deciding what information to include.
- Took another week to procrastinate.
- Spent an hour with my son debating wording.
- Made up a list of who we wanted to send them to in order to decide how many to order.
- Finally ordered the announcements but had to pay for express shipping since I’d waited too long and wasn’t going to have time to mail them out to friends and family.
- When the announcements finally arrived, kept trying to find a window in my son’s schedule so that he could address the announcements and mail them out.
- After a week of my son coming home late every day after practice and matches and then sitting down to do homework until midnight, he finally had a spare hour to address announcements.
- Then we pulled out the list of who to send them to and I spent an hour tracking down addresses for people who had moved, gave up, and then crossed them off the list.
In hindsight, if I’d spent 15 minutes in a good planning session before I began looking for announcements, I could easily have gotten them out on time and avoided putting my son and myself through any strife. So that’s my first tip –
1. Have a Planning Session with Your Graduating Child
Before you do anything else, sit down with your son or daughter and work out some important details.
- Who are you going to send the announcements to? – Make a list, decide who is responsible for making sure you have all the addresses, and assign a due date for having a complete list.
- How much input do each of you want into the design and wording? – I think my son would have been happy for me to take care of the whole thing and wouldn’t have complained, but I thought it was important for him to participate since it was his graduation. Come to an agreement early in the process to avoid fighting and resentment later.
- Figure out how many pictures and which ones you might want to include.
Before and After
Through the Years
- Next, determine what and how much information you want to share in the announcement. The graduate’s name, the school’s name, and the graduation year are standard so you’ll want to include those at a minimum.
Just the Basics
Focus on the Future – Highlighting where the graduate is going next
Extra Details – Include graduation date and parents names
Storybook – Sharing the highlights from the graduate’s life up to this point along with plans for the future
- Also try to decide if you prefer a traditional shape and size or if you want something more decorative or unique. Just remember that odd-sized envelopes can cost more to mail so be sure to use the right postage.
Once you’ve finished planning and gathering input, it’s time to take action.
2. Design and Order the Announcements
There are dozens of companies from which you can order graduation announcements. I like the convenience of shopping online so that’s where I looked. If you plan to keep one (or more) of the announcements as a keepsake, you’ll want to make sure you choose a company with a reputation for quality. I like Minted since not only are they lauded for their quality and design, but also because customers rave about their customer service. When I’m overwhelmed with stress, the last thing I want to do is deal with lousy customer service. The fact that Minted delivers exceptional quality, innovative designs, and stellar customer service at competitive prices, makes them a safe choice.
As soon as you’ve finished ordering, head to the post office to pick up stamps. If you have a touch of OCD like I do, you’ll want to choose ones that match the envelopes. Even if you’re not OCD, you’ll appreciate having them readily available when you get to step 3.
When Should I Order?
Announcements can take anywhere from 1 to 3 weeks to arrive after you’ve ordered them. Make sure you check the shipping guidelines when you order to get a good estimate of when your announcements will arrive (e.g. Minted quotes 5-9 business days for standard shipping and also provides a delivery estimate on the announcement design page). Since you’ll want to mail the announcements out 2-3 weeks before graduation, you should order them at least a month in advance.
How Many Should I Order?
In step 1 you made a list of who you wanted to send announcements to. I recommend ordering an extra 10% to allow for accidental spills or tears, the aunt you forgot to include until after you order, and the one or two (or more!) you want to preserve as keepsakes.
Should I Order Anything Else?
If you are throwing a party and want to have separate invitations, save yourself some time and use the pictures and information you’ve already uploaded for the announcements and get the invitations at the same time. Also, if you are obsessed with things matching, go ahead and order matching thank you cards so your graduate will have a ready supply to thank the generous friends and relatives who reply to the announcement with gifts. If the company you order from provides pre-printed envelopes, consider getting them. Some companies will print the return address, and others will even print the recipients’ addresses on the envelopes for you (Minted does this for free!). This is a great way to save time and effort.
3. Address and Mail
As I mentioned above, I’m a big fan of pre-addressed envelopes, especially if you can get them done at no extra charge. If you decide not to take advantage of this service, make sure you schedule time to address the announcements yourself shortly after they arrive so that you aren’t rushing to do it at the last minute to mail them out on time. Pull out those stamps you picked up in step 2, attach them to the envelopes, and get them into the mailbox with the flag raised or to the nearest post office.
If you’re sending announcements to one group and party invitations to another, I recommend keeping the lists separate and addressing them at different times so you don’t accidentally mix them up.
4. Congratulate Yourself on a Job Well Done
If you follow the steps and advice in this article, ordering and sending graduation announcements should only take up about an hour of your time – 15 minutes for planning, 30 minutes designing the announcements and placing the order, 15 minutes stuffing envelopes and adding postage. Use all that time you saved to catch up on all the other tasks related to graduation (ordering cap & gown, preparing for the party, shopping for a gift and/or outfits for graduation day). Or, better yet, use that time on a special date with your soon-to-be graduate to enjoy some together time before he or she embarks on the next step towards the future.
Editable Granduation Announcement Tracking Sheet
To help make the process even easier, I’ve created a simple spreadsheet you can use to manage your list. You can access the Graduation Announcement Tracking Sheet in Google Sheets. To edit, just make a copy and save it to your Google Drive. If you prefer using Excel, you can download the spreadsheet here (you’ll have to click on the link that says “Graduation Announcements” when the new window opens to download the file). And, for those of you who are old school and prefer pen and paper, you can download a printable version by clicking the image below.
Minted Gives Back
I’ve already told you some of the reasons I recommend Minted for your graduation announcements because of all the great things they offer their customers. One more reason I love them is their Minted Gives Back program.
Minted Gives Back is a free platform that schools and other nonprofit organizations can use for fundraising. When a nonprofit signs up for their own FREE Minted Storefront, Minted donates 10% of each sale made through their Storefront back to the organization.
This graduation season, Minted is offering a special promotion within the Minted Gives Back program. Between April 18th and May 2nd, if your organization signs up for a free Minted storefront page, you’ll earn 15% (instead of the usual 10%) on each sale!