It's almost that time of year again: Time for graduating seniors to put on a cap and gown, walk across the stage and receive a diploma. Graduation season is one of the most popular for greeting cards – in fact, graduation cards are the fifth most popular category of seasonal cards sent each year (preceded by Christmas, Valentine's Day and Mother's and Father's Day cards). But there's another common type of stationery sent during graduation season: announcements.
If you're about to graduate, take a look at this etiquette guide for graduation announcements:
What to say
Because many graduating seniors only receive a few tickets to their graduations, graduation announcements are much more popular than graduation invitations. However, many people who receive grad announcements find it hard to distinguish whether they've been invited or not. Make sure your wording reflects the purpose of the card. Most graduation announcements feature some form of "announce," like "The University of Maryland proudly announces the graduation of (your name)" or "(Your name) is proud to announce his graduation." If you want, include separate invitations to your ceremony or a graduation party in only the envelopes of people who you'd like to invite. Also, decide if you'd like to include "No gifts, please" at the bottom of your announcement.
Who to send them to
There's not hard and fast rule about who should receive graduation announcements, but your close family and friends generally receive them. Many people choose to also include extended family, any professors or teachers who they bonded with and classmates. The exact list is up to you and your family.
When to send them
Because graduation announcements are different than invitations, they don't need to be sent well before the ceremony. The general rule is that announcements should be sent anywhere from two weeks before the ceremony to four weeks after it. Some students choose to send announcements after the ceremony in order to include cap-and-gown photos, but just make sure your wording reflects that the ceremony has already happened.
On addressing envelopes
Graduation announcements are traditionally formal, and usually include the announcement, inner and outer envelopes and sometimes a tissue insert. You can choose to address them as formally or informally as you'd like. If you choose a formal style, address your announcements to couples using the man's name (i.e. Mr. and Mrs. John Smith) and use as few abbreviations as possible (spell out street, avenue, etc.). If you choose an informal style, the announcements can be addressed however you'd like, so feel free to be as relaxed as "Uncle John" or "Grandma and Grandpa."
On sending thank you notes
Remember that etiquette rules dictate sending thank you cards to anyone who gives you a gift. Order graduation thank you cards ahead of time so that you can send them out as soon as you begin receiving presents in the mail. If people send money, refrain from mentioning specific dollar amounts, and instead thank them for their generosity and include how you'll spend the money (for instance, "Thank you so much for your generous gift – I plan on buying a new briefcase for my first post-grad job with it!").