Hilo DIY: Handmade, Budget-Friendly Graduation Sign

by Tracie Yoshimoto, Most Irresistible Shop in Hilo

Congratulations to the Class of 2019 and their ‘ohana! It’s wonderful to see graduates, their family and friends beam with pride throughout the commencement ceremony. And once the alma mater has been sung, the lei-giving and hugs can begin. That’s if you can find your graduate. It’s utter chaos.

Here is an example of one of the fancier signs you can have printed.

To make it easier to find their graduate, families and friends hold up oversized signs to help spot them. Locating a graduate without a sign is possible, but challenging.

Beautiful, professionally made signs are an option, and can be a keepsake. But for all practical purposes, when my two boys graduated, I figured we only need it for one hour, post ceremony, and I could take photos of it to remember.

Here’s a formula for handmade, budget-friendly graduation signs. Keep in mind that simple is easier to see, and bright neon helps. You need a glue stick, scissors, strapping tape (like duct tape), foam-core poster board. Print, cut out and glue your graduate’s name in large, easy-to-read, bold letters. Add in a life-size or larger cutout of your graduate’s face. Flashy-blinky lights and other embellishments are optional. You can get these supplies from the office supply store in the presentation section.

A longer handle will help prevent arm exhaustion!

You’ll also need a long handle, like a broomstick or wooden stake and attach to the back with the strapping tape. A long handle will be more comfortable and prevent the “sign-holder” from having to hold their arm up in the air and suffer arm exhaustion.

Here’s the key! Strategize. Ask someone to be a designated sign-holder and plan ahead with your graduate where they will be standing during the alma mater. It’s a good idea to review your plan with everyone prior to graduate leaving for the big event. Since signs are not allowed in the stadium during the ceremony, the sign-holder can retrieve the sign from the sign “parking lot” during the alma mater. Once allowed in, he/she can make their way directly to the graduate. Once graduate and sign holder are united, the sign holder has to follow the graduate around the floor if he/she decides to go and look for friends.

Couple more tips! It helps to also have a designated lei holder (take them out of bags/containers), and a designated photographer to take tons of pics. You’re set! Don’t be like me and assemble the sign two hours before the ceremony. Then you can focus on more important things like making sure you have your tickets and getting in the line so that you can secure your seats near the others supporting your graduate. Living Hilo Style!


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