Graduation Cap Decoration Guide

Congratulations, Class of 2022! You did it! Now, before you rush off to that commencement ceremony, take some time to give yourself a pat on the back and grab your arts & craft supplies. Decorating a cap for your graduation ceremony can be lots of fun and will be an extra little something for your graduation pictures. Take a look at this guide for some inspiration on how to get started - in this guide; we'll be giving you tips about what kinds of quotes or designs you can put on your cap, as well as making sure to stay within the guidelines for what you can have on your cap. Read ahead for inspiration!


#1: Check Your School's Guidelines & Cap Etiquette

First, before doing anything with your cap, make sure what you include fits within the school guidelines - oftentimes, schools will let you have free reign over what goes on your cap, but there are a few rules to follow, and you definitely don't want to have to switch caps the day of commencement! Here are the Reedley College guidelines for graduation caps:

  • No offensive language, sayings, nicknames, pictures, or lyrics on the cap.

  • No objects such as signs, stuffed animals, bells, flowers, or any 3D object may rest on the cap.

  • All decorations MUST lay FLAT on the cap. Nothing can lay perpendicular, thus allowing us to see the decoration beyond eye level.

  • Your cap CAN NOT make noise. No bells, horns, or anything that makes noise.

In addition to these guidelines, there are also recommendations for what to include on your cap that the school suggests. The rest of this guide will have plenty more ideas for you to decorate your cap, but here are a few recommendations:

  • Thank a parent, grandparent, teacher, friend

  • Recognize the university you will be attending.

#2: Picking Your Idea

Great! Now you're ready to decide what quote and design you want to put on your cap. Quotes can be a wide variety of things - they can be anything from a sophisticated literary quote to something from your favorite movie or TV show or a quote that is special to you. In the upcoming pages, we've provided many examples of all these for you to decorate your cap with.

a. Pop Culture References

Pop culture references are a popular choice among the cap-decorating crowd. Whether it's from a popular song, movie, TV show, book, or something else, these quotes can range from funny to deeply profound or something in between. Here are some pop culture references that people have used for their cap decorating!

  • "Let your dreams stay big and your worries stay small" - Rascal Flatts

  • "I want adventure in the great wide somewhere" - Beauty & the Beast

  • "Get in losers, we're graduating!" - Mean Girls

  • "There's a million things I haven't done, but just you wait" - Hamilton

  • "Master has given Dobby a diploma, Dobby is free!" - Harry Potter

  • "You guys, I'm like really smart now" - The Office

  • "What, like it's hard?" - Legally Blonde

  • "Thank U, Next" - Ariana Grande

  • "Screw beautiful, I'm brilliant" - Grey's Anatomy

  • "The one where (your name) graduates" - Friends

  • "I think I'm quite ready for another adventure" - Lord of the Rings

  • "What she tackles, she conquers" - Gilmore Girls

B. Inspirational Quotes

While pop culture references may be popular, some may enjoy going the more traditional route of picking an inspirational quote for their graduation cap. There is a wide variety of these, from literary references, said by famous writers to popular phrases from unknown people that can make any graduation cap spectacular! There are many more quotes that simply cannot fit into this guide, but maybe some of these will be suited well for your cap or will inspire you to do some research on similar quotes. If you're interested in incorporating one of these into your cap design, view the list below for some ideas!

  • "The best is yet to come."

  • "Though she be but little, she is fierce" - Shakespeare

  • "Let the journey begin."

  • "Beautiful minds inspire others."

  • "Dreams don't work unless you do."

  • "Well-behaved women rarely make history."

  • "Creativity takes courage" - Henry Matisse

  • "She believed that she could, so she did."

  • "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."

  • "Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire."

d. No Words / Graduation Information

For those who either can't think of a phrase or reference to suit them, there is always the option of not having any words at all or just including the information about your graduation! Some of this information can include the year you're graduating, the degree(s)/certificate(s) you're getting, your name, the name of the school you're graduating from, or if you're transferring, the school you plan on attending, or whatever else you'd like! There are plenty of appealing cap designs that can work for you best if you just want something simple or would prefer a drawing to some words. Check out the pictures below to see how others designed their caps!


E. Thank a family member, teacher, or friend

Out of all these picks, however, one of the best may be to thank the people who got you to that stage. Whether it's the parents who woke you up for school every day, the friends who got you Starbucks while you studied late hours into the night for your countless midterms and finals, the teachers who gave you the insights & knowledge for everything you know, or another special person in your life, it's always a great idea to acknowledge the people who helped you along the way. For this reason, consider using your cap to express your sincere gratitude for those special people in your life! Here are a few ideas to help you get started:


#3: Get Decorating Supplies!

You're almost ready to start decorating your cap! Next, you'll want to make sure you have everything to decorate it - fake flowers if you want to put some on your cap, sequins, or any other objects to put on the cap, paintbrushes, paint in all the colors you want to use, and cardboard. We recommend that, for your cap, you get a piece of cardboard and paint your design on there, then tape or use Velcro stickers to secure it on the cap. That way, if you make a mistake while designing your cap or decide to do something different than you originally planned, you can start over at any point you'd like. If you plan to go this route, make sure you have the correct supplies for that as well, such as double-sided tape or Velcro stickers.


You can get supplies like these at craft stores like Michael's or regular department stores such as Walmart or Target, or if you're on a budget, ask a family member or friend if they would share supplies with you. Once you're done collecting supplies, you are ready to begin decorating!

#4: Start decorating!

Great job! Now that you've picked your cap design, reviewed your school's guidelines for cap decorating, and gotten your supplies, you are ready to begin decorating! As stated earlier, we recommend that you put your design on a piece of cardboard and then attach the piece to your cap, so if you make a mistake or want to change course while you're decorating, you can start over at any time. Additionally, it's a lot easier to design a piece of cardboard than trying to paint the cap itself.


Make sure not to wear fancy clothes just in case you get some paint or glitter on yourself while decorating. An old shirt you don't wear anymore, or something that already has paint on it would work great, and make sure that your workspace is clear of anything that you're not okay getting paint on - pages of an old newspaper would also work great to make sure you don't get paint on your desk! Grab any supplies you'll need for painting, such as a cup or paper plate, and you're good to go.


We also recommend having some music to play to make the decorating a little more fun - there are plenty of songs perfect for graduation that might be good to play. If you don't know where to get started, here's the link to a Spotify graduation playlist.


#5: Take breaks!

While you are working on your wonderful cap design, don't forget to take breaks every once in a while! Get up, walk around to stretch your legs if you've been sitting at a table or on the floor, and maybe get a glass of water or something to snack on. Even if what you're working on is lots of fun, it's still good to get a quick break every so often to relax, so you're not exhausted from all the amazing designs you've been making on your cap! Get up, stretch, grab a snack from the kitchen, and get back to your decorating.


#6: You're done!

Congratulations! Not only have you worked extremely hard to get your degree, you've finished decorating your cap, which takes you one step closer to walking across that stage on graduation day. Give yourself a pat on the back for all the work you've accomplished, don your cap and gown, and take a look in the mirror to see how amazing you look with your newly-designed cap. If you'd like, you can also share your design on social media so all your friends and family can see your great design skills. Maybe even show it around to your family so they can see the design in person as well. Great job!


Congrats, class of 2022!

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