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How to Decorate a Graduation Cap

person wearing decorated graduation cap with text

Fall 2017 Commencement” by Germanna CC is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

We’re so excited that graduates in Berkeley will be able to enjoy gatherings in person this year, with family members and friends. We’re saying goodbye to drive-by graduations, and we couldn’t be happier about it!

This means the long tradition of decorating a graduation cap is back! Here are some pointers.

What do people usually do with their graduation caps?

People do all sorts of fun things with their graduation caps! We’ve seen:

  • Quotes
  • Song lyrics
  • Hopes for the future
  • Sports or hobby themes
  • Friend-group themes
  • Art designs
  • Designs that match your graduation party theme

Decorating your graduation cap is a great way to celebrate your graduation win and to express yourself, whether you’re graduating from high school, college, a Master’s program, a PhD program, a nursing program, or any other program you can think of.

Graduation Cap Decoration Supplies

The supplies you’ll need will depend on your method, but you can use any of the following supplies to make your graduation cap great.

  • Glitter glue
  • Acrylic fabric paint
  • Glitter
  • Stick-on letters and numbers
  • Hot glue guns for gluing on beads, embellishments, or cut-outs
  • Felt or paper for cut-outs
  • Shaped confetti
  • Small balloon numbers
  • Fuzzy pipe cleaners bent into interesting shapes
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Miniatures
  • Artificial flowers
  • Stencils

decorated graduation cap

Graduation Cap (Mortarboard) Box by Me” by Jorge Jaramillo is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

How do you make a graduation cap topper?

Create a plan! You want to know exactly what you plan to do.

Always start with a 9.5″ by 9.5″ square topper in hard or decorative paper or felt. If your favorite paper is thin you’ll want to glue it to a stiffer piece of paper. You can also use felt.

Cut a small X in the center so you can work it under the tassel.

You can then work with the topper and if it doesn’t come out the way you want it, you can create another. The sky is the limit here! Glue on rhinestones or paint on a stencil. Did you play soccer? Attach little soccer balls. Fill it with flowers or stick on letters to spell out a specific message. Let the world see your originality!

Can you paint directly on a graduation cap?

Yes. You’ll want to use acrylic fabric paint. We do recommend creating or using stencils to get the best and most consistent results.

We rarely recommend painting directly on the cap though; we usually recommend using a topper.

How do you put letters on a graduation cap?

Stickers and glue adhere to most graduation caps just fine, though again a topper can help ensure you get the exact design you want before you touch the cap itself. The cut out can then be adhered to the cap.

If you do attach a topper, then use a hot glue gun for best results!

How do you attach flowers to a graduation cap?

For flowers, you will absolutely need felt or a stiff paper topper. You’ll want to start by gluing a topper onto your cap with a hot glue gun.

Then you’ll want to lay out your flowers before you begin. We recommend using artificial flowers. You’ll want to take them apart and then layer them back together with glue.

Once you’ve decided on your layout you can begin gluing down your flowers. Use a popsicle stick to flatten the flowers and smooth down the glue so you don’t burn yourself.

To get a nice layered look, start by placing the flowers in a random, spaced pattern. You can then fill in later. This helps to ensure that your flowers aren’t too crowded.

Other Tips for DIY Graduation Cap Decorations

First and foremost, make sure you’re allowed to decorate your cap. Most local schools allow you to but every school has its own policy.

We also recommend gathering your friends so you can all do it together. It’s a fun pre-graduation activity and a neat way to spend time together!

kindergartener with graduation cap

Happy Graduation!

Don’t forget that if you need supplies you can hop on down to Paper Plus. Our shelves are well-stocked and our prices are affordable. We’ve got everything you need to help you make your graduation cap perfect this year!

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