What to write in a graduation card

Graduation wishes and message ideas from Hallmark writers

By Keely Chace
Graduation Wishes: What to Write in a Graduation Card #Hallmark #HallmarkIdeas

Hats off to graduates! Whether they’re earning a diploma, a program certificate, a degree or even a cool new professional title, their hard work deserves some warm, thoughtful words of recognition.

Maybe you’re experiencing one of those “Class of Everyone!” years where you have a lot of graduation cards to send. Or maybe you just want some fresh ideas for what to write to one special graduate. Either way, we’ve got you covered.

Our “What to Write in a Graduation Card” guide offers personal-message tips and inspiration, shared by Hallmark writers and organized by what you want to say and how you want to say it as well as your relationship to the graduate. You can read the whole guide or jump straight to the specific ideas you need. Whichever way you go, we hope our ideas help you add a little pomp to all your graduation-card circumstances!

Graduation Wishes: What to write in a Graduation card
Congratulations

There’s no need to deliver a whole commencement address in your card. “Congratulations” is a great basic message, and it’s easy to say even if you don’t know the graduate well. Here are some ideas for going a word or two beyond to warm up and personalize your congratulations.

More casual

  • “Congratulations and BRAVO!”
  • “This calls for celebrating! Congratulations!”
  • “You did it! Congrats!”
  • “Caps off to you, Graduate! Well done!”

More formal

  • “Congratulations on your well-deserved success.”
  • “Congratulations on your doctoral degree!”
  • “Warmest congratulations on your graduation.”
  • “Congratulations on your graduation and best wishes for your next adventure!”
  • “So happy to share in the excitement of your graduation day, and so very proud of you, too!”

Writing tip: If the card you’ve chosen already has “congratulations” printed, follow it with an ellipsis […] and add to the “congratulations” message.

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Happy for the Graduate

“I’m happy for you!” is another warm, enthusiastic message to add to a graduation card. You can hardly go wrong by telling someone you’re happy about what he or she has achieved.

More casual

  • “I guess it’s officially time to start calling you Dr., huh? So happy for you!”
  • “What a proud day! We just couldn’t be happier for you!”
  • “It makes us so happy when we think about what you’ve achieved. Congratulations!”

More formal

  • “Feeling so much joy for you today. What an impressive achievement!”
  • “We hope you can feel all the pride and happiness surrounding you as you graduate.”
  • “Your graduation is such a happy occasion—for you and for all of us who have watched you grow up.”

Writing tip: Follow a “happy for you” message with a warm closing above your signature for a really nice message that will make the graduate feel great.

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Love for the Graduate

Any day is a good time to remind family members or close friends that you love them, but on the occasion of their graduation, you have an added excuse to do so.

More casual

  • “Congratulations on your graduation! Love you, Smarty!”
  • “We love you so much, Brandon. Hope your graduation is a day you’ll always remember with pride!”
  • “Congratulations to the brightest, most beautiful, most loved graduate anywhere!”

More formal

  • “With love and pride today and always,”
  • “Sending my love and so many happy wishes as you celebrate your graduation.”
  • “We hope you feel great about what you’ve achieved, and we hope you know how much we love you.”

Writing tip: A closing like “Love,” or “Lots of love,” is a great way to top off any personal message you write in your card.

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Compliments for the Graduate

Who doesn’t like hearing how smart, hardworking and all-around wonderful they are? Build grads up with some admiring words they’ll be sure to remember when they win their first Nobel Prize.

More casual

  • “Good looks, brains, heart and now a diploma too? You’ve really got it all!”
  • “Congratulations to the smartest MHS graduate in the history of ever!”
  • “Happy Graduation, You! I vote you most likely to knock the socks off all your English professors at CSU!”
  • “I just Googled it and found out that only about 8 percent of Americans have attained as high a level of education as you have. In other words, you’re joining a pretty elite group with that brand-new master’s degree, and you deserve to feel great about it!”
  • “You are living proof that good things come to those who are willing to work hard and sacrifice to reach a worthwhile goal. Can’t tell you how proud I am!”

More formal

  • “The world needs caring, capable people like you. So glad you’re ready to take your place in it, armed with your knowledge.”
  • “Congratulations, Ella! Graduating from college is an impressive achievement, and knowing you, I’m sure it’s just one of many still to come…”
  • “When I look at you, I see someone who has the intelligence and focus to do whatever she can dream. I hope you feel proud today and confident in your ability to rise to your next challenge!”
  • “You have shown tremendous dedication and sacrifice in earning your degree. When you could have been out having fun, you chose to study and prepare yourself for a great future. Now you deserve to see your dreams come true, and a great big ‘Congratulations’ from all of us who have watched you in awe.”

Writing tip: The more specific your compliment, the more meaningful it will be to your recipient.

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Wishes for the Graduation Day

A wish for a proud, memorable graduation day is especially appropriate when you can’t be there to see it with your own eyes, but it works nicely when you’re there watching the graduate walk across the stage. It’s also a good “add-on” to a “congratulations” or “happy for you” message.

More casual

  • “Happy Graduation Day!”
  • “Hope your graduation is a proud day full of well-deserved celebrating!”
  • “You’ll always remember this day. Hope it feels even sweeter than you imagined!”

More formal

  • “Your high school graduation is so special. We hope it comes with good memories of school and friends, with excitement for the changes ahead and, most of all, with joy in this once-in-a-lifetime day.”
  • “We hope you’ll often look back on this day and remember so many little moments…and the pride that filled each one.”
  • “Wishing you every joy on your graduation day and every blessing in the future.”

Writing tip: A simple wish for the graduation day is also a good choice when a more effusive or complimentary message doesn’t feel genuine or when you simply don’t know the graduate that well.

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Wishes for the Future

Graduation is the perfect time to look ahead, offer encouragement and express optimism and excitement about the graduate’s future. And you don’t even need a crystal ball to do it!

More casual

  • “Hope you’ll always find yourself as happy and full of big, crazy dreams as you are today!”
  • “Hope you’re able to take a well-earned rest, vacation—whatever kind of break sounds like fun. You’ve earned it!
  • “You’re going to be famous one day. I’m counting on it. Because I know the kind of drive you have and what you’ve already done. Congratulations!”

More formal

  • “I’m sure today will be only the first of many proud, successful moments for you.”
  • “Sending warm congratulations today and wishing you all the best at Michigan State in the fall!”
  • “Congratulations today and best wishes for all your tomorrows. I just know life has even more wonderful things in store for you.”
  • “Today the field of education gains a very promising new addition. Congratulations on your graduation and best of luck in your teaching career!”

Writing tip: A wish for the graduation day + a wish for the graduate’s future = a highly satisfying combo.

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Let’s Celebrate!

If you’re going to be at the commencement ceremony or a part of the celebration afterwards, you might choose to focus your message on the pride and fun of sharing in the graduate’s big day.

More casual

  • “Congratulations, Eric. It means so much to be a part of your graduation day!”
  • “WOO-HOO! We’re thrilled to be celebrating your graduation with you!”
  • “First I get to see you walk across the stage. Then there’s a party? Awesome!”

More formal

  • “So happy we could be here to watch you graduate with honors. It’s an honor to share in such an important day.”
  • “It’s my great privilege to know you…to think about all you’ve achieved…and to be with you on your graduation day.”
  • “You’ll always remember this day and so will all of us who were here cheering you on. Best of luck to you always!”

Writing tip: If you know something about the graduate that’s worthy of extra celebrating (graduating with honors, first in the family, job offer waiting, etc.), that’s worth calling out in your message.

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Wish I Could Be There

Even when you can’t make it to the commencement ceremony or reception, you can still make your presence felt by letting the graduate know you’re with them in spirit.

More casual

  • “Congratulations on your high school graduation, Tyler! Wish we could be there to see it.”
  • “I wish I could be at your graduation to give you a hug and tell you in person how proud I am of you.”
  • “So sorry we can’t be there for your graduation. But even though we’ll miss seeing you in your cap and gown, we would never miss this chance to tell you we’re proud of you.”

More formal

  • “Sending warm thoughts and big congratulations to a graduate we’re so very proud of.”
  • “Thinking of you with love and pride on your graduation day.”
  • “Our warmest thoughts and highest hopes are with you as you celebrate your graduation.”

Writing tip: When you can’t be there in person, you don’t have to include an apology in your personal message. Just the act of sending the card lets the graduate know you’re thinking of them.

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Sharing Faith

A graduation card is the perfect place to express and share faith traditions. Prayers for the graduate, asking God’s blessing on future pursuits, quoting a passage of Scripture…all of these are great things to write.

More casual

  • “What a happy day! God is good.”
  • “Can’t wait to see where life will take you next. Wherever it is, our prayers go with you!”
  • “You’re a blessing and a source of pride to all of us who love you.”
  • “I believe it makes the Lord happy to see someone making the most of their natural talents the way you have. And I have no doubt that He is smiling down on you today!”

More formal

  • “Prayers and blessings on your graduation and on your future.”
  • “Congratulations, Fiona! We’ve loved seeing how you’ve grown in faith, character and wisdom throughout your days at GHS.”
  • “God blessed you with intelligence and talent, and you have used them well!”
  • “Thanking God for the special joy of your graduation day, and asking His blessing on all the exciting changes ahead for you.”

Writing tip: Be sensitive when the graduate doesn’t share your faith tradition, but know that a “God bless you on your graduation day” kind of message is usually general enough to work for anyone.

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Sharing Memories

If your card has the writing space and you’ve got the time, consider sharing a meaningful memory. It might be about the graduate’s earliest and cutest signs of genius, a story about his or her school days or activities or anything else you think the graduate will enjoy.

Examples

  • “Who can believe that little kid who used to watch cartoons in jammies and ride around on his BMX bike is now a college graduate? I CAN! There was always something about you that stood out. And now you’re really going places!”
  • “It seems like only yesterday we wiped away some tears (ours) and sent you into Mrs. Palmer’s kindergarten in your pigtails and plaid jumper. That was the beginning of an impressive school career that has included hundreds of crustless PB&Js, two spelling bee wins, one soaking wet science project, one trip to state volleyball, one graduation honors cord and so many friends and good memories. Hope you know how proud you have made us through all of it—and never more than today. Happy Graduation, Sweetheart, with all our love.”
  • “Four years ago, pickup basketball game at Elm Park—that was when you first told me you were majoring in engineering. I think I told you that you were nuts, but look at you now! That was some seriously hard coursework, and I’m seriously proud of you for making it through…just like you said you would!”
  • “Remembering the fun and the friends and feathered hairdos at my own graduation, and wishing you a celebration that’s just as unforgettable (without the regrettable hair!).”

Writing tip: It’s probably most natural to share a memory of the graduate, but you could also share a memory from your own life experiences or graduation—anything that would be relevant to the graduate and fun or meaningful for him or her to read.

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Sharing Laughs

A touch of humor can be a breath of fresh air for a graduate who’s being bombarded with lofty and overly serious messages—or one who’s overwhelmed with the anxiety and uncertainty that often come with graduation.

Examples

  • “Quick, what’s the capital of Smartland? YOU!”
  • “This definitely won’t be the last time I get to brag by association with you.”
  • “Knew you were smart. You just proved it to everyone else. Now get busy solving the traffic problems on my commute.”
  • “You’re officially a nurse now! I hope if I’m ever in the hospital, you’ll be mine. Not to be creepy or anything. Just so I know I’ll have the best care.”
  • “You’re someone who probably could get three degrees with one hand tied behind his back ☺ But still, you deserve to be honored and to know how proud everyone is.”
  • “Here’s one more math problem: If you take a really smart brain, add years of study and knowledge and multiply by a winning, go-getter attitude, what is the result? A super-deserving graduate who makes everyone proud! Like you!”

Writing tip: Let your relationship be your guide when writing a lighthearted message. If humor is part of how you communicate with the graduate in everyday life, then feel free to be your funny self when you sign the card.

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Sharing Advice

Graduation is a good time for the kind of advice that’s more about building people up than bossing them around. Keep your advice general, upbeat and encouraging, and it will be appreciated.

More casual

  • “Some advice as you graduate: Take pictures. Take your time celebrating. Take it easy for a while. Then get ready to take on the world!”
  • “It took a lot of hard work to reach this goal. You had to show up every day, whether you felt like it or not. I hope you feel great about what you’ve accomplished, and I hope you’ll continue to be a person who shows up day in and day out for those things that are worthwhile and important in life.”
  • “Always remember: There’s no limit to what you can do if you keep believing in yourself.”

More formal

  • “May you always dare to do great things with your life.”
  • “Keep on growing. Keep adding to the goodness and beauty in the world. Keep developing those unique dreams and talents that make you who you are!”
  • “At my graduation, our commencement speaker challenged us to be lifelong learners, and that’s my wish and my advice for you as you graduate. Whatever you do, never stop learning, exploring, growing and challenging yourself to be your best.”

Writing tip: What’s the best life advice you’ve ever received? Or, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned so far? Answering either of those questions might be the perfect lead-in to a meaningful graduation message.

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Sharing Quotes

If you know of some famous words that would have special meaning for the graduate, then quote those inspiring lines when you sign your card.

Examples

  • “I found a quote in a book called The Art of the Moment that I wanted to share as you graduate:
    The magic wand that can spread fairy dust on everything you hear, touch, and see is called attention.’
    Véronique Vienne
    That’s my wish for you—that whatever you choose to do with your one amazing life, not a moment would be lost on you…that you would be present, taking in all the everyday joys and miracles that come your way.
    Love and best wishes always,”
  • “‘The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming…who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.’
    Theodore Roosevelt
    Happy Graduation to a true warrior at heart!”
  • “ ‘I dwell in Possibility…
    Emily Dickinson
    Congratulations on your graduation…and the world of possibilities ahead of you!”
  • “In the immortal words of Dr. Seuss, ‘Oh, the Places You’ll Go!’
    So very happy for you!”

Writing tip: You can draw quotations from songs, stories, poetry, Scripture, movies and more. If you’d like some quotable inspiration, check out these quotes from commencement speeches or share a little wit and wisdom from our collection of graduation quotes. You can include your quotation in the body of the rest of your message, or you can write the quote separately on the inside left of the card. (Typically, you will end up signing your name on the inside right.)

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To Family

When it’s a family member graduating—whether it’s your sibling, your child, your niece or nephew, your cousin or even your parent—you might want to add an extra measure of warmth and pride.

More casual

  • “Your graduation day is a proud day for you and a dream come true for our family.”
  • “Congrats on graduating summa cum laude! I’m beyond proud to be related to someone so smart.”
  • “Know what makes your graduation extra special? It’s having watched you grow up, having so many good memories of you and knowing all the challenges you’ve worked through to get to this day.”

More formal

  • “Congratulations, with love for the grandson you are and with pride in the amazing person you are becoming.”
  • “It seems like just yesterday you were just a kid starting high school…now you’re a confident young man about to receive your diploma. It’s been our joy to watch you grow and achieve so much these past four years. Hope you know how proud we are and how much we love you.”
  • “It’s a beautiful thing, watching the daughter we’ve always loved growing up and getting one step closer to her dreams. Congratulations, with all our love,”

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Warm Closings

A warm closing is like the bow on top! Choose one of ours, or create your own.

  • Warmly,
  • Love,
  • With love,
  • Lots of love,
  • Love always,
  • Much love to you,
  • Best wishes!
  • Best wishes for your future,
  • All life’s best to you,
  • Congratulations!
  • Congratulations and best wishes,
  • Warmest Congratulations,
  • Gratefully,
  • Blessings,
  • God bless,
  • God bless you,
  • God bless you now and always,

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Keely Chace is a Hallmark writer and mother of two. When she isn’t busy writing cards, she reads, runs, brushes up on long division and listens to lots of piano practice.

Additional contributions by Ellen Brenneman.



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