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set sail graduation party theme

If you have a graduate in your life that deserves some celebrating, I invite you to SET SAIL with me on this fun DIY! This is my latest project for Balloon Time, and it’s guaranteed to earn you some high marks in the creativity department. 😉

A Nautical Graduation Party Project

Balloons are definitely the focus of this design! Bright yellow & white balloons are a nod to sunny skies ahead + best wishes for a BRIGHT future. And a foil crescent moon balloon turned sideways creates the foundation of your DIY sailboat decoration.

Scroll down for a little sneak peek of how it’s done, followed by the full tutorial and free printables!

graduation party decoration ideas

Pictured above: the “sails” coming together. Since these sails are oversize, I set them both up on one 18×24″ PDF and printed them as a single Color Engineering Print at Staples. Engineering prints are an inexpensive way to get larger prints done – I only paid $2.99 per print at this size!

You’ll also need a weighted base to keep your sails standing upright. The foil moon balloon is simply placed in front of the dowel rod and secured to the base with glue dots.

And then of course we need some helium for our bright & sunshine-y skies!

Balloon Time helium tank

Mixing It Up for Other Occasions

This project would be great as a graduation party decoration or dessert table backdrop, or just as a fun surprise at home for your favorite grad.

You can also switch up the designs of the sails to work for other nautical party themes… a variation on this design would be really cute for a nautical baby shower, first birthday party, or “bon voyage” celebration too! As they say… the (sunny) sky’s the limit! 😜

graduation party sailboat decorations


 Invite your favorite grad to “set sail” on their bright future with this playful, nautical-themed party decoration! Many graduation parties happen during the summer time, so a celebration inspired by sunshine and sailboats is especially fitting. This generously-sized DIY decoration features 2 oversize balloons and is sure to make a BIG splash on your dessert table, drink station – or anywhere else it “docks” at the party!


  • Gold Crescent Moon Balloon
  • 36” Yellow Balloon + 12” White Balloons
  • Jumbo Balloon Time Helium Tank
  • Fishing Wire
  • Foam Board
  • Printable Graduation Sails
  • Craft Knife
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Spray Adhesive
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • 3D Adhesive Dots
  • 36” Wooden Dowel (at least 5/8” diameter)
  • Small floral container filled with floral foam
  • Sand
  • Gold number stickers (optional)


1. Print and cut out the Graduation Sails, which are laid out as 2-up on an 18×24” pdf. Tip: Print the sails as color engineering prints, which only costs a few dollars for an 18×24” print.

2. Use spray adhesive to mount the sails onto foam board. Align the straight sides of the sails with the corners of the foam board so that you only need to hand-cut the angled side on each one.

3. Cut the sails from the foam board loosely (leaving some excess board near the angled edge).

4. Use a straight edge ruler and craft knife to trim off the excess foam board from the sails. You should end up with 2 finished, sturdy sails.

5. Set up your base: Insert a tall dowel rod into a small vase or container filled with floral foam. Pour sand over the foam to cover it and add weight.

6. Fill the crescent balloon with air and use glue dots to attach it to the front of the base. Hot glue the sails to the top of the dowel rod.

7. Fill the giant yellow balloon with helium and attach it to fishing wire. This will act as your “sun”. Fill  five or more 12” white balloons with helium to represent “clouds”.

8. Personalize it! For the finishing touch, use gold number or letter stickers to add the guest of honor’s graduation year or name to the giant “sun” balloon.