7 Cool Ways To Decorate Your Graduation Gap

If you were given a blank canvas, how would you make it your own? This is the question I asked myself before decorating my cap for graduation. After four years of grueling schoolwork, late nights in the library surviving solely off coffee, and countless moments studying for a final examination worth 60 percent of my total grade, I am ready to be done with school. I cannot wait to wear that silly cap and gown, and finally get the diploma I have worked so hard for. But before I leave campus, and before I take the next big step in my life, I have to graduate. And because graduation is typically a boring, long, and tedious ceremony, the only way to keep it entertaining is with a fun, quirky cap.

There are still three short (but seemingly very long) weeks until I get to wear that cap and gown. But as a distraction until that fateful day arrives, I have kept busy with different ideas on how to decorate my cap. Like I mentioned before, I see my cap as a blank canvas waiting for me to make it into something personal — something all my own. I want it to be a reflection of myself — a reflection of what I did in college — yet still be relatable to my fellow graduates on the big day. And since I’ve attended graduations before, I know that this is true for most graduates who want to make the most out of their last college event.

So, in order to discover the best design for my own cap and help you find yours, I got crafty with sparkly paper, bold designs, and quirky accessories. With materials all available at your local craft stores, and easy to make and adjustable designs, here are seven simple yet fun do-it-yourself cap designs in preparation for the Class of 2015.

1. For The School Spirited

What better way to finish off your college career than to show off your school spirit and pride? Because caps and gowns normally come in dark colors, from black to dark blue, it’s unlikely that your graduation outfit will reflect how proud you are to be a graduate of your school. So take advantage of the blank space on your cap to show off that school pride.

Since I’m graduating from The University of Tennessee, I knew I had to involve my school colors: orange and white. I picked out some sparkly sheets of scrapbook paper and glued them to my cap, simply cutting them into a design I liked. I outlined the edges in white stripes, but you could also cut one sheet into a chevron pattern, or even cut out dots to make polkas. To make the design fluid, make sure you trace along the button on the top and glue that piece of paper there as well. You are welcome to throw on school stickers or logos as well, or even other memorabilia. Anything that shows off what you love about your school is totally acceptable.

2. For The Sartorially Minded

Everyone knows that what you wear to graduation has to be good, because if it isn’t, it may haunt you forever. While we would all like to get rid of photos we think we look terrible in, perhaps it's better to try and avoid letting them happen. So instead of waiting for the last minute to buy a dress, I’ve been on the hunt for months, finally finding a black and white chevron piece that I love.

Realistically speaking, I know no one except for me will worry about whether or not my cap design matches my outfit. But I wanted to make sure the two felt cohesive anyway. I found a scrap booking sheet in same design and nearly the same colors at my local crafting store and I was overjoyed. Throwing this on my cap would ensure unity between my cap and dress, so no color mishaps will occur.

So, if you’re like me and would rather match your cap to your outfit just in case the two are photographed together, I would advise picking cap materials in a similar color and tone to your ensemble pieces. If you’re wearing a blue and white dress, pick out blue and white paper and stickers or letters. If you’re wearing a paisley printed jumpsuit, look for a paisley printed paper. Try and find some similarity between the two, whether it’s color or design, so your outfit and cap won’t compete.

3. If You’re Ready To Be Done Already

Four years is a long time. Especially if you’re writing 20-page papers on a regular basis, taking exams every week, and working a part time job or internship. If you have had senioritis ever since the beginning of sophomore year, you’re probably overjoyed to finally be graduating. So, show your excitement to be done with college by adorning your cap appropriately. For me, this required cutting out triangle banners and placng letter stickers on each, taping them around the edge of my cap.

Can you tell that I’m DONE with college already? Okay, bad joke. But this design can go far. You can spell out “Class of 2015,” or even your name, or maybe something funny like, “Thanks Mom.” No matter what you have to say, you can fit it by changing the size of the triangles accordingly. Plus, cameras love this hat design, so be sure to snap a selfie to send all your relatives after graduation. They’ll get a kick out of it!

4. If You Loved Your Organization

College is a great place to get involved with clubs, groups, and organizations that can help you pursue your career goals, open your eyes to something you never knew before, or even just be an excuse for you and your friends to hang out. For me, The Daily Beacon was all of those things. Since I am a journalism major, I was very interested in learning more about The Daily Beacon. And within my first semester, it became my “thing.” I was in the office all the time, became friends with everyone involved, and really enjoyed learning something new about the media industry every day I spent there.

Whether you were involved on an athletic team, student government, or even the student newspaper like me, your cap is a great place to show your appreciation for that particular group. In this case, I covered my cap in an issue of The Daily Beacon that I had a front-page article on, and made sure the mast head was very visible. For other organizations, you can paste event invites on your cap, photos, or even business cards. If it shows off your love and appreciation for how you got involved in college, it works perfectly.

5. For The Sentimental

Everyone inevitably takes a lot of photos in college. We’re young, we’re wild, and we’re (basically) free (besides tuition, student loans, academics, and work), so why wouldn’t we? You may have snapped photos on your camera, or with the help of a selfie stick and your phone, and subsequently shared them online. But those photos don’t necessarily have to be reserved to just your Instagram page.

Print out your favorites and organize them on your cap to revisit unforgettable memories and moments of friends and events that occurred in college. When you pick up your cap years from now in an old dusty memory box, you’ll be more than delighted to see familiar faces and places from college. Save the tears for later, though. This cap design requires strategic placement and organization so make sure every photo is visible.

6. For The Ones Who Like To Make A Statement

Graduation marks the end of an era for students, and the beginning of another. Your cap is a great place to express how you really, truly feel about leaving behind college and going on to the next big thing in your life. Maybe you admittedly “Never Actually Studied,” or you would like to tell everyone that “College Was Worth It.” Either way, this cap design idea is easy peasy.

Cut out letters or purchase a pack of sticker letters and come up with a fun, witty phrase (in as little characters as possible) to finish off your college career saying what you really wanted to say throughout those four years. Just remember, the Chancellor and President will be present, and your family, so choose your phrase carefully.

7. For The Ones Who Collected Lots Of Stuff

I attended quite a few events in college. From theater shows to football games to art shows, I liked to check everything out that I could. So, I ended up with a lot of pamphlets, tickets, and information sheets in my desk and around my room. Instead of throwing them out, I wanted to preserve their memories by showcasing them on my cap, which was pretty easy to do.

Just like with the photos idea, I laid them out carefully and found a specific way that they all worked well together. Just in case I messed up or changed my mind about the placement of one or another, I glued them on a sheet of paper instead of directly to my cap, and then glued that paper to my cap when I was satisfied with the way it looked. From bottle caps to logos to stickers to even just event invitations, anything goes on this cap design.

Images: Author's Own