Trunk party: graduates taking a groufie

Do you know a special grad who’s moving on to their next chapter of education? Or perhaps someone you love is moving to a new city or adding another member to their family. Whatever you’re celebrating, a trunk party is a fun and fresh way to honor a momentous transition. Here, you’ll learn more about trunk parties and how to plan this type of celebration for someone special.

What’s a Trunk Party?

A trunk party is a celebration among friends and family who fill a trunk (or other large piece of luggage or container) with gifts. Trunk parties are most common as a send-off celebration for high school graduates who are about to experience college life

As such, gifts are usually college essentials like school supplies, dorm decor, and toiletries. College trunk parties sometimes serve as an alternative to a traditional high school graduation party as they’re so practical.

While trunk parties are ideal for grads, they’re also fun for other big life moments. For instance, you could host a trunk party for a friend who’s moving to a new place after a breakup or a trunk party baby shower for parents-to-be. You could also host a surprise birthday party and fill a trunk or case with themed items — like clothes, skincare, or gifts that relate to the birthday honoree’s favorite hobbies or interests.

How to Plan a Fun Trunk Party in 9 Steps

Trunk party: graduate student packing her things

Party planning for a trunk party is similar to planning for any other type of celebration, but there are a few things you’ll want to add in — like explaining the concept to your guests and finding a suitable trunk! With these tips, we’ll focus on a trunk graduation party for a soon-to-be college student. But you can easily adjust the steps to suit another occasion like a baby shower or wedding shower.

1. Choose a Date and Time

For your trunk party to have the most impact, choose a date and time where a large majority of your guest list will be able to make it. Also, since these celebrations are often casual, feel free to inform guests that they can drop in within a broader time frame (like anytime between 3-6 p.m.) rather than at a specific start time.

Weekends are ideal, especially in the summer period between June and September. If you’re hosting a going away party for a reason other than college, schedule your event at least a few weeks before the big move.

2. Choose Your Venue

You don’t need a fancy venue for trunk parties — host one as a backyard party, in an apartment, or at a relative or friend’s home. Wherever you host the festivities, make it easy for people to put a gift in the grad’s trunk and have plenty of snacks and refreshments for everyone.

3. Find the Perfect Trunk

The whole point of a trunk party is for guests to leave a gift inside the grad’s trunk so they can take it with them to college. Naturally, you’ll need to find a container for these thoughtful gifts to travel in.

But while it’s called a trunk party, you don’t have to actually use a trunk. Chances are, your college-bound student will be short on space, so a large suitcase might be a more practical option. Think about your guest of honor and what will actually fit in their car or dorm room. If space really is tight but you love the idea of a trunk, switch to a gift basket, storage container, or even a hamper. 

Before sending out your online invitations, you could add a note to encourage people to bring along gift cards instead of a larger item.

4. Consider a Theme

Your trunk party doesn’t need a theme, but it can be a fun way to create a specific atmosphere or honor the grad’s favorite color (or school colors), style, or hobby.

Host a pool party alongside your college trunk party, throw a party themed around a specific TV series and ask for gifts that match, or host a practical trunk party themed around a need like food items, art supplies, or dorm essentials.

5. Invite Your Party Guests

Bold Color Grad Invitation

Design: Owl and Toad

Once you have the main details sorted, it’s time to consider one of the most fun parts of party planning — creating and sending your trunk party invitations

Use one of Greenvelope’s paperless graduation invitations and customize it to create a beautifully personalized trunk party invite. (We love this modern grad party invite that lets you add a photo.)

Not everyone is familiar with the trunk party concept, so include a line about what to expect along with some gift ideas or a link to a gift registry. With Greenvelope invitations, you can free up space on your invite and include this in your details panel instead.

6. Decorate Your Party Space

The main focus at your trunk party will be all the wonderful gift giving, but you might still want to decorate your space a little. Put together a fun centerpiece if you’re sitting down for a meal and hang up party decorations like banners, photos, and balloon decorations.

Use the grad’s future school colors, take inspiration from a party theme, or stick to a color you know they love. Use the same colors throughout your decor to create a cohesive look.

7. Create a Party Playlist

Whether you’re playing outdoor party games, singing karaoke, or just want some tunes for background ambiance, a great playlist is always a hit for a trunk party.

Put together a grad party playlist filled with the guest of honor’s favorite songs from throughout their high school years. Create a shared playlist and invite party guests and loved ones to add their own favorite songs as a fun way to share in the experience.

8. Set Up a Photobooth Area

Most of us take photos at special events, but having a dedicated photobooth area gives your guests somewhere special to snap those all-important selfies together.

Set up a space with a colorful backdrop, gather some photo props, and encourage your guests to snap away. Ask them to add a hashtag or send them to you after the event. You can then collect them and put together a keepsake photo album or online gallery that the guest of honor can look at whenever they want.

9. Hand Out Party Favors

Made My Day Card

Design: Signature Greenvelope

Your guests will be coming along with a gift for the high school grad, but that doesn’t mean they should leave empty-handed. Hand out some graduation party favors to guests as they leave to say thank you for being there.

Match your party favors to your theme or color scheme, or stick with something traditional — like a grad cap-shaped cookie or the guest of honor’s favorite candies. Add a handwritten thank you note, or send a digital thank you card (like this sweet thank you card) after the party with a personalized note.

Send Them Off in Style with These Trunk Party Ideas

A trunk party is a wonderful way to get your grad excited about the next step of their journey. It’s a fun send-off that gives them plenty of practical items and essentials for their new college life. However, you can apply this same concept to any celebration. Whatever the occasion, use these tips to plan a thoughtful trunk party that they’ll always remember.

When you’re ready to let your guests know about the big event, use our graduation party invitations to spread the word. Choose a design, customize the layout, wording, and colors, and make it feel every bit as unique as the guest of honor. And remember — you can personalize any Greenvelope design for a trunk party celebrating other special moments.