Graduation is a right of passage that you earn when graduating from high school or university. That’s when you’ve earned the right to wear the cap and gown! How exciting is that?
In recent years, it’s become popular for graduating students to decorate their caps. The decorated caps may include sayings, images, or even Legos! It just depends on the student. Some are truly creative and look like works of art.
Are you getting ready to graduate and would like some ideas on how to decorate your graduation cap? Then you’ve come to the right place. We’ve put together some creative ideas that hopefully will stir some inspiration!
Before we take a look at our cap ideas, we’ll take a brief look at the history of the mortarboard, and review some dos and don’ts when it comes to decorating your graduation cap.
A Brief History of Graduation Caps
The first documented use of graduation caps goes all the way back to the 12th & 13th centuries. It was during medieval times that universities began using “uniforms” for students and teachers, which were robes and hoods.
The first graduation caps, much as we know them now, were used as graduation attire in about 1320. However, they really didn’t catch on well until about the 15th century.
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The modern graduation cap didn’t come along until the 16th & 17th centuries. Back then the cap was called a “corner cap.” Finally, in 1950, the modern graduation cap was born when two men, Joseph Durham (a Catholic priest) and Edward O’Reilly filed a patent for the mortarboard in the US. By the end of the 50s, most universities were using mortarboards.
Dos & Don’ts of Decorating Your Graduation Cap
As with all good things, there have to be some guidelines and rules. So, we’ve put together some of the most common dos and don’ts of decorating your graduation cap!
Make your cap decoration meaningful: you’ve worked very hard to get where you are today! So, make sure your cap is decorated with symbols that make you proud and are meaningful to you. These can be anything such as a phrase from a poem, some funny saying, flowers you love, hobbies you enjoy, and more. Make it personal, so your cap stands out in the crowd.
Ensure everything is secure: decorating your cap is fun and meaningful; however, how would you feel if it all fell apart as you walked down the aisle or up on stage for your diploma? For this reason, it’s a good idea to make sure everything on your cap is secure. Hot glue is a strong adhesive, as is Gorilla glue. Whatever adhesive you choose, make sure it’s strong enough to keep everything stuck to your cap.
Make your cap original: it’s OK to search the Internet for inspiration when it comes to designs, sayings, and what people use on their caps. However, make sure the idea you chose is your own version. This is the best time to show your own originality and creativity. Show everyone how unique you are and what you can do. Keep your design original.
Try to make it inspirational: try to make your cap design inspirational with a special saying, images, and more. Send a message with your cap and show your spirit. It’s OK!
Don’t choose the first design: when you’re searching online, it’s tempting to go with the first design you see. It could be you just don’t have a lot of time to spend on this. However, try to avoid copying the first design you see. When you do find an idea, then use the design to create a unique version of your own.
Don’t go crazy: it’s easy to go all out when it comes to decorating your graduation cap. It’s very tempting; however, try to avoid using a design that uses hundreds of small pieces and parts. That’s too much. And if you don’t use a strong adhesive, the pieces could all go flying off with the first wind!
Don’t be inappropriate: it’s fun decorating your cap; however, do not use anything that’s inappropriate to decorate the cap. Stay away from anything that could cause a problem. Instead, choose an appropriate message and elements to design your graduation cap.
Graduation Cap Decorating Supplies
So, what will you need to decorate your graduation cap? That will depend on the type of decoration you choose. However, in most cases, you’ll need these supplies:
- Your grad cap
- Scrapbook paper
- Stickers of your choice
- Ribbon and/or washi tapes
- Fake flowers
- Hot glue gun or another type of strong adhesive
- Paints/paint pens/markers
- And more
Before you actually begin attaching anything to your cap, it’s a good idea to get some paper and cut it to the size of the top of your cap. This will be your “drawing board.”
Use the paper as a pattern and a place where you can experiment with different designs, layouts, etc. This way, you won’t ruin your cap by having to start all over or end up with a mess that you have to wear on graduation day!
OK—in the next sections we’ll take a look at some great ideas for graduation cap decorations!
1). I Did It for My Cats
This is a cute idea if you have pets! This mortarboard has a pretty design that includes flowers, glitter and a cute saying, with some pet paw prints here and there. The specific design we found is done on a pink background, with yellow daisies, and about 4 paw prints. Really cute!
A simpler version of this cap could have a background of any color, and the words as above. Instead of the flowers and things, you could use pictures of cats from your own photos or cut them out of magazines.
This design would work for any type of pet including dogs, gerbils, rabbits, and more. Just use your imagination!
2). Just Winged It
This is a cute, simple design! This design was done on a black background, with white letters. At the end of the phrase was a glass of beer! How cute is that?
Another version of this hat was done on a gold, sparkly background. On the design, in the upper corner of the cap was the letter “I” followed by two eyes done with eyebrows and eyelashes, with the word “Winged.” This was followed by actual makeup containers glued to the gold fabric! These include eyeliner, mascara, eye shadow, and more. After the tassel, was the word “It!” followed by the year. The entire mortarboard was edged with iridescent, clear pearls. A really cute, original design!
3). One Eternity Later
This is a cute, simple design that really gets the message across. The design was done on a light blue background using some flower shapes that looked like they came from the 70s. They were in colors of pink, orange, and green. These were glued down to the background, and then the letters of the saying were glued on over the flowers.
Short and sweet, but so full of meaning!
4). I Already Forgot Everything
This is another really cute design! This design was done on a navy blue background, with gold letters and some very small stars scattered about randomly. At the bottom was Dory, the fish from the animated movie Finding Nemo.
5). Everything Ends and So Our Story Begins
This is a more elaborate design that’s done on a royal blue background. The lettering was done with puffy paints and is a gold glitter paint. Along with that, there’s a picture of Big Ben from London, along with images of Peter Pan, Wendy, etc. flying over Big Ben. This is really cute!
6). LOL Bye
This is another easy design that really says it all! This version was done on a black background with the wording done in gold foil. It’s short and sweet!
7). I Hope This BS Pays Off!
Here’s another great idea! This design was created on the fabric of the cap itself. The letters were in white and started at the top corner of the mortarboard down to the opposite corner. The “I” was in the top corner, followed by “Hope”, and then “This” “B.S.” on the next line, with “Pays” on the next line, and
“Off!” in the bottom corner.
This design also included some small gold dollar signs, with a small fake dollar bill under the word “off.”
Really a creative design that is surely felt many grads, especially those who are graduating with student loan debt.
8). The Sponsor Cap
This is a neat idea! This design was done on a dark blue background and featured the words “Thanks to my sponsors” in gold foil. Evidently this person was a music major because they had used a G clef and notes as decorations around the text.
Under the words were names, which included wine, liquor, and Starbucks and SparkNotes. They also used some wine glasses, a small pile of books, a coaster from Starbucks with images of coffee mugs, and more.
9). Now Hotter by One Degree
Here’s another great design! This one was done on a gold, glittery background, with the words done in black glitter. At the bottom corner of the cap, under the word “Degree” they put a diploma.
10). Game of Loans
Here’s another great idea, especially for those who love the TV show “Game of Thrones!” This design was done on a dark blue, glittery background. The letters were done in gold glitter, with the “O” having three lines of glitter inside. Really like this idea!
11). Best Friends Caps
This is a great idea for two friends who are graduating together! These friends were inspired by the friendship between Woody and Buzz from the Toy Story movies!
The friends both had a red background on their caps, and the text “So long, Partner,” surrounded by white clouds. On the lower righthand side (just to the right of where the tassel hangs), one friend had placed an image of Tom, while the friend placed their image of Buzz on the lower lefthand side (just to the land of the tassel). The images of Buzz and Tom, when the caps were placed together, looked like they had their arms around each other! So cute and very meaningful!
12). Glitter Cap
This design had no words but was beautifully done. The background of the hat was a very light, pale green. Then they had used what looks like pieces of decorative (round and oval) glass or plastic and glued these to a pretty pattern on the cap.
The design began in the bottom corner with a mix of large, medium and small “stones.” The entire corner was filled in like this until about half-way to the tassel. From there, they used the “stones” and scattered small sizes out from the main corner. That was the look—as if someone had scattered them across the rest of the cap, to the upper point. It was really pretty!
13). Nurse’s Cap for a Giraffe Lover
Here’s a cute design if you love giraffes and you’re graduating as a nurse! The hat’s background was black or dark blue. Then the person had created some giraffe images out of felt (it looks like). The giraffes were done in light purple, with dark purple blotches. They were then put long/short on each edge of the cap.
Then, on the giraffe with the longest neck, placed near the tassel, was a nurse’s cap! So adorable!
14). Darth Vader Cap
Here’s another great idea—this cap had a dark background, and a stencil of Darth Vader was done over most of the cap in white! Very creative!
15). Galaxy Graduation Cap
This is a great idea for anyone graduating as an astronomer or anyone who will deal with space! This cap had a photo image of our galaxy, with an arrow to approximately where our planet is located within the galaxy, and the words “You are here.”
16). Superman Cap
This was another creative idea! This cap had a dark background, and the person had painted Superman’s chest insignia on the cap. They started the design about one third of the way down from the top corner.
17). The Tardis Cap
If you love Dr. Who (and who doesn’t?), then this one’s for you! This cap had a dark blue background, and in the middle of the cap they had painted the Tardis from the show. On either side of the Tardis were the numbers for their graduation year. Really creative!
18). Scrabble Board Pieces
Do you have a Scrabble game with some of the letter missing? Then why not consider using them on your graduation cap? This design used letters from the game to write out this saying, “The Future Belongs to Those Who Believe in the Beauty of Their Dreams.” The design filled the cap from the upper corner to the bottom corner. Love this saying!
19). Another Nurse’s Cap
This was a really creative design! It was done on a red background. In the middle of the cap, they had used small gold glitter letters on either side of “RN.” The full text reads “eaRNed It!” They had also put a small play syringe, stethoscope and other nursing tools on the cap. Then the cap was completed edged with pearls, and the in the lower corner, they put the year.
20). Dreams Do Come True
This is another creative design that used the text “Dreams Do Come True,” which comes from Disney. The text was done in gold letters, to the left of the tassel. To the right of the tassel was a large image of the Disney castle, with pearls and gems glued in swirly designs in the righthand corner, and the lower corner. In the upper corner, they had painted fireworks, with a swirly gem design just below, and a very small image of Tinkerbell. So cute!
There you have it! We hope this article has inspired you with a creative and wonderful idea for decorating your own graduation cap!