For parents and students alike, school functions are just a fact of life—albeit one that doesn’t exactly elicit unbridled enthusiasm. And while interminable assemblies and graduation ceremonies rarely top anyone’s list of preferred activities, they’re important enough milestones for those involved that it’s well worth it for anyone invited to stay on their best behavior. Before you become the graduation guest everyone’s still gossiping about a year later, make sure you’ve memorized all the things you should never do at a school function. And for more ways to be on your best behavior, check out these 23 Old-Fashioned Etiquette Rules That Still Apply.
Give flashy gifts
Graduation ceremonies are not episodes of My Super Sweet 16: there’s no reason to pull up outside in a brand-new Range Rover with a bow on it. While you may want to shower your new graduate in expensive gifts, it’s still probably in your best interest to save those pricey presents until you get home—you don’t want to upstage other attendees at the function, and you definitely don’t want to make other parents with less king-sized budgets feel bad. For ideas on appropriate gifts, check out the 50 Genius Products Under $50 That Will Improve Anyone’s Life.
Gawk at famous (or infamous) parents.
There are plenty of well-known celebrity parents or objects of gossip out there, but if you happen upon one at a school function, it’s in your best interest to avoid gawking. Their kids are just trying to win that spelling bee or accept their pre-K diploma, and all those photos you’re trying (and failing) to take surreptitiously are definitely spoiling the mood.
While people may take virtually any opportunity to voice their political opinion these days, a school function should still be a politics-free zone. Unless you want to end your child’s pre-K graduation ceremony in handcuffs for disturbing the peace, it’s best to avoid topics of conversation that can get particularly heated.
Show up without tickets.
It may seem practically criminal to you that there are a fixed number of tickets available for your precious angel’s graduation ceremony, but it’s not exactly like you weren’t aware of this fact ahead of time. Your kid’s college graduation isn’t a Beyoncé concert—don’t try to scalp tickets or sneak in the side door.
There are plenty of occasions when it’s perfectly acceptable to ask for someone’s number. That said, a school function is not one of them. Whether it’s parent-teacher conference night or your kid’s graduation, it’s probably best to keep the focus on the event, not the potential date you’re hoping to score.
Can you wear bright colors and bold patterns to your kid’s graduation ceremony? Absolutely! However, if you’re showing up wearing something that takes the focus away from the people on stage, you’re definitely making a major faux pas. The same rules apply for graduation ceremonies and weddings: you want to look your best, but not wear something that distracts from the main event. For a deeper look at what not to wear, learn the 40 Things No Man Should Ever Wear and the 40 Things No Woman Should Ever Wear.
Get glued to your phone.
We get it: not every moment of a school function is a thrill ride. That said, you made a conscious choice to be there, so it’s pretty rude to focus on your phone the entire time. Your work emails can wait, and that amazing GIF you just received will be every bit as hilarious in half an hour. And if you’re thinking of taking a break from your devices, discover The 30 Best Reasons to Take a Digital Detox.
Purposefully embarrass someone.
We all know those parents who just can’t pass up an opportunity for a good laugh. However, school functions tend to be pretty big deals for the kids involved, so it’s probably in your best interest to leave that huge sign that says, “You wore diapers until you were five and look at you now!” at home. The same goes for participants at the event: decorating your graduation cap with info about how your ex-boyfriend cheated on you or how much you hated school just makes you look immature.
Talk trash about your kid.
Raising kids is not always easy, but no matter how much of a pain they’re being to you, it’s still pretty terrible to badmouth them on their big day. There are plenty of ways to commiserate with their teachers without outright trash-talking them, after all.
If there happens to be some wine being poured at a graduation ceremony or school fundraiser, by all means have a glass—but stick to just one. While school functions aren’t always exciting, getting tipsy at one is just embarrassing for you and whomever you’re there for. And if you’re a student, definitely keep your wits about you—those events may feel like parties, but you’re still bound by your school’s code of conduct at them.
The hours of your average school concert or graduation ceremony are generally pretty well spelled-out by the million fliers, emails, and Facebook notifications you receive long before the event gets underway. In fact, with so much advance notice given, there’s really no excuse to saunter in 15 minutes after the ceremony’s started and distract from the celebration. If you need help in this area, learn the 15 Easy Hacks That Will Make You On Time—All The Time.
School functions can be total snooze fests, yes. That said, it’s never anything short of rude to use them as an excuse to squeeze in a nap. Even if you’re so tired you’re practically delirious, go to any length to keep yourself awake or endure the wrath of those around you. For help, bone up on the 50 Ways to Be a Higher-Energy Person Immediately.
Forget to set your phone to “silent.”
There are few reasons you should have audible message alerts on your phone to begin with, but having them on during a school function is a particularly egregious offense. Whether you’re a student or an audience member, if you’re letting your phone ring or your text message alert go off during the ceremony, you’re not only being rude, you’re likely holding up the event—or at least ruining someone’s Instagram video.
Get too chummy with the faculty.
The teachers and administrators at your child’s school have a job to do. They’re not there to pass your manuscript along to their editor, commiserate about the ever-rising cost of tuition, or agree to hang out at your lake house over the weekend.
There are very few opportune times to offer someone a bribe, and your child’s school function definitely isn’t one of them. Slipping some cash to your kids’ teachers isn’t a surefire way to get them to graduate on time, but it is a pretty clear-cut path toward not getting invited to next year’s event.
To discover more amazing secrets about living your best life, click here to sign up for our FREE daily newsletter!