This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my affiliate disclosure for more info!

When I was getting ready for graduation, one of the things I searched Pinterest for most was graduation cap ideas. Because this was my one time to graduate from college, I wanted everything to feel perfectly tailored to my interests and personality, right down to the mortarboard.

I ended up going with a flower crown in the colors of my graduation dress. That said, I still remember a lot of the funny quotes and sayings I saw on DIY graduation cap posts online! With graduation season just around the corner, today I’m sharing 53 graduation cap ideas for how to decorate your mortarboard, plus a few tips and things to avoid.

How to Decorate a Graduation Cap

There are two primary ways to decorate your graduation cap. The first is to paint directly onto the cap using inks and acrylic paints, and the second is to add a sheet of cardstock or other thick paper on top of the hat and decorate that. The benefit of painting on a piece of paper is that you can save the paper without having to keep the hat forever, that you can pass the hat on to someone else, and that you can work with background colors other than black (or the color of your mortarboard). Personally, though, I prefer the look of painting directly onto the hat. Ultimately, the choice is yours!

Graduation Cap Ideas-5

Tips for Decorating a Graduation Cap

If you’re using a piece of cardstock between the hat and your decorations, your process should be fairly self-explanatory, and you can skip down to the graduation cap ideas section below! However, if you’re painting directly onto the hat, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Supplies for Decorating a Graduation Cap

Graduation Cap Ideas-1

You really don’t need expensive paints to decorate your cap. The more expensive paints I used had a harder time showing up on the cap, while $1 acrylic paints did just fine. I recommend using cheap acrylic paints from your local craft store (I’ve used these before and they work just fine), a set of cheap brushes in different sizes (these or a similar set will do the trick), and paint markers (these are well-rated).

Washi tapes and other cute decor accents also work well on a graduation cap, especially if you have a hot glue gun (which can stick anything to anything if you have enough glue sticks and stubborn persistence). I got the paper flowers above from the local dollar store, and you can get washi tape in sets from your local craft store.

Use light paints

Dark paints tend to fade into the hat, as shown in this photo:

Graduation Cap Ideas-4

On the other hand, when using light paints or inks, they contrast really well with the hat and don’t fade at all:

Graduation Cap Ideas-2

How to Make a Graduation Flower Crown

Graduation Flower Crown

Some of you may know that I ran an Etsy shop where I sold flower crowns for a few years. As a result, I made about 15-20 flower crowns for people to wear at their college graduation every year that I was in college. If you’re interested in learning how to make a flower crown to wear under your graduation cap, check out my blog post on how to DIY a flower crown!

Graduation Cap Ideas

Below are a few funny or inspirational quotes and phrases you can use on your graduation cap if you want to stand out!

Inspirational Graduation Cap Ideas

She believed she could so she did

Well-behaved women rarely make history

She laughs without fear of the future (Religious)

God is within her; she will not fail (Religious)

The best is yet to come

She turned her can’ts into cans and her dreams into plans

For I know the plans I have for you (Religious)

Veni Vidi Vici

A world of possibilities awaits

And off she went to change the world

Nevertheless, she persisted

Funny Graduation Cap Ideas

Can I take a nap now?

I usually wear a crown but today this will do

LOL bye

About damn time

Now hotter by one degree

The tassle’s worth the hassle

My $240,000 hat

Beyonce Graduation Cap Ideas

Best revenge is your paper (with a picture of a diploma)

Okay ladies now let’s get information

Disney Graduation Cap Ideas

Aladdin: A whole new world awaits

Beauty and the Beast: I just finished the most amazing story.

Beauty and the Beast: I want adventure in the great wide somewhere.

Cinderella: Bibbety Bobbety Bye.

Frozen: It’s time to see what I can do

Little Mermaid: Look at this degree, isn’t it need? Finally my Bachelor’s complete.

Mulan: The flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of all.

Peter Pan: Isn’t it amazing what clever girls can do?

Princess and the Frog: I’m finally there!

Tangled: Now’s when my life begins!

Tangled: And at last I see the light

Tangled: On to my new dream

Toy Story: To Infinity and Beyond!

Dr. Seuss Graduation Cap Ideas

Oh the places I’ll go!

Gilmore Girls Graduation Cap Ideas

Where you lead I will follow

Copper Boom

Hamilton Graduation Cap Ideas

Just You Wait

Immigrants – We Get the Job Done

Raise a Glass to Freedom

I Survived But I Paid for It

I Wrote My Way Out


Harry Potter Graduation Cap Ideas

Because My Hogwarts Letter Never Came

Because Hogwarts Doesn’t Take FAFSA

Master Gave Dobby a Diploma! Dobby is free!

How I Met Your Mother Graduation Cap Ideas

I’ll be legen- wait for it…

Legally Blonde Graduation Cap Ideas

What. like it’s hard?

Parks and Recreation Graduation Cap Ideas

Be the Leslie Knope of whatever you do

Spongebob Graduation Cap Ideas

Four years later…

Star Wars Graduation Cap Ideas

May the Work Force Be With You

Up Graduation Cap Ideas

Adventure is Out There!

West Wing Graduation Cap Ideas

What’s Next?

A smart, savvy woman who could seriously consider world domination for her next career move

By decorating your cap with these ideas and recommendations, you’ll stand out in a sea of new graduates. And congratulations! You did it!

How will you be decorating your cap? Which of these ideas is your favorite?