Photo of students posing for a photo with their graduation caps raised above their heads.

Whether you’re graduating or simply enjoying the end of a long school year, now can be a great time to celebrate and spend time with friends and family. Here are some tips you can use to plan your ideal celebration.

1. Make it your own

While it can be easy to assume that most students will be partying or drinking at the end of the year, it’s important to know that not everyone does. In fact, 93% of CU students support choosing not to drink at parties. 

If you choose to attend parties, try to be selective. Focus on celebrations that allow you to spend time with people you really care about and want to enjoy the summer with. If you choose not to attend parties, that’s okay too. There are plenty of ways to celebrate graduation or the end of the school year. 

Here are some ideas for how to make it your own:

  • Make plans to eat out at your favorite restaurant with a close group of friends or family (brunch, anyone?).
  • Get a small group of friends together to enjoy a day at the park with lawn games and food or cake.
  • Plan a small getaway, road trip or camping adventure with friends or family. The Adventure Resource Center at The Rec can help you stay on budget and provide recommendations for sight-seeing, accommodations and meals.
  • Visit your favorite spots in Boulder, especially if you’ll be leaving for the summer or starting a new job or internship soon. You can also recreate your favorite memories with friends around town.

2. Keep your group small

It can be easy to get caught up in the celebration season, especially if you’re graduating alongside more than 6,000 other students. However, it’s important to be mindful of who you really want to celebrate your accomplishments with this year. 

Identify who you’re planning to go out with, including family and friends. Make sure everyone is on the same page about how you want to celebrate, where you want to go, what parties you’d like to attend or what houses you’d like to visit. If you plan to drink or use other substances, be sure to choose a friend group that will take care of you even if you’ve had too much to drink.

3. Nail down your plans

The end of the year can be a hectic time with a lot going on. Make a game plan before you go out to make sure that you and your friends can all stay safe while celebrating.

Here are some tips that can help:

  • Stick together. No matter how you plan to celebrate, make a commitment to stick together with whoever you decide to go out with. Make plans for how you’ll meet back up with one another if you end up getting separated at a party, celebration or event. This can decrease the chances that someone will have to rely on lesser-known friends or strangers to help them home.
  • Share your location. Make sure everyone knows exactly where you’re going or what parties you plan to hit. Google and Apple Maps can be a great way to make sure everyone ends up at the same destination. If your group gets separated, use the “share my location” feature with the group, so you can find one another and regroup. If plans change, make sure everyone knows and is in agreement.
  • Check in regularly. It’s also important to establish a way to check in with each other throughout the day or night, especially if you plan on drinking or using other substances. Save each other’s cell phone numbers and consider starting a group chat. It’s a good idea to make sure everyone’s phone has the sound on, so you’re less likely to miss notifications from the group.

4. Use substances mindfully

It can be easy to get caught up in the moment, especially when our emotions are running high. Here are some tips to help you and your friends stay safer when using alcohol or other drugs.

Know your limits. Everyone's tolerance for alcohol and other drugs is different. Be mindful of your own limits and stick to them. Enlist your friends to help keep each other accountable at parties. If you’re not sure how much is too much, try to only drink one alcoholic beverage per hour. This will prevent you from going too far, too fast.

Avoid mixing substances. Mixing alcohol with other substances, including prescription medications, can increase the risk of an overdose. Keep in mind that fentanyl can also be mixed into many substances that are purchased off the street, including counterfeit prescriptions, MDMA and cocaine. Assume that any drug given to you by a friend or dealer has the potential to contain a lethal dose of fentanyl. If you or your friends plan to use prescription or illicit drugs, be sure to pick up naloxone and fentanyl test strips from the Health Promotion desk on the third floor of Wardenburg Health Center before you go out.

Stay hydrated. Hot weather and alcohol aren’t always a good mix. This is because it’s easier to become dehydrated, especially if you choose to drink during the day. Try to remember to stay hydrated by alternating between alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. It can also help to have a snack or meal before you start drinking to avoid feeling sick or nauseous. Don’t forget to encourage your friends to do the same.

5. Help keep your friends safe

Social events that have drugs and alcohol involved can increase the risk of harmful situations, including unwanted sexual advances and sexual assault. Help keep others safe by practicing bystander skills.

Identify high-risk situations

Keep an eye on people who hit on the drunkest person at a party, encourage others to drink, try to get a drunk person alone or away from their friends, are persistent about pursuing someone sexually or commit low-level boundary violations. It’s not that people don’t understand consent, it’s that some people aren’t interested in honoring it.

Be an effective bystander

If you see someone in a potentially harmful or high-risk situation, you can do something to intervene. Bystanders are particularly important in situations where someone is being targeted by a perpetrator because of their level of intoxication, or if a person has been intentionally drugged in an attempt to facilitate sexual assault. Impaired or incapacitated people are usually unable to protect or advocate for themselves.

Keep track of friends

It’s common for perpetrators of sexual assault to encourage alcohol consumption or target those who are intoxicated. It’s important to check in with a friend if you observe any sudden changes (e.g. difficulty standing, disorientation, etc.) that might indicate they’ve had too much to drink. Learn more about drug-facilitated sexual assault.

Don’t leave friends behind

Commit to not ditching someone if they have too much to drink and/or become unwilling to stick with the plan to stay together. This decreases the likelihood that someone will have to rely on lesser known friends or strangers to get home, which can create risk for something bad happening. It’s also important to consider whether or not someone who is offering to walk a person home or look after an intoxicated person is trustworthy and being helpful or is potentially looking for access to someone who is vulnerable.

Trust your instincts

If something feels weird or wrong, it probably is. If you see a situation that ever feels uncomfortable or unsafe, follow your gut. It’s okay to make up an excuse to interject or interrupt something that doesn’t seem right in order to disrupt an uncomfortable or problematic situation.

6. Call for help in an emergency

Take care of your friends by watching for signs of alcohol poisoning or an overdose. Always call 911 for help in a drug- or alcohol-related emergency.

 Signs to watch for:


  • Passed out and unresponsive
  • Slow or no breathing
  • Vomiting while passed out
  • Involuntary pooping or peeing
  • Pale/bluish or cool/clammy skin
  • Pinpoint (small) pupils
  • Gurgling, heavy wheezing or snoring sound

 How to respond:


  • Immediately call 911 and wait for help to arrive.
  • Make sure that the person is in a safe place to avoid injury.
  • Gently turn them on their side and put them in the recovery position.
  • Stay with them; never leave a severely intoxicated person alone or with someone who is not a trusted friend.
  • Administer naloxone (it will not harm a person who is not experiencing an overdose, so if in doubt, use it).

Important policies to know

CU Boulder Amnesty Policy

Calling for help in an alcohol- or drug-related emergency means neither the person who calls for help nor the person who needs help will be subject to formal disciplinary sanctions by the university (i.e., probation, suspension, expulsion). 

To be covered by the Amnesty Policy, a student must:

  • Call for help (911 or university staff).
  • Stay with the individual until help arrives.
  • Cooperate with staff and emergency responders.

911 Good Samaritan Law

The 911 Good Samaritan Law states that a person is immune from criminal prosecution for an offense when the person reports, in good faith, an emergency drug or alcohol overdose even to a law enforcement officer, to the 911 system or to a medical provider. 

This same immunity applies to persons who remain at the scene of the event until a law enforcement officer or an emergency medical responder arrives, or if the person remains at the facilities of the medical provider until a law enforcement officer, emergency medical responder or medical provider arrives. The immunity described above also extends to the person who suffered the emergency drug or alcohol overdose event.


Free naloxone

Naloxone is an FDA-approved nasal spray that can be used to temporarily reverse opioid overdoses. Students can pick up naloxone for free on the third floor of Wardenburg Health Center.


Looking for a ride home? Give CU NightRide a try! This student-operated program provides free night-time transportation for all CU Boulder students, staff and faculty.

Avoid common citations

Knowing City of Boulder ordinances and understanding common citations can also save you from tickets and fees.

Register your party

All students are encouraged to register parties to avoid potential tickets, noise complaints and other sanctions related to partying.