Giving a useful gift can help a new graduate get started on their career. This guide contains college graduation gift ideas.
My niece will be graduating from college in a few weeks. What could I give her for a present? Over the years I have given her many picture frames, keepsake boxes, photo albums, journals, and address books. I don't think she wants any more of those. She has all the luggage and cosmetics cases she'll ever need. She uses her cell phone for a travel clock. Would a crucifix be appropriate? She wears one all the time. She also likes to travel(in the US). Is there something I could get her for that? I don't travel, I don't know what travelers use. Thanks for any suggestions.
Peanut from Virginia
May 23, 2008
When I graduated, I was broke and had way too many things. I was really stressed out about money (will I be able to pay the bills between graduation and the first paycheck?). So money was really helpful. Ask her parents - if she has plenty of money then something more personal would be appreciated.
A close friend of mine is graduating from IT college. But, he's been living on his own for several years so he doesn't need any household items. He is moving a month after his graduation, so I don't want to clutter him with more stuff to move! Any ideas on gifts I can give him that won't take up space in his moving van but will be useful or appreciated? Thanks!
By Freya1970 from Halifax, NS
June 8, 2012
Money is really the best. My sister and I have both graduated in the past 2 years and each were given about $1000 in cash and a couple hundred in gift cards. I will tell you, it helps a ton! Especially if he is going on to more schooling. And that much came from mostly people giving us $20, and a few up to $150, so no matter what you can do, it will help him immensely. And of course a thoughtful card/note is lovely.
I have not read most of the responses but I just want to throw out; graduation theme gifts are very nice at the time, but a few weeks after graduation, mine went into storage. The graduation hype was over and I had no room. A few of the books are on my shelf still, but the frames, stuffed animals, knick-knacks are all tucked away in a box in my closet along with my gradation robes.
Hope this helps!
By Sandie 39
This year, I am giving pre-paid name brand gasoline cards to graduates. If I, as an adult am finding it hard to swallow the current gas prices, I can't imagine too much more welcome a gift for high school or college graduates...
Can someone help me choose a college graduation gift for my 21 year old son? I don't have a lot of money, so maybe up to $100.00 and that's pushing it.
April 2, 2012
We have just saved money until they head off to school and then when we figure out what they need. We will go to walmart or where ever, and we buy what they need.
We have graduated 2 girls and our son this year and this is what has worked best for us!
By Sally 3
I would like help with gift ideas for a female graduate from university with a commerce degree.
By Sally from Saskatoon, Canada
This has become my favorite gift for graduating high school seniors or kids presently in college.
Have professional business cards made for them.
I came up with this idea while attending an Eagle Scout Career Day dinner in Washington, DC. My son was meeting business professionals who were serving as mentors for the 300+ Eagles attending the dinner. When one gentleman gave my son his business card, he tore a piece of paper then proceeded to write down his contact information. As a mother I was mortified because my son's penmanship is horrible.
A day or 2 later I got online and found a company which prints business cards quite inexpensively. (Some were even free if you don't mind the business name on the back.)
The card I designed has his university name as the header line, with his name, college major, cell number, address and email address. Now when he's meeting professionals while looking for internships, he has something presentable to give. It also makes a great first impression. (Note to Moms: Please make sure your child has at least 1 proper email address to handle professional mail. BigDaddy00001@yahoo.com and HotLegs21@yahoo.com aren't taken seriously in the business world.)
Source: My brain child!
By Pearl from Gaithersburg, MD
My nieces are both "graduating" this June--one from 5th grade (from elementary to middle school) and the other from 8th grade (from middle school to high school). I'd like to find some kind of gift for each of them, but something school or life related instead of another gift card to this week's popular clothing store. Does anyone have any ideas? I'd like to stay under $20 each. Books would be perfect, but all I can think of is "Oh, the Places You'll Go" by Dr. Seuss and I'd like something a little more original.
Risabelle from Bingen, WA
I looked through some College Survival Kits. Some were religious in nature with religious books and tapes. Others were fruit baskets or full of candy bars.
Here's another one I found to give you some ideas:
Brightly Colored Swing Bin (great for storage, or refuse!) filled with fun and delicious: a clock with feet, a computer bug clip, an excuse ball, a swinging monkey, IQ puzzle, stressed out person stress ball, keep smiling note pad, lip whistle, sniff tissues, floppy disc, bubble gum meter, cell phone air freshener and plenty of snacks (healthier options available) and candies to keep your student going! This bin is decorated with colorful ribbons.
It seems like my daughter needed some of the simple things: tape, stapler, scissors, shoe laces, highlighters, pens, pencils, notebooks. You cold also add some packets of cocoa, instant oatmeal, hot cider, fancy instant coffee. Just some ideas.
Here are some previous ThriftyFun answers for graduation gifts:
I received a Cross pen, engraved with my name, at my college graduation. Twenty-odd years later, I still have it. Nice to take to job interviews, etc. (06/01/2006)
Get them a gift certificate to the bookstore and then go with them to pick out the books. Make an afternoon of it...get drinks and cookies (if they have them there) or go to a second hand bookstore and their money will go even further. Spend the day with them at the park and have a pinic. Take lots of pictures and scrapbook together. They will remember the memories of the time spent with you rather than getting more "stuff". (06/01/2006)
For the younger graduates, I agree - something learning oriented would be great. How about a world globe? I always wanted one when I was younger.
Perhaps a gift card (and a ride!) to a book store so they can choose their own book?
A calligraphy set - more in the artsy line - can be great fun and teach penmanship. Girls, especially, love to write in "fancy" lettering.
One of the nicer art supply kits, with plenty of sketch paper may be a good way to go, too.
Good luck! (06/02/2006)
How about a photo album or scrapbook kit? (06/05/2006)
Most teens would enjoy a creative gift. Something that no one else got them. Like, I am graduating from 8th grade and I am giving my friends a "high school survival kit". I am including a GOOD scientific calculator, pens/pencils, notebooks, a planner, locker organizer, and a scrapbook with pictures and scrapbook stuff so they can record their high school memories there that they will experience!! But you could also include anything you want or have different themes for a kit such as "Summer Fun" or anything that you can think of! (05/20/2007)
I have about 10 graduates this year. From granddaughter to church teens to college grads! Help, I am looking at about $300.00 in gifts. And I can't do it! What can I give to not look like a cheap Aunt?
Many people are not expecting gifts, and some don't even want them.
When I graduated high school, I sent out many graduation announcements because I wanted people to know about the occasion, not because I wanted gifts. To my surprise I got a whole lot from people I didn't know very well, and didn't know me very well.
Just give gifts to those that would actually want to get a gift from (i)you(/i), not just because they want gifts. (05/14/2004)
You shouldn't feel obligated to do everyone, but there are plenty of inexpensive gift ideas out there. The people closest to you, like your granddaughter, you may find something more special for their graduation like a desk set, or a gift certificate, or a nice pen with their name on it. Your church teens you could probably get by with just a card or a small gift.
You could even write up your story of going through school and graduating and get copies of your graduation or high school photo and include those with a card.
Wal-mart has quite a few (matching) nice stationery, journal, desk calendars, etc. for less than $7.00 each. They also have graduation picture frames and the sort for around the same price.
One of the best gifts I received at graduation was a holiday/event book that had a pocket for each month and you could write on the front of each pocket holidays or events like peoples anniversaries or birthdays, etc. and you could buy greeting cards ahead of time and place in the folder. Some of them are labeled by event. One pocket for Thank You cards, one for birthdays, etc. You could make your own inexpensively and decorat the cover of a notebook to personalize it for each person. That may mean more to them than something store-bought. There are also larger recipe type boxes that serve the same purpose. Walmart has carried both of these seasonally, but they are simple to create yourself.
I just bought one of the pocket folder sets for a friends daughter for her graduation and bought a few dollars worth of those 2/1.00 greeting cards that Walmart now has.
I also saw a crochet pattern recently for making a doily-like graduation cap and tassle that could hang on their car mirror. It was VERY CUTE! If you crochet, something like that with a card would be special.
There are also a few books out that are perfect for someone that is just graduating and possibly moving on to college or moving out on their own or just plain "adult knowledge". But books tend to get spendy if you are having to buy for ten or so.
I also had 7 graduating this year and am on a tight budget. My family gave each $10 and feel that it is the thought that counts not how much was given. The people you are giving the gift to hopefully are mature enough to understand that any gift would be better than nothing. I have recieved some thank you's, but gave to them to be a blessing. Hope this helps. (05/16/2004)
When I went to college, my good friend gave me a cute pair of flip flops from WalMart. Those are less than 5 dollars and you can give them as "shower shoes."
If you want to spend a bit more, you can give them a cute towel or shampoo and conditioner or something like that. The toiletries are always appreciated because they are necessities and it will save the graduate from having to buy them themselves! (04/18/2005)
When my neice was graduating from college I wanted to get her something noone else would think of, but it would also be needed.
I filled up a cute clothes hamper with detergent and a few towels, clothes hangers, other little thing, and some rolled up quarters for the machine. (04/30/2005)
A nice, cheap gift idea for students going far from home is to buy a set of cards (pack of ten at target or a similar store), and fill out the envelopes with the home address of the graduate, their return address at school, and a stamp. This way, they have a way to send letters home without taking time out of their schedule to hunt around campus for stamps. (06/09/2006)
I have given a Boo Boo Tackle Box to a couple of my nephews for their graduations gifts. I purchased a tackle box and filled it with Tylenol, band-aid, antibiotic lotion, cough syrup, Tums, cold and hot packs, etc. Everything that their Mom's medicine cabinet might contain.
For a couple other nephews, I purchased several gift certificates from pizza restaurants from the town they were going to attend college. (04/05/2007)
My son and daughter-in-law will both be graduating from college in April (she'll start grad school next fall). I'm looking for some graduation gift ideas. I've asked them for some suggestions but they've given none.
I also need some gift ideas for my son who graduates from high school in June and daughter a few years from now. What's the going monetary value for graduation gifts to your own children if you're frugal but don't want to appear too cheap?
Kerry from Sandy, UT
When I graduated from college 4 years ago I didn't really expect graduation gifts. Gifts seemed like a bigger deal when I graduated from high school. Monetary gifts helped me buy stuff for my dorm room and books for college, but when I graduated college I had been married for 2 years. My husband had been out of college and working full time the whole time we were married so I didn't really need a financial jump start anyway.
Maybe it isn't a big deal to the college grads. Maybe a book about how to handle money would be good, "The Automatic Millionaire" is a good one, since often graduating from college leads to a better job and more income than before. That was my situation anyway. (03/26/2008)
For your son and daughter-in-law, maybe a gift certificate for a local dinner out or a stay at a local hotel. They probably haven't had much fun time in a couple of years of schooling. Linda (03/26/2008)
My sister gave my daughter a laundry basket filled with basics like laundry detergent, fabric softer, soap, towels, etc. It was great and very useful for college and she loved it! (03/26/2008)
Here's what I think, gift cards are always a good idea, because they can get what they need or they can splurge, guilt-free. Any amount you can afford is appropriate, and if they are grateful children, it will be enough! (03/26/2008)
My Dad paid for my degrees and Graduation photo to be framed. This was fairly expensive on the day, but it was great having them protected and ready to hang. You would save a lot of money if you purchased the frames before hand- you could even personalize them by writing a note that they can keep with the degree. A gift and acknowledgment that you are proud of them.
I don't think there is a price tag. It is more important to celebrate with them and make them know how proud you are and that it is an important and well earned achievement. Paying for a nice lunch is enough really. Enjoy the graduation. (03/27/2008)
One year I gave everyone a bible with their name on the front. You can get them for less than $10 at christianbook.com (03/27/2008)
A monogrammed personalized gift is always nice, especially for females. A high school graduate who is going to partake in a Senior Trip might enjoy a monogrammed beach towel. Another great idea would be to fill a beach bag with a towel, sunglasses, disposable camera, and tanning lotion. Another monogrammable gift would be a personalized backpack for books or purse. (05/06/2008)
It depends a lot on the situation. My daughter is graduating from college this year and moving to New York. The apartment she's renting is tiny (of course!) but also not in the greatest neighborhood. She's worried about safety and, needless to say, so am I, so I'm getting her a security system for her apartment (http://simplisafe.com). My son, on the other hand, stayed close to home after he graduated, so he got a watch. (03/27/2009)
My brother-in-law's girlfriend is graduating from university and I need to get her a gift. However, she will be going straight to graduate school so a business type gift does not seem quite appropriate. Help! Thanks.
How about a nice looking watch, a datebook, or music. When all else fails, a gift certificate. A wallet that is very business-like might be nice, too. Just follow her interests. (08/12/2004)
Besides the ones mentioned; how about some sort of book, on the subject of her interests, or just good fiction that you'd think she'd like.
Or, you could go with a gift certificate to the local coffee shoppe, and/or with a mug. (08/15/2004)