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College Graduation Gift Ideas

Giving a useful gift can help a new graduate get started on their career. This guide contains college graduation gift ideas.


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1 found this helpful
June 12, 2008

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. and aren't taken seriously in the business world.)

Source: My brain child!

By Pearl from Gaithersburg, MD

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0 found this helpful
May 9, 2006

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...



Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

April 21, 2008

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

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April 26, 20080 found this helpful

I would say a gift card or money because they are useful, but if you want to give her something tangible or more personal maybe:

-something related to the career she will be starting

-a subscription to a magazine she likes

-a charm for a charm bracelet

-a cookbook or cookware if she will be moving out on her own

-a nice Bible or devotion book if she is religious

-tickets to something she enjoys

-if she is planning a trip somewhere then get a gift specific to the trip or a gift card to a restaurant or place specific to her trip

-if you live close then maybe an offer of night out to celebrate her accomplishments

Good luck selecting a gift!

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April 27, 20080 found this helpful

I would buy her something she can use in her new career. Gary Dominicus

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April 28, 20080 found this helpful

My daughter is also graduating from college. Her degree is a business degree and I too struggled on what to get for her. Finally I came up with the idea of getting her a crystal name plate, business card holder, and a cute little paper weight. It is shaped like a round diamond out of a diamond ring and I had her name put on the card holder and the paper weight. I decided on this because she will be able to take it with her if she changes careers and always have a keep sake from her parents with her at work as a reminder of how proud we are of her for her accomplishments. The web site I used to order from was Good luck

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May 5, 20080 found this helpful

I think your idea of a crucifix (or any other kind of jewelry) is a great one. When I graduated, I received too many 'business' related gifts. However, my aunts and grandma gave me jewelry, which I treasured and still do.

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May 1, 2009

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

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May 7, 20090 found this helpful

How about a pre-paid credit card with a note congratulating him and saying that when he settles after he moves he may find something he'd like to buy that would remind him of you.

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May 7, 20090 found this helpful

Restaurant gift cards in the town he's moving to so he doesn't have to cook while he's unpacking.

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May 8, 20090 found this helpful

You could give a post card good for a batch of homemade goodies.

Get (or make your own) blank post card(s). On one side, you can draw a picture of cookies and include information that the post card is good for a batch of their favorite homemade cookies/brownies to be sent to him/her. Also include a line for the recipient to include his/hers favorite kind of homemade cookie. On the reverse side of the post card, in the "To" field, write your name and address, and place the correct amount of postage on it. Then the recipient fills out the post card and puts it in the mailbox. The rest is up to you!

I use this gift often for those hard to buy for friends. I generally will give 3 post cards as the gift.

Be aware that postage rates go up next week.

Also, if you are sending baked goods in the mail, make sure to send them out asap after making them, and send them Priority Mail to get there fast to arrive fresh. Pack them with care, with adequate cushion and so they can't move around.

Everyone loves a batch of their favorite homemade cookies!

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June 19, 20090 found this helpful

Everybody has great ideas!

My recommendation as a recent college grad (at the age of 27), money is nice (no matter if it's $10 or more). Most likely the graduate has not had many vacations while in school, especially their last year.

I've put all my monetary gifts towards a long weekend vacation at a spa 3 hours from home. After starting a new job and finishing finals, I'm counting down the days until I can hop in my car and take off without worrying about assignments due, etc.

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March 31, 2012

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.

By Kathie

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April 2, 20120 found this helpful

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!

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0 found this helpful
February 13, 2011

I would like help with gift ideas for a female graduate from university with a commerce degree.

By Sally from Saskatoon, Canada

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February 13, 20110 found this helpful

Here is a graduation package:

Give her a savings bond, a Walmart gift card and a letter of reference (personal reference for perspective jobs).

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

February 13, 20110 found this helpful

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.



College Graduation Gift Idea

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)

By Linda

College Graduation Gift Idea

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)

By keyshawn

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May 1, 20090 found this helpful

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


Graduation Gift Ideas

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)

By Allison

Graduation Gift Ideas

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)

By Lady1969

Graduation Gift Ideas

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)

By jdsjkk

Graduation Gift Ideas

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)

By Marie

Graduation Gift Ideas- Frames

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)

By moncarroll

Graduation Gift Ideas

One year I gave everyone a bible with their name on the front. You can get them for less than $10 at (03/27/2008)

By Tricia

Graduation Gift Ideas

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)

By Kara

Graduation Gift Ideas

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 ( My son, on the other hand, stayed close to home after he graduated, so he got a watch. (03/27/2009)

By jaltrmom

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March 26, 20080 found this helpful

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


Looking for Graduation Gift Ideas

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:

Graduation Gift Ideas

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)

By Campymama

Graduation Gift Ideas

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)

Graduation Gift Ideas

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)

By slw1299

Graduation Gift Ideas

How about a photo album or scrapbook kit? (06/05/2006)

By srhp69

Graduation Gift Ideas

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)

By Kaitlyn

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March 26, 20080 found this helpful

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.

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