Inexpensive Graduation Gifts

by Amy Allen Clark


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The end of the school year means, for many of us, a lot of high school graduations and open houses to attend. To go along with these events, comes the obligatory gift for the graduate and spending money to show appreciation of their hard work. Just what is a frugal mom to do when the gift-giving season is upon her?

This is the time to really let your creativity shine through and create gifts that are both memorable and affordable. I find that the truly practical graduation gifts require very little money.

Here are a few of my favorite inexpensive graduation gifts to give that are affordable and thoughtful…

  1. College Coupons - One of my favorite things to ever get in the mail, when I was in college, was a care package. Giving the graduate coupons for care packages can be a very frugal gift and one that they can enjoy throughout their first year in college. Coupons can be assembled with a self-addressed stamped envelope. I like to provide a menu of choices and let them write on the coupon what they would specifically like. I include simple family favorites that can easily be packaged and enjoyed by them. Cookies can be shipped to them in empty Pringles containers or in Christmas tins. Bar cookies are very good choices for your menu options because they hold up well in the shipping process. You can download a template on my website to fill in with your own menu choices. I mount these coupons on cardstock and tie them together with ribbon.

  2. Gift Cards - Gift cards, while not the most inexpensive choice, are something that a broke graduate can truly appreciate. I love to give gift cards to their local supermarket so that they can stock up on food while they are at school. Other good choices for gift cards are the gas station, the local salon, the campus bookstore, local eateries, or the movie theatre.

  3. Useful Gifts - Some of the things that come to mind are a backpack, an umbrella, alarm clock, a shower tote (filled with toiletries they might need), a small lamp, bed linens, towels and washcloths, school supplies, luggage, or zip drives and disks.

  4. Food Kit - I assemble the food kits inside of a dish tub. I include a set of four place settings (plastic forks, knifes, spoons, bowls, and plates) and a sponge and dish soap for doing their dishes. I also put in any foods that I can find that can easily be prepared in their room. Just tie a bow on the outside. All of these items can be purchased at your local dollar store.

  5. Laundry Kit - Just assemble everything in a laundry basket and tie a bow on the handles of the basket. Inside stick a roll of quarters, a mesh laundry bag, detergent, fabric softener sheets, and a fabric softener ball. You can put together a tutorial for them on how to treat stains and easy directions on how to do their laundry. Step-by-step instructions can be found by doing a quick search on the Internet. These can be assembled in a binder or laminated with a magnet to be put on their dorm fridge.

  6. First Aid Kit - What graduate is actually going to remember to stock a first aid kit before they leave? Put together a container of items for their medicine cabinet so that they are prepared when they leave home. Fill it up with aspirin, band aids, stomach medications, ointments, cotton balls, tweezers, and sun block.

  7. Journals and Address Books - Gifts for a graduate who is not planning on attending college or who will be attending a community college can be a challenge. For these graduates, an organizer or a journal can be a wonderful and thoughtful gift option. Address books, so that the graduate can record where all of their friends are going, are also very thoughtful. These can be purchased at your local dollar store or found at local card retailers.

The important thing is to offer a gift that they can actually use. I am disappointed when gifts I give are not used because, to me, it is like money going down the drain. Don't be afraid to ask your graduate what they are in need of so that your gift is actually used.

Finally, if you are the mother of a graduate, I wish you congratulations on making it this far with your child. It is an accomplishment for you both and you should be very proud!


Amy Allen Clark is a stay-at-home mother of two wonderful children. She is founder and creator of MomAdvice.com. Her website is geared towards mothers who are seeking advice on staying organized, living on a budget, and those seeking work-at-home employments. The author resides in Granger and her hobbies include reading, writing, and cooking.

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