Inexpensive high school graduation gift ideas

Great Ideas for Cheap Graduation Gifts

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Ideas for Cheap Graduation Gifts?

Help! I am invited to three graduations this spring. I need some inexpensive ideas for nice gifts for the soon-to-be high school graduates.

Books Make Great Gifts

I like the idea of giving a book that will help as the new grad gets started in living, such as The Complete Tightwad Gazette, The Millionaire Next Door, or Suze Orman's The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom. It may not be the coolest present in the lot, but it sure could be the most valuable, and one that the parents would appreciate having their child receive.

Give the Gift of Self-Help Guide

Buy them each a copy of the book What Color Is Your Parachute? 2012: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers This book is the best self-help guide to job hunting, resume preparation, etc. Although it's probably not cheap, the rate of return they should get from applying it will probably rate among the highest possible: better jobs, more satisfaction, increased self-confidence, a better future, higher wages, etc.
Charles A.

Bucket of Stuff

When I graduated from high school I got this as a gift and it was great!

You need a bucket or a bin. Fill it with everyday needs. These things should be easy to find at your local close-out store. You can buy off brands, sample sizes, or since you have several, you could buy in bulk/packages and save more money! Here are some ideas:

a sponge
a little mirror
bubbles (great for dorm life!)
plastic cups
ramen noodles :)
box of mac and cheese
blank CDs
AA and AAA batteries

You get the idea! Have fun with it. Decorate the container. I know your grad will love it!

Related: Great Gift Bucket Ideas

Gift Towels

For inexpensive graduation gifts, I have found towels and wash cloths a good thing. These are especially useful for the college bound or for those starting up their own place.

I don't usually purchase the expensive thick kind for this occassion. I can get more for less and this age group (especially males) doesn't take the care of laundry that warrants expensive towels.
K. M.

Graduation Kitchen Starter Set

We used to work with high school youth and one year had 15 graduate open houses in one spring. I made up two gifts (depending upon student) and each gift was between $10 and $20.

Buy an oven mitt and then fill it with cooking utensils from a dollar store, such as wooden spoons, spatula, rubber scrapers, etc. Wrap it by simply putting a piece of tissue paper in the oven mitt and then the utensils in the tissue paper and wrap with a big bow. These were a big hit and very useful for the student.

The other idea is to buy a large bowl and 2 or 4 plastic glasses from a dollar store and fill bowl with the glasses, several bags of microwave popcorn (or even regular popcorn) and then a deck of cards or an inexpensive video. Wal-Mart has many of the old classic videos. Cover with large piece of cellophane or tissue paper and top with big bow.

A Reason to Write

Stamps, along with stationary, make a nice gift for those kids going away to college.

A Personal History

If you have access to pictures of the graduate, give a progressive photo album or a disc with stories you remember about them growing up for each photo or set of photos. This is surely a great hit and a keepsake.

If you have not known the graduate long enough to have pictures, you can get an inexpensive photo album, decorate it, and let them collect pictures from their next life stage (whether that be college or career).

Another idea is to make a book of quotes for the graduate to use through the next stage of their life.


Inexpensive Jewelry Gifts

I do some volunteer work at a women's college, so every May I know several young women who are graduating. I have made it a tradition to give them a pair of cultured pearl earrings. The girls adore them.

I get them inexpensively by going to the jewelry wholesalers. A friend of mine has his own business and takes me there for my annual visit. Because he has a business license, he is able to purchase wholesale. I bring enough green cash to cover the purchases. On our annual visit, I get 2 to 5 pairs of 5mm to 6mm (no larger) cultured pearls mounted on 14K gold posts with butterfly clasps. In another booth, we purchase black velvet boxes for $3 each. If you have saved velvet boxes from earrings you have received as gifts, you can save the price of the boxes.

Pearl stud earrings make an elegant and grown-up gift for a young woman graduating from high school or college.

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Meaningful Coins

I was told by a co-worker some years ago that she gave graduates coins (quarters, half dollars, dollars) from the year of the recipient's birth. The number of coins given would depend on the amount one wished to give. Perhaps you could stick them to a card or fake diploma or etc. with double-faced tape.

An Emergency Kit

I have two ideas for graduation gifts. One is to decorate a back pocket from a pair of old blue jeans and put things in it (like a sample size trio of shampoo, lotion and bath oil for girls). The other is to make a "college emergency kit." I've done this for a girl. You can use something like a used decorative candy canister (like fruit cakes come in) and put in sample sizes of shampoo, a few bandaids and Q-tips wrapped in ziplock bags, pen, pencil etc. I've done this for a guy using a large plastic basket (cheap at Wal-Mart) and put in a package of notebook paper, pen, pencil, etc. Look for coupons where you can get free sample sizes and take advantage of back-to-school sale merchandise. I've gotten a lot of great ideas from this site. I hope my ideas can help.
Susan F.

Related: Creative Graduation Gifts

Graduation Gift Package

An inexpensive high school graduation gift that was a hit for my cousins last year was a coupon that I made up for a midterm or finals gift package (they were all headed to college). I made cookies which kept it cheap. They were all happy and I saved some money!

Personalized Pillow Makes for Cheap Graduation Gift

If it is a relative (girl) or someone you know very well, they might enjoy a pillow made with pictures of them , especially when they are growing up. You can easily put them on transfer paper and iron them to a nice material and "make" or cover a pillow with the fabric.
Carol M.

Reviewed January 2018

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