Gift Ideas » 20 Budget Friendly Graduation Gifts

20 Budget Friendly Graduation Gifts

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Graduation is an exciting time for the graduate and their families, but can also be an expensive time! If you have an upcoming graduate in your family or circle of friends, here are some fabulous inexpensive gift ideas that they’re sure to love!
We challenged our Members to come up with some great gift ideas and they delivered, here is a compilation of some of our faves. . .

1. Personalization is Key– To make each one of the graduates feel special without breaking the bank personalize their gifts. Towels with their names embroidered on them (which can easily be picked up at a reasonable price the day after Thanksgiving or during white sales aka linen sales). If you don’t have access to an embroidery machine, you can always take it to a local small business and adding a name to an item usually runs under $5.00. The personalization serves several purposes, it’s, of course, Personal and the item is less likely to be accidentally picked up by someone else while in college or at the beach.

2. Laundry Supplies- Jar of laundry sauce, homemade wool dryer balls, and a hamper. Possibly exchanging one of those things for a roll of quarters if the graduate is likely to be using a laundromat.

3. Bed Raisers– these little beauties are like Jacks for your bed! They lift it up about 6 inches, allowing for additional storage in the dorm room and opening up the floor space.

4. Are you Creative? Create a Collage of Family Photos, Friends, Special Memories to hang in the Dorm

5. Lawn Chairs- these are inexpensive, usually around $10 each and will come in handy in dorm rooms. Check with your local embroiderer to have their name added onto the chair for additional personalization.

6. Books– Most college-bound kids need books on grammar, writing well, elements of style, dictionary, and a thesaurus.

7. Give them Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree” with a surprise inside… such as a movie gift card, gas card, gift card for a local sandwich or coffee shop, etc

8.No Envelope Required– Don’t Blow it All in one Place! Remove the tissues from a box. Get a stack of one dollar bills and tape them together. Roll them up and place them in the box. Affix a label to the box and your graduate will be Very Happy to have this reminder not to blow it all in one place!


Photo Credit:

9. Movie Ticket Gift Card

10. Car Care Kit with Jumper Cables and directions on how to maintain a car properly.

11. From the dollar store grab a large variety of snacks. At home, create a movie of the family using pictures old and new as well as a great soundtrack. Pack in a box labeled “when you need us, here we are.”

12. Gas Card– or give homemade printed coupons good for a tank of gas at a given time, Once per month, or once every other week, for example.

13. School Color Graduation Scroll Towels– (as pictured above). You’ll need a Bath Towel, hand towel and a washcloth in the school colors. Use the lighter color for the diploma scroll (the towel) and the darker color for the cap (washcloth) and the belt (the hand towel). Roll the towel and secure it with the hand towel (also rolled to look like a belt). Fold the washcloth and afix it to the top of the rolled towel like a graduation cap. Attach a skein of embroidery floss for the tassle and you have Instant “Diploma Scrolls”. Adorable and about $10 each! Idea & Photo Credit: Kathy Debby

14. Stuffed Oven Mitt- Visit your favorite dollar store and pick up an oven mitt, stuff it full with wooden spoons, spatulas and other cooking utensils. Most college dorms have kitchen areas for the kids to make their own goodies, but most don’t offer cooking utensils.

15. It’s raining Cash! Purchase an Inexpensive umbrella and affix dollar bills or $1 scratch lottery tickets to the inside (with a bit of tape and some curling ribbon). When the Umbrella is opened, the cash/tickets rain down!

Image Credit: The Seasonal Home

16. Make a secret-hollow-book to stash money and valuables, perfect for hiding items from prying eyes.

17. Wrap It Up toiletries– Fold a Washcloth, add a few stitches to create pockets and insert some toiletries such as a new toothbrush, toothpaste, razors, a tube of lotion, etc. Affix a button or a ribbon to tie it shut. This will make it easy to transport toiletries while in college or traveling.

EASY DIY - Make Your Own Toiletry Towel Wrap


Image Credit Funcage

18. A Blank Journal– pass this around during the graduation party to allow the guests to share their thoughts and bits of advice. This is a great pick me up for college students who have a tendency to get homesick.

19. Cookies, Cookies, Cookies-create some vouchers for your graduate to redeem for home-baked goods throughout the year. If they’re off at college, they can phone ahead to redeem the coupon, giving mom time to bake them! Better yet, create some homemade postcards addressed to Mom, and stamped, so when the graduate needs a little pick-me-up from home, you’ll know when to send them!

20. The Pampered Chef Micro-Cooker– kids heading off to college spend a lot of time eating meals out of the microwave. These handy little cookers are relatively inexpensive coming it at about $20 and can make cooking much easier.

What ideas do YOU have for Graduation gifts? Please feel free to share them in the comments below!

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