Pic of Graduates Throwing Hats

“You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So… get on your way!”
Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

Graduation days are full of emotion: excitement, joy, pride and perhaps just a twinge of anxiety about the future. It’s a day that marks the culmination of four (or more) years of hard work, celebrated by friends and family alike who join together in support of the new graduate.

Gift giving is also a big part of graduation. And it can be difficult to find a great gift on a budget. Below are 10 options for how to make a big impact for only $20.

Graduation Gifts for the High School Graduate

  1. Collegiate Gear – If you know where he or she is heading off in the fall give them something with the school’s name on it. From t-shirts to bumper stickers to coffee cups, most grads are thrilled to show off their choice.
  2. Poster – Posters have come a long way, thanks to online retailers such as Allposters, who offer more than just the traditional band shot. Give your graduate an interesting art or photography poster or browse the motivational selection for some quotes that are sure to inspire.
  3. Emergency Kit – When packing for college, students often forget the more necessary items like Band-Aids, Neosporin, and ice packs. If your grad will be driving a lot, get a kit for road emergency that includes a flashlight, jumper cables, and a poncho.
  4. Journal – Blank journals are easily carried and used while away at school. Students find journals a comforting place to process their new experience of living away from home. Another terrific option is the One Line A Day memory journal (found here) that makes it easy to chronicle the college experience.
  5. Care package – Want to really win over that graduate? Give a card at graduation that says “gift to follow” then mail a care package the first month they are away. Fill it with home made cookies, candy and a picture from home and you are sure to bring a smile to a homesick student.

Graduation Gifts for the College Graduate

  1. A Tool Kit- Your graduate may be off to their own first apartment now and they will definitely need some basics: most starter kits have a hammer, wrench, screwdriver and pliers. Throw in some nails and screws and your grad can officially get handy.
  2. Kitchen Kit – Chances are they have also graduated from ramen noodles now. Give them some tools to help build their culinary skills. Or gather a recipe box loaded with easy to make recipes they already love.
  3. Book of Advice – Perhaps your grad could use a guide to managing money or she would enjoy the tips found in the bestseller, The Secret. For a more personal touch, why not fill a journal with advice and life lessons from friends and family?
  4. Something Frivolous – Since everyone will be handing out a practical gift, stand out by giving your grad something fun. A table tennis set or cool iPod speakers are sure to get used and be appreciated on an uneventful night in.
  5. Money – Maybe they have student loans or will need a new business wardrobe. Regardless, you can never go wrong with cash. Need some clever ways to give it? Check out this post for creative options.

High school and college graduations are a time for celebrating personal victories. Gift giving during these milestones is part of the tradition, but it needn’t be more stressful than fun. With these 10 choices, your graduate receives a personal gift that doesn’t blow your budget. Having your support and encouragement as they embark on new endeavors is really what matters most.