Struggling to find the perfect gift for that special graduate in your life… without breaking the bank? It’s a common frustration. But you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on graduation presents. Here are 10 frugal graduation gifts to get the ball rolling:
- Personalized jewelry
- A coffeemaker
- A homemade scrapbook
- A cookbook
- A picture frame
- The infamous Dr. Seuss book
- A planner
- A gift certificate
- Cards Against Humanity
- A laptop case
1. Personalized Jewelry on Etsy
One of the best graduation gifts is a personalized piece of jewelry. You can get their name engraved or customize the piece with the name of the school that they’re graduating from. A personalized necklace from an Etsy jeweler can cost as little as $10.
We all know that buying coffee a few times a week is a huge money suck. So what better way to aid your graduate than to give them a reason not to go to Starbucks? A Keurig costs around $100, but you can get a standard coffeemaker for as low as $15. Well worth it for the reusable caffeine boost. A little can go a long way if you take the time to think of something meaningful and personal.
Further Reading: Learn more about the cost of coffee. (It adds up!)
3. Homemade Scrapbook
All right, for this one, you need to have decent handwriting and not be entirely colorblind. But if you pass those qualifications, a homemade scrapbook is a killer gift.
You can make it as long or as short as you like, and all it requires is a few photos and some heartfelt captions.
Bonus points if you can insert a haiku.
4. Frugal Cookbook
A frugal cookbook is a humorous and helpful gift for the graduate who'll be doing grocery runs on a budget. Consider Tony Patrick’s 101 Things to Do With Ramen, or Molly Joe Realy’s Unemployment Cookbook. Side note: your graduate’s physician may not appreciate this gift, but the graduate definitely will. Hey, ya can’t win ’em all.
Further Reading: “3 Cost-Effective Cooking Tips for One- or Two-Person Meals”
5. Picture Frame
You can get this gift anywhere – from a CVS to Anthropologie. The bottom line is that it’s both personal and inexpensive. Consider getting creative with the picture that you choose. Maybe match the themes of the photo to the picture frame you buy. Or maybe you can filter your picture to make it artsy, with a black and white tone or even — dare we say it — a sepia filter.
6. That Classic Dr. Seuss Book
Sure, it’s a bit of a cliché, but isn’t that the point of graduation? Oh, the Places You’ll Go is the ultimate graduation gift. It’s funny, sentimental, and all-too-accurate about the feelings that graduates are experiencing. If you don’t feel like being too predictable, check out Etsy for Dr. Seuss-themed graduation gifts. The site has countless different prints, shirts, and other accessories that portray scenes from the book.
Your graduate might inwardly roll their eyes at this one, but it will totally be worth it when they call you six months later to say that they never missed a class or interview. Planners don’t have to be boring anymore, anyway. You can customize them, pick from cool colors, or even find ones that match the school that your graduate attends. And many sell for $14 or less!
Further Reading: Check out some other cheap gift ideas!
8. Gift Certificate
Gift certificates get a pretty bad rep because people claim that they aren't personalized.
But you know what’s better than something personalized? Something that your favorite graduate is excited to use.
For the kid who doesn’t want a picture frame or who already has a coffeemaker, consider a gift card to Amazon or iTunes — or even an all-around Visa gift card. The best part about graduation gifts like these? You can choose exactly how much you want to spend. What’s more, you can guarantee that your money will go towards something that the graduate actually wants. It’s a foolproof plan.
9. Cards Against Humanity
Cards Against Humanity has risen over the past few years to become the go-to card game for millennials. Buy your graduate this game, and you’re set. It’s small to package that costs just $25. And the best part? It ensures you the label of “coolest gift.” Buy it, play it — just make sure you aren’t around the graduate’s parents when you do!
10. Laptop Case
The year after graduation is one of the most hectic years in a person’s life. That means that technology is the first thing to get damaged. With all of this commotion, a laptop case is a great idea for your graduate. Consider one that provides enough padding to ensure that the laptop won’t get broken while your graduate is getting jostled on the subway (or when they drop it while walking up the stairs to their apartment).
Further Reading: “3 Ways a Gift Closet Can Save You Big Bucks”