graduation gift ideas for those on a budget

Posted : May 5, 2009
Last Updated : April 29, 2013
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graduation gift ideas for those on a budget

Graduation gifts don't always have to involve high-priced items. It's the thought that counts, right? If you are on a budget and your child/niece/nephew/friend is graduating from high school or college, use this list to pick the perfect frugal gift.

For High School Grads
Do you have a high school grad on your gift list who will be attending college in the fall? He may appreciate these needed presents. Bonus: Many of these items can be purchased at a dollar store.

  • Laundry kit. Purchase a laundry bag or basket and fill it with essential laundry items that your graduate will need at college. Include laundry detergent, fabric sheets, stain remover, rolls of quarters, and step-by-step instructions on how to wash laundry. Tie the bag or basket with a ribbon, and you're done!
  • Bath tote. Most students in dorms have to share bathrooms, so they need totes to carry assorted bath products to and from the showers. Put together a bath tote with all the necessary essentials:  toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, mouthwash, deodorant, hairbrush, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, shaving cream, disposable razors, shower shoes, etc.
  • Dorm-food survival kit. It's hard to make gourmet entrees in a dorm room, but college students still need some dorm room dining basics. Purchase a dish tub and fill it with eating utensils (plastic forks, knives, spoons, bowls, plates, cups), dish soap/sponge, can opener, cans of tuna/soup, packs of ramen noodles, healthy snacks (nuts, dried fruit, granola bars), microwave recipe cookbook, etc.
  • First-aid kit. When packing to go away to college, most students don't think about a first-aid kit…until they need one. A cheap, plastic box will suffice as a container. Fill it with aspirin, ibuprofen, sinus/allergy medication, upset stomach medication, throat lozenges, band aids, hydrogen peroxide, antibiotic ointment, sun block, aloe vera gel (for sunburns), bug spray, etc.
  • Book about college. Visit a local bookstore or check out amazon or ebay for books about college life. Recent high school grads may experience "fear of the unknown" when it comes to college, so a book about what to expect as a college freshman will help the recent grad prepare for his new adventures.

For College Grads
Because the college grad on your list will be embarking on new adventures as well (new job, new apartment, etc.), he will enjoy the following frugal gift ideas.

  • Copy card. If the graduate on your list still hasn't secured a job, he would greatly appreciate a gift card to FedEx Office or any other printing store since the cost of printing resumes in bulk can get expensive.
  • Household toolbox. Unless the recent grad is moving back home with the parents to save money, he will probably want to spruce up his new apartment or house. Make sure he has all the essentials by giving him a household toolbox. Include a hammer, a pack of nails, a couple screwdrivers, an adjustable wrench, a tape measure, a level, pliers, etc. For daughters and nieces, make it a little more girly by putting the tools in a cute, pink container.
  • Book about life after college. High school grads aren't the only ones who experience "fear of the unknown." College grads will also experience many life changing events over the next several years (new job, buying first house, marriage, retirement planning, etc.), so help your grad prepare with a book full of advice and tips.

For Both
There are several frugal gift ideas that will work for both high school and college graduates.

  • Family heirloom. If you've been waiting for a special occasion to gift a family heirloom, graduation is the perfect event. Examples may include a piece of jewelry, a tie tack, a pocket watch, a piece of furniture, a recipe book, a quilt, etc. It's a no-cost gift and would probably be the one that the new grad would most cherish anyway.
  • Scrapbook. If you are the crafty kind and have access to old and recent photos of the grad, create a Life's Journey scrapbook. Include pictures and stories from special occasions during the grad's life, such as first day of kindergarten, school performances, birthdays, etc. Make sure to add blank pages so the grad can add to his Life's Journey scrapbook as he grows older.
  • Book of wisdom. Reach out to older relatives, teachers, older friends of the grad and request tips and advice on growing up/advice they wished they had received when they were younger. Combine all the quotes/stories and create a unique journal of wisdom for the grad.
  • Address book. The recent grad is going to need to know where to send all those thank-you cards for his graduation presents. Purchase an address book and fill it with contact information for relatives and friends.

Times are tough but getting a gift for the grad on your list doesn't have to be. Put a little thought into the gift, and your grad will be sure to appreciate it no matter the cost. If you have room in your budget for a more costly gift, be sure to check out Gift Ideas for the High School Graduate and Gift Ideas for the College Graduate.


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graduation gift ideas for those on a budget






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