College Countdown Gift Ideas for Parents of Seniors

Three High School Girls in Graduation Gowns Opening Gifts

College Countdown Gift Ideas for Parents of Seniors

Published July 5, 2023

Three High School Girls in Graduation Gowns Opening Gifts

A parent decided to give her student gifts to open in the months leading up to graduation. Read how she did it!

This story was first published in our Paying for College 101 Facebook community. It’s been edited for clarity and flow. 

Many parents give their high school seniors gifts once they graduate. But why not offer gifts throughout the year that are tied to the college process?

That’s what parent Cyndi N. did. Here’s her story:

A Little Background 

My high school senior will be getting 11 monthly gifts from November through September, plus four gifts tied to accomplishing various pre-college tasks. I will also give one envelope that includes an explanation of the process. We’re requiring a sit-down meal at a family dinner to get it. 

I got the idea from this group (the Paying For College 101 group). Thanks to those who posted about doing it.

The Gifts 

Most of the gifts are gift cards to local places where she’ll be attending college next year. We don’t know yet where she will be, so they’re promises for now (for example, $25 at a local bagel shop.) We’re including places such as Trader Joe’s, too.

The gift for finishing fall applications (two that are due in November) is a dinner at her favorite restaurant with a friend. When she commits to a school in May, she’ll receive a sweatshirt for that college. 

I printed out information to put in the envelopes to represent each promised gift. They were designed in a different font with plenty of pictures to represent what she’s getting. The envelopes are from Etsy and are designed for cash gifts but work well for any paper.

What Other Parents Are Saying 

Beth W. said she’s doing something similar but with dorm-related gifts. “I started with basics that will work no matter where she goes and will get specific once she makes a choice.”

Victoria M. thought it was a fabulous idea. “It’s like an early care package but for stuff your child will need anyway,”  she said.

Christy W. got a photo book and put something on each page, including gift cards to places near campus and small office supplies. It also included photos and words of encouragement. “Practical but thoughtful is what I’m going for,” she said.

What Do You Think?

While many parents support their students by helping to provide them with the things they need for college, gifting some of the items in a thoughtful and intentional way may have more meaning. Give it a try!

For great dorm gift ideas for your student, check out these suggestions inspired by our community!


Use College Insights to help find merit aid and schools that fit the criteria most important to your student. You’ll not only save precious time, but your student will avoid the heartache of applying to schools they aren’t likely to get into or can’t afford to attend.  

Other Articles You Might Like:

Creative Graduation Gifts

What I Wish I Knew Before College

Colleges With High Acceptance Rates




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