High school graduations ceremonies can vary as much as the students they are honoring.
One aspect that remains constant and sends the message that you care about the grad, you acknowledge their achievement, and you celebrate their success is the graduation gift.
So, whether your grad-to-be is heading off to college or trade school, entering the military, or forging on to start a career, family and friends still have a way to show them they’re special.
We turned to our favorite experts, the members of our Paying for College 101 Facebook group, to offer some suggestions on graduation gifts.
We asked that they come up with some creative gift ideas in addition to a few traditional ones and they did not disappoint.
Note: We receive compensation from purchases made through some of the links on this post, but the opinions are our own.
Always appreciated and often put to good use, the gift of money can be turned on its head by the way it is presented.
- A money lei is not only useful, but beautiful.
- Pizza lovers are as ubiquitous as fans of money, and turning your bills into a pie for your favorite pizza fan will certainly get a smile.
- Forrest Gump said that “life is like a box of chocolates,” and a box of chocolates filled with creatively fashioned bills is something even Forrest would have applauded.
- As a throwback to childhood, a box of crayons wrapped in cash attached to a coloring book can add a bit of whimsy to your gift.
- Another blast from the past is a can of Play-Doh with some real “dough.”
- We know cash has often been referred to as “lettuce,” but when it’s turned into a cake, that’s even better.
Here’s what one member of Paying for College 101 did that we thought was novel and ingenious: “I strung up balloons in school colors from K-12. On each balloon, I wrote each grade on the front and the teachers’ names on the back. I wrote a memory from each grade whether it be a class trip or class project. (I even put the grade he got his first iPhone.) I stuffed each balloon with a bit of glitter and a $20 rolled up. I also had a future balloon with $50.” –To-Lo T.
Gifts That Make and Keep Memories
Gifts reminding your grads of happy times from the past that they can take with them wherever they go are perfect to help with feelings of loneliness or homesickness that might occur every once in a while. Short, one-on-one trips with a parent can make memories that they can fondly think back on when they’re away from home.
“I made each of my kids a photo book from Shutterfly with pictures of their entire lives, as well as pictures of the family and pets.” –Lori K.
“I got my daughter a quilt made from her sports jerseys and shirts.” — Robin S.
“I take each of my kids on a trip when they graduate. It’s some special one-on-one mama time before they leave home. It’ll be summer, so [we’ll go] camping or fishing. Kids would rather not admit it, but they are nervous about leaving home and missing their parents. Spending some quality time together is a treat for them as well as us.” Aimee D.
“Our [adult children] miss the dogs terribly, so I waited for a sale and had wall tiles made of their favorite dog pics.” –Lisa G.
“Write a letter for him for certain times. On the envelope have it say:‘Open when you are homesick.’ ‘Open when you feel like you have failed.’ ‘Open when you feel heartbroken.’ ‘Open when you need advice.’” — Audrey J.
“I had important people in his life write him letters—even some of his favorite teachers over the years. I put my old scrapbooking skills to work and put letters in a book and surrounded them with pictures of that person with him throughout his life.” — Theresa R.
Gifts for Starting a New Life
It never hurts to gift your favorite grad something you know they will need as they embark on their new life.
These suggestions will start them off right and often, in style.
When calling Mom or Dad when a screw is loose or a hinge needs fastening is no longer an option, this tool kit will come in handy.
Every new iteration of this watch comes with additional bells and whistles. In addition to having a fitness tracker that can help your child to keep in shape, it also allows them to reply to your texts on the spot.
Young adults are always on the go, and running out of (phone) juice could be a problem. This slim, lightweight charger can prevent that from happening so that they’re always ready to communicate.
A parent of a music major highly recommended this stand. It’s great for when they want to practice outside the practice room.
Yes, people DO still use pens, and this one is a classic. A parent in the Paying for College 101 group received one for her own graduation and treasures it to this day.
This is the perfect gift for the student who likes to read their textbooks (or even books for pleasure) digitally.
If a traditional class ring won’t cut it, this beauty might. The rose gold is especially stylish.
This multi-functional piece of equipment is great for the early riser as well as the night owl. The library of soothing sounds, white noise, and lights can help create different moods at any time.
Sharing a room with a brother or sister is totally different than sharing a room with someone who could very well be a stranger. Many young adults have turned to Harlan Cohen, author of this bestselling book, for advice on all things related to college life and academics.
For more great gift ideas and dorm essentials check these articles:
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