Five Cool (and Frugal) Gifts Your Grad Will Really Use

When I graduated college, I received so many towel sets, picture frames and knick-knacks I ended up giving some away. Don’t get me wrong — I was grateful. And I was touched that my family and friends thought of me. But there’s only so many of each of those items a new grad can use.

Of course, being the giver nowadays, I can see why such choices were (and remain) so popular. High school and college grads all receive their degrees in late spring. By the third or fourth gift you’re left scrounging for ideas — and worried about your budget.

grad gifts
Photo by Tamara Evans / Flickr

Looking for that special graduation gift that’ll really stand out? These ideas fit any budget and will let the grad know you care.

A travel mug and $5 or $10 gift card for coffee/tea. This is something that will definitely get used. And it’s got that “hip” factor going on. Choose Starbucks or any coffee shop your grad will drive by frequently.

“I need…” cards. Print out little, inexpensive (or free) gifts you can give to the grad while he’s in college or a new apartment. “I need cookies,” “I need a phone call,” “I need a movie ticket,” etc. are cute ideas. Your grad can mail a card to you when she misses you and would love a care package.

To make things even easier, tell her to contact you on Facebook or send you a text when she’s ready to redeem one of her “gifts.”

A gift card to CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreen’s or similar store. She’s going to run out of something last-minute at some point…and generally, these stores have it. Toilet paper, deodorant, a quick last-minute gift for a pal, even food — he’ll be happy (and relieved) to have a card handy to get it.

A digital picture frame. These are so cool and they travel anywhere. At as little as $20-25, they’re not uber-cheap, but are relatively budget-friendly for the grad you’re really close to (your child, a special niece or nephew, your fiance, etc.) Fill some of the memory with photos of your grad as he or she was growing up.

A money bouquet. Truly, what a new grad needs most is money. Even $10 or $20 will add up along with other cash gifts the graduate will receive.

Here’s how to make your money bouquet. Use $1 bills, or mix $1 and $5 bills in your bouquet. Bend dollar bills back and forth, as if you were making a paper fan. Pinch in the middle and wrap a pipe cleaner around the pinched section so the two ends are together. Fan out slightly. Make several money flowers, then tie together at the pipe cleaner stems with a bow.

These gifts all say “I love you and I’m proud” — and those words are the gift every recent graduate really wants to hear. Congratulations to your grad and congrats to you on being the coolest gift-giver around!

About the author: As the owner of site Themeaparty.com, Chris knows all about giving gifts (and keeping costs reasonable!). A work-from-home Dad, Chris often finds that the job of finding great gifts falls on him. No problem — party and gift research is one of his favorite hobbies. Other hobbies include hiking, reading and doing crafts with his two school-age daughters. Visit his page on Facebook.

About The Shopping Mom