Affordable Graduation Gifts


By Courtney Smith

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Graduation is the next big step in adulting. Once students cross the stage they go on to do a number of things: some will go off to a new place to work, some may travel, some will get married, and others may head back home. Four (give or take) years of lectures and finals pay off with the diploma and it’s an overall exciting time for both the graduate and their loved ones. Usually this also leads to something nearly equally as exciting for the graduate- gifts! If you have someone close to you graduating and want to get them something without breaking the bank, these ideas are for you based on their plans (or lack thereof) after walking the stage.

If They’re Moving…

Monogram Mug

Help add a personal touch to the graduate’s new home without giving them something too big that makes it hard for them to show their own style in the new space. A mug is a classic go-to, especially for coffee or tea enthusiasts, and is aesthetic enough on its own. This mug is only $5.99 at Target, but similar styles could be found elsewhere too. If they aren’t much for flowers there are also similar more minimal designs. Bonus? Add a gift card to Target or another home store to help them out a bit.

Target

Succulent

Nothing says trendy like a succulent gift for a new apartment. These plants are low maintenance and can be purchased alone at an outdoor or grocery store for $5 or less. If you have a bit more room in the budget you can get them a cool planter like this sloth one for $18 or a personalized gift box for only $22 that you can check out here.

Etsy

If They’re Traveling/”Finding Themselves”, etc…

Travel Size World Scratch Map

Help the new explorer track their travels with a travel sized world map that they can scratch off after visiting each country. If they’re staying local, US maps are also available. Either way, this gift comes in at under $20 and is both thoughtful and aesthetic.

Amazon

DIY option- Travel Must Have Set

To keep your gift personal and low budget, try this cool DIY option. Basically, find a cute travel sized bag/pouch (think the size of a makeup bag or wallet) and fill it with a few travel goodies like gum, candy, bandaids, travel charger, sleeping mask, whatever suits your fancy. You can make it as basic or as unique as you want. If they love Starbucks or McDonald’s there’s practically one everywhere so you could even put a $5 gift card in there to get them a drink/meal. These sets  can also be purchased, but I think it’s a cuter gift when it’s done personally.

Amazon

Mini Backpack

This travel essential is not only trendy, but super useful. Mini backpacks offer all of the same features as a regular sized one (including compartments to tuck away valuables) but with less of the bulkiness. They may not be the number one pick for an avid hiker, but if someone is just out exploring a few new cities, it’s a perfect pick. Prices vary on these tremendously, but you can purchase this one (either white or black) at Target for $20. I also recommend looking in-store at places like Urban Outfitters and American Eagle to shop their sale rack!

Target

If They’re Moving Back Home…

A Book

Hear me out! It isn’t super exciting, but books can be super helpful and a nice motivator or de-stressor. Finding a job is tough and even if they have one but have opted to live with their parents again, it is a big adjustment. “Almost Adulting” by Arden Rose has everything from sex to traveling alone to making friends, which sounds useful no matter what stage of life anyone is in, tbh. You can purchase it at a local bookstore or on Amazon here. Another great pick is Unfu*k Yourself by Gary John Bishop. It’s basically about…well what it sounds like. Pick up a copy here.

Barnes and Noble

Lap Desk

Whether it’s for job hunting, freelancing, or watching Netflix- a lap desk comes in handy for hours spent on the go and at home. I personally recommend going to HomeGoods or something similar to find a good deal, but a reasonably priced one can be found here.

Amazon

Lush

Give the gift of relaxation after a long four years and go with a classic, vegan friendly option: Lush! They have gifts for both guys and girls alike and are super affordable. This “Happiness” gift set comes in at $19.95 and “Bath Art” is slightly cheaper at $18.95.

Lush

No matter what your budget or the graduate’s after college plans, there is definitely a thoughtful and useful gift you can give them. Especially if you’re having to buy multiple gifts, this list can be a life saver. Happy shopping!