As the school year draws to a close, eager high school and college students are looking forward to graduation – and their friends and relatives are looking forward with a mixture of pleasure and anxiety to the graduation announcements. Along with pride for the new graduate and pleasure at being invited, the sight of that crisp white envelope can bring a rush of panic as you wonder, “Does this mean I have to get a gift?”
First things first: According to Emily Post, you are under no obligation to send a present if you’re not actually going to the graduation. In that case, all you need to do is write a note congratulating the new grad and wishing them good luck. However, if you’re actually attending the ceremony, a gift is appropriate – and that’s where things get tricky if you’re on a tight budget. You want your present to be truly welcome, but you also don’t want it to break your personal bank.
This pretty much rules out the ever-popular items of cash and gift cards. There’s no way to hide the price tag with these, and while a $100 gift card can look like a generous gesture, a $15 gift card just looks like a cop-out. It also rules out a lot of the items that show up in magazines’ lists of “best gifts for grads,” which tend to focus on high-end items like a new laptop computer or a smart assistant like the Amazon Echo.
Fortunately, you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to show your favorite graduate you care. There’s a wide range of unique gifts for both high school and college grads to fit all budgets – including presents that are useful, sentimental, or simply fun.
Best Gifts Under $20
It’s easy to feel discouraged if you’ve just received a graduation invite and you know you can’t possibly squeeze more than $20 out of your budget for a gift. But don’t give up so easily. Even on this tight a budget, it’s possible to find interesting and thoughtful gifts that graduates will enjoy.
According to Post, flowers are a traditional gift for new graduates. You can give the graduate a corsage or boutonniere to wear during the graduation ceremony, or alternatively, bring a congratulatory bouquet of blooms to present afterward.