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Hipsters to the Rescue: Wedding Gifts, Graduation Gifts AND More

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Check out the emails below that I recently received from readers, Julie, Kerry and Donna…

I was just thinking how May and June can be such expensive months with wedding gifts and graduations to buy for people.  I was needing some hip ideas on gifts that look nice and expensive – but of course are purchased with coupons???

One of my kiddos is a senior in high school.  I wish I would have known in advance how very expensive senior year can be!  There’s senior pictures, yearbook, graduation announcements, graduation party, etc…  If I go through the company my son’s school has chosen to use for all the above, I’m looking at spending close to $1,000 buckaroos!!  I would greatly appreciate any suggestions to help reduce this cost; especially in reference to the senior announcements.

Does anyone have any suggestions for High School Graduation Gifts? Or has anyone’s kids received any neat gifts (besides $) for H.S. Graduation? In May I will need to give at least 7 gifts for Seniors graduating this year and I would like to make use of the many deals I have received or should look out for in the future.

So you guys know the drill, right?! If you have any helpful tips or suggestions, please share them in the comment section below. Thanks so much! 😀

Join The Discussion

Comments 259

  1. R

    With all my friends getting married lately, this always a bridesmaid is running out of cash for gifts! Sooo, I’ve come up with a “Date Night Bowl”… I find a big plastic bowl (lately i’ve purchased at target for a just a few dollars) and I fill it with popcorn (either microwave bags or kernels for popping), and the movie theater size boxes of candy and then hit the $5 movies at either Target or Walmart for and old movie. I usually decorate the bowl with my friend’s initials to make it more personal. 🙂 I can usually do the whole thing for under $20!

    My mom used to always make a picnic basket as a wedding present as well, found great baskets at places like Hobby Lobby, Old time pottery, joann’s etc.. and line with fabric and fill with plastic champagne glasses, plates and utensils, then add a bottle of champage/wine!

    And when I left for college, my mom’s friend sent me off with a little Emergency Kit that had gum, mints, hand sanitizer, mini first aid kit, maps of my new town, lysol spray, batteries, pens, all little things that totally came in handy when I was far from home!

    • Michelle C

      You could get lots of wedding gift date night ideas from

      They have great ideas for keeping the “spark” in a marriage and could also be some great wedding gift ideas!!!

    • Jen

      I love the plaques that she makes…plus, they are VERY affordable! The small plaques for seniors to take to college that fit perfectly in a dorm room are only 12.50 and she will ship them anywhere for a small fee!! I took all my seniors class mottos and had them made into plaques. Its not a card that will be thrown away, which I love…because we all know that it’s a waste of money!!!! Good Luck!

      • Jen


  2. Anna

    when I graduated high school, I made a mini basket of stuff for college. I focused on stuff that was for “emergency/backup” use. I figure they would get their regular supplies in brands they liked. I threw in a mini detergent (in case they run out), a mini first aid kit, envelopes and stamps, magnetic notepad for the fridge, $5 GC for starbucks. all in a nice tote bag they can use to haul around books. And I made myself one too! (Although I never got to the mini detergent which I still had after graduating!)

    After college my cousin actually got me a book that she read in med school (because I was thinking about that), which I really liked (didn’t end up doing that). It was a nice peek into a possible future career. But I’m pretty sure most of my friends would have hated books… so… give at your own risk

  3. annie

    My favorite gift that I got when I graduated was a postcard that could be sent to the person I got it from anytime while I was at college. On the postcard there was a list of different snacks (homemade and packaged) and I could choose a couple from each catagory (baked goods, chips, gum, candy). Then they sent a package of goodies of my choosing to me! Great during those first college midterms! If you found a lot of that stuff with coupons ahead of time this could be really cheap!

  4. Dawn

    Maybe you can find a deal on Groupon or Living Social. Groupon in my area often has salon services. This would be a perfect gift for either a girl graduating from HS or a stressed-out bride to be. Even a Groupon for a nice dinner for the couple getting married. For HS seniors, maybe a homemade collage of pictures of them throughout their life or just their senior year and put their graduation invitation in the middle of the collage. That should be inexpensive. Get pics from mom or pay a few cents to have copies made and use the invitation that was mailed to you. Collage frames are relatively inexpensive at certain stores and the personalized touch of a collage of photos of that person as opposed to a generic gift is always nice.

  5. Renee

    Try seeing if an area photographer needs senior “ambassadors” to lower your picture total. Both of my daughters have done this (a JR in college and a JR in high school). Your child gets a discount off their package for every senior referral. My JR in hs right now has earned about $400 off her package and kids are still deciding so it will probably be more! If there are alot of parties the same day as your child’s(ask them-they will know), keep the food to finger or snack variety.We did BBQ-ran out of chicken and corn pudding-had a lot of pulled pork and pop left over. I made all the side dishes and we bought the meat from a local BBQ joint. We borrowed big tents from a family friend and chairs and tables from the summer pool we belonged to at the time. I have done giftbaskets for grad gifts and the mothers rave about them every year- most of the stuff is what I get for free or reduced everyweek! Think about stuff they might forget to bring-scissors, tape, tweezers, nail clippers, sharpies.

  6. lisabryan

    I understand your dilemma a bit…. I have been teaching high school biology for 20 years in a rural community and each year I receive a stack of graduation announcements from students each wanting something when I attend their graduation party… I used to buy vendor packets of phone cards and give those to graduates but with cell phones in the hand of each and every kid… phone cards did not make any sense…..Some 15 years ago I figured out a way to save money and still give each graduate a gift. The day after Thanksgiving – the stores typically have bath towels, toasters, small crockpots and the sort on sale… I face the unruly mobs to purchase graduation gifts and then store them in my basement for months. Each graduate at a minimum receives 1-2 bath towels and a small crockpot or toaster. I end up spending about $5-7 per graduate and they end up getting something useful that they can either use when they go to college and/or when they are out on their own. I sometimes include a couple of school supplies (hi-lighters, pencils, etc ) to the packet. The kids seem to really appreciate getting such a “grownup” gift in their eyes…. and it didn’t break my budget… it all comes down to planning way ahead of time and not waiting until May to go shopping.

  7. Sara

    For announcements, I would go with a place like Over Night Prints where you can design your own postcards or greeting cards or use one of their templates. They have great prices, great customer service, and quick turnaround. And you can get as many or as few as you like. I am a graphic designer and have used them many times over the years, including for wedding announcements.

  8. iriscat

    A great graduation gift for either a high school student or a college student would be a guide, workbook, or organizer from a new company called Winning STEP. These publications guide students through the transition to college, careers & independence. There are affordable priced guides, workbooks, & organizers, step-by-step programs on College Planning, Career Planning, Test Anxiety and Transition Readiness that are among the most comprehensive publications on the market.. The Transition Entry Preparation Guide, for example, helps those transitioning from high school to college and/or careers as well as individuals who are facing other major life transitions such as the move from college to a career. This research-based guide focuses on the academic, emotional and logistical lifelong learning skills and information necessary to reach independence and success in our complicated modern world. Visit to learn more about the publications. And of course, for Hipsters, there is a discount code – use the code WS0301IH to get a 10% discount on all products.

  9. Chelsea

    One gift I give for graduation, birthdays, baby showers and weddings is the gift of memories. I shop for deals regularly at craft stores on scrapbooks, scrapbook paper, stickers, etc.I get everything cheap out of season and pull them out when they’re back in season. When someone becomes pregnant or is getting married or graduates, I create a bunch of pages that are pre-set, so all the recipient needs to do is put a few pics on the page to complete the memories. I usually start a few pages with pics I already have to get them started then let them fill the rest. It can be very inexpensive and is usually the first thing people pull out to share or remember a special occasion. Priceless! If done with super deals, usually can be done under $10.00 total….

  10. hanna

    I have a cassarole dish to give to my future step sis-in-law with recipes of my step brothers favorites.

  11. Jamie

    I gave a $50 gift card to to my sister who will be graduating college. With the current coupon code “mom” for 80% off, the $50 gift card is $5. Win, win for everybody!

    With friends and family visiting she can get great coupons for restaurants she wants to go to, and spend a fraction of the total cost for a nice meal.

  12. Megan

    My sister in law is graduating from high school next month. Since she is going off to college and will be living on campus, my husband and I have been been making a “college survival kit” for her. We found a set of appetizer plates that have her first name initial on them on Target clearance after Christmas. I’ve gotten a bunch of health and beauty aids (hand soap, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, etc.) for cheap to free at Rite Aid, Walmart, and Walgreens. We plan on adding a pair of flip flops, a few towels, and some laundry detergent.

    For bridal showers, I like to put together a little travel kit, with travel size health and beauty aids, a Tide to Go pen, and travel size packets of Tide. (And if I really know the bride well, I’ll slip in some KY and some frilly underwear – cause someone has to embarrass them! 😉 ) The brides love it. One friend told me it was one less thing she had to worry about.

  13. Amanda

    for graduation announcements you can order photo cards like some people do for Christmas cards. They can be cheaper and different than what everyone else is doing.

  14. kim

    I did this for my nieces and nephews when they graduated from college and still do it now that they’re on their own. I put together a huge gift of all the drugstore items that I get for next to nothing: shampoo, conditioner, toothbrushes and paste, razors, shaving cream, meds, etc. They LOVE it because, especially at their age, who wants to spend money on those things??? They’d rather spend it on going out and having fun!

  15. Sherrie

    when my son was in his senior year we looked at the rings that were offered by the school – around $545 for the ring he wanted – we went to a local mom and pop jewelry store that was near the school and they had access to the same school logos and he was able to design his own graduation ring with the school logo for around $325 instead – and his was different than everyone else instead of the cookie cutter ring – and… they allowed him to upgrade to his college ring when he wanted to with only a small trade in price

  16. Jo

    I have Three girls going to collage this year. Yes! triplets. What I have done I started a year ago I would get free stuff (couponing at walgreens or things on sale at Christmas) that they needed for school. I got three large Tupperware bins that can go under the dorm beds and start filling it up. The bins are over flowing and I have to get sheets yet target has the extra long twin sheets for not much money.
    Yes, money is nice, kids like that. But I do little gift baskets up. I found the plastic bath baskets and fill them, because a lot of people I know don’t coupon and toiletry add up. Each one of the girls designed there own graduation announcements, greeting card like at Christmas at Walgreens. I could of done the cheaper route all on one card but they are different people. We made one graduation party invitation doing hamburgs, hot dogs,some sides ( thanks for the corn pudding idea) and every one has to bring pop and chips.
    Great ideas out there.

  17. Angie

    One of my girlfriends made a “crate of goodies” for my sons graduation party. It was a “milk crate filled with rolls of quarters for laundry; A 3 ring binder that was tabbed with everything you could imagine-like all the college phone numbers, local pizza places, family phone numbers and addresses, doctors, dentists, AAA, etc. He said this binder was really helpful when he needed to reach the right dept. at school. She also put the standard items, ie: detergent, towels, etc. One other cool thing that she put in was a list of his goals and dreams and a guide how to get there. It was all very personable and wonderful.

  18. Taraneh

    This is a little something you can include in those college care packages, I’m not sure if Target has these right now, but 3 years ago when I was leaving for college I go a pink screwdriver from the dollar section and it had about 8 different magnetic heads of different sizes, so you could use it for almost anything AND it was pink so it was super cute! (I’m sure you could find this at a dollar store or something?)

    You may not think you’ll need a screwdriver but it’s one of those things that definitely comes in handy, and I made a lot of friends with people on my floor who were frantically running around saying “I know you probably don’t have this, but I need to borrow a screwdriver….” and I was always the lifesaver when I pulled mine out!

  19. Carolyn

    I wasn’t all impressed with my senior pictures so I went to Picture People and not only got great pictures but got an amazing deal. There are plenty of coupons for them. Most have the cap and gown color that you need too! I would call ahead just to make sure.

    When I do gifts I make it a theme. For weddings I will do a pizza kit which includes a pizza pan or stone, pizza cutter, some kind of non refrigerated pizza kit you can buy at the grocery store. Another thing I will do is a date night kit which included a movie, popcorn, bubble bath, and candles in a cute basket that I can get for expensive at a thrift store, yard sale, or Ross.

    For graduation gifts I usually do a gift card and buy it at Smiths where they usually offer triple rewards points which then turns into money I can spend at the store. If I know what the person likes I will get them something fun like paintball for a guy or a spa service for a girl, or miniature golf through Radio Shopping Show that offers 50%-90% discounts. It’s something fun they can do to celebrate graduation!

  20. Kirby

    VISTAPRINT.COM is a great site to get announcements for a great price. I am getting married this fall, and got all of my save-the-dates there for around $100. (I have 325 being sent out) You can design your own, or get some generic ones. 🙂
    Towels can be expensive, but those were honestly the best gifts I got for graduation. The toiletries are nice too. Most people have brands they like, but as a college students, those don’t really matter anymore –something free is something free!! 🙂

  21. Hilary

    When I was in college, I lived at home so I didn’t need a care package-type thing. However, one thing I ALWAYS found myself needing in college was an umbrella. It is so easy to leave an umbrella in a classroom, that I was always losing mine. Dollar Tree has some really small umbrellas, and I once saw some really pretty ones at Dollar General for $5.

  22. Tracee

    When my daughter was a senior, I happen to be shopping at sears and saw that they were taking pics at a beach. I talked to the mgr there and they sent a photographer to a local park and took pics of my daughter on a swing, by a beautiful tree, a waterfall, and a big natural rock. She got to change clothes 3 times, and it ended up only costing me 300.00 .. I got tons of pictures ( collages, wallets with her name and grad yr, and 2 portrait cd’s ) The pictures came out beautiful and it was better that paying the 800.00 for the photography company the school suggested. I hope they still do this , it was two yrs ago.

  23. Jess

    Hi… I don’t have time to read through all the comments so this may have already been mentioned… but some of the best gifts I got when I graduated.. where the practical ones. Towels and Sheets… (I know they can be expensive… but if you find a good sale, they come in so handy for college and after.)

  24. Kimberly Maione

    A friend of mine is a teacher. It got every expensive for her to provide a gift for all the students who invited her. So she can up with a persona letter that she wrote and provided a desert menu / order form. With a self addresses stamped envolpe.
    So when the kids are away at school and are in need of some sweet treats. They check off there item of choice and mail it to her Then she bakes them there baked item of choice and then mails to there College.. Huge hit with the kids durning exam weeks when they need sugar pick me ups.

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