7 Gift Ideas for Graduates Under $15!

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white planter with sunglasses and drawn-on smile

School’s almost out for summer! Need some cheap graduation gift ideas?

The end of the school year is upon us, and we’re getting ready to celebrate seniors and the class of 2021! Even though the Coronavirus pandemic may have had a big impact on their last year of school, it won’t stop us from celebrating all the graduates out there! 🎉Here are a few unique but super-useful, fun, and affordable graduation gift ideas they’ll be sure to love and actually use.

The best part? All of these graduation gifts are under $15! 👏


1. Gift a cute ID lanyard wallet that they’ll actually want to wear around campus.

hot pink leather lanyard wallet on table with id and money

Leather Badge Holder | from $6.97

An ID lanyard is a sure way for any future college kid to roam around campus and know exactly where their ID and wallet are. Since this one is so cute, they’ll never look for an excuse not to wear it!

Looking for something a little more masculine? These retractable lanyards are made of linen and are extremely versatile.


2. Gift a rolling laundry basket on wheels to make laundry trips easier.

person pulling white laundry basket with wheels

Sterilite Wheeled Laundry Basket | $15

While this gift idea may not seem super fun, it sure is practical for your student when they go off to college or move into an apartment where they’ll have to lug their clothes around. Pair it with some of our favorite laundry detergent and you’ll have a gift bundle you can be sure they’ll use!

“I loved the wheeled hamper my mom gave me when I went off to college! I lived on the 3rd floor and the laundry was in the basement so it was a life-saver!” – Chelsey

Hip Tip: If you don’t mind going over budget, you could also gift some personalized bath towels so your new college student won’t have to worry about people stealing their towels.


3. Make this easy money lei as a unique graduation gift idea!

money lei cheap graduation gift idea

DIY money Lei | The final cost is up to you!

This cute money Lei is such a fun graduation gift idea and a really simple DIY project! It’s perfect for any graduating senior, because who doesn’t love getting money?!


4. Write a note of encouragement with a Lovepop 3D card.

woman opening 3d butterfly lovepop card

Lovepop 3D cards | from $13

If you like to keep things old school and send meaningful, handwritten cards via snail mail, Lovepop offers incredibly designed 3D graduation cards. While a lot of the graduation cards are on the pricier side, many of their options are blank, so depending on what your senior is into, there’s sure to be a card that will fit their personality perfectly!

Just keep in mind that the cards feel very thick due to the intricate designs, so you may feel compelled to add cash or a check so you don’t get a college kid’s hopes up when they feel the weight of the card. 🤣

Have a few people to buy for? When you buy 5 cards for $50, you’ll spend just $10 on each card (normally $13 EACH).


5. Use a Dollar Tree hamper to create a DIY college survival kit.

DIY college survival kit in hamper

College Survival Kit | Under $15!

Have an old shoebox or hamper? You could decorate an old shoebox with some wrapping paper you have laying around or even pick up an affordable container/hamper from the Dollar Tree and fill it with some essentials that your senior will be likely to use when they go off to college.

Chances are you already have some stuff laying around the house to fill it with, but if you need some ideas, we’re adding some Command strips, Bandaids, an all-in-one tool, labels, stamps (to write home of course), super glue, and some baggie clips.

Here some additional fun ideas you can grab at Dollar Tree:

  • flip flops for shower shoes
  • earplugs and sleeping masks
  • laundry detergent/dryer sheets
  • laundry basket/laundry bags
  • hangers
  • food items like Ramen noodles & microwave popcorn
  • shower gel and a loofah
  • coffee mugs/cups and instant coffee
  • hand soap/hand sanitizer
  • personal care items like deodorant, toothpaste, etc.

College Survival Kit card and hamper filled with goodies cheap graduation gift idea

“My mom gifted me a box of essentials when I went off to college and it was such a cute and unexpected idea. It ended up being something that I actually used a lot!” – Amber R. 


6. Send them off with a book full of wisdom.

oh the places you'll go book

Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss | $8.98

An inspirational book can make make a great gift for a young person who’s setting off to make their own way in the world. Oh, the Places You’ll Go! is a perfect choice for this momentous occasion, and it can double as a graduation card when you write your own words of wisdom inside the front cover.

Amazon.com has a ton of other great books to inspire graduates as they begin a new chapter of their lives. Browse them all here and then choose the perfect title for your grad!


7. Those with green thumbs will love this fun planter you can write on.

white planer box with face and glasses on it

Face planter | $9.74 at Target or $14.99 at Amazon

Draw on it, express how you’re feeling, have a place to set your glasses, or just enjoy a unique way to display a plant! This little planter will be a cute addition to any studious graduate’s dorm room desk, and it can also double as a pencil holder!

While you’ll have to spend some extra dough if you want to have an actual plant in it, we think it would make a great gift idea! Might I suggest going with a succulent? That way even those without green thumbs will have something to make them smile without the worry of keeping it alive.

Hip Tip: Did you know that college students can score a FREE Amazon Prime membership for 6 months?!


Check out these awesome college care packages for every budget!

Join The Discussion

Comments 25

  1. Lori

    Thanks for the fun suggestions!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      You’re so welcome, Lori!

  2. Scarlet B

    The planter would also make a good pencil holder, if the recipient didn’t want a plant.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Great idea! Thanks for the suggestion!

    • smithjohnson16

      Is it big enough to put a box of Kleenex in it?

      • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

        Hi there! Here are the dimensions listed in the details – “4.5 x 4.5 x 6 inches” Hope this helps!

  3. Heather

    What ideas do you have for someone going into military after graduation?

    • Shoppingfan

      Last year, we gave our snack bags for them to take to boot camp. Frames for family pics as well as magnets so they can hang up things. We made some cute travel kits of toiletries, etc so they didn’t have to buy it! Snacks, gum were a hit

  4. TJ

    We got a LovePop card for my youngest son’s teacher, just as a pick me up. It’s gorgeous!! It’s a little smaller than I thought it would be but it’s so cool. Also, there’s a pull-out note card built into it so you don’t write where the 3d image is, if that makes sense. They can display it on a shelf and you won’t see any writing.

  5. laura-8

    Are these good for boys too? We have a few 2020 grads in the neighborhood I wanted to drop off a little something but don’t know any of them personally

    • Mom2boys

      I have boys and think the survival kit in a laundry basket would be great! How sweet if you to think of them all!!

  6. Shoppingfan

    These are still being used as my so is now a Jr but we have used some of these each year as congratulations gifts too! Thanks!

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      You’re so welcome!

  7. Alamode

    I always gift family grads the “Oh The Places You’ll Go!” books. Whenever possible, I have their K-12 teachers sign the book at the end of the school year or go back and have them sign it right before gifting. It makes the gift a bit more of a keepsake IMO.

    • Shoppingfan

      Same here! My daughter missed her 8th grade teachers last year & doesn’t really know her teachers this year since she’s virtual but I did ask them to at least send an inspirational message that I can include on a page in the book! This is such a great gift! 👍🏽

  8. PH

    The face planter is even cheaper from Target….$9.74

    • Jennifer (Hip Sidekick)

      Thanks so much! I added that, PH!

  9. Karen

    Any ideas for a fun Kindergarten graduation gift? My daughter is disappointed in the drive-thru ceremony her school is doing. I’m hoping to make it a little more exciting for her.

    • Jennifer (Hip Sidekick)

      Great question, Karen! Our team came up with these answers for you (they all have links):
      – A fun Build a Bear trip with this graduation bear here.
      – Lina’s book idea here.
      – The hat jar with candy idea here.
      – Get together with other students or family and just make a big deal of it.
      – Go out for celebratory yogurt, plan a picnic, meet at a local restaurant for dinner.
      – Plan a special one-on-one dinner where you celebrate your kiddo and maybe gift them something small like this book.

  10. jmama3

    Hello any ideas for a gift for a middle school graduate boy?

    • Jennifer (Hip Sidekick)

      Here are some team member ideas:

      – Escape room — like escape from Middle school kind of theme.
      – A planner is a great gift for kids going into high school since more coursework, planning is required.
      – It would also be fun to get photos in front of a high school or school sign. Those would be cool to compare with his senior photos in a few short years.
      – Opening a bank account with his first debit card might be a great way to celebrate the big milestone and show him that he is capable of more responsibility. Kind of a right of passage, ya know?

      • jmama3

        These are all great ideas. Thank you! 😁

        • Jennifer (Hip Sidekick)

          You betcha!

  11. AMH

    I bought my sister a screwdriver and hammer. Both were floral and the hammer had little screws in the handle. She used it. In college her and her roommate had bunk beds assembled. The maintenance man doing it says “I don’t suppose you have a hammer?” and laughed. She was like “Actually, I do.” He had to use a pink floral hammer!

    • Jennifer (Hip Sidekick)

      How cool! That was a very useful gift, AMH!

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