20 Gift Ideas for Graduates Under $25!

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Celebrate your grad with these clever graduation gift ideas!

hands holding graduation picture frame with tassle and photo

Need some inexpensive graduation gift ideas?

The end of the school year is upon us, and we’re getting ready to celebrate seniors and the class of 2023! We love celebrating all the graduates out there! 🎉 Here are 20 unique, useful, meaningful, fun, and affordable graduation gift ideas they’ll be sure to love.

The best part? Most of these graduation gift ideas are under $25! 👏

hot pink leather lanyard wallet on table with id and money

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

A stylish lanyard is a sure way for any young adult to keep track of their ID and other important stuff. Since this one is so cute, they won’t mind wearing it, either!

Looking for something a little more masculine? These retractable lanyards are super durable no matter what school, work, or life throws at your grad!

person pulling white laundry basket with wheels

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

While this gift may not seem very glamorous, your graduate will surely appreciate its practicality while they’re lugging their laundry around their future apartment or college dorm.

Pair it with some laundry detergent, fabric softener, and slimline hangers, and you’ll have a gift bundle that will definitely get used!

“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

money lei cheap graduation gift idea

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

DIY Money LeiThe 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?!

Best of all, you can make it fit within any budget and easily customize it with your grad’s school colors.

woman opening 3d butterfly lovepop card

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

If you like to send meaningful handwritten cards, Lovepop offers beautifully designed 3D graduation cards.

Just keep in mind that these cards feel very thick due to the intricate designs, so your recipient may assume that they’ll find a cash gift inside based on the weight of the card. 🤣 With this in mind, you may feel compelled to add money or a gift card as a little extra gift for a deserving graduate.

Stock up and save! When you buy 5 cards for $50, you’ll spend just $10 on each card (normally $13 EACH). Consider buying ahead for Father’s Day, birthdays, and other occations to take advantage of this deal!

DIY college survival kit in hamper

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

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 need on their next adventure.

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, Band-Aids, 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. 

oh the places you'll go book graduation gift idea

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

Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss – $8.48

An inspirational book can make a great graduation 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 has a ton of other great books to inspire graduates as they begin a new chapter of their lives. Browse them all and then choose the perfect title for your grad!

holding a book with the words "I wrote a book about you" on the cover

7. This fill-in-the-blank book makes it easy to send them off with a personalized gift.

What’s better than a book written by Dr. Seuss? A book that was written about your graduate by you, of course!

If you’re feeling intimidated by the idea of writing a book, don’t be! This highly-rated gift comes with fun, lighthearted prompts that make it easy to fill the pages with cherished memories of your grad.

white planer box with face and glasses on it

8. Graduates with green thumbs will love this fun face planter.

Face Plant Holder – $14.98

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 graduate’s dorm room desk, and it can also double as a pencil holder!

While you’ll have to spend a little extra cash to put an actual plant in it, this would still make a great frugal gift idea! Consider choosing a succulent, so your grad can enjoy a little low-maintenance greenery in their life.

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

light bulb graduation gift idea

9. Wish your grad a bright future with a light bulb gift!

Choose from one of three light bulb sizes for an out-of-the-box gift. Just unscrew the top and fill this light bulb decor item with some goodies. Whether it’s candy or cash, anything you put in this light bulb is sure to light up your grad’s face!

college cookbooks for college graduation gift ideas

10. A college cookbook can be a lifesaver for hungry dorm-dwellers.

Give your grad the gift of cheap, hassle-free, and delicious meals! When the dining hall just isn’t cutting it, your grad should know some simple meals they can whip up in their own dorm room.

Believe it or not, there are actually hundreds of awesome cookbooks like this to choose from on Amazon. They’re reasonably priced too, so consider grabbing one (or two) for your grad’s next chapter of life!

woman looking through a photo book graduation gifts

11. Order a photo book for your grad to preserve their fondest memories.

Surprise your grad with one of these adorable photo books from Walgreens. Watch for one of the Photo Center’s frequent sales, so you can get an amazing deal on this thoughtful gift! Your grad will be smiling ear to ear remembering all of their fondest pre-graduation moments. ❤️

If your grad has an Instax Mini camera, you might also consider buying them this Mini Photo Album. It’s perfect for storing photos, especially if any are displayed in their dorm room and have to be taken down at the end of each year.

two pairs of sungait sunglasses by pool

12. Every grad could use a pair of sunglasses!

SUNGAIT Women’s Vintage Round Sunglasses $11.99 (regularly $19.99) 
Clip the 5% coupon
Final cost just $11.39

You can’t go wrong by gifting your grad a stylish accessory like a pair of sunglasses! These frames are similar to Ray-Bans, at around just 10% of the price. 😂 With a universally flattering frame style, any grad would look amazing in them. And at this price, you can scoop up a pair for yourself too!

A few of our Hip teammates have these sunglasses, and they are seriously impressed by the quality of these sunglasses.

To really embrace a pair of sunnies as a graduation gift idea, include a fun saying in a card letting your grad know their “future’s so bright, they gotta wear shades”. Then, feel old when you have to explain this 80’s reference to them. 😎

gratitude journal for college graduation gift idea

13. Remind your grad of what’s important with this gratitude journal.

It’s so important for everyone to develop good self-care habits, and the sooner, the better! Keeping a journal can help your young adult practice gratitude, and they’ll only need to carve out one minute per day to develop a habit that will serve them well throughout their entire lifetime.

There are tons of different options and designs on Amazon, and virtually any one of them would make a frugal yet meaningful gift.

rose gold desk organizer best graduation gifts

14. Help your grad establish an organized workspace. 

If you’re looking for a practical graduation gift idea that will be used daily, look no further! Whether it’s high school or college graduation, this is a gift anyone can appreciate.

The Amazon Basics line of mesh desk organizers comes in black, if your grad would prefer that aesthetic over the rose gold.

photo charm on yellow graduation tassel

15. Help your grad honor a loved one with a photo charm for their tassel.

If your grad will be missing someone special as they walk across the stage, this meaningful gift is such a beautiful way to help them remember their loved ones on their special day.

Etsy has a big selection of graduation photo charms that can be added to your graduate’s tassel. They come in a variety of styles and finishes, with the option to either upload a photo or have the charm shipped empty, so grads can add a photo of their own.

Some charms can even be strung together for multiple photo charms hanging with the tassel.

tile mate

16. Gift a Tile Mate tag so they never lose anything again!

Tile Mate Bluetooth Tracker $23 (regularly $24.99)

If your grad is constantly on the go, you can be sure they’ll misplace something from time to time. The sleek and functional Tile Mate Bluetooth tracker is an elegant solution to this problem! These trackers have over 20,000 five-star Amazon reviews with an overall 4.5-star rating!

Is your grad more of an Apple fanatic? Consider Apple Air Tags as a gift for them!

red gift bucket full of graduation gifts

17. Order a customizable Graduation Metal Bucket to fill with your own goodies!

Order your graduate their very own personalized metal bucket! You can choose the color of the bucket from 15 options. You’ll also be able to add a special message, graduation year, and name.

Then, you can fill it with any goodies you’d like! Note that the contents of the bucket aren’t included, but this bucket serves as a great jumping-off point for a personalized gift. For fillers, think snacks, small toiletries, office supplies, and dollar bills. The possibilities are endless!

Anker bluetooth speaker on blue tennis court

18. Fill your graduate’s world with music from this powerful little speaker.

Anker Soundcore Bluetooth Speaker $27.99 (regularly $29.99)
Clip the $4 digital coupon
Final cost $23.99!

No matter what your young adult’s post-graduation plans are, they’re going to want to take their favorite tunes with them wherever they go!

With its astonishing sound, easy connectivity, and waterproof build, this Bluetooth speaker can keep the music playing for up tp 24 hours on one charge.

holding a framed graduation photo and tassel

19. Give your grad a special place to display that hard-earned tassel.

Your graduate will love having a space to show off their graduation cap’s tassel! Rather than hiding away in a drawer or gathering dust on a rearview mirror, your graduate can display their tassel with pride in a keepsake frame that will preserve it for years to come!

This shadowbox-style frame is a great choice, but it’s just one of the many graduation tassel photo frames available on Amazon.

holding a gray tumbler

20. Send them off into the world well-hydrated with a new tumbler.

A new reusable water bottle or tumbler makes a great gift, and you don’t have to spend $45+ dollars on one of the viral Stanely Tumblers to keep your grad hydrated! Five Below has one of the most inexpensive look-alikes we’ve seen, and there’s a beautiful selection of colors to choose from in-store.

At just $5, you’ll have plenty of room left in the budget to stow some goodies inside these big 40-oz. tumblers. You may consider adding electrolyte packets or other drink mixes, small snacks, or a gift card as an added surprise.

Check out these awesome college care packages for every budget!

About the writer:

Liz has over a decade of experience writing about coupons and frugal living. She’s always searching for the best deals and loves helping people save!

Join The Discussion

Comments 32

  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. 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!

  12. acgold

    I always do the laundry basket gift. I fill it with snacks, toiletries, cleaning products, desk supplies, slim hangers and gift cards. They love it and less for the parents to buy! I try and get a basket in their college colors. I have also sent a silly card from DT or a $1.00 useless item ( fishtank skimmer, car air freshener) unexpectedly each month, just so they get something to make them smile.

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      How fun! Thanks for taking the time to share the items you’ve given! 🥰

  13. MaryKay

    When my Niece was in college, her biggest request was quarters for the laundry room. I would recommend adding this to the survival kit!😁 Thanks for posting! Great ideas 💡

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      What a great tip! Thanks for that helpful suggestion!

    • Oshea

      Most places have upgraded to a card system.

      • V

        I was going to suggest a ream of paper, but do they actually print anything anymore?

  14. Shopper123

    Any ideas for a grad not going on to college? We have a party coming up and I’m Stuck what to buy him!

    • Jessica (Hip Sidekick)

      Hey there! There are a few ideas mentioned in the post that I would totally gift any graduate, such as the bluetooth tracker, new tumbler, speaker, and the money ideas! Hip sidekick, Lina, also created a cute DIY money mason jar gift, if you’d like to check out her post here! 🎓❤️ Hoping one of these options works for your gift!

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