16 Gift Ideas for Graduates Under $25!

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Celebrate your grad with clever, unique, and useful graduation gift ideas!

white planter with sunglasses and drawn-on smile

School’s almost out for summer! 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 2022! We love 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 gift ideas are under $25! 👏

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

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 super durable no matter what school, work, or life throws at them!

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

person pulling white laundry basket with wheels

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 laundry detergents, 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

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

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

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, 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. 

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

oh the places you'll go book graduation gift idea

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

An inspirational book can make 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 on 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!

7. Help grad guys smell like a professional with grooming supplies from Manscaped.

Manscaped Body Wash

BUY Manscaped 2-in-1 Shampoo + Conditioner $12.99
After adding to cart in the pop-up screen, add Manscaped Body Wash $11.99 (regularly $12.99)
20% off automatically applies at checkout
Or use promo code HIPGRAD20
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Final cost $19.98 shipped! 

Help your new grad look ready for their next stage in life! Manscaped has some of the best grooming supplies around. Pick up a few different products to curate a scented set so they can smell like success!

manscaped lawnmower mens trimmer

Want to go all out for your grad with the ultimate grad gift idea? You can’t miss the Performance Package 4.0! It has everything they need for the most robust grooming set, including a fresh pair of Manscaped boxers in case the contents of the underwear drawer have seen better days. 😉

Better yet, our HIPGRAD20 promo code will apply to the bundle price dropping the final cost down to just $99.99 shipped! It’s the gift that keeps on giving as they’ll receive a Peak Hygiene box every 3 months for $14.99 unless you decide to cancel to make the package a 1-time gift.

8. Those with green thumbs will love this fun face planter you can even write on.

white planer box with face and glasses on it

Face Plant Holder – $7.49 (regularly $14.99)

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?!

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

light bulb graduation gift idea

Choose from one of three sizes to gift for an out-of-the-box gift. Screw off 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!

10. Grab a college cookbook so your grab can make the easiest dishes.

college cookbooks for college graduation gift ideas

When it comes to cheap graduation gift ideas, give the gift of cheap meals! When dining halls aren’t cutting it, your grad should know some simple, easy meals they can whip up in their own dorm. Hassle-free and delicious!

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

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

woman looking through a photo book graduation gifts

Give the gift of memories to your grad with these adorable photo books from Walgreens. They always have sales going on for Walgreens Photo, so you’ll likely get an amazing deal! Plus, your grad will be smiling ear to ear remembering the fond moments they’ve had pre-graduation. ❤️

If your grad has an Instax Mini camera, consider buying 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!

12. A pair of sunglasses is something every grad could use!

two pairs of sungait sunglasses by pool

SUNGAIT Women’s Vintage Round Sunglasses $14.99 (regularly $19.99)
Clip the 5% coupon
Final cost just $14.24

You can’t go wrong with gifting your grad a stylish accessory like a pair of sunglasses! These frames are super similar to Ray-Bans, just at around 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 swear by the great quality.

To really embrace a pair of sunnies as a graduation gift idea, include a fun saying on your card letting your grad know their “future is bright, better wear some shades”. 😎

13. Remind your grads of what is important with this gratitude journal!

gratitude journal for college graduation gift idea

It’s important for us all to reward ourselves with a little self-care. Gifting a gratitude journal that only takes a minute will help them feel thankful even throughout their busy schedule! There are tons of different options and designs on Amazon, and pretty much all of them are within an amazing price range.

14. Grab a desk organizer so your grad has all the essentials in one place.

rose gold desk organizer best graduation gifts

You can easily grab an aesthetically pleasing desk organizer for less than $20! And, whether it’s graduating high school or college, this is something pretty much everyone needs. If you’re looking for a practical graduation gift idea that will be used daily, look no further!

This one specifically also comes in two sizes. Depending on how many supplies you grad needs, you can size up for just a few dollars more!

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

tile mate

If your grad is constantly on the go, I’d bet there will be times they’ll inevitably misplace something. Enter a sleek and functional Tile Mate Bluetooth tracker. These have over 8,000 Amazon reviews earning a 4.6-star rating! With this tracker, your grad will be able to keep track of everything with no issues.

Are they more of an Apple fanatic? Check out the Apple Air Tags, too!

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

bucket college care package best hs graduation gifts

Order your very own personalized graduation 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 to turn it into a care package! Note that the contents of the bucket aren’t included, but it does serve as inspiration for what you could potentially add. For fillers, think snacks, small toiletries, office supplies, dollar bills, the possibilities are endless!

Check out these awesome college care packages for every budget!

About the writer:

Kaitlyn has a Bachelor's Degree from St. John's University with 2 years of writing experience for LinkedIn, Celeb Magazine, and other various publications.

Join The Discussion

Comments 30

  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!

  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.

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