Congratulations! The special young adult in your life is graduating from high school, college, or grad school after years of hard work and anticipation. These occasions deserve to be commemorated, but many parents and relatives get stumped on gifts. Despite the popular recommendation of giving grads money, it’s not always possible, especially in the current economy. Here are a few alternative ideas that are less expensive, but just as memorable.

Technology-Related Gifts
Today’s graduates are finding their world increasingly dependent on technology. Jobs in several fields also often request applicants with some sort of technological experience or proficiency. While it might not be possible to buy your graduate a new computer, iPad, or cell phone, you can help upgrade what they have. For instance, grads enjoy personalizing cell phone cases or laptop lids, often through sites like or which has cheap cases. You can also invest in gift cards for several devices, such as Kindles, Nooks, or Apple devices. Or, go halves with the graduate to buy an expensive gift, such as one of the many language CD-ROM programs offered by Rosetta Stone.

Your graduate will be expected to read a lot at the next level of his or her education. Therefore, light reading by favorite authors might be appreciated. He or she might also enjoy books aimed at a particular field; for example, an aspiring doctor may gravitate toward the medically-centered memoir of Dr. Ben Carson. Parents and guardians from religious families often also like to give gift books or devotionals.

Inexpensive Dorm Décor
College and graduate students want and need to personalize their dorm spaces, so make this possible with the gift you give. Have your graduate go through catalogs or browse online for bedspreads, chairs, rugs, lamps, or other furniture he or she likes. Secondhand stores are a great place to start, but sometimes chain stores offer discounts to students who attend specific universities. And just like when your graduate went to K-12 school, you can take advantage of tax-free weekends.

Though grads might deny it, homesickness is a real issue, especially for those leaving home for the first time. Offer them a picture frame with a special family photo inside. Some shops will customize these at fairly cheap prices. Other gifts include hood ornaments, coffee mugs, or a special quilt or throw. Give them a piece of home and you won’t have to break your wallet at the same time.

Graduation is meant to be a positive family experience. Unfortunately, sometimes gifts cause stress on the big day. Giving your best doesn’t have to mean   With these suggestions, you can minimize stress and maximize joy.

Leave a Reply