It’s the end of the school year; for many kids, that means graduating high school and moving on to the next chapter of their lives. It an exciting time for everyone, but it also means that you, most likely, have several gifts to buy for the graduates you know.
Buying gifts for all the graduates you know heading off to college can get expensive. You want to buy something meaningful because you really want to honor the student’s achievements, but with all the electronic gadgets kids use today, it may seem impossible to find a simple, useful, but affordable gift. However, with a little creativity, you can find and create inexpensive gifts that your graduates will remember and appreciate.
It’s important that you give a gift that’s truly useful because, otherwise, it’s just a waste of your time and money, so don’t hesitate to ask your graduate what he or she might need or want. When you fill a true need with a gift, everyone wins. Of course, make sure not to forget about the college grads in your life either.
Here are some great ideas to get you started in the right direction toward perfect gift giving this graduation season.
1. Gift Cards
Gift cards are a great choice because you can scale your purchase to match your budget. In addition, they’re extremely useful because they operate just like cash at your graduate’s favorite stores and restaurants. Your graduate can purchase exactly what he or she needs or wants. You can also buy gift cards to chain grocery stores, which allows students to stock up on the foods they love and stretch their food dollars further. In addition to food stores, gift cards are available for gas stations, movie theatres, clothing stores, and numerous other types of retail establishments.
All students these days need backpacks and, as any parent knows, students are usually very hard on them. Backpacks seem to end up on the floor no matter where the student is hanging out, whether it’s in class, at the library, at lunch, or at home. Because of this, backpacks generally have a short life; so, even if your graduate doesn’t need a backpack right now, chances are strong that the need will arise soon enough. You can find good quality backpacks at affordable prices in many big box stores and discount retailers.
3. Compact Umbrella
Some students may not be thrilled to receive an umbrella, at least until they need it to get across campus to class in the rain. Students do a lot of walking on college campuses; so, while they aren’t the most glamorous of gifts, an umbrella is most certainly practical. Look for the compact type that can fold up very small. That way, the student can easily carry it in a backpack or bookbag at all times.
4. Bedside Clock
Your recipient might think this is a very boring gift, but getting up on time for class is paramount. While most people nowadays simply use an alarm on a cell phone or tablet, a backup can provide a bit of peace of mind when it’s most important, such as the evening before a big test or during finals.
5. A Shower Tote
Many new college students will be moving into a dorm or an apartment that they’ll share with a roommate. In either case, it’s very likely that a shared a bathroom is involved. Most students need to carry their bath supplies such as soap, a toothbrush and toothpaste, shampoo, razor, and other items with them each time they head to the shower. A bath caddy or shower tote can make it easy to cart supplies back and forth in an organized manner. You can add to your gift by filling it with supplies or adding a pair of shower shoes or a towel.
6. A Desk Lamp
Many times, dorm rooms have harsh, fluorescent lighting that’s not conducive to late night studying. At times, your graduate may need to study while a roommate is sleeping. In either case, a small desk lamp could come in handy. Having proper lighting is important for eye health as well.
7. Bed Linens
All students need sheets as they head off to college; even if they already have a set, having an extra will come in handy. Keeping up with laundry is certainly not a priority for most college students! You can find good quality sets in a variety of colors at many discount retailers.
8. Towels and Washcloths
Towels and washcloths make great gifts, and you can certainly get them on a budget. In addition, as with bed linens, it seems college students can never have enough clean towels. You can also pick up a couple of big beach towels as gifts. These make wonderful gifts, as many students head to the pool or the beach on weekends.
9. School Supplies
The need for school supplies doesn’t end when students graduate from high school. College students need lots of pens, pencils, notebooks, highlighters, and markers, just for starters. You can help a student save some money by providing a good supply of necessary items.
10. Overnight Bags
Many college students travel home on weekends and to friends’ homes on occasion. Because of the demands of school, it’s usually only for a night or two. The gift of an overnight bag will certainly come in handy for those weekend jaunts. Many discount stores have a large variety of bags, so you can probably pick up a few with different styles to give the graduate some options.
11. Food Goodie Bags
Young people love their comfort foods, and you can send them off with a good supply and still stay within your budget. Whether you put together a collection of homemade baked goods, or you create a grab bag of favorite store-bought snacks, you can be sure the graduate will appreciate this gift. Some ideas are assorted candies, nuts, pretzels, chips, microwave popcorn, and snack cakes.
12. Laundry Kit
You can make a nice presentation by putting everything needed to do laundry in a colorful laundry basket and wrapping it up with a big bow. Things you can put in your basket include detergent, dryer sheets, stain remover, and a laundry bag. To give it a nice touch, you can include a cute little notebook of instructions.
13. Care Package Coupons
Whether at college or camp, all kids big and small love getting care packages. Take this idea to a new level by giving your graduate a book of care package coupons to take to school. You can design and print these out on your home computer in the form of postcards, pre-address them to you, and put stamps on them. These can say “I need cookies!” or “Please send candy!” Find out your graduate’s favorite items and include those in your coupon book. This is a fun and imaginative gift that kids will love, and it’s sure to be easy on your budget.
14. A First Aid Kit
Busy college kids are bound to get a cut or scrape here or there, and the likelihood of there being proper care items nearby is slim at best. Take a simple plastic container and fill it with anything that might be necessary to tend to a minor injury or illness. You can include things such as Band-Aids, antibiotic ointment, rubbing alcohol, cotton balls, ibuprofen, Pepto Bismol, and other simple items. It may not seem like the most glamorous gift in the world, but it’ll be most appreciated when it’s needed.
15. Journals and Notebooks
Starting college is a wonderful time for students to begin a journal of their experiences. If the student is not into journaling, the notebooks can be useful to keep track of class schedules, take notes, or record reminders. With the many things that college students have going on, notebooks can be a good way to keep track of the details. These budget-friendly items are available in hundreds of styles and colors.
16. Cool Books
It may sound corny, but self-help books can help a new college student adjust to independent life. For example, the book “Almost Adulting: All You Need to Know to Get It Together (Sort Of)” by Arden Rose is a funny and resourceful book that offers practical advice on the art of transitioning to adulthood. Another book to consider is “Experience Passport: 45 Ways to Broaden Your Horizons” by Alex Egner. This little pocket gem encourages self-examination and a greater appreciation of the world through interesting exercises and prompts. Look for books that are hip and relevant; otherwise, they may end up collecting dust on a shelf.
17. Bucket of Entertainment
College students are often on a tight budget, without a lot of extra money for entertainment. You can help them have cheap fun by filling a bucket with simple ways they can enjoy some entertainment. Look for things such as playing cards, small dice games, card games such as UNO, cheap movies on DVD, microwave popcorn, and movie theatre-style candy.
18. Kitchen Stuff
There’s so much to choose from in this category that the possibilities for fun and creative gifts on a budget are endless. You can buy basic cooking tools such as spatulas, spoons, and whisks, and then put them in a nice container and wrap it with a bow. This way, the student will have a place to keep utensils and add others as necessary. Oven mitts, potholders, and kitchen towels are very useful gifts and can be presented in a variety of fun ways. You can put together a basic kitchen kit with dish soap, sponges, scrubbers, and paper towels. Many useful things exist that you can buy for the kitchen; all it takes is a little creativity to package up a nice gift.
19. A Comfortable Fleece Throw Blanket
There are few things as snuggly and comforting as a warm, soft blanket. Whether your student is studying, hanging out with friends, watching a movie, or sleeping, a comfortable blanket will be a very useful gift. Today’s fleece throws are durable, easy to wash, and very popular among young people. Best of all, they’re very affordable. There are many cool designs and colors to choose from that your graduate will love.
20. Photo Albums
Kids are starting to gravitate back to printed photographs after years of living in the digital world of pictures. Photo albums are a unique way to let them tell a story about their experiences throughout college. You can buy plain albums and decorate them for your graduate, or you can provide the fun materials and let the graduate have at it. If you’ve known the graduate for a long time, you might even be able to put together an album of pictures of the times you’ve spent together. If you have numerous digital pictures, consider putting together a CD of the best ones and present it with a book about friendship or love. Sometimes, little things like that can stave off a bout of homesickness, and organizing pictures is a wonderful habit to get into while young.
21. Personalized Pillows
If you have a particularly special photo of the graduate, or one with the two of you together that’s meaningful, you can easily have the image transferred onto a pillow or pillowcase. In addition, there are many places online to shop for gifts that you can personalize with pictures or meaningful words. It’s nice for students to be able to take such comforting items with them when they’re leaving home for the first time. Check websites such as Shutterfly and Snapfish to find great deal on all kinds of personalized items.
Getting the graduates that you know the perfect gift doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. It seems some of the most meaningful gifts cost the least amount of money. With a little imagination, you can find or create the gifts your graduates will remember for years to come.