This is the season for a lot of graduations, which means graduation parties and gifts.  If you are a parent or guardian and are looking to throw your graduate a party, then you’re in luck.  You can have a phenomenal celebration, but also keep it pretty low cost.  If you want to get some ideas for low cost events then check out this post.

If you are just attending a graduation party, I didn’t forget about you!  Gifts can get really expensive, but instead of breaking the bank I have compiled a variety of gifts that you can give to a graduate that will be much needed and much appreciated.  I know when I was graduating from high school, I loved cash and anything that I could get in advance so I didn’t have to use all of my summer job money on books and stocking my dorm!  Keep reading to learn more!



Graduation parties don’t have to be expensive, but they must be fun!

  • Incorporate games.  Games like Twister are always a ton of fun.  Also depending on the space you can always have water guns and have an area where people can run around and play with water guns.  It’s a fun throwback to childhood.
  • Skip the canned and bottled beverages and opt for a punch.  This allows the drinks to stretch, and there is less waste from half consumed cans of pop.  Click here for some punch ideas.
  • Don’t buy the graduation plates and tablecloths.  Instead, head to the dollar store to pick up plates, napkins, cups, plastic ware, and tablecloths in the graduate’s school colors.  Single color items tend to be less expensive then the graduation themed ones.
  • Focus on the presentation of the food instead of the type of food.  Also, you can always do BBQ, because that can be relatively inexpensive.
  • If you are opting for a themed graduation party, then focus on what the graduate loves to do and then use the stuff that they already have as decorations.
  • Ask your child’s best friend’s parents if they want to have a combined graduation party.  This works really well if they share a lot of the same friends.
  • Check out Facebook and Eventbrite to save on invitations by going paperless.  If you want physical invitations, then use Vistaprint because they generally have great specials.
  • Think about having the party in your backyard or apartment courtyard or if that isn’t possible or feasible then look into grabbing space at the local park.  Depending on the park, you don’t even have to pay to use the picnic area.  Just be sure to get there early to reserve the space.

If you want even more ideas, then check out the Frugal Girls, as they have 24 creative graduation party ideas.


Remember cash is king.  Also, gift cards to places that they like and to other places where they will need to buy dorm stuff or items for that new apartment or new job are great.  I love gift cards, because if you buy them during the extra fuel perks time for your local grocery store, then you can save money on your gas purchases.  If you don’t want to do cash or gift cards, here are a few other practical and low cost ideas.  Don’t worry about feeling like you have to stuff the envelope with a ton of money, because $25 from a lot of people adds up!

Practical Gifts: These are important because students don’t want to spend their graduation money on stocking their dorm room.  That’s not so fun!  Practical gifts are also important for cash strapped grads and parents because they offset the cost of attending college.  Also, for college grads, with the student loan debt of graduating students, practical gifts help to offset the transition into post-college living.

  • One of the best gifts that I received when I graduated high school was 3 sets of towels.  It might not sound like the sexiest gift that you can give someone, but those towels were practical, I would have had to buy them anyway, and 14 years later I still use them as guest towels.
  • “Laundry basket, laundry detergent, fabric softener, bag for delicates, and a roll of quarters!” – Living a Better Life
  • Academic Planner – This may not be needed, because some college book stores give away these for free.  Check the school before purchasing, unless you know the grad wont want something that everyone else is carrying.
  • For the dorm: Shower caddy or a framed inspirational poster that can go in the dorm room
  • Gift card to the student’s school book store
  • “Office supply themed gift.  This is a wastebasket stuffed with highlighters, post-its, pencils, notebook paper, pens, labels, and a small desk organizer to keep the stuff in.” – Living a Better Life
  • Don’t laugh at tool sets.  I still have the one that my mom gave me when I left for school
  • For the recent college graduate: Items to stock the kitchen, cookbooks, picture frames, personalized stationary.  I would stay away from decorations, because you don’t know their color scheme.
  • A copy of 5+5 FNPhenomenal Ways to Save $100 This Week Without Killing Your Lifestyle.

Cool gifts that don’t require much money:  These are thoughtful gifts that are really different and that the graduate will definitely enjoy.

  • A cool gift that I received was a nice, thoughtful card with a personalized message.  Inside the card was a lottery ticket.  It was so funny and thoughtful at the same time.  I still remember it to this day.
  • Memory book of the graduate growing up that captures key memories with her family or friends

Here is another site with cool graduation gift ideas:

I hope that these ideas help you to keep the graduation season both Frugal and Phenomenal.  Be sure to leave a comment to let me know which of these worked for you.  Also, if you have some more ideas, then leave a comment to share them with the community!

As an added bonus, download your FREE Hotsheet that will show you the best online savings sites and apps!  Click here to download!

Aisha Taylor is a #1 Amazon Best Selling Author of the book “5+5 FNPhenomenal Ways to Save $100 This Week Without Killing Your Lifestyle”, the Founder of FNPhenomenal (Frugal –n- Phenomenal), and creator of The Live Phenomenal Program. The Live Phenomenal Program is a program designed to give you the tools that you need to totally transform your finances, and stop living from paycheck-to-paycheck. It’s time for you to be Financially Phenomenal! Book your complimentary 20-minute financial clarity session with Aisha here.

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