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Inexpensive & Thoughtful Graduation Gift Ideas


Now that graduation season has come around, you might be thinking of ideas for a worthy graduation gift, for your friend or family member. For such an important time in someone’s life, you don’t want to get them just “anything.” A graduation gift should always be sincere. And while most graduates would certainly love to receive a gift card or cash, I feel it is always better to give something a little more personal. Here is my list of inexpensive but thoughtful gift ideas for a recent graduate.


I really like the idea of giving a book as a gift, especially to a graduate! When you give someone a book, you’re not just giving them something tangible, you are giving them insight into what you think they would be interested in. A good idea when buying a book for someone is to explain yourself- when you’re gifting books, explain why you picked that specific title. I think it’s neat to write a small note on a bookmark or post-it, and then insert it into the book before its wrapped. This personalizes the gift even more.

But if you know that your recent grad has a kindle or tablet, you could always choose to buy them a $20 amazon or kindle gift card!

Lap Desklapdesk

A lap desk makes it easy to plug away at work or a paper without being confined to an actual desk. This inexpensive gift, around $30, protects from the heat of the laptop, and also provides a surface for a mouse or notepad.

Reusable Water Bottlewater bottle.jpg

A money saver that is also good for the environment, what more could you ask? A reusable water bottle is a practical gift, but has a bigger impact than you might think. You can purchase a nice stainless steel water bottle for under $12 at most department stores, but it will save your recent grad from spending upwards of $100 a semester on plastic water bottles!

Gym Membershipgym membership.jpg

Starting at only $20 to $30 a month, a gym membership could be the perfect gift for grads who are reluctant to fall into the “Freshman 15” trap. If you’re feeling generous, you could also include a new gym bag or workout clothing.


If you’ve ever lived in dorm or had a roommate, this gift idea doesn’t require any explanation. Naturally, things get lost or misplaced. Often, those “things” are toothbrushes, towels, mini shampoos and conditioners, washcloths, and slippers.

A great idea for a recent graduate is to purchase a small to-go case filled with these inexpensive but useful toiletries. Guaranteed to be a lifesaver for your graduate!


The ages of 18 to 25 seem to house the best and worst experiences. A nicely bound journal is an excellent gift and tool for a graduate to record all of these memories. And when they look back years from now, they will remember who gave it to them!

Kitchen Supplieskitchen supplies.jpg

For graduates who are moving out on their own, a kit with some basic kitchen supplies will come in handy. And for a first-time kitchen, even the cheaper items are perfectly appropriate. You could make a trip to the dollar store with a budget of $20, and then fill up a mixing bowl with miscellaneous items (whisk, salad tongs, spatula, utensils, napkins, paper plates, etc.)

Photo Album photo album

Thanks to social media, all of those pictures that were taken in high school or college are online for everyone to see. But instead of crafting a digital slide show to post on the recent grad’s Facebook wall, you could give them an actual physical album instead! Fill the album with your favorite pictures from your time together, or you can even leave it blank for the graduate to fill with their next adventures.

For more budget-friendly graduation gift ideas, you can visit Cheapism!

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