15 Fantastic Graduation Gifts (Affordable But Not Cheap!)

May 26, 2021 5 min read

affordable graduation gifts useful meaningful

It's grad season! What's a good gift to give a graduating loved one? A trip abroad or a new computer may be the most coveted graduation presents -- and really, every hard-working fresh grad deserves the best -- but sometimes, an inexpensive yet thoughtful item is just the perfect thing to give.

If you're looking for a budget-friendly yet wonderful gift for your friend who's graduating high school, or your sibling who just completed college, we've rounded up some lovely ideas for you.


1. A small but useful gadget

Apart from laptops and tablets, there are plenty of electronic devices that would come in handy as your fresh grad enters college or joins the workforce. Perhaps they could use a really good microphone for those online meetings, or a smart watch for on-the-go productivity (yes, there are smart watches under $100!).

Our favorite pick is a pair of wireless headphones -- we'd gift with a "Go get 'em!" playlist that we specially made for the recipient. Fun, functional, and motivational!


2. Dreamy artwork

Graduation is the perfect time not only to congratulate your loved one but also to inspire them further to reach their dreams. Gift them with a lovely motivational wall art that they can hang in their dorm room, office, or bedroom. Pick an artwork that has an inspiring message as well as an aesthetic design that your loved one would love to see every day.

Wall art pictured above: "Make Your Dreams Happen" Dreamcatcher Premium Canvas


3. A versatile bag

Whether they're leisurely strolling in Europe or lugging around business documents, your loved one will appreciate a stylishly functional bag. Browse around for a durable purse, bookbag, or satchel that can be used in various settings.


4. Personal blanket

Blankets are universally comfy and practical, so they're a foolproof gift. But to make this present special, go for a blanket with a personalized design to match your recipient's interests. The one above would be perfect for a tennis fan!

Blanket pictured above: Personalized "Tennis Ball Splash" Premium Fleece Blanket


5. No-nonsense inspirational books

Yes, Dr. Seuss's "Oh, The Places You'll Go" is still the number 1 graduation gift, but fresh grads should also be enriched by more savvy reading. Gift them with a useful specialized book for their specific career, or a bestselling motivational book on life and adulting. Or, if your loved one is such a bookworm, a Kindle subscription would go a long way.


6. Gratitude reminder

All of us need reminders to look back, take in our achievements, and be thankful. A gratitude wall art can be incredibly calming and encouraging for a fresh grad who's feeling down. The wall sign above comes in various sizes so it can hang on the wall or be propped up on a desk, giving your loved one a gratefulness boost where they need it.

Wall art pictured above: "I Still Remember... Prayed For The Things I Have" Premium Canvas


7. Luggage set

Traveling is often the next step after graduation, whether it's off to college, to a new job, or to a well-deserved holiday. Hence, a trusty suitcase makes a really useful grad gift. Make it extra-special by crafting a personalized luggage tag, like the elegant gold-foil bag tags above by Lia Griffith.


8. Super-cute pillow

Here's something cute, huggable, and absolutely relatable! A pillow with a silly print could make a home out of any dorm room bed or apartment bedroom. And what's more homey than this cushion that's like the equivalent of a snooze button?

Pillow pictured above: "Five More Minutes" Pillow


9. For a daughter or a son

If your son or daughter is moving to a new city after graduation, a heartfelt wall art sign would be a nice addition to their new (temporary) home. We particularly love the "Straighten Your Crown" reminder above for your princess who's becoming a queen in her own right; and the bold Lion artwork below for your grownup son.

Wall art pictured above: "Straighten Your Crown" Premium Canvas


Wall art pictured above: "To My Son, Never Forget I Love You, This Old Lion" Premium Canvas


10. Great lighting

A high-quality desk lamp may be just the thing for your loved one's college dorm desk or new work station. There are endless lighting options available, from sleek metallic lamps to nightlights in fun shapes. You can certainly find one that matches your recipient's personality and needs.

Bonus tips: If your recipient expects to attend a lot of online meetings, a nice ring light can make a huge difference for them. Or, if you and your BFF will be missing each other after graduation, get you both a pair of long-distance friendship lamps, which light up when you think of each other!


11. Mood-calming gift

College life and professional life will not always be a walk in the park -- they'll have their share of stressful days, too. So to help your loved one through those days, gift them with a mood-calming object, be it a yoga set, a musical instrument, or a meditation app. We also recommend a serene artwork for their bedroom, like the dandelion one above.

Wall art pictured above: "Just Breathe" Inspirational Premium Canvas


12.  Subscription in a new town

A subscription or membership to a useful local service makes a nice going-away gift for a loved one who's moving for college or for work. You can get them subscribed to pretty much anything in their new city: food delivery, coffee, books, vitamins, personal care products, or even professional software. It's a present that says "Even though you're far away, I'm looking out for you."


13. Pet portrait towel

Here's one for the fresh grad who has to say goodbye to a beloved pet as a new chapter of life begins. A funny but sweet gift would be an all-purpose towel that's custom-printed with their pet's picture. It's like taking Buster or Bella out to the beach with them. A great conversation-starter, too!

Towel pictured above: Personalized Photo Beach Towel


14. Old-fashioned keepsake

Of course, nothing beats a gift that has a sentimental meaning to both giver and receiver. As kids, we would make friendship bracelets from yarn to symbolize our bond everywhere we went. For a grownup but still sweet version, try these ideas: matching engraved jewelry, a personalized watch, a personalized specialty pen, a framed photo collage, or a DIY scrapbook. Whatever memento you give, it should be meaningful to you and your loved one.


Bonus: Grad gift for your favorite teacher

We top off this list with a gift idea for your favorite teacher, as a way of saying "Thank you" on your graduation. An artwork dedication would be a great gift to enumerate the qualities you admire in them or express how they changed your life. Thank you, Teach!

Wall art pictured above: Teacher's "When You Enter This Classroom" Premium Canvas


We hope these gift suggestions help you celebrate your loved one's graduation! For more ideas, check out our blog post on dorm room decor ideas and gifting according to profession. Cheers to the Class of 2021! 

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