School graduations are celebrated at many different levels (even kindergarten nowadays). But, there’s only one thing many people tend to rely on for graduation gift giving: money. Sure, most kids and college students love seeing cash flutter out of their congratulatory cards. But, cash is not a great gift, especially when there are more ideas for exciting and practical graduation gifts out there.
Cool Alternatives to Giving Money As Graduation Gifts
Here are a few exciting and practical ideas for graduation gifts that you can use to surprise your new graduate no matter the age.
DIY “Tuition Gift Certificate”
At this point, most of us are uncomfortably aware of the dire student loan statistics. Seven out of 10 college students finishing their degrees only with the help of loans? The $1.3 trillion in outstanding student loans as of 2015? Yikes.
If you want to give a truly helpful graduation gift to a college-bound high school grad, then why not a DIY gift certificate promising to pay for a certain amount of their tuition? This is way more valuable than just giving them money and hoping they use it for tuition (hint: most college freshman won’t). The only issues are the lack of accountability (unless the parents are paying for some of the tuition and you send money their way) and lack of excitement.
Let’s face it: “I’ll help you pay for tuition so you’re not drowning in debt in 5+ years!” doesn’t have the same “wow” factor for a high school graduate as a pile of cash would because they won’t notice just how much this gift helps them until they finish their degree and the student loan repayments begin.
Alternatively, you can give the new grad your own gift certificate promising to pay for textbooks or campus parking for their first semester or school year. These are more feasible options because you’re reimbursing the student for an expense that comes with a receipt, which guarantees your money will be spent on something school-related.
To add an educational benefit to your gift for a high school student, you could give them a basic personal finance book with the promise of paying for something (tuition, textbooks, parking, etc.) after they prove they’ve read it. It’s not the most exciting gift, but they’ll thank you later on for a lesson that most other students learn the hard way during college.
Grocery Gift Basket
A grocery gift basket is perfect for high school grads and college grads alike. You can be as creative as you’d like, throwing in staple items like pasta and sauces, chips, energy drinks, and protein bars, along with basic cookware and dishes, which are perfect for a high school grad moving into their first apartment.
Or, giving a small appliance is perfect for a college grad upgrading to a nicer lifestyle in the “real world”. You can’t go wrong with a grocery gift card either, because this is a great back-up plan if they run out of money and would have to survive on ramen noodles and dollar menu items otherwise.