Graduation Gift Giving Tips

Graduation Gift Giving Tips

May and June are the months of college, high school, nursing, trade school and university commencements. A time filled with exams, finals, papers and bells ringing freedom. Graduation parties and open houses are common as students celebrate meeting their goals, after years of hard work, and begin preparations for the next phase in the journey. Let us help answer your puzzling ponderings about how to be gracious during graduation gift giving season.

Attending the Graduation Ceremony

Friends and family may attend the ceremony if they receive an invitation. Many times graduates receive a very limited number of admission tickets for the ceremony due to size of the graduation class, facility limitations and other factors. In other circumstances, graduates may invite many guests. Always RSVP within 24 hours.

Sending Graduation Invitations

Depending on the graduate, some families mail printed invitations only to very close family members due to limited seating. Historically, the invitation is issued by the college, university, trade school or graduating class. Each graduate orders social cards with their names printed on them and includes one in each invitation so guests know who has invited them. A graduation party invitation is mailed separately.

Graduation Announcement or Invitation

Due to graduation ceremony seating limitations, some families send announcement cards informing friends and relatives of the new graduate’s accomplishment. Announcements may be ordered through the school, or creatively printed with a local stationer. These cards mailed on the day of the commencement announce the graduation, however, an invitation to attend the ceremony is not included. There is no obligation to send a gift, although some recipients may, depending on their relationship to the graduate.

Gift Giving Reflects Relationship Significance

It is important to weigh your relationship with the graduate, their parents and family, your budget, resources and time to determine your gift giving. National Retail Federation (NRF) conducted a 2016 survey stating that the average person plans to spend $106.45 on a graduation gifts. So, if you have genuinely connected with the graduate, express your genuine pride. If you’re not sure, send a thoughtful card.

Fellow Student Gifts

As a fellow student who may or may not be graduating, handcrafted gifts serve as a wonderful capstone to your friends. A small card, a homemade video filled with your college adventures, or framed photos of college memories are special gifts.

Gift ideas for Graduates

Coming up with the perfect gift for a new graduate can be a challenge, even when you have known them for years. Is your grad finishing a PhD, nursing degree, trade school certification, or obtaining their B.S. or M.B.A? Gifts that may assist them as they take their next steps include:

  • Universal chargers for graduates on the go
  • Picture frames, mugs, travel totes
  • Fine pen & pencil sets
  • Monogrammed luggage
  • Investor’s Business Daily on-line subscription
  • Briefcase / leather portfolio with school logo
  • Hallmark recommended books: A Guide to Surviving and Thriving After Graduation and Seize Your Dreams: Inspirations to Follow Your Heart Now Is the Time
  • Waterford desktop clock
  • Mont Blanc business card organizer
  • Electronic tablets and laptops such as the LG Gram 13 Touchscreen
  • Crane monogrammed stationery / initial note card

Gifting cash or a gift card

Yes, both are appropriate and it is important to stay comfortably within your budget. A Hallmark study highlighted appropriate giving amounts:

  • 95% believe money is an appropriate graduation gift for high school or college.
  • Many would not give a gift for a not-so-close friend, but might give a card.

Monetary gifts can be paired with, or substituted by, a good book fitting for the grad. For example, Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Guide, may be the choice for an aspiring international business or MBA grad. The Defining Decade is an excellent choice for an undecided undergraduate.

Cash Gift Guidelines

The sum given depends on the amount you are comfortable giving, and your connection with the recipient. Hallmark study found the average monetary gift amounts:

  • $25 is average for a close friend (or child of a close friend).
  • 67% believe that $50 or more is appropriate for a close relative.
  • $20 is the average for a not so close friend.
  • NRF states 32% of consumers buy a gift for at least one graduate, so manage your resources accordingly

Remember the graduate will be pleased to receive your card, stay comfortably within your budget, and you can pair funds with a thoughtful card containing your sage advice.

 

6 Comments

  1. Taylor Hansen August 18, 2020 at 1:05 pm - Reply

    It’s good to know that $50 or more is a good gift for a close relative. My younger brother is graduating from college and my mom reminded me to give him a gift for it. I’ll be sure to send him around $50 for when the time comes on Venmo.

    • Sharon Schweitzer October 18, 2020 at 3:37 pm - Reply

      Dear Taylor Hansen,
      Congratulations to your younger brother on his college graduation! You are a thoughtful family member; gift giving is a personal decision so use your discretion.

  2. MomofTwinGrads July 15, 2018 at 7:15 pm - Reply

    As the mother of twins that graduated this year, I do not feel giving twins a different amount is appropriate at all. The assumption that the valedictorian worked harder is just that an assumption. Give them the same amount, or value of a gift. Thus avoiding questions, as indicated in the previous answer given. Also why would you give a gift for getting a scholarship? That in it’s self is a reward, that should be celebrated yes, but not with a gift.

    • Sharon Schweitzer October 18, 2020 at 4:04 pm - Reply

      Dear Mom of Twin Grads,
      Congratulations to your twin graduates! Thank you for your feedback and comments.

  3. Jenni May 21, 2018 at 5:11 pm - Reply

    I have twin niece and nephew graduating from high school. My niece is valedictorian. My family can’t agree on whether she deserves a higher amount cash gift because she worked harder. Should we give her a higher amount and less to the nephew or keep the amounts the same?

    • Sharon Schweitzter May 24, 2018 at 12:13 pm - Reply

      Dear Ms. Bradish,

      Congratulations to your niece, nephew, and your entire family on these graduations! The amount and size of a graduation gift is a personal choice based on your relationship with the graduates – your niece and nephew.

      However, that being said, in our U.S. culture there are other factors that are taken into account. For example, if it is in the budget, college graduates usually receive a larger monetary gift than high school graduates. So the nature of the occasion comes into play – other examples include Nursing School, Police Academy, Boot Camp, Masters or Ph.D.

      Special accomplishments such as Valedictorian or receiving a Scholarship also warrant giving more if the gifter can afford to do so. Your niece, the Valedictorian has made an extraordinary effort, so if you wish to reward that accomplishment it is appropriate. If questions arise (we hope they don’t- you can explain the reasons.)

      Please let me know if this answers your question or I can explain further. Thank you for writing to us on our website.

      Sharon Schweitzer JD
      Cross-Cultural Business Consultant, Author
      Austin, TX USA
      http://www.sharonschweitzer.com
      +1.512.306.1845

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