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Great Gifts for Graduates—With Something for Everyone’s Budget

It shouldn’t take a whole lot to get your seniors excited about going to college. For most of them, the reward of attending college will feel like enough of a gift. Still, you’re proud of their accomplishments and actual gifts can be a nice way to celebrate your child’s journey and share together in the excitement. They needn’t be expensive, these gifts, they just need to be special—here are a few personal suggestions to get the ball rolling and your creative juices flowing:

Big Spenders: A Vacation
You can be extravagant or frugal; the point is to find a “happy place” for your recent grad to relax and enjoy time with friends and family. Choose a destination that reflects your child’s interests; it could be anything from enjoying a night on Broadway to camping out in the wilderness. It might also be fun to plot a road trip, placing your graduate in the driver’s seat (perhaps even literally). And, to save money, why not try including your son or daughter’s high school friends, thus pooling your resources with other parents? This very well may be one of the few times left for them to create high school memories before going away to college.

Biggest Bang for the Buck: A Personalized College Kit
Think of it as a college toolbox, full of resources to facilitate your soon-to-be freshman’s newfound independence. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Rolls of quarters will put your son or daughter in the habit of doing their own laundry.
  • A microwave friendly cookbook will offer a much-needed break from dining hall food.
  • Sewing kits are helpful—you never know when a button will need replacing.
  • If he or she is moving to a new city, why not toss in a personalized map, with university haunts and cheap eats starred in Sharpie.
  • Even a “Little Known Facts” list, with details about the university that usually only upperclassmen are aware of, will do a lot to make your son or daughter feel more comfortable.

Be creative! This may take some research, but it’ll go a long way to making your child feel at home and ready for college before they’ve even arrived. And don’t forget to include a “real” tool kit, while you’re at it! A screwdriver, hammer, nails, and measuring tape can work wonders on a college residence hall.

Budget Friendly & Sentimental: A Memory Box
For anyone who loves old pictures and a little nostalgia, there’s nothing as thrilling as opening a giant antique jewelry box (or any inventive container) only to find long neglected pictures of family and friends. Examine any pictures you have on your computer or those you have in storage. Use a few forgotten favorites; these are often the most surprising, as it may have been some time since anyone has seen the full-blown picture. Don’t overlook the classic, though, like the photos you keep around the house and on your walls. These are sure to remind your child that, regardless of how far away you are, you’ll always share these memories. Underneath the scattered pictures within the box, a scrap book full of old letters, awards, and small tokens would also be a nice touch. So, too, would a favorite movie from your graduate’s childhood or a printed voucher for your son or daughter’s favorite homemade meal during spring break. In fact, you could even go as far as to make multiple vouchers, including one redeemable over email, good for an overnight shipment of homemade cookies direct to their door.

Remember to consider your child and your budget. And don’t be afraid to get creative and engage in a little DIY fun. You’ll be making more memories as you go, and with your child leaving in the fall, those are more precious than ever.