37 Awesome Graduation Gifts That Cost Under $100

Graduates throwing hats in the air.
syda productions / Shutterstock.com

Gifts to celebrate a landmark like high school or college graduation present a dilemma. You want to give something extra-special but how much to spend? It depends on your budget and your graduate. Spending $50 is plenty for most graduation gifts — and we’ve got you covered with lots of options here. For your child or grandchild or someone extra-special, you might spring for more, and so we’ve also included some splurges, including gift ideas for kids going off to college and others for college grads starting out on their own. But there is good news for all budgets: The price for some of these awesome gifts is, well, free!

1. Netflix subscription

sitthiphong / Shutterstock.com

With a basic streaming plan at $8 a month, you can give your grad a half-year of Netflix for $36 or an entire year of entertainment for $72.

2. Event tickets

Sergei Butorin / Shutterstock.com

Few grads can afford to splurge on tickets for theater, sports or symphony performances, making them an especially welcome gift. The cost of sports-event tickets, for example, will vary a good deal from town to town but $50 buys a pair of game tickets in most places. If tickets for a first-tier concert would set you back too much, consider tickets for performances at a nearby college, university or community orchestra or theater.

3. Kindle Unlimited

Hitdelight / Shutterstock.com

For $10 a month, your grad can choose an unlimited number of e-books from a million titles with a Kindle Unlimited subscription. Many of these books can be heard as professionally narrated Audible audiobooks. Also, fear not that you’ll give the wrong type of e-book subscription: Books downloaded from KindleUnlimited can be used on any device.

4. Audible

kozirsky / Shutterstock.com

For $15 a month, you can buy a grad access to one recorded book per month at Audible.com. It’s a treat many grads will adore as they can choose from best-sellers and classics, nonfiction and fiction titles.

5. Amazon Prime

Amazon boxes seen piled up on a doorstep
Jeramey Lende / Shutterstock.com

At $99 a year, an Amazon Prime subscription provides two-day shipping of eligible purchases and free streaming of designated movies, TV and music. Or, choose a subscription to Prime videos only for $10 per month.

6. Wired magazine

Antonio Guillem / Shutterstock.com

Wired magazine, a popular monthly available in print and electronic editions, focuses on the intersection of new technologies and culture, politics and the economy. Cost: $20.

7. Gift-box treats

Vania Georgieva / Shutterstock.com

Give regular deliveries of craft kits, coffee, gourmet foods, dog toys and treats, beauty products, craft beer and more. Or send a one-time treat. For example: A gift box of 24 traditional French macarons (you select the flavors) costs $49 plus delivery charges at Lette Macarons.

8. Money balloons

Boule / Shutterstock.com

Cost: It’s up to you!

Roll up bills, work them into uninflated clear balloons, inflate them with helium and present them in a balloon bouquet. Sugar and Charm recommends using clear, 16-inch balloons for best results:

[H]ave them done at an actual balloon shop, which is what I did for our niece. … I would suggest only putting about 5-6 rolled-up bills in each 16-inch balloon with a handful of confetti.

Tip: Give the money balloons immediately so they’ll stay airborne; the cash adds weight, pulling them down as they lose air.

9. Kitchen supplies

Christin Lola / Shutterstock.com

Shop Target, Goodwill or Ikea for the essential implements and equipment for setting up a kitchen. Add a few treats from the grocery store for variety. I spent $100 on an enormous load of pots, pans, dishes, glassware, dish towels and kitchen implements from Ikea recently for a well-received holiday gift. Bundle up your gifts in a dish towel and present the gift in a useful container, like a pot, bowl or basket.

10. Household essentials

Chutima Chaochaiya / Shutterstock.com

In this Money Talks News’ piece, “Happy Graduation! Here’s a Toilet Brush,” Donna Freedman describes scouring dollar stores, discount stores and yard sales to put together kits of life’s essentials — brooms, scrub brushes, dish towels and shelf liners are a few examples. She says:

If you’re going in with a group of people, place the items in a big laundry basket. You could put cleaning supplies in a bucket, group kitchen items inside a large pot, or fill a reusable shopping bag with pantry staples.

11. Toolbox

KnottoSS / Shutterstock.com

Find or buy a tool box and stock it. Lifehacker has a list of supplies for a basic toolbox and an enhanced toolbox. If you want something ready-made, Home Depot offers many variations of homeowners tool sets ranging in price from about $20 to $60. Or go basic: If you take a tip from Clint Eastwood in the 2008 movie “Gran Torino,” all you really need to tackle most household jobs is a can of WD-40, vice grips and a roll of duct tape.

12. DIY food kits

Prostock-studio / Shutterstock.com

Food & Wine magazine lists 10 specialty food kits for homemade treats including hot sauce, cocktail bitters, gin, hard cider, ale, kimchi and jerk chicken with coconut spice. But you don’t need to buy kits. Assemble your own ingredients and include a recipe for something you know your grad loves — muffins, cookies, banana bread, toffee or peanut brittle, for example.

13. Container vegetable garden

Del Boy / Shutterstock.com

A number of companies sell reasonably priced vegetable garden kits. I’ve used EarthBox ($33 for the basic kit) with success. The kit includes a 2-cubic-foot, lightweight plastic container, low-tech watering system and instructions. You provide peat-based growing media, plant starts and water. Or, make your own kit for practically nothing. All kinds of containers, including recycled tires and old toy wagons can be adapted to grow vegetables.

14. Organizational tools

Air Images / Shutterstock.com

In “10 Cheap or Free Graduation Gifts,” Angela Colley writes:

[I]f your grad is headed to a dorm (or out of one), simple, cheap organizational products can make their new life a lot easier. For example, last year I bought a friend’s kid two large shoe organizers, an over-the-door purse rack and a shower caddie to take to the dorm. I spent less than $50, and she used everything.

15. Headphones

Rohappy / Shutterstock.com

You can find decent sound on a low budget by reading reviews. A good pair of headphones makes a perfect gift for a young graduate. CNET recommends the Skullcandy Grind, at $25 to $32, or splurge on the Grind Wireless, which can be found for about $62. Check out the wide array of types and prices on this Best Buy page.

16. Portable speakers

Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock.com

CNET’s graduation gift guide has several recommendations for inexpensive portable speakers. One is the water-resistant, colorful little JBL Clip 2, found for around $53.

17. Mobile power bank

Petr Tkachev / Shutterstock.com

Grads are moving fast, making mobile chargers a welcome, inexpensive gift. I use and give the MyCharge Amp Mini 2000 mAh Portable USB Charger (around $20).

18. Google Chromecast

Google / Money Talks News

Insert this thumb-sized stick into an HDMI port on a TV to “cast” your streaming subscriptions services like Hulu, Netflix, HBO Go and Pandora from your Android phone, iPhone, tablet, iPad or laptop to the television, mirroring on the TV what’s on your small screen ($35).

19. Transit pass

BravoKiloVideo / Shutterstock.com

Get them where they’re going with a yearly or monthly transit pass. Prices vary by city and transit system.

20. Refurbished bicycle

Kryvenok Anastasiia / Shutterstock.com

You can pick up a nice refurbished bike for around $50 to $100. Search online for “programs to refurbish old bicycles” to find a bike recycling program near you where might find spiffed up bikes for sale.

21. Frequent-flyer miles

OrelPhoto / Shutterstock.com

Travel is a much-coveted graduation present. Give your grad miles from your frequent flyer account — enough for a ticket to their favorite destination, or simply enough to help fatten the recipient’s account. See your program’s website for rules on transferring miles.

22. Roadside-assistance insurance

zenstock / Shutterstock.com

Roadside and towing insurance is another of those benefits that students are likely to skip because of expense. But it makes a nice gift that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. Be sure to check first to find out if your grad already is covered through auto insurance.

TopTenReviews recently compared roadside assistance plans. Good Sam, at $80 a year, got the top nod. In second place was AAA, costing $66 a year for the basic plan and $100 for a plan that includes towing.

23. Make a payment

A bank transfer button on a keyboard
Odua Images / Shutterstock.com

Help your grad cover a car payment or a month’s worth of auto insurance fees or cover a month’s payment for their student loans.

24. Gas money

tristan tan / Shutterstock.com

It’s so nice to whip out a gift card at the pump. Add the amount you feel comfortable with to a gas gift card and package it in a card or clever wrapping.

25. Personal finance books

Life or Debt book cover
Simon & Shuster / Money Talks News

Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson’s timeless book “Life or Debt 2010: A New Path to Financial Freedom” ($13.54 at Amazon) helps readers get started on a lifetime of smart, stable finances with chapters on how to save, invest, budget and avoid debt. “The Little Book of Common Sense Investing: The Only Way to Guarantee Your Fair Share of Stock Market Returns” ($17.38 at Barnes & Noble), by John Bogle, is regarded by many as a bible for getting started investing.

26. Budgeting help

WAYHOME studio / Shutterstock.com

One of the best parts of a gift of financial education is the invisible part: Many years of sound sleep with no tossing and turning over money worries. Budgeting is essential to that peace of mind. Here are two recommended budget tools:

  • YouNeedaBudget ($50 a year or $5 a month). This budgeting program gets top marks from reviewers. “The best tool out there for assembling a budget and helping you to stick with it,” says U.S. News & World Report.
  • Or, give your grad a session of help to become acquainted with a free online service from Money Talks News partner PowerWallet.

27. A classic cookbook

wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock.com

A cookbook? You bet. As U.S. News & World Report says, learning to cook at home is “one of the smartest money skills a person can master.” In “How to Cook Everything–The Basics” (about $20 on Amazon), food writer Mark Bittman explains cooking in an easy-going style with less emphasis on recipes and more on simple how-to. There are many other cooking classics, from Julia Child to Martha Stewart. GoodReads has lists of best cookbooks by type (Italian, Asian, chocolate, soup, and on and on).

28. Electric teakettle

Cuisinart, Amazon / Money Talks News

An electric teakettle is the fastest, most convenient way to boil water. No home should be without one. The Sweethome product reviews site calls the Cuisinart CPK-17 PerfecTemp 1.7-Liter Stainless Steel Cordless Electric Kettle ($80-$100) the best of the best.

29. Handheld vacuum

Black+Decker, Target / Money Talks News

The Black+Decker Max Lithium Flex Vacuum BDH2020FL earns The Sweethome’s top recommendation for handheld vacuums:

“Solid suction and helpful attachments — including a 4-foot flexible hose to reach spots other handhelds can’t— make this longtime pick the strongest cleaner and the best value in its class.”

Your grad will get a lot of mileage from this useful gift. Price: around $85.

30. Gym bag

Everestbags.com / Money Talks News

The Sweethome product reviewers checked out 100 gym bags and tested 22 of them. Their conclusion:

[W]e think that the Everest Gym Bag is the best bag for anyone who wants to bring fresh clothes to the gym and take sweaty clothes home again without your gear resembling a fragrant swamp.

The bag is roomy and well-organized, with dry pockets and a wet pocket, mesh accessories compartments and a water-bottle holder. Best of all, the price is under $24.

31. Microwave popcorn cooker

Red popcorn popper

No dorm room should be without one, and Uncommon Goods has one for $15.

32. Moving assistance

Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

Lend a hand and a strong back (or savvy organizational skills) to help your grad move out of the dorm and into the real world. This gift is especially welcome if you’ve got a truck and can help load and unload it. If not, offer to bring boxes and help with packing and unpacking.

33. Cold brew coffee maker

Dick Duerrstein / Shutterstock.com

Cold brew coffee is the thing right now, especially with 20-somethings. The Sweethome tested nine cold brew coffeemakers before recommending the Filtron Cold Water Coffee Concentrate Brewer (under $50), writing:

… in our tests it made cold coffee with balanced acidity, a stronger aroma, and a cleaner finish. Another plus: The Filtron’s cost per cup was the cheapest of all the methods we tested.

The Sweethome also recommends OXO Good Grips Cold Brew Coffee Maker (around $50).

34. Financial lessons

ALPA PROD / Shutterstock.com

If you are known for your financial acumen, your guidance can be golden to a new grad. Offer to help your graduate set up a budget, balance accounts, apply for a loan or get started investing. Throw in a budgeting program or finance book (see above) if you wish.

35. Baking or cooking

B Calkins / Shutterstock.com

Buy a cookie jar and stuff it full of homemade cookies. Or make a gift certificate good for several dozen cookies or a couple dozen muffins, deliverable upon request. You can also make and freeze soups, stews or casseroles to stock the graduate’s freezer.

36. Resume assistance

Examining resume
SFIO CRACHO / Shutterstock.com

Brainstorm, type, write, edit or rewrite to help get your graduate’s resume ready for prime time.

37. Programmable pressure cooker

Dani Vincek / Shutterstock.com

There’s currently a craze sweeping the nation for programmable pressure cookers, says the New York Times, reviewing the Instant Pot cooker:

People have fallen in love with their Instant Pots.

They may like their blenders, cherish their slow cookers and need their food processors.

But the Instant Pot — a device that combines an electric pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker and yogurt maker in one handy unit — sends even mild-mannered cooks into fits of passion.

Unlike scary stove-top pressure cookers, a programmable stand-alone cooker will shut itself off if the pressure builds too high. They are recommended particularly for roasts and stews. Cooking a pork shoulder took 90 minutes. Lamb shanks cooked in 30 minutes, spareribs in 20 minutes. If your grad is a foodie or loves comfort food, this is the gift. (About $100.)

What’s your go-to graduation gift? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
70% of Older Adults Botch This Basic Retirement Question
70% of Older Adults Botch This Basic Retirement Question

Can you answer this fundamental retirement income question?

Stop Overpaying for These 10 Common Purchases
Stop Overpaying for These 10 Common Purchases

The best price for many of these items is “free.”

33 Home Upgrades That Cost Less Than $100
33 Home Upgrades That Cost Less Than $100

A little money goes a long way with these imaginative projects. You can do most of them yourself.

Top 5 Activities That People Dream of Doing in Retirement
Top 5 Activities That People Dream of Doing in Retirement

No. 1 isn’t visiting grandkids, and No. 4 might surprise you.

36 Things That Will Be Obsolete Soon
36 Things That Will Be Obsolete Soon

The writing is on the wall for dozens of things we have grown up with.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
Seniors With COVID-19 May Display This Unusual Symptom
Seniors With COVID-19 May Display This Unusual Symptom

Largely asymptomatic seniors may experience a symptom not commonly associated with the coronavirus.

20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling
20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling

You don’t need a year’s supply of toilet paper to survive an outbreak, but consider stocking up on these items.

11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older
11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older

There is no need to wait until you’re 65 to take advantage of so-called “senior” discounts.

Can a Twice-Divorced Woman Claim Social Security Survivors Benefits?
Can a Twice-Divorced Woman Claim Social Security Survivors Benefits?

Understanding survivors benefits rules is the key to getting the most from your benefit.

18 Early Black Friday Deals on Amazon Today
18 Early Black Friday Deals on Amazon Today

These items are all steeply discounted — but the deals won’t last long.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

These Are the 10 Worst Cars for Depreciation
These Are the 10 Worst Cars for Depreciation

Two types of vehicles are especially likely to see steep plunges in value.

Never Buy These 10 Things With Your Credit Card
Never Buy These 10 Things With Your Credit Card

Credit cards offer many conveniences and protections, but sometimes it’s simply smarter to keep the plastic tucked away.

13 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
13 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

10 Things I Always Buy at Trader Joe’s
10 Things I Always Buy at Trader Joe’s

From snacks to sweets to side dishes, stock your cart with these time-tested favorites on your next TJ’s run.

8 Surprising Household Items You Can Sell for Fast Cash
8 Surprising Household Items You Can Sell for Fast Cash

Sometimes, the humblest household items are worth the most money.

5 Ways Social Security Will Change in 2021
5 Ways Social Security Will Change in 2021

These adjustments will affect both workers and retirees in the new year.

Cut These 11 Expenses Now If You Hope to Retire Early
Cut These 11 Expenses Now If You Hope to Retire Early

Like the idea of financial independence? Part of the FIRE equation is cutting costs.

Stop Buying These 19 Things Online
Stop Buying These 19 Things Online

The internet has changed how we shop. But for some things, you’re still better off buying the old-fashioned way.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

There are easy high-paying majors available in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required. We’re here to help you find easy degrees that pay well.

11 ‘Disposable’ Items You Should Be Reusing
8 Things You Should Buy at Restaurant Supply Stores
8 Things You Should Buy at Restaurant Supply Stores

You don’t have to be a chef or a restaurant owner to shop here.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

7 Tips for Building an Emergency Food Supply
7 Tips for Building an Emergency Food Supply

A pandemic or natural disaster could leave you reliant on your existing emergency food supply. Is your pantry well-prepared for emergencies? Knowing what to stock up on for emergencies can be a difficult task and we’re here to help.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.