24 Inexpensive Graduation Gifts that are $40 or Less

These high-quality, yet inexpensive graduation gifts are perfect for any high school or college grad. If you’re searching for a unique graduation gift that isn’t cash or a gift card, these meaningful picks won’t disappoint.

Many high school (and college!) seniors are getting ready for the next phase in their life…graduation…and beyond!

But every time you glance at the pretty invitations on your fridge, you remember that you still need graduation gift ideas to help celebrate this important milestone… preferably inexpensive ones if you received a LOT of invitations!

Plus, you want to make sure they’ll actually use the gift you pick.

No pressure or anything!

Searching for the perfect graduation gift that won't drain your wallet? Equal parts practical and cute (with a bit of humor thrown in!), these inexpensive graduation gifts come in under $40 and convey heartfelt well-wishes to every grad on your list.

Thankfully, these cheap graduation gifts (but still high-quality!) work for any budget. They’re not cash-related so you don’t have to stress about giving the “right” amount and they come in under $40.

But if that’s still a bit too much because of all the grad parties you’ve RSVP’d to, don’t click away just yet! I share an idea at the end of this post to help you give a thoughtful, yet cute graduation gift without spending a dime.

The Best (and Inexpensive) Graduation Gift Ideas

I’ve separated each gift based on who it’s best for—a college grad or a high school grad. Many gifts could easily work for both, but some fit one stage a little more than the other.

There’s also a good mix of graduation gifts for him and her. Guys are typically harder to shop for, so I made sure to include a few winners in this list that are thoughtful, but not over-the-top!

Ready to tackle your list?

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High School Graduation Gifts

1. Silicone Wristlet Card Holder

This adorable wristlet organizes all the grad’s gift cards and cash they’re given during this momentous season. If you have extra room in your budget, you can easily tuck your own gift inside for a unique presentation! Comes in multiple colors.

Purchase on Amazon

2. Striped Laundry Tote

Every college student needs a place to store his or her laundry. This practical tote comes with convenient handles so they can carry it to and from a laundry mat, or back home to mom! It also collapses for easy storage (hard to come by at the dorm).

Purchase on Amazon

3. Single Cup Coffee Maker

Not everyone can afford a Keurig, but this one-cup brewer has pretty decent reviews for the cost. Gift this to a grad who needs morning fuel for early college classes, and pair with a coffee bag or pods. This machine takes both!

Purchase on Amazon

4. Electronic Accessories Organizer

I love how this compact organizer corrals up loose accessories into one convenient place. A great gift for grads who will be traveling to and from home, or just want to keep all their gadgets within easy reach.

Purchase on Amazon

5. Storage Water Bottle

College students are often on the go, and it’s easy to let hydration take a back seat. Gift your grad a water bottle with a secret storage compartment that can hold a credit card, some cash, and a key to their dorm or apartment. Great for heading to the gym too!

Purchase on Amazon

6. Custom Graduation Book

Looking for a unique and personalized gift to give to Christian grads? This DIY kit comes with a copy of the popular Dr. Suess book, “Oh The Places You’ll Go”, an acid-free pen, and a set of Bible verses to write on each page to celebrate the occasion.

Purchase on Etsy

7. Portable Charger

The excuse to not call back home just isn’t an option anymore with this handy portable charger! It’s battery operated, and can be used on-the-go, in the car, or wherever your grad is away from an electrical outlet.

Purchase on Amazon

8. The Easy College Cookbook

Just say no to ramen. Springboard the college student in your life to culinary greatness (or at least a halfway decent nutritional routine) with this easy cookbook. Now students can turn a budget-friendly meal into a gourmet treat!

Purchase on Amazon

9. Shower Tote

Living in a dorm can have it’s perks, but sometimes it’s hard to keep track of all your stuff. This mesh shower caddy organizes personal care items in one convenient bag that you can take to and from the shower. The breathable fabric makes for easy cleaning!

Purchase on Amazon

10. Compass Bracelet

Let your daughter, granddaughter, or a graduating gal know how much she’s cherished with a compass bracelet. Handmade with a special sliding knot that moves back and forth and allows the bracelet to easily adjust to any wrist size.

Purchase on Etsy

11. Budget Notebook

Give your graduate a head start in financial responsibility with this perfectly sized budget notebook. I share how I use this notebook in How to Stop Going Over Budget Once and For All. There’s a spot to track savings and financial goals, as well as a Purchase Wish List—a must for a college student on a budget!

Purchase on Ashley Shelly

12. One Line a Day Journal

An exciting new chapter starts… now! The next four years will hold a slew memories for your grad. Give them a journal to capture it all and is simple to maintain. All you need to write is one line a day.

Purchase on Amazon

College Graduation Gifts

1. Adulting Survival Guide

Help graduates navigate the stormy sea of adulthood with a practical, yet relatable resource. This handbook has all the answers for aspiring grownups facing the biggest change they’ve encountered in their lives: what to do after college.

Purchase on Amazon

2. Personalized University Map

A well-loved college town (and the memories it holds) can be hard to leave behind. Give grads a custom map of their alma mater so the special place in their heart can have a permanent home on their wall.

Purchase on Etsy

3. Graduation Tee

As long as the college grad isn’t going for a master’s, they should be #DONE with school! Give a humorous nod to the end of this momentous life stage with a soft and cozy tee.

Purchase on Etsy

4. Recipe Binder Kit

Send your college grad into the world with his or her favorite recipes. This Recipe Binder doubles as a long-lasting keepsake and will be treasured for years to come! Easily type (or copy and paste recipes) into each fillable recipe card, then print out dividers and customize with a personalized cover.

Purchase from The KB Creative Shop

5. Keepsake Frame

Diplomas don’t belong in a dusty drawer. Encourage your favorite grad to proudly display the ultimate proof of their hard work. There’s even a spot to store their tassel!

Purchase on Amazon

6. Spa Gift Box

Silk scrunchies, salt scrubs, and candles, oh my! This carefully packaged gift box comes with a personalized message to share your congratulations (and permission to pamper) with your favorite grad.

Purchase on Etsy

7. Custom Song Acrylic Plaque

Is there a special song that carried your grad through finals? This sophisticated and well-made plaque is one of the most custom graduation gifts you’ll find. Just scan the QR code to play the song!

Purchase on Etsy

8. Initial Necklace

You can’t get more special than custom-stamped jewelry. Available in multiple metal options, this coin necklace communicates subtle style with meaningful charm.

Purchase on Amazon

9. Engraved Pen with Stylus

Every grad is ready to make a unique mark on the world. Celebrate their transition with an engraved pen featuring a reminder to achieve their dreams. Also comes with a stylus for digital use.

Purchase on Amazon

10. Leather Key Fob

Graduation gifts for guys are hard to find, but this sophisticated key fob checks all the boxes. Personalize with his graduation year and alma mater, or choose a motivational word for this next phase of life.

Purchase on Etsy

11. Initial Canvas Tote

This classic initial tote is ready to grace the arm of any woman with a brand-new degree. The high-quality canvas construction and ability to stand on its own set this bag above the rest.

Purchase on Amazon

12. Funny Graduation Mug

Every grad is bound to start their morning in a good mood when they use this novelty ceramic mug. It’s perfect for the home or office and ranks high on our list of favorite funny graduation gifts!

Purchase on Amazon

A Priceless Graduation Gift Idea

Maybe you’re looking through this list of gifts, and squirm at the thought of buying for so many grads this year.

The KB community has been discussing alternative options, and are all in agreement—a really nice card along with a few lines of advice for life (and even a special Bible verse) can be very thoughtful and sweet!

The point is not about how much money you spend, but the well-wishes you send to each new grad.

And who knows?

They may pull out those cards years down the road when they’re having a hard time, and your words could be just the encouragement they need to see them through.

Join the Conversation

Did this help you figure out the perfect graduation gift idea? Tell me in the comments which one you’re going to get (and who you know that’s graduating!)

Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. Read my full disclosure policy here.

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  1. I love ALL of these ideas! I was struggling with gifts for my husband’s second cousin but not anymore. Thanks so much.

  2. Just bought the tumbler for my niece who’s graduating to go to high school…She’s gonna LOVE IT!…Awesome ideas!!

  3. I love the one cup coffee maker AND the traveling water bottle! Ahh, these are both great gifts for my niece. Great ideas, thank you!

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