How Much To Gift For Graduation?

It is the beginning of the rest of their lives. Whether graduating from high school, college, or receiving an advanced degree, this moment is a huge part of a person’s journey. It also represents the culmination of the hard work they have put forth over a large portion of their life. For those who receive this significant announcement in the mail, how much is appropriate to gift for graduation?

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Practical Gifts Are The Most Appreciated

According to the National Retail Federation, “Consumers [are expected] to spend an average $119 on grad gifts this year”. Moreover, total spending is projected to reach $5.9 billion dollars. Gifting trends have been on the increase with cash landing as the number one gift option yet again. This is followed by heartfelt cards and then gift cards.

This focus on money-related gifts is likely due to the fact that as these individuals claim their financial independence, they are also taking on an outrageous amount of debt. According to The Institute For College Access & Success, “In 2016, 1.5 million students graduated from a four-year college with an average of $29,650 in student loans”. Unfortunately, these numbers keep on climbing each year. 

Thus, while impersonal, this green gift is quite useful. This is especially true for those honorees who are gaining more than just their diplomas. This begs the question, how much should you gift the grad in your life? 

Gift Considerations For Graduation

There is a lot of contention around the appropriate amount to gift a grad. However, there are certain factors to keep in mind before writing that check. 

Your Relationship With The Graduate

Graduation announcements should be sent to people who are actively involved in this person’s life. Therefore, the first consideration should be your relationship with this individual. How well do you know the graduate? What is your involvement in their life? Have you seen them in the past five years? Are you friends with their parents? Did you watch them grow up?

You are not required to send a gift to a distant relative that you never speak to or a coworker’s child that you have not had the pleasure of meeting. For acquaintances, a gift is completely optional. In contrast, for a close family friend or relative, it is normal for individuals and families to spend between $50 to $100 upon receiving a graduation announcement.

What Is Inside The Envelope?

Unlike an announcement, for those who get invited to the ceremony or a graduation party, there suddenly becomes an obligation to present the graduate with a gift. Emily Post notes that guests should “simply consider the nature of the occasion and local custom when making [their] choice”. This is especially true when the occasion is for an honoree.

Additionally, the Foundation For Economic Education reinforces the importance of the idea of giving. “It’s such a small thing, but it illustrates a big idea…uncoerced mutual giving, a recognition that when someone does something nice for you, it is a good practice to show your appreciation.” This mindfulness is something that is not only remembered but respected. 

If the graduate has thought to include you in this big life moment, you are likely an important part of their life. Therefore, as mentioned above, anywhere above fifty and under one hundred dollars is a reasonable amount for someone receiving a high school or college diploma. 

Moreover, some individuals put forth an extra effort to educate themselves. This includes receiving their Master’s, Doctorate, or another advanced degree. Etiquette experts state that those individuals closest to these graduates should think about increasing the amount to between $100 to $500. Keep in mind that each degree normally equals an extra $100. Ergo, a Master’s gets $200 whereas a Ph.D. would run $300. 

Finally, there will be those who are still surprised by the arrival of this invitation. If you consider this individual more of a far-fetched connection, then gifting $20 to $30 is an appropriate amount for the occasion. 

Your Budget

Another important thing to examine is what you can afford. You should never give a gift that is beyond your means — no matter if this person is graduating from Kindergarten or receiving their Ph.D. This person is potentially about to be in debt. That does not mean that you need to put yourself in a financial lurch as well. Look at your finances and see what you can afford. If cold hard cash is not in the budget, then consider giving a useful item instead. 

High school grads can benefit from a first aid kit or a shower caddy with the included bath supplies for their dorm. Gifting a pencil or makeup pouch with the university insignia of their choosing can add a personal touch. Also, think about giving surprisingly useful items like a power strip or a portable charger. While simple, these items will come in handy during their college journey!

On the other hand, college graduates will appreciate gifts like a personalized portfolio, a diploma frame, or a YETI coffee tumbler! Remember that it is important to take into account the degree that they have earned. This can help you to choose a present that is right for this next step in their professional life. 

Final Thoughts 

“Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.” — Malcolm X

A person’s choice to better themselves for their future deserves praise and recognition. While most people gain their high school diploma, as of 2019, only 32.1% of individuals got an advanced degree by 25. It is important to point out these achievements. Social standards state that you should present them with a gift. However, the amount is not what matters. 

Make a point to read the entire message on the invitation that has made its way into your mailbox. Many times, the family will note when gifts are not necessary. Nevertheless, it is always polite and appreciated when you take the time to purchase a card. Noting your feelings and sentiments on this exciting moment can be a meaningful gesture.

Heidi Butler