Advice for Giving a Monetary Graduation Gift
As springtime winds down, graduation season begins. We all know someone that’s graduating and some congratulatory cash is always nice. Now, the big question is, how much to give for high school graduation as a gift?
No one wants to give too little and us frugal folk definitely don’t want to give too much. What do we do? How much should you give as a graduation gift?
Bring on the summer sunshine and mortarboards, as I help you to decide how much to give a high school graduate!
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Graduating from high school is a big deal and definitely a major milestone in anyone’s life. It’s an emotional time, to say the least, and everyone reacts or feels differently.
Joy? Relief? Fear? Nervousness? Expectation? Uncertainty?
The graduate is at a huge crossroads now. What’s the next step?
Start working? Go to College? Travel a bit? Take some time off and sort out life?
The plan for after graduating from high school isn’t always straightforward. However, one thing for certain is that whatever the next step is…it costs money!
That’s why if you are wondering how much for a graduation gift, or exactly what to give, you can never go wrong with cash.
Books, tuition, concert tickets, plane tickets, bus fare, rent, utilities, food…it all costs money! Every young adult needs cash!
Actually, when it comes to graduation gift ideas, statistics by the National Retail Federation show that 52% of persons give cash.
Now that we can all agree that the best thing you can do for a high school graduate is to throw some cash at them, we must ask the question…
How much should I give for a graduation gift? Let’s explore!
How Much to Give for High School Graduation as a Gift?
A high school monetary graduation gift, can range between $20 to $300. $20 to $50 is an acceptable range for friends and relatives, with $50 being quite generous.
$50 to $100 is for very close friends or family. Parents of the graduate are typically expected to give $100 to $300, or even more if they wish.
Those figures are just a guide. The bottom line is that how much to give for a high school graduation all depends on how much you can afford. Everyone’s situation is different.
Actually, for acquaintances, distant relatives or persons you just aren’t close with, there is no pressure to give a lot of money or any at all. A hand shake and saying “congratulations” is good enough.
If it’s not your child that’s graduating, you definitely don’t want to outdo the actual parents of the kid. You also don’t want to make the family uncomfortable and the situation awkward.
When you consider this, giving too much might be just as offensive as giving too little.
How to Determine How Much for a Graduation Gift
There are a few basic considerations or guidelines that you can think about in order to come up with how much to give a high school graduate.
There is no hard rule. You can simply up the amount or dial it back a bit depending on these, if you want.
1. Your Personal Budget
The biggest factor to consider when deciding how much to give for high school graduation is your budget. Give whatever you can afford to give!
This is probably the one rule that I’m firm on when it comes to gift giving in general.
Gift giving is a luxury. Just like any other luxury in your life, you don’t want to go broke when spending on it.
No one should be expecting or demanding anything from you anyway so be sure to give only what you can.
2. Your Relationship with the Graduate
Would you stand in front of a high school and pass out $20 bills to random strangers? Probably not.
Make sure that you actually know the graduate before gifting any money. Don’t even bother wasting any cash on a stranger or a random co-worker’s child. You don’t need to give any money.
Now that we’ve decided that money would only be given to graduates that you know personally, exactly how much do you give for high school graduation?
The actual amount would depend on your personal relationship with the person that is graduating. Parents should think $100 and upwards as long as they can afford.
Anyone else can go between $20 and $50 for close relationships and $50 to $100 for very personal and intimate friends or family.
3. The Graduate’s Academic Performance
If you have a close relationship with the graduate and you know them as being hardworking and academically sound, you can throw in a few extra bucks to reward good academic performances. This is totally up to you though.
We can settle on a rule that unless you’re the parents of the graduating senior, you can pick a value of between $20 an $100 that fits in your budget.
However, good work should always be rewarded and if you want to lean a bit to the higher side, feel free to do so.
If you feel more inclined to a monetary graduating gift of $100 because of a student’s GPA, special awards or in order to reward a class rank or scholarship, this is fine.
4. The Graduate’s Extracurricular Performance
You can also consider a student’s non-academic successes when deciding how much for a graduation gift. Athletic achievements as well as successes in other areas such as: art, theatre, band, music and volunteer work, can all be considered.
5. Future Prospects
What’s the plan for after graduation? You can consider this when budgeting how much for high school graduation gifts.
Are they going to college? Did they receive a scholarship or are they covering their tuition in full? Extra cash can always help out a student in college.
Do they plan on working, starting a business or just taking some time off for a bit? You can consider the answers to these questions and gift accordingly.
How Should Monetary Graduation Gifts Be Given?
The most important thing to consider when giving a monetary graduation gift is to do it in a manner that still gives a personal touch.
Giving cash can sometimes be a bit cold, impersonal and can be confused for being the “easy thing to do” when it comes to gift giving. You need to at least include a hand written card or something else to add some warmth to the gift.
1. Graduation Gift Etiquette for Cash
You definitely don’t want to just slap a $20 dollar bill across your graduate’s chest and walk away. Class it up a bit!
Select a nice congratulatory card. Write a warm note congratulating them of their achievements and wishing good luck for the future. Place the cash inside and seal the envelope.
You can now present the money, along with a good luck handshake or hug, depending on your relationship.
2. Graduation Gift Etiquette for Checks
Checks should be written and presented in a similar method to cash. Place in a card, with some hand written sentiments and present to the graduate.
You can also place the check in an envelope and present along with some chocolates, a stuffed toy or a bottle of wine (if permissible).
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3. Bank Deposit for High School Graduation Gift
After deciding how much money to give a high school graduate, you can simply make a bank deposit into their bank account.
For parents, grandparents and very close adult family or friends, this is also a good opportunity to open a bank account for the person, if they don’t have one already.
To class it up a bit, you should place the bank receipt in an envelope and include it with a small gift, similar to the check, or include it with a hand written card.
4. Gift Card Graduation Gift Idea
There is just something about a gift card or gift certificate that radiates warmness and exudes a personal touch, even though it’s essentially unrestricted money to be spent.
You can never go wrong with a Visa or American Express gift card. These are unrestricted and give the graduate the option to spend the funds on whatever they wish. Basically cash, just super elegant!
If you want to up the personality a bit more, gift cards from popular franchises like Target or Bed, Bath and Beyond are always nice. They are also relatively safe.
They’d obviously need dorm room or apartment supplies if they are heading off to college and those gift cards would come in handy. Even if they aren’t going to college or work right away, those gift cards are safe options.
Best Buy or Apple gift cards are also great gifts to give for those graduates that love techy stuff. Even if they aren’t into tech gadgets, they’d be able to pick up essential electronics and supplies. Everyone needs that stuff these days.
Of course, if you know them very well, you can never go wrong with a gift card to their favorite clothes store, restaurant, sporting gear outlet or hobby shop.
5. Creative Ways to Give Monetary Gifts
There are many cool and modern ways to present money these days. They are also extremely popular and incorporate some fun into the act of giving money, while adding a personal touch or even a laugh.
Money flower bouquets, cash necklaces, a piggy bank filled with money, or cash hidden in boring stuff like: calendars, coffee tumblers, pastries, school supplies, etc. are very clever ways to put a fun spin to a monetary graduation gift.
If you are wondering how much to give for high school graduation, and wanting to do something mature and out of the ordinary, consider gifting an investment portfolio.
You can be the one that introduces the graduate to investments in stock, real estate or even cryptocurrency.
This is especially valuable to those who are interested in the world of finance, or even a good way to sway a financially irresponsible teen into making good financial decisions at an early age.
7. Gifting Something of Value
By now you would have a decent idea of how much money to give a high school graduate. But maybe you don’t need to give the gift as money per se. What if you give the cash equivalent of something valuable, like gold jewelry or a piece of art.
Jewelry or precious gems and valuable merchandise for gift giving have been around since before modern money itself. Quality art pieces and antiques even appreciate in value as time goes by.
The receiver would also be less likely to part with the piece, as opposed to cash. They’d genuinely have it for the future or a rainy day. You can probably consider going down this route, for your HS senior gift ideas.
Still Unsure How Much to Give for High School Graduation?
If you are still on the fence with regards to how much to give for a high school graduate or how much for a graduation gift, maybe you should consider a cash alternative.
Let’s be real…giving money is a sensitive area. There is basically no clear and distinct rule and a lot of gray areas and acceptable ranges are involved.
You don’t want to make the receiver feel under appreciated or even like a charity case, in the other extreme. Also, you don’t want to disrespect the parents by giving too much.
This can get annoying!
Maybe the best thing you can do is to forget how much for a graduation gift, in terms of cash value and focus more on the sentimental aspect! Think about alternative to cash HS senior gift ideas!
Non Cash High School Senior Gift Ideas
1. Gifts that are Symbolic
There are gifts that are worth a million times the money that they cost, just because of the sentimental nature. Consider something symbolic and emotionally touching and this would be priceless to the graduate receiving it.
When I graduated, my dad gave me a wooden, graduation themed plaque as my present. On it was inscribed a four lined poem that he had written, basically saying that he was proud of me.
I’m sure it probably costed about $20 but it’s one of the best presents I ever got. It is absolutely priceless.
Customizable school rings, jewelry, mugs, T-shirts and key rings are also great ways to show love and convey congratulations in a manner that defies mere monetary value. Customized desk toppers or book ends are also great ideas.
You can also present the graduate with an appropriately themed book or compilation of motivational poems or sayings.
A popular graduation gift is the Dr. Seuss children’s book “Oh, the Places You’ll Go”. It serves as a fun reminder of childhood and motivation in a world of opportunity.
Write in a heart touching note on the first page or inside the front cover and you’d be golden!
2. Gifts that are Useful
Think of a graduation as the marker for the beginning of a new stage of life. A graduate needs supplies as they embark on their new journey.
Getting a gift that could kickstart their new life after high school would be great. Of course, the details of their plans for after graduation may still be up in the air but safe options are always welcome.
Gifts such as bed sets, coffee sets, coffee makers, dish sets and small appliances can never fail. Regardless of the next step, they would come in as useful.
3. Handcrafted Gifts
Handmade items are probably the most sentimental of all! The gift of time and physical effort will always win as the giver places a piece of themself into the gift.
Create a playlist of songs that you would have shared together over the years. Or songs that are motivating or you know have sentimental value to the graduate. Basically, a modern twist to the mixtape
You can even create a slideshow along with music. A physical photo album compilation is another winner. Hand painted items, paintings, crafts, sculptures are options also.
However, my personal favorite is the scrapbook. Photos along with ticket stubs, random memorabilia, a funny poem and items that spur memories of inside jokes are just the best! That’s next level emotional stuff!
Graduation Gift Etiquette – Pro Tips!
1. Giving Nothing is Okay
The most important thing to remember is to give what you can. People are more understanding than you think. Whatever you can afford is fine…even if it is just a hug, a handshake and a positive word.
Do not feel obligated to give money or to spend money that you do not have!
2. A Little Can go a Long Way
If you do not have a lot of cash to spare, giving $10 or $20 is totally fine. However, you can use even less money to purchase a card, a chocolate and write a lovely note or poem instead.
The graduation occasion is a sentimental one. Be creative and get emotional. You do not need to spend a lot of money to make a great impact.
A framed photo and a motivational phrase may not cost a lot but it would be worth millions in the heart of the right recipient!
3. Do not Give too Much
No one wants to feel like a charity case and parents definitely do not want to feel out done. If you are the parents of the graduate, spend all you want. If you are not, try not to exceed $100.
Grand parents and close family or friends can probably go up to $100 or $200 but shouldn’t go beyond this without at least contacting the parents.
We all know that many grandparents like to spoil their grand kids. Just don’t step on the parents’ toes. This could turn offensive and get ugly quite easily.
4. Contact the Parents if You Need to
If you are in doubt on how much is the max you should spend without entering the awkward level, contact the parents.
Even if you are looking to stick to the lower end of the budget, you can contact the parents to get an idea of what the graduate needs. Maybe you can purchase something that fits your budget and would be beneficial during the post graduation phase of life.
The parents may be the key to sticking to your budget, while still being sentimental or practical, when it comes to picking a gift.
5. Keep Your Gift Private
You definitely shouldn’t go bragging about how much money you gifted someone. It cheapens the sentiment and gives the impression that your gift was simply an avenue for you to boast.
Other persons may even start comparing their gift to yours which just makes for an uncomfortable situation for everyone.
Not to mention, talking about money is frowned upon anyway. So just don’t.
Also, when it comes to cash or valuable items, you do not want to publicize this information for obvious safety reasons.
Be discreet when it comes to your gifting, wish the graduate well, smile and stay hush about it.
6. Splitting a Gift Can be Very Beneficial
When it comes to the topic of gift giving, the idea of being practical often gets lost. Most persons get so caught up in the formality that they don’t even bother to consider the needs of the receiver.
A high school student that’s about to go to college and is worried about being able to afford furniture, bedding and essential small appliances, probably would prefer the cash or a Visa gift card as opposed to a basket of assorted candles and bath salts.
Maybe you can’t afford to buy the entire laptop, bed, desk, electric stove or toaster, but you can probably link up with other well wishers and put together a nice package.
I’m sure the young man or woman that’s graduating and about to take on the world would prefer a gift that they need, as opposed to a luxury item.
Pool your resources and make it happen. Let’s be practical folks!
Frequently Asked Questions for How Much for a Graduation Gift
FAQ: What is a Good Gift Amount for High School Graduate?
A good gift amount for a high school graduate is between $20 and $50, with $50 being generous for friends and relatives. Close friends and family can go up to $100 if they choose. Between $100 and $300 is a good range for parents, with $300 being very generous.
FAQ: What is a typical graduation gift amount?
The typical graduation gift amount is $20 to $50 for the average friend and relative, $50 to $100 for close friends and family, and $100 to $300 for parents.
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Final Thoughts on How Much Should I Give for Graduation Gift
When it comes to how much to give for a high school graduation, as a present to the graduate, there is no direct answer. When it comes to the minimum amount, it all depends on what you can afford.
Remember that you don’t even need to give anything, if you cannot afford. Do not put unnecessary emotional and financial pressure on yourself. A sentimental non-cash gift is also a great option.
Furthermore, simply a handshake and the word “congratulations” can go a long way.
As for the maximum amount, try not to exceed $100 or at least not by too much, unless you have the consent of the graduating senior’s parents.
Do you have any other advice for how much money should you give at a graduation party, or any additional tips for graduation gift etiquette? Share with us in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!
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