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10 graduation gift ideas all for less than $50

These will cover all your grad’s bases

Coffee sitting on a counter.
Coffee sitting on a counter.

It isn’t always easy to budget for graduation gifts, especially amid the pandemic and with other holidays that fall during the same season.

Fortunately, there are plenty of practical gifts that are budget friendly. Here are 10 all for $50 or less that we think the graduate in your life will enjoy.


1. Laundry supplies

Whether he or she is heading to a college campus or a new home, graduates living on their own for the first time will appreciate some laundry essentials to get started. Put together a gift set that includes a laundry basket, detergent, fabric softener, dryer sheets and a roll of quarters. If you have some extra cash leftover, you could even throw in a drying rack.

2. Tool kit

If you have a friend, son or daughter who is moving into their first home after graduating school, a tool kit is a gift that the recent grad can use right away. At minimum, most include a hammer, flathead screwdriver, Phillips head screwdriver, pliers, adjustable wrench, measuring tape and level. So practical.

3. Microwave

Microwaves are beneficial gifts for college students who want to skip cafeteria food once in a while, or who’d like to quickly make a snack in between classes. The microwave is also a staple of any young adult’s kitchen. Try to find a machine with adjustable power levels and pre-set menu options.

4. Car safety kit

To ensure the graduate’s safety on the road, you can gift him or her with a car safety kit, or you can purchase the emergency supplies separately and present them in a sturdy box or milk crate. Whichever option you decide on, include the following must-haves: jumper cables, a reflective triangle, blanket, flashlight with batteries, duct tape and scissors. If your budget permits, also include a gas can.

5. Coffee maker

A coffee maker is the perfect gift for a recent grad who regularly needs a caffeine boost as part of the morning routine. Look for a coffee machine that features auto shutoff, a removable filter basket and the ability for one to set brewing times.

6. Linens

Bed sheets and pillow cases have a variety of price points. One inexpensive option is a fabric with a cotton and polyester blend. This type of fabric is both durable and wrinkle resistant, which will give the grad’s bed a neat, clean look. For a softer feel, look for fabric that is 100% cotton. If chemicals are a concern for the gift recipient, search for pure-finish sheets.

7. First aid kit

Rest easy by giving the gift of safety to your graduate. Be sure that the first aid kit includes bandages in various sizes, tweezers, pain relievers, a cold pack, latex or nitrile gloves, a breathing barrier, scissors, thermometer, alcohol wipes, medical tape and gauze. As a bonus, include emergency contact names and phone numbers inside the box.

8. Grilling machine

Grilling machines are ideal for health-conscious graduates because the machines have drip trays to catch the fat from the meat. Another plus is that the grills are versatile, so graduates can cook chicken, sausage, hamburger, or whatever else their hearts desire. Grilling machines come in different sizes and feature a variety of functions from model to model. For a high school grad who is about to start college, it’s best to look for a small, basic one.

9. Clock radio

If the recent graduate has a smartphone or MP3 player, there are plenty of clocks that will charge his or her device overnight. Search for a clock that has two alarms, so the gift recipient can set alarms to wake up on time for different classes or work shifts.

10. Laptop backpack

Laptop backpacks are convenient gifts for college students and young adults who are new to the workforce. A typical laptop backpack has wide straps to make the load lighter on one’s shoulders. The most useful feature is the dedicated laptop compartment, which will ensure the laptop won’t get scratched or damaged by other things in the bag. To be on the safe side, look for a bag with a lengthy or lifetime warranty.

Did you like our ideas? Do you have more? Let us know in the comment section below.