Graduation day is a celebration of an amazing investment of time, money and love into the life of a young person. While it’s traditional in many cultures and families to celebrate graduation day by offering a token for such a special event, there’s nothing that says such a token must cost a lot—or anything at all. These gifts are each cheap—in some cases free (aside from your time to assemble them)—but they’re all filled with deep meaning and significance!

1. A memory scrapbook

Whether digital or paper, a memory scrapbook is something your graduate will carry with him or her forever—like a very personal yearbook that spans decades instead of months.

Memory book ideas

  • Class photos: Include his or her "official" class picture from every year of school, starting in kindergarten.
  • Categories: Create sections—like "school," "summer vacation," "sports," "music," and others, including pictures from significant moments in each.
  • Family photo tree: Make a family photo tree, going back in time even before your grad was born to share photos of relatives (later, your grandkids will love this too).
  • Memorabilia: Include original artwork, sports ribbons, and other memorabilia as available.
  • Journal style: Create a "journal" style memory book where the photo is on one side and you include handwritten (or typed) notes about a special memory of yours from that photo.

Note: If your grad is a chef (or aspires to become one) a family recipe book can be a great alternative (or addition) to a memory book!

2. A "starter" goodie basket

Here at KCL (and thanks to the miracle of couponing) it’s possible to put together a fabulous gift basket for just a few bucks! Many grads can secretly feel overwhelmed as they move away from home for the first time and set up their own dorm room, apartment, or first home, and "starter" baskets are a great way to offer some cheap help at just the right moment.

Starter basket ideas

  • Laundry basket: Got great deals on fabric softener, detergent, delicates bags, stain cleaners, and other laundry essentials? Nab a cheap laundry basket at your local dollar store and fill it up with finds from your couponing stash!
  • Toolkit basket: Every new grad needs to know how to hang art, unclog toilets, measure spaces, and other common household "fix it" tasks. Shop around for deals on single tools or starter toolkits, then add in some nails, screws, gloves, and a measuring tape, and you'll be good to go.
  • First aid basket: Into every life some stings, bites, scrapes, and cuts must eventually come. While nothing in your first aid starter basket needs to be expensive, it will all be much appreciated as the need arises! Include band-aids, athletic tape, antiseptic wipes, anti-itch lotion, antibacterial hand cleaner, a pair of tweezers, small scissors, and any other essentials your grad will need.
  • Cleaning basket: Paper towels, scrubbies, dish soap, bleach, cleaning sprays and powders—all of these are essentials for starting a new home. Throw in a dustpan, broom, and a mop, and your new grad will be set to go on the cheap!
  • Beverage basket: Starting a day without caffeine is like not starting the day for most new grads. Fill up a cute cheap basket (or a free one you happen to already have!) with coffee and tea samples or good deals you got on single brew bags and powder (heck, throw in some of your coupons too so he or she can save in the future!).
  • Snacks or "favorites" basket: Fill it up with fun—from candy to cookies, crackers to chips, sodas to teas, this is their "go to" basket when they need a little break, some comfort, or reminders of home!

3. Gift cards

Since gift cards are such a popular gift-alternative for many busy gift-givers today, chances are you have some lying around that you may never use. So pass them along to your hungry grad who will treat them like gold! If you have more than a few, you can even make a fun, little "coupon and gift card" basket to help them learn how to save even as they spend!

4. "I need…" gift certificates

This is one gift idea that will keep giving your grad (whether off at college or out in the "real world" working) warm fuzzies all year long. Give a series of "I need…" gift certificates that are redeemable upon demand and can be any price from free on up.

Gift certificate ideas

  • "I need…cookies."
  • "I need…$5."
  • "I need…a hug."
  • "I need…help affording travel to come home and visit you."
  • "I need…(let the grad fill in the blanks).”