Graduation card on yellow background

Whether the graduates in your life are finishing high school, college, or something else entirely, navigating the waters around graduation gifting can be tricky, especially after a year of virtual learning and celebrations. This week, we’re answering some of the most common gifting etiquette questions below to make sure you’re prepared for every graduation celebration. 

Is it appropriate to give money?

In a word, yes. The traditional gift for a graduate is cash, and it’s what anyone starting a new phase of life wants and needs most. eGift cards and prepaid credit cards are also great options. If you’re looking to get creative, consider giving college-bound grads a few rolls of laundry quarters for their dorm instead of a check for the same amount, or giving a grad with a great job offer a pre-loaded bus or subway pass for their new city. 

Okay so… how much?

This really depends on your relationship to the graduate. If they’re a close friend or family member, you should plan to give more than you would to a coworker or acquaintance. Your stage in life is also a factor. You aren’t expected to give as much as someone further along in their life and career if you’ve also recently graduated. A general rule of thumb is $25 for an acquaintance and $50-$100+ for someone with closer ties. We recommend giving a little extra to acknowledge a particular accomplishment. If you know a grad who was named valedictorian or accepted to a prestigious university, a little extra recognizes their hard work.

What if I can’t spend a lot of money?

There are also lots of good gifting options for those who can’t or don’t want to give cash. A grad heading out of state for college might appreciate a thoughtful memento of their hometown (such as a Homesick candle), or something practical and simple for their dorm like shower shoes. Remember that it’s ultimately the thought that counts, and everyone appreciates a heartfelt card offering some sage wisdom for their next chapter.

What if I’m not attending the party?

With many celebrations still happening virtually, people will surely understand if you’re not able to attend their party in person and bring a gift. However at minimum, you should still send a card to express your regrets for missing the party and wish the grad luck. Customize digital greeting cards from Evite with photos and video messages, and be sure to add a personal touch with some favorite memories or your best advice for their future. 

What if I’m also graduating?

If you and all your friends are graduating together, it might seem silly to give each other money or other gifts just to receive the same thing back. For close friends, stick to a nice card and a personal gift, like a photo album of the time you spent together in school. 

Got lots of graduation party invites this spring? Get inspired and browse popular gifts on Amazon