Graduation Gift Giving | Access to Culture

Graduation Gift Giving


By Sharon Schweitzer


May and June are the months of college, high school, nursing, trade school and university commencements. A time filled with exams, finals, papers, and bells ringing freedom. Graduation parties and open houses are common as students celebrate meeting their goals, after years of challenging work, and begin preparations for the next phase in the journey. Let us help answer your puzzling ponderings about how to be gracious during graduation gift giving season.

How much should I spend on a graduation gift? 

It is important to weigh your relationship with the graduate, their parents and family, your budget, resources, and time to determine your gift giving. The National Retail Federation (NRF) conducted a 2023 survey stating that the average person plans to spend $120 on a graduation gift. 

It is crucial to determine your spending and comfort level for all gifts, including graduation gifts. Depending on family sizes, far-flung friends, and neighborhood sizes, gifting may be extensive. Remember a thoughtful card also celebrates the graduate. Determine what you can afford, stay within your budget, and then write the check or personally hand them a card with cash. Remember, avoid sending cash through the mail.

Is it better to give cash or a physical gift for a graduation?

Since the relationship with the graduate is a determining factor and the cost of living varies regionally, it is difficult to determine an exact gift amount. The cost of living can be calculated by the location of the graduate’s high school, college, or workplace. These guidelines may be helpful:

  • Acquaintances and friends: $10-20
  • Children of family friends: $20-50
  • Relatives (sibling, niece): $50-100
  • Children from (grand or great-grand)parents: $100-300

What are some thoughtful gift ideas for a recent graduate?

  • Electronic photo frames
  • Universal chargers for graduates on the go
  • Fine pen & pencil sets
  • Monogrammed luggage
  • Investor’s Business Daily, Harvard Business Review, New York Times, and other on-line subscriptions
  • Briefcase / leather portfolio with school logo
  • Hallmark recommended books: A Guide to Surviving and Thriving After Graduation and Seize Your Dreams: Inspirations to Follow Your Heart Now Is the Time
  • Crystal timepiece or fine paperweight
  • Electronic tablets
  • Crane monogrammed stationery / initial note cards
  • Gift cards

Remember the graduate will be pleased to receive your sage advice and thoughtful card, regardless of your budget.


Photo by www.thankbox.com/blog

Sharon Schweitzer JD, is a diversity and inclusion consultant, cross-cultural trainer, etiquette expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE Centre, she is an attorney and mediator. Sharon served as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business,  Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, won a coveted Kirkus Star, and was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books. She’s a winner of numerous awards, including the British Airways International Trade Award at the Greater Austin Business Awards.

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