Top 10 Graduation Gifts under $200

photo graduation invitationMoney Well Spent

The graduation invitations are received and the big day is coming. If you didn’t have a budget, you could get the graduate something incredible… like a car, vacation, or a new laptop. The list for their new adult life is endless. In the real world, on a budget, you may be looking for some ideas for practical gifts that will really be used and appreciated. Here are some favorites for less than $200.

1. Prepaid Cell Phone – start at about $79

Teens and young adults consider cell phones to be more than just a convenience. They are the main tool of their social life. If the mom-sponsored cell phone is ending when the graduate moves out, a great gift is a prepaid cell phone. You can get a prepaid kit, like one from T-mobile that includes a cool wireless phone, starter minutes, a battery, a charger, and a hands-free headset. You can add more starter minutes if you have a slightly larger budget.

2. Camera

There are plenty of fun times ahead, without the family camera available. Does the graduate own a decent camera? When choosing one, don’t necessarily get the first one you look at. Choose one with the longest optical zoom. (Digital zoom and 12 megapixels won’t really help you capture better photos.) Also, make sure the camera has a rechargable battery. Cameras that use AA batteries will cost the grad a fortune in batteries just to keep the camera going. Check Consumer Reports for a fast comparison. We love our Olympus and Sony cameras and recommend them often.

3. Dorm Refrigerator

If the new dorm does not provide refrigerators, which many are doing now, it is a college-life necessity. Then when you go visit the cramped and cluttered dorm room, you can have a cold drink, and your student can keep perishable snacks available.

4. Luggage

What student has decent luggage? About none. A good, sturdy suitcase will hold up for years of student excursions, weekend jaunts and trips home. If left to their budget, they may only be able to afford a cheap suitcase that will not weather many luggage handlers. Check the bag ratings. The wheels need to last!

5.  Resume Writing Service

Does your grad have goals, but trouble getting started? Great background and experience but no presentation? Or an interesting job history which needs careful translation? A professional resume writing service can provide a great start to their job search by presenting all the details in a positive, succinct and beautiful resume. Just add job leads. Check out

6. Soft-Sided Briefcase

If your college grad is going into business, a professional looking briefcase is necessary today. Taking work home is the norm, often with the company laptop. A quality, versatile briefcase is a nice polishing touch to their new business persona.

A versatile soft-sided briefcase makes the trip to and from work a breeze. Consider a leather messenger bag for a trendy look that will make a good impression at school.

7. iPod or MP3 Player

Kids today download the songs they want onto their MP3 player and take them everywhere. Since they travel, they also get beat up. How about a gift of a fresh new iPod to take to college?

8. A Small TV with DVD Player

A TV is a necessity to any student today, making it more appreciated as a gift. Two items any student will want for her dorm room, or first apartment, and for many years to come.

9. Clothing Gift Card

The young grad always appreciates the opportunity to get some new outfits for their new life. A gift card to their favorite clothing store ensures that they will feel good about their wardrobe in their new life: work, college or travels.

100 dollar bill

The Stand-by Gift for All Occasions

10. Money

OK. This one is obvious. Money is the one thing that works with any need, at any store. Maybe it doesn’t seem personal or caring to give cash, but it is always appreciated by the graduate. He is saving toward some big purchase… computer, tuition, car… and you can be a part of that goal.