Graduation Gift Giving Etiquette and Guidelines

May and June are the months of college, high school, nursing, trade school and university commencements. What’s the best way to be gracious during graduation gift giving season to recognize the new grad for all his or her hard work?

Etiquette expert Sharon Schweitzer, founder of Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide, offers this advice:

Gift Giving Reflects Relationship Significance

It is important to weigh your relationship with the graduate, their parents and family, your budget, resources and time to determine your gift giving. National Retail Federation (NRF) conducted a 2016 survey stating that the average person plans to spend $106.45 on a graduation gift. So, if you have genuinely connected with the graduate, express your genuine pride. If you’re not sure, send a thoughtful card.

Fellow Student Gifts

As a fellow student who may or may not be graduating, handcrafted gifts serve as a wonderful capstone to your friends. A small card, a homemade video filled with your college adventures, or framed photos of college memories are special gifts.

Gift ideas for Graduates

Coming up with the perfect gift for a new graduate can be a challenge, even when you have known them for years. Is your grad finishing a PhD, nursing degree, trade school certification, or obtaining their B.S. or M.B.A? Gifts that may assist them as they take their next steps include:

·        Universal chargers for graduates on the go

·        Picture frames, mugs, travel totes

·        Fine pen & pencil sets

·        Monogrammed luggage

·        Local business publication subscription

·        Briefcase / leather portfolio with school logo

·        Books related to their interests

·        Waterford desktop clock

·        Mont Blanc business card organizer

·        Electronic tablets and laptops

·        Crane monogrammed stationery / initial note card

Gifting Cash or a Gift Card

Yes, both are appropriate and it is important to stay comfortably within your budget. The sum given depends on the amount you are comfortable giving, and your connection with the recipient:

·        $25 is average for a close friend (or child of a close friend).

·        $50 or more is appropriate for a close relative.

·        $20 is the average for a not-so-close friend.

·        NRF states 32% of consumers buy a gift for at least one graduate, so manage your resources accordingly.

Include a Hand-written Note

No matter what kind of gift you give, always include a hand-written note of congratulations. This is a simple way to personalize your gift and make it extra special.


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Washington FAMILY Staff

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