Mother of Necessity

because sometimes, you just have to.

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10 Graduation Gift Ideas

Grad gift

Graduation gifts can be hard. Do you give money and how much? Do you buy a gift, what do I buy?

I know it’s hard to get the right gift for anyone, let alone a teenager that is stepping into the grown up world or for the college student entering the real world of working. It’s a huge milestone in their lives and how can we celebrate that with them with a gift. Decisions, Decisions.

For me, I have 2 general rules. First, I don’t spend more than I can afford. My gift is to help the student, not complete the list of ALL the must haves. A little can go a long way. Second: If the gift is for a close relative and I have a big connection with the student I give up to $100 (when I can). The gift can be cash, gift cards or physical gifts. The least I give is $30 or a gift that matches the $30.

Money is a given for a graduation gift. If they are going away for college or entering the workforce, money is a great option. Who couldn’t use cash?

Let’s think outside the box a little bit.

  1. For the car: You can buy a kit that includes jumper cables, tire gage and tools. Gift card for an oil change, GPS device, tire patch kit,
  2. Dorm living: sewing kit (travel size), desk lamp, wash cloths, towels, scissors, Plastic (reusable/picnic) plates, bowls and cups. Rolls of paper towels, air freshener, Clorox wipes. You can put all of these in a Rubbermaid tote or laundry basket. The tote or basket is part of the gift.
  3. For electronics: Surge protectors, HDMI cord, docking station, I-tunes gift cards, ear buds, security box for laptop, Bluetooth speaker, portable DVD player, flash drives cord keepers, noise canceling head phones.
  4. Emergency kit: Make a list of family contact phone numbers, Band-Aids, alcohol wipes, Neosporin, Tums, Aspirin, thermometer
  5. Office supplies: Printer paper, ink cartridges, pens, spiral note books, stapler/staples, paper clips, Dry erase board with markers, Post-it notes, Highlighters, Sharpies, 3 ring binder, 2-pocket folders and 3 prong folder, staple remover, hole punch

Now let’s look into some one gift ideas:

  1. A tablet: Such as the Kindle Fire, Samsung Galaxy or whatever brand you like. These can be priced a little over $100. These are great investment for the student. I bought one for my son and it paid for itself in one quarter of school. They can load textbooks, study guides and other helpful apps.
  2. Security devices: Such as a water bottle that holds a credit card, a key and cash. These price out about $20. How about an apartment/dorm security kit that offers a door stop alarm, window alarm and a personal alarm. Price for security kit can be $20 to $200. You can also buy a device to help locate keys, purses, bags. There are many items out there like this and range from $25 to $200.
  3. Camera: Digital cameras can be under $100. You could also go with a camera lens that attaches to their cell phone to take better pictures. These are a little bit pricier. Another idea would be a video camera such as the Go-Pro ($$$) but a hand-held is just as good and less expensive.
  4. Kitchen items: Most colleges allow for a microwave and a mini refrigerator. Generally the microwave will be under $100, but the fridge can be expensive. Another option is something called a 3 in 1 breakfast station. This is a one cup coffee maker, a mini toaster oven and a skillet top. These can range from $40 to $100.
  5. AAA car service for a year. I renewed this every year for my son and it paid for itself in the first year. He locked his keys in the car, a battery died, and he had a flat tire. All taken care of by AAA service.

As you can see some of the gift ideas can be used for the high school grad going to college (or not) and for the college grad for their apartment or going into the workforce.

I hope the ideas have helped you in your search for gifts.

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I would love to hear your thoughts, please leave a comment.

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6 Points For Planning a Graduation Party

Center piece, my son's graduation

Center piece, my son’s graduation

Planning for your Grads party can be hard and time consuming. I know it was for me when I planned my son’s.

Since I live on a budget, I planned a year in advance. This way it didn’t hurt my wallet as much.

I know graduation is only about a month away, you still have plenty of time to plan your Grads’ party and keep the budget down.

Let’s keep this as simple as possible. I have found out that you don’t need to spend a lot of money do have a real nice party for your Grad.

Keep in mind this is a party for them, not you. Most kids don’t want all the stuff we want. Like, expensive decorations, an array of food or a grand venue. The only thing our kids want are their friends and family, the gifts and some food to eat. Maybe a game or two to play.

Outdoor setting for my son's graduation party

Outdoor setting for my son’s graduation party

1.Food: Ask your child what is the one (1) food they would like to have. If your kid likes this food then all his/her friends will too. (No waste).

*If you don’t want to cook, I suggest going to your local grocery store and ask them to make up fruit trays, vegetable trays, cheese tray and a lunch meat tray. This is simple, convenient and you will only have to purchase a few more items (chips, dip, and buns) and you are done. You want to call now to make sure the grocer has plenty of time.

*If you and your family are cooks then you can do your own catering. You can cook a large ham, hamburgers/hotdogs on the grill, make sloppy joes, meatballs (for sub sandwich) or a vat of spaghetti. You can have a salad, baked beans, make grandma’s potato salad and some fruit.

*The key here is at least one main dish (I suggest 2 just for variety), 2-4 side dishes and a couple snack items (chips, fruit, raw veggies).

2.Drinks: Bottled water and lots of it. You can buy 12 packs of pop/cola. In my family we have to have sweet ice tea. Lemonade is always a favorite. You can do a punch of some sort. But there always has to be someone filling the bowl. Have plenty of ice. Have a cooler full of ice.

3.Cake: No need to go fancy (unless you want to). Have your local bakery make a sheet cake that has a creative top. Like: your kids school mascot and the year. Use your imagination.

4.Decorations: Keep this simple too. Some balloons in school colors, a Graduation sign, and a few center pieces. You don’t have to decorate every table.

My centerpieces were my sons’ senior pictures and a couple baby pictures put in frames with confetti on the tables. Simple, cheap and easy.

5.Gift table/picture table: If you don’t use pictures for center pieces you can do a montage of pictures on foam board or a DVD loaded with pictures. This table can also be the gift table.

Get a box, cut a hole in the top (so cards can be placed inside and wrap box with wrapping paper. Have plenty of space for wrapped gifts as well.

6.Items for party:

*Table clothes, enough to cover all tables. It makes a big impact and it’s pretty.

*Plates, napkin, silverware, cups: Dinner plates: enough for 2 per person. Cake plates: enough for every person, Napkins: 2 per person, Silverware: 2 per person, Cups: 2 per person. You may have leftovers, but better safe than sorry.

*Crock pots, warmers, roasting pans,

*Coolers: to hold ice and cans of pop/soda/cola

*Serving utensils: forks, spoons, tongs,

*Extension cords: for crock pots, TV and anything that needs to be plugged in.

*Tents: if being held outside

*Chairs/Tables: you can ask in the invitations for people to bring chairs, you can rents chairs and tables. You can also ask your local churches if they would lend/rent out chairs/tables

*Trash cans/bags: at least 2 large trash cans

*Helpers for set up and clean up: I suggests 3-4 helpers

*Leftover containers: containers that you can freeze or containers to send home with people

*Condiments: for sandwiches

Tips: Plan for everyone to have at least one serving of the main dish and ½ eating the sides. 1/2 of your guests will eat cake, plan accordingly.

Drinks: plan at least 2 bottles of water and one other drink. Especially if your party is outside in the heat. is a great website to get your supplies

Make sure there is plenty of parking.

Send out invitations at least 2 weeks in advance. I recommend 1 month ahead so people can plan for the big day.

Don’t forget to remind your Grad to send “Thank You” notes to every person that helped with the Graduation party or sent/gave a gift. You want to send these out as soon as possible but no later than 1 week after the event.

LAST: Have fun, relax, take pictures (or have someone do that for you) and watch how much fun your Grad will have at their special day, celebrating them and their achievement.

If you have any questions please leave in a comment. I will respond within 24 hours…..Promise.

Let me know if this is something you liked or what you will use. Thanks.