The Perfect, Practical DIY Graduation Gift
Give the Graduate a gift basket they can actually use, for less than $15!
It’s that time of year. The graduation announcements are flooding in. On an annual basis, I can pretty much count on our family diet the last two to three weekends in May consisting of nothing but hot dogs, cupcakes, chips and those little cubes of cheese that you pick up by utilizing your super precise toothpick stabbing skills (my fave).
As educators, with the dozens of parties we are asked to attend yearly, it just isn’t financially feasible to give a gift to everyone. However, there are always some students with whom we have formed a little deeper bond or a unique relationship with. One of my Seniors this year became our numero uno babysitter. My kids adore her and she has a little extra special place in my heart, so I wanted to give her a gift that was useful and practical for when she leaves to go to college.
I remember the first time I moved out from home, I had a nervous breakdown when I realized I needed scissors and didn’t have any. I thought “How do people know what they need!? Scissors have just always been around when I needed them!” I was fearful of what else I would need and didn’t have…it was a nasty, downward emotional spiral until I drug myself to the local Wal-Mart where every other newly independent young adult was hanging out resting in the peace that Wal-Mart would be able to supply our adulthood.
The memory of the aforementioned trying time inspired me to compile a gift basket with practical items that will be helpful the day a graduate moves into their dorm room. The best part is that this gift can be made with less than $15 and one stop at the Dollar Tree! (On that note, the legal beagles of blog-world aka the FTC, require me to state that this post contains affiliate links below, which means I may receive compensation if you make a purchase through links on my site. To further advise and disclose, I truly did purchase all items at the Dollar Tree (DT) and for the sake of your budget, you may want to do the same. However, if your DT does not have these items, or you desire more convenience, I included the amazon links.) Now, back to the good stuff.
I themed the basket around health and cleaning. Truth be told, had I used coupons at other stores, several of the items probably could have been found even cheaper (i.e. the tissues). However, as frugal and budget friendly as I try to be, there are certain times of the year that I don’t think the few cents are worth the hassle. The month of May, being peak season for us as educators with AP testing, finals and graduation, is one of those times. It was totally worth the extra few dollars overall to get everything done in one place.
The Dollar Tree had several plastic baskets in their summer section that are totes adorbs, including this mint green basket, which I thought was slightly feminine and not too “girly.” The basket provides the perfect “base” for the gift and can be re-used for small piles of laundry, further supporting the theme.
To fill the basket, I picked up the following items:
- Travel Size Tide 10oz Refreshing Breeze Laundry Detergent.This should get her through the first 6 loads.
- A First-aid kit. The Dollar Tree had very basic ones, which were perfect for this basket. You just never know when you will need one. A first aid kit is something you want to have BEFORE you need it! If you prefer shopping online, Amazon has the this cute Home First Aid Kit for less than $4 after shipping!
- Microfiber Cleaning Cloths- DT had a two-pack in bright, fun colors. Environmentally-friendly and cute.
- Disinfectant wipes- This is a must for quick, dorm-room cleaning, especially during the height of cold and flu seasons.
- 4 In 1 Aerosol Air Freshener, 8 Oz Can, Hawaii Exotic Papaya & Hibiscus Flower– cause, you know, dorm rooms can smell funky sometimes.
- Gain Dryer Sheets. DT has smaller boxes for $1, but it will be enough for several loads.
- Earbuds.College kids seem to need several pairs and Dollar Tree has a great selection of earbuds that are cute, fun and in a variety of colors. Plus, at only $1, it doesn’t ruin your day if they end up getting destroyed. They are the perfect “tech-y” addition to your gift. I will give you that these are no Bose. But, I can’t live my life gingerly carrying around $100 earbuds in bubble wrap. I don’t think college kids can either. Amazon has their AmazonBasics In-Ear Headphones , which at less than $5 (including shipping) are definitely affordable!
- Super cute post-it notes. Who doesn’t ever need more of these?
- A box of Facial Tissue- Spring for the kind with lotion. Just do it….
10. Ramen Noodles- I think every good gift needs a little element of humor. Ramen is just screams ” Welcome to College!”
11. Mini-hand sanitizers. I love this cute 3-pack, scented hand sanitizer that they have at DT!
I threw in a few extras, like a book (Through the Looking-Glass, because she is a literature lover, and I included a special message in the cover) and some Bath and Body Works lotion I had picked up earlier this week with a coupon ( To read all about that, click here.)
The extras are not necessary.
The fun part is customizing the gift a bit and selecting items based on your student’s personality. The shrink-wrap used to hold it all together was the final item purchased at DT. I rifled through my gift wrapping supplies and found school colors and voila!
This is a nice, substantial gift that doesn’t have to break your wallet. The graduate in your life will be grateful on move-in day! I forgot to include a pair of scissors. At least she won’t get a paper cut and realize she doesn’t have a band-aid.