It’s graduation gift idea season and I have the perfect high school graduation gifts. list for you! Or, at the very least, better ideas to stuff the cash into INSTEAD OF one of your business envelopes you found in the desk drawer.

For our oh so special, roll-with-the-times, ready-for-anything-now Class of 2021 I have 10 graduation gift ideas to bring some extra sparkle to high school graduation this year.

Now’s the time to figure out what to get the Graduate. Preferably something that costs less than a car, but something they’ll also treasure. Am I right?

Let’s start with 5 high school graduation gifts under $50

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1/ Books

Any book-lover will be excited to add to their shelf. to pass the time, in the car, plane, or downtime reading. Buy them a full set, like the Red Queen series or Confessions of a Shopaholic, or buy one book and tuck cash inside the front cover.

Ready Player One (and Two) and Armada by Ernest Cline. Both focus on video games/movies/music from an earlier time period but have a futuristic theme.

An uplifting-ish story could be Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider, a book about kids with a fatal disease who still find space for love.

Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella is a fun classic. {And slipping cash inside of this book cover may lead to a really cute pair of shoes to go along with the storyπŸ˜‰}

The Red Queen Series. A four book series by Victoria Aveyard that was really hard to set down. The kind of book where you let the laundry pile up for days so you can finish.

2/ It’s Dormify time

The Graduate needs the dorm room essentials anyway, so why not jazz it up and make it FUN! Make them Dormify has great dorm decorating ideas and you can put together a dorm basket to give them a head start before Fall. {Get a few for under $50 or go big and get them really stocked for school in the over $50.}

SMP Sidenote:: If you don’t get the SMP Sparkle Note {i.e. newsletter} once a month, sign up today so you don’t miss the Graduation BIGGIES coming out soon {Ultimate Dorm Checklist, College shopping + packing list…}

3/ Water bottles on the go…across campus

Water bottles are everywhere + a lot of cute ones too! If you know the college they’re attending, look-up the college bookstore and order them some college swag. Then, tie a ribbon around a $20, drop it to the bottom and tie a bow around the lid or handle.

Viola! A WAYYYYY cuter “cash envelope” for the high school graduation gifts.

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Graduation Gift Ideas

4/ Gift card Bouquet

I know, I know. That’s the conventional approach. But who doesn’t love getting a Starbucks/Target/Barnes & Noble gift card? If you want to DIY with them, make a bouquet of cards or add one into a coffee mug with candy.

5/ Theme gifts for high school graduation

If you know the Graduate loves coffee, or never misses March Madness, give them little pieces of their passion. Coffee Lovers get a coffee mug, Starbucks card, travel mug for class, mini creamers to keep in their dorm room. {This could lead into the over $50 section too by adding a mini Keurig machine.}

March Madness, or sports fanatic can build a tailgating kit filled with college throw, mini cooler, chips, pretzels…

These next high school graduation gifts rise up above $50

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6/ Alex and Ani Jewelry

As a Mom with a daughter in college I have a sentimental place for story pieces. Alex and Ani have ALL KINDS of statement pieces, but this Mother-Daughter bracelet is a piece of home your Graduate can wear everyday {and you can too}. Not a mother-daughter gift? They have plenty of of pieces to make a perfect graduation gift.

7/ Netflix Movie subscription

A one-year subscription to Netflix makes movie night in a college dorm easy for the new freshie. Grab a popcorn bucket from Target, fill with microwave popcorn, water bottles, + movie box candy, It’s a great relaxer with friends, and who doesn’t love the silver screen?

8/ Airpods

Nothing’s better than blasting show tunes at 3 am…

Okay, maybe sleeping.

Sharing a room with a perfect new stranger has its excitement + challenges. And keeping the roomie up all night while binge watching the latest Netflix series that just dropped is one of them. Help the Graduate out by getting them a good pair of wireless headphones. If you’re a Costco member then have specials on AirPods around Christmas + Graduation time.

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9/ Shopping Spree

For the Fashionista Graduate why not go out for a shopping day to all the cute local boutiques and find cute wears for the college. If you been around SMP for very long you know I’m a big supporter of SHOP LOCAL -SHOP SMALL.. And this year it’s even more important to shop small + you can find the cutest things. Adding some new college swag to the shopping mix is fun too!

10/ Oh Yeah… Cash anyone?

Students heading to college LOOOOOOVE some extra cash for those late night taco runs. I have more fun ways to gift the cash on the SMP Pinterest Board if you in the mood to explore some more.

A perfect 10 for high school graduation gifts!

Heres to a Bright & Shiny Graduation for the Class of 2021!

andrea, signature, shining-moments-photography

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Shining Moments Photography is a full service High School Senior + Headshot Photographer located in Sycamore, Illinois. | New blog posts every Wednesday with ideas to help make life easier and capture those milestone moments before they are whisked away to the past.

This week’s Shiny Shares::

πŸ“šReading:: The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella

πŸ“ΊWatching:: Grace and Frankie {Add a list of shows to watch with the Netflix subscription in your graduation gift ideas}

🍏Snacking:: Caramel + Cheese popcorn

πŸ’–Loving:: I’m back in Athleta yoga pants this week & remember why I love them


Modern High School Senior Portraits + Headshot Photographer serving Dekalb County and Kane County


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