Graduation Day - possibly the proudest moment in a parent's life after successful potty training! Your little one has graduated from high school or college and is now ready to tackle life head-on. But you worry because, in your head, they're still innocent little infants in a big, bad world. While that may be true, you need to let them go at some point. If you've already made that decision and they're off to college or higher education or the workplace, you'll be looking for something memorable to gift them before they finally leave the nest. Your main graduation gift is probably a really big one, like a car or an investment in their name (check out these graduation gift ideas
), but you can also give them smaller gifts that they'll have an immediate use for. That's what we cover here, and all the gift ideas listed here are available at under $200, which we think is a reasonable amount of money to spend on a functional and practical gift that will last a while. Alternatively, if you're buying for a friend or a relative, this is a good selection to choose from.
Graduation Gifts for Under $200
A Smart Pen is a digital device that records everything you write and everything you hear! It's ideal for a student headed off to college to write reams and reams of lecture notes. Lectures can also be recorded as audio, and all the files are transmitted directly to a laptop via Bluetooth. The pen holds about 2GB of data, which should last quite a few days before it has to be purged for the next set of sessions. There are plenty of models available for under $200, and this is definitely something they'll be grateful for when their friends are in a harried search for lecture notes. It simply digitizes everything you put on paper. The only downside is that it only works on a special notebook and takes a special cartridge, but they're not that expensive considering the amount of time they can save your child at college.
Car Video Recorder
This is a really useful gadget to have onboard, and it doesn't cost a pretty penny. The data is stored on a microSD memory card so the information can be uploaded to a laptop or to a cloud service. God forbid, if your kid is ever in an accident, a car video recorder will capture the whole thing. For minor accidents, it can provide evidence to insurance companies to prove that your son or daughter was not a fault. If your kid has a car without a built-in dashcam, this is a great alternative. The good ones have got a wide, 160-degree viewing angle and a large aperture for clear image and video capture at night. Get two of them and you pretty much the entire car covered, save a couple of blind spots. It comes with either a suction mount that makes it easy to move around or an adhesive mount for a more permanent fixture. You also have 16GB and 32GB options. You'll see a lot of dashcams for under $200 from well-known brands like Transcend and Garmin.
An Introductory Flying Lesson
This one's not so much a utility gift as a fun one. Learning to fly is nearly every kid's dream, and some of them keep wanting to do it when they grow up. So why not treat your daughter or son or a few flying lessons so they can decide if they want to pursue that as a hobby? Flying lessons are generally expensive but a single lesson can be purchased for as little as $110. It's enough to give your son or daughter a taste of the sky and maybe even fly the plane, if only for a few minutes with a seasoned pilot by their side. It could be the thrill of their lifetime and you could be reigniting a childhood dream!
3-month Subscription to Pizza of the Month Club
Who doesn't love a nice hot pie when they're hundreds of miles away from their family? You can consider gifting your graduate child a subscription that gives them three pizzas a month for three months. They can order in that many times each month, giving you full value for the money you spend on the subscription. If your kid is a pizza lover (and who isn't!), this could be the perfect going-away present that will linger on the taste buds for at least a few months after they've left the nest. You can always renew after six months or consider getting them a longer subscription.
Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker with Alexa Voice Control
The Amazon Echo isn't waterproof but there are several options with Alexa integrated into them. Voice control gives them the freedom to tap into their playlists by just asking for it. The variety of models available today is really impressive, with superb designs and color schemes that go with almost any interior decor - including the bathroom! Your graduate daughter or son is going to love this going-away gift because it'll last them a couple of years at least.
For a child that's naturally athletic or tilted towards a healthy lifestyle, a solid pair of running shoes might make the perfect graduation mini-gift. Mind you, don't go for the big brands because you'd be paying hundreds of dollars; less well-known brands are equally good in terms of serviceability and life span, and the choices are virtually unlimited. Of course, if they've always wanted those branded kicks, you might not be able to squeeze yourself out of that one with a pair of $150 runners!
If your little one is off to face the big world in their first job, you might want to think about formal clothing. Formal shirts for men or tops for women are available for between $50 to $70, so you can look at buying a set of 3 or 4 pieces within your $200 budget. If they're entering the workforce, they'll inevitably need formal clothes, if only for meetings and conferences. A suit might also be a good idea if you're willing to stretch your budget a little bit.
Portable Fishing Kit
If fishing is part of your lifestyle, your child might want to recreate some memories of their own. A portable fishing kit is easy to carry around and it takes up very little space. Of course, it depends on where they're moving to, but if it's near some great fishing spots, this might make a fantastic graduation present. Alternatively, if they're already carrying their fishing gear, some accessories might help, such as a new tackle box, extra lengths of line, and so on.
Connected Friendship Lamps
This is what you might call a high-tech high-touch product - literally. It's a pair of lamps that work with their local Wi-Fi networks and communicate with each other via the Internet. Once they've been set up, touch one lamp and see the other one light up in a pre-chosen color. It's that simple but it's a very effective means of communication that doesn't involve calling or texting. When your son or daughter misses home, they just touch the sensor plate at the top of their lamp and yours will light up in the color they picked. It's perfect for overseas family members, long-distance couples, siblings living in different cities, etc. Here's how they work
and here's where to buy a pair of Friendship Lamps
Elevated Leg Rest
"Putting your feet up" can be a very literal thing with this elevated leg rest. Elevating your legs has several health benefits, such as pressure relief, allowing blood to flow more naturally, and reducing inflammation in the veins. If your kid is going to be on his or her feet the whole day, this is a long-term gift that will give them good health in later years. It's better to start doing this early so they can avoid a lot of vein-related problems in their middle-age years. You can also buy yourself one of these while you're at it. It has so many health benefits that you won't even feel the pinch of the price after a while.
Sterilizer Wand for Frequently Touched Surfaces
In the age of the novel coronavirus, you can't be too careful about hygiene. This amazing gadget instantly sterilizes surfaces that are touched often, like laptop keyboards, doorknobs, and even cooking surfaces like cutting boards or the kitchen counter. If your child is forced to live in a shared space, you can get them one of these to keep them safe from unwanted microscopic intruders.
Electric Barbecue Grill
In places like apartments, it's not always practical or even permitted to use a charcoal grill. But if your son or daughter is used to those family cookout weekends, you can give them a taste of home with these compact units that can be used just about anywhere. They won't give you the real taste of charcoal-grilled food but it's the next best thing. If space isn't an issue, you can even consider a proper portable charcoal grill - something they can carry on picnics or use on their balcony at home.
Fitness Balance Board
It's vitally important to stay physically fit with the right exercise regime, but you might need to complement it with something that builds core body strength. The balance board in all its variations is perfect for this. If your graduate child is health-aware and lives a clean lifestyle, this will help them go farther down that road. There are different types of balance boards available, so pick one that you think will be the most suitable for the kind of space they have and what they'd like to own. Most of the good-quality ones are around $200 or less.
Chargeable Jump Starter for Automobiles
Assuming your child has a car they use often or on occasion, a rechargeable jump starter kit is a must-have for any automobile. It's a compact unit that can be recharged over 1,000 times and provides ready power when your battery is down. This is especially useful if the car is only used infrequently because the battery tends to run down quickly in such cases. Having one of these can save a lot of time and money in the long run. They can also use it to help their neighbors jumpstart their vehicles on cold mornings. it never hurts to be a good neighbor!
Connected Personal Safe
A personal safe that's connected to your graduate child's cell phone is a great way to keep stuff safe. Whether it's their passport, their money, or something else equally precious like their college degree, a personal safe that's also digital provides an additional level of safety. It usually comes with screws for wall installations and is fairly lightweight. Newer models have features that remind you to take your meds or let you know if someone is trying to move the safe or attempt incorrect passcodes.
Deadbolt Smart Lock
Security is a major concern for parents of children that are moving away to live on their own. If you don't trust traditional deadbolts, this smart lock will put your mind at ease. It's easy to install and it works via a PIN and Bluetooth on their smartphone. The companion app can be installed on their phone and those of babysitters or house guests. You can then change the PIN whenever you want, giving you total safety and peace of mind.
That's our collection of going-away presents and gifts ideas for graduates for under $200. A few tips before you go:
- If you haven't planned for a major graduation gift or simply don't have the budget right now, these gifts can help 'fill the gap' until you're able to get them something bigger.
- Be picky about what you buy, considering factors such as their tastes, the space they'll be living in, the presence of roommates, and so on. It's hard enough to find the right gift for anyone, let alone a specialty gift for a graduate setting out on a new life of their own.
- Think about their POV, not yours. A gift you like might not be the ideal choice for them. Try and put yourself in their shoes rather than thinking like a typical parent. The days of you watching over their every step are soon to be gone, so get used to treating them like the adults they now are.
- Don't overspend. It's tempting to splurge on your kids, but remember that you'll be accustoming them to a lifestyle that they might not be able to immediately afford. Luxury is good, but only in small measures. Otherwise, you'll leave them with more desires than money at the end of every month, and that's never a good thing if taken to extremes.