Do You Bring Gifts to a Graduation Party?

group of new graduates throwing their caps up against a blue sky

The air is abuzz with excitement, diplomas are in hand and the future of the freshly graduated students is bright, but amidst the celebratory chaos, a question arises: do you bring a gift to a graduation party? When deciding whether to bring a present, you should factor in how close you are to the graduate, how large the party will be and how many parties you’ll be attending. Thoughtful gifts are a way to recognize their hard work, however etiquette says it’s not necessary to bring a gift, but you can still consider it.

Gift Etiquette for High School and College Graduations

As the confetti falls, caps fly and cheers erupt, it’s time to celebrate, but what’s the proper gift etiquette for high school versus college graduation? While both milestones deserve recognition, there can be subtle differences in gift-giving expectations. Worry not, well-wishers, we’ll help you navigate the gifting landscape for both occasions, ensuring you extend your congratulations in a thoughtful and appropriate way.

Regardless of expectations, graduation parties celebrate an important milestone in a person’s life. Gifts can be relatively small and inexpensive, as it is more important to give something with meaning to the graduate. The most important thing is to make the person feel surrounded by encouragement and appreciation as they step into the future. Personalized cards and gifts will go a long way toward expressing this intention, and will always be welcomed. Close friends and relatives should always try to bring a gift, while acquaintances can opt for a nice card with a personalized message. 

High school graduation can be an incredibly bittersweet time, as graduates are leaving family, friends and classmates they may have spent nearly their entire lives with to embark on their next phase. For them, gifting them a memento of school spirit or something to prepare them for college or their next step would be a kid gesture. 

  • Gift Focus: High school graduation marks the completion of secondary education and the beginning of a new chapter. Gifts can be practical for those venturing into college or the workforce.
  • Monetary Range: A smaller monetary range is typical for high school graduations, often in the $20-$50 range, depending on your closeness to the graduate. 

For most students, graduation is a monumental moment of their lives, marking the close of one chapter and the beginning of the next. If you receive a graduation announcement, sending a gift isn’t required, although a card congratulating the graduate is always appreciated. If you’re invited to the ceremony or the graduation party, then you should ideally bring a gift. For college graduates, the gift amount tends to be more generous, reflecting the significance of this milestone compared to high school.

  • Gift Focus: College graduation signifies the culmination of years of hard work and dedication. Gifts can acknowledge future career aspirations or celebrate personal milestones.
  • Monetary Range: The monetary range for college graduation gifts can be slightly higher than high school, with closer family and friends sometimes gifting in the $50-$100 range. However, this is entirely flexible and depends on your comfort level. Some may appreciate contributions to help them navigate the transition to adulthood, such as help with moving costs, car payments, or student loan repayments.

The Etiquette of Gifts at Graduation Parties

Regardless of the gift you choose, personalization and thoughtfulness go a long way. Consider the graduate’s interests, hobbies, and future plans if you’re bringing a gift. If you’re opting for cash, present it creatively in a graduation-themed card or gift envelope. For a heartfelt and more budget friendly approach, you could create a personalized card, photo collage, or a piece of artwork expressing your congratulations and well wishes. Remember your presence and support also count as a gift, so don’t feel pressured to bring something.  

  • Keep it personal: Consider the graduate’s interests, hobbies, or future plans. A gift that reflects their personality or aspirations shows you put thought into it.
  • Mind the value: While expensive gifts are not expected, choose something that conveys your thoughtfulness without breaking the bank.
  • Cash conundrum: While some may find cash impersonal, it can be a practical option, allowing the graduate to choose something they truly need or want. 
  • Experiences over things: Consider giving an experience like tickets to a concert or sporting event, a class they’ve been wanting to take, or a contribution to a travel fund.
  • Handmade gifts: For a personal touch, create a heartfelt card, a framed photo, or a piece of artwork, expressing your congratulations and well wishes.

In some cases, the family may discourage gifting. If the invitation explicitly mentions “no gifts,” respect the host’s wishes and simply focus on celebrating the graduate’s accomplishment with your presence. Ultimately, the most important gift is your support and well wishes, but by following these tips you can ensure your gift conveys your congratulations and celebrates this exciting milestone in the graduate’s life.

Are you looking for the perfect venue to throw a graduation party in central Pennsylvania? Historic Acres of Hershey has been host to special events for a decade, featuring unique indoor and outdoor spaces. Give us a call at (717) 298-6340 or contact us to learn more.