19 answers

Graduation Party Time!!! How Much to Give?

My husband and I along with our two daughters have been invited to 3 Graduation Parties in the next 2 weeks. One is my first cousin, one is a friends daughter and the other is a little girl (all grown up) that I used to babysit. My question is how much money is a good amount to put in. A little FYI my husband has been laid off for 3 months and I babysit to help pay the bills. Thank you in advance for your answers.

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I think that you have a lot of ideas for $ amounts. what about hitting the clearance racks and finding things like bedding, towels, toiletries, or any of the other stuff that they need when they go to college or start their own home.

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We usually give $100 to family and $50 to friends, etc, but in these economic times I will probably have to lower that.

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I think I would try and come up with a creative gift that way the amount wouldn't be so obvious. For a student going away in the fall, how about a laundry bag/basket with detergent, Bounce and roll of quarters. Or a magnetic memo board with markers,an eraser, and magnets. Or a variety of basic office supplies: stapler with staples, 3-hole punch, pens, pencils, scissors, notebooks, etc. First aid kit, small tool kit, etc. Have fun!

1 mom found this helpful

I think that you have a lot of ideas for $ amounts. what about hitting the clearance racks and finding things like bedding, towels, toiletries, or any of the other stuff that they need when they go to college or start their own home.

1 mom found this helpful

As much as you can afford and feel is reasonable. While it might be nice to walk out of a grad party with $5000, if the people coming can't afford it, do you think any grad worthy of a gift feels it's reasonable to take food out of their friends' and family's mouths?

Thoughtful, meaningful gifts are so much more important to recipients than buckets of cash, anyhow -- no matter how much they love the money. A carefully composed note describing what it's been like for you to watch this young person blossom would be a keepsake, rather than satisfying momentary greed.

When the money's gone, and it will be gone, wouldn't it be nice to know that your gift is still treasured?

1 mom found this helpful

I think $50 is more than appropriate for those closest to you (family, baby sitter, dear family friend...basically those that are extra special); $25 - $35 for those that are distant relatives/not so close.

Of course, don't feel you have to give this much. Plenty of people max out at $25 or give $10. Graduation season can be expensive, that's for sure!!

Great question!!! I have a son that is graduating this year so we have many (friends) parties to go to. Some of them have even partnered up and are having one party for 2 or more kids to save money. This left my husband and I to rethink our gifts. For a family member we would give $$ - what we can. But for a friend of the family - we were looking into those small plug in vaccumes that can be used to clean out a car or dorm room. I have seen them for $14.99 and up. I heard once that this was the gift that many seniors went for at a senior all night party a few years ago by someone who worked it.

I would do what you can afford to give. If that is $10.00 great. I usually give 50-100, but I am working. You might also think of creative gifts, if you don't want them to know how much you are spending. Kohls has a lot of great frames...or if they are going to college, a nice monogramed towel is a nice gift as well. I went to UM and got this wonderful navy towel with my name in maize.... I loved it!

Hubby is the finance guy in our family and he set the Tier at
Relatives (direct blood links- sister, brother, neice, nephew) $100.-
distant relations (cousins etc) $50.-
friends - $25-$50.- depending on how well you actually know them...

If you know that the child REALLY had a difficult time AND excelled or over came an obsticle($100.- no matter what relation to you)

Give what you can afford... Do not try to live up to what others give and put yourself in a hole...


I am a SAHM with 5 young children, so we are also very conscious of money issues here. What we usually do is if the graduate is an acquaintance or the child of an acquaintance we usually only give $10.00, if the graduate is an immediate family member- cousin, 2nd cousin etc. we give $20.00, however there are always those special people that we WANT To recognize or to show special appreciation or affection for and then we will give $50.00.

One note if we attend the party we always give at least $20.00. I figure with my bunch of kids we are at least eating that much in food, cake, and pop or punch.

Hi J.,
We are in the same boat as you although we have 5 and some are neighbors which we like but don't know how much to give. Plus a first cousin then a friend of family. I don't know what we are going to give but I'm glad you asked the question. I'll check back on your responses.

I would give a max of $50 to your first cousin. Maybe $25 each for the other two. These amounts are the max that I would give. Times are tough and everyone should understand that you just don't have the extra money to give considering your husband is laid off. Maybe consider giving a present like a graduation time capsule or a picture frame that would cost you less money so that your friend and the girl you used to babysit don't know how much you actually spent.

Hi J. -
We have a LOT of graduation parties this year too ... I feel your pain. I give $25-40. But it depends on how close you are to the person. Like your first cousin. I would give $30-40. The other two I would give $25 & not feel bad about it. Right now the economy is rough & you're affected. I am sure the graduates families are as well & will not look at you any differently for what you give. It's all in the thought that counts. My mom sometimes finds a frame and puts a picture of the child from when they were a baby or small child & then their graduation picture. You can find a cute double frame at the dollar tree. then if you want you can also give a smaller money gift. Gift certificates are a great idea too for $20.

Good Luck-

I would say 50 to those i know but sre not family and 100 to family. But in the econominc world today and your situation i would do 10 dollars per person going or at least 5 dollars so if 4 are going 40 if you can't afford it do 5 dollar per person going so 20 or compromise with 30. or all together make something they could use or buy them something they could use. Like supplies for collage or memory book get creative.

If you don't want to spend too much and would rather not give money, you can try something for a dorm room at Bed Bath and Beyond. They ALWAYS have 20% off coupons available and this could offset some cost. If they are not going to college, a gift like this might be useful if they're just moving out on their own... Or if you konw what college they'll be attending, you could buy some memorabilia from that school (a t-shirt, etc).

It's admittedly been a while since I graduated high school but I remeber even appreciating the smallest gifts.

My son is a senior this year also and we have a ton of open houses that we are invited to. I am limiting the gifts to $20 for the ones that are not family. For family I usually give $50. It all adds up and you shouldn't have to break the bank for these parties. I like some of the ideas like the laundry basket. If you cannot afford to give much, don't worry about it. I would never look down on one of my friends or family member for a small affordable gift. If anyone does, then they aren't worth your gift in the first place.

We usually give $100 to family and $50 to friends, etc, but in these economic times I will probably have to lower that.

I live in the Downriver Area of MI. I would also like to know what people suggest for giving at graduation parties. We have been invited to 5 this year. We will be out of town visiting my husband's relatives for 3 of them. Should we still send a check?

We are in very bad shape economically but we do try to give each graduate $25 in a card. I've given parties for several grandchildren and this is the most common amount they've received - occasionally $50 or a small gift like a picture frame or $10-$15 gas or other gift card. Do what you can, possibly more for your family member. I don't think anyone should feel they have to do more than they can afford.

Wow, I wish all these people were around when I graduated highschool, I would have been rich!! Honestly, I would limit the gifts to $10, whether that be cash or a gift. I personally know that all my friends just blew through their money they got for graduation. Not many people actually do the responsible thing. The parties you are going to seem to be people close to you so they would know that you guys are just making it by yourselves. I don't think you will be judged by the amount you give. There are so many creative/cheap gifts out there for grads. Anything from a shower catty filled with supplies, to laundry baskets, photo frames, bedding, bath robes, slippers, shower sandels, white marker boards, lamps etc. Just have fun with it. Really look at each grads personality. Target, the dollar store, TJ max, all have great things that are good quality and a great price!


It seems like you are invited to people's parties that at least had a good sentimental reason to invite you. My husband and I have been invited to too many grad parties that are clearly for the motive of making $ (as in we don't even know who they are until his mom runs down a long list of distant relatives). Your first cousin is family, the girl you used to babysit is probably very proud to invite you, and of course your friend is (hopefully) close enough to you that she wants her friends to be their to celabrate with her.
Normally we have given anywhere from $25 to $100 depending on the situation, but I know that many people also give $15 or $150. My advice would be to do what you are comfortable with financially and emotionally (as in feeling good/proud to give that amount too). Just try to find a balance. If you can swing $25 per person without affecting being able to pay bills, that is a generous gift in these trying times. If not, do what you can and be ok with it. I loved the idea one person gave about $15-$20 gas cards!! What graduate wouldn't love that?

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