Now that summer is here, graduations and convocations are taking place for students all over the country. High school, college, and university students alike are ready to take some time off or work their way through the summer before they tackle the next phase of their education and professional lives. No matter which level the student in your life has reached, and no matter their age, we’d be willing to bed that a simple graduation gift will make them feel fantastic. In our experience, graduation gifts are one of those things that goes particularly appreciated when the person you’re giving the gift to can tell that you made it yourself! There’s just something so caring about getting a DIY gift and it really warms the heart. Just because you’re making a gift, however, doesn’t mean that it necessarily has to be something very complicated or time consuming to create!
Check out these 15 awesomely simple (and often money based because, let’s be real, students can always use a bit of extra cash) DIY graduation presents that will make the students in your life feel appreciated, uplifted, and maybe even make them laugh.
1. Freshman year survival kit gift
Is the student in your life going off to their freshman year of college or university and it’s making you think of all the things that you could have used during your first year living in residence but that you just didn’t know well enough to take with you at the time? Then perhaps you can help them out by making them a freshman year survival kit! We love the way Alex Fahey filled a tub with all kinds of life hacks, useful things, and goodies but also made their student a crimped garland where some of the paper rosettes were actually folded bills.
2. “In an emergency” money grad gift
Are you already set on giving a student you know just a little bit of cash for their graduation to help them celebrate the big day but you’re worried that simply just handing them money in a card isn’t quite enough crafty presentation for you? We can totally understand the desire to make it at last a little bit special or funny, even if it’s just a $20 bill. That’s why we thought that this “emergency money” idea from Sendomatic was such a neat concept. Frame the bill like a photo but mount it on a background that says “In an emergency, break the glass” just like a fire alarm might say. They’ll get to choose what the emergency money goes towards!
3. Cash wrapped candy bar gift
Money is technically paper, which is why we thought it was such a cute idea to fold your gifted bills into paper rosettes in the idea we showed you above, but that’s not the only way you can present your student with a few extra bills! Simply J Studio using your paper money as wrapping paper, fastening it around another gift. We love the idea of giving your student something small and simple, like a handful of their favourite candies or chocolate bars, to go along with the money, just to make things a little more personal. After all, anyone who’s just survived the stresses of graduation season can always use a chocolate pick-me-up!
4. DIY campus and team t-shirt quilt
Perhaps the student you’re looking to make a gift for is actually someone very close to you and who you love very much, like a sibling or a child, so you’re hoping to make them something a little more hands on and practical, perhaps with an element of memory involved? In that case, perhaps you’d prefer to make something a little more meaningful, like this t-shirt quilt outlined on Little Blip! They show you how to patch together a blanket made from t-shirts featuring team names, fraternity or sorority letters, and event dates. Your student might not wear the shirts anymore, but this is a much more creative way to hang onto them than just sticking them in boxes or drawers where they won’t even be seen.
5. DIY chalkboard and grad tassel frame gift
Do you happen to already know that the student you’re looking to make a gift for is a nostalgic person who loves photos more than just about anything? Well, we have no doubt that they’ll be combing through their graduation day pictures picking out their favourite ones to display in their room after the big day then. You can help them out with that by making them an adorable graduation themed photo frame for their favourite snapshot! We love how Sisters Suitcase made theirs chalk customizable by painting the base in chalkboard paint. We also love their tassel hanger so your student can hang their graduation cap’s actual tassel on it and save it like a keepsake next to their favourite photo!
6. Graduation gift bottle set
It’s not secret that most graduates probably will celebrate their success with a six pack of their favourite alcoholic beverage, but we’re not always comfortable gifting alcohol to young people, so here’s a cute idea that plays on that idea instead, without actually involving drinks in any way. Busy Mom’s Helper suggests decorating a handle box and emptying six drinking bottles, filling them instead with your graduate’s favourite candies. Save one bottle to the side while you’re working on the candy part and, instead, roll up some cash and stick that inside for a bonus gift!
7. DIY money bouquet
We’ve already talked a little bit about how many can be folded into rosettes, but what if you’re actually quite good at origami and feeling quite intrigued by the idea of folded bills as paper flowers? Well, it’s pretty customary to give graduates bouquets of flowers, or perhaps even just a single rose, but who says your bouquet can’t be a little more practical than real flowers might be? We love this guide from Easy Paper Crafts for twirling and folding dollar bills into blooming roses. Give them as many as you need until you hit the gift total you were aiming for!
8. Motivational globe
Perhaps the student you’re thinking about making a gift for is a huge fan of inspirational quotes, particularly if they’re related to their favourite pass time: traveling? In that case, something a little more cute, cheesy, and decorative to make their new dorm room feel more like home might be a comforting and appreciated gift idea for them! We love the way No Biggie found an old globe and painted a Ghandi quote over the continents, just to give their student a little motivational boost when they’re feeling weary studying at their desk.
9. Graduation hat gift box
Were you quite a big fan of gifting your graduate a box of gifts, treats, and treasures of some kind but you think you’d rather make the box yourself, rather than just filling a plastic tub like you saw before? In that case, we’d definitely suggest taking a look at how Crafts Unleashed made a cute little wooden box that’s been painted and embellished to look like a graduation cap itself, complete with a tassel! Fill it with treats, cash, laundry change, or bus and subway tokens; whatever you think will help your graduate out the most.
10. Customized gift card holder
Maybe you know your student well enough to be familiar with all of their favourite restaurants and places to shop or go out for entertainment? Then perhaps a gift card bundle would be the best thing you could give them. That way they have a way to treat themselves throughout the year when they’re feeling stressed, but without spending what little money they’ve got to make it through their studies! We adore the fact that Plaid not only gifted their student a series of gift cards but also customized an upcycled mint tin to be a little graduation gift box and place to store the cards until they’re used.
11. Instagram photo memories notebook
Were you quite taken with the idea of making your graduate some kind of motivational trinket or thing but you feel like you’d rather make them something a little more practical than a purely decorative piece? In that case, perhaps a customized notebook would serve them a little bit better than a globe would! We love the way A Beautiful Mess personalized this notebook for a loved one by covering it in some of their favourite photos from the person’s Instagram profile. Cover your student’s notebook in pictures of family, friends, and pets so they can gaze at the photos when they’re feeling homesick.
12. DIY photo collage wall initial
Did you actually quite like both of the nostalgic motivational memory ideas we just talked about above and now you’re having trouble choosing between the two, so you’re wondering whether you can find a project that comes closer to combining them? Then look no further! We love the way DIY Candy created a decorative monogram piece but, rather than leaving it too simple in its aesthetic, they covered it in Instagram photos as well, just to make sure their graduate feels like they brought a little piece of home with them to the dorm.
13. Graduation hat jar filled with rolled cash
Nostalgic, motivational gifts are all well and good, but we also fully understand that they’re not necessarily practical and also just aren’t everyone’s “thing”. That’s why we’re always happy to be reminded that there are so many simple but adorably gimmicky cash gift ideas out there to still show that you care, but in a less involved way! We love the way Hip 2 Save emptied out a glass jar, got crafty with the lid to make it look like a graduation cap, and then filled the jar with rolls or bills in various amounts. Throw in some chocolate coins too, just for a treat and a bit of a gag.
14. DIY grab money lei
Are you actually still thinking about the paper and dollar bill garland we showed you at the very top of this list because you thought the bills looked so neat all folded into rosettes and string along like a celebratory lei? Then we have a feeling you’re going to simply adore this tutorial from One Hundred Dollars a Month because it shows you precisely how to make just that… only completely from cash bills! Count out however many dollars you want to give your graduate and get to work transforming them into something they’ll undoubtedly be excited to see when you pull it out. Just make sure they don’t wear it around too publicly before depositing the money; we don’t want anyone to get robbed!
15. Bright future cash gift
Are you pretty convinced that the cute, gag style cash gift ideas are your favourite option but you’re the funny uncle or the silly aunt and you’d rather give your graduate something that’s a little more “punny”? In that case, we’d absolutely suggest taking a look at how Happy Mothering combined dollar bills with the idea of having a bright future! Their tutorial shows you how to present your cash gift inside an emptied out and upcycled light bulb.
Have you made other adorable or funny DIY graduation gifts for your loved ones before that were a huge hit but that you don’t see on our list? Tell us all about your idea or link us to photos of what you made in the comments section!