Deciding how much to give for high school graduation as a money gift can be a tricky decision. You want to be generous and recognize the achievements of the graduate, but at the same time, you don’t want to break the bank.

Factors to consider when deciding on the amount include your relationship with the graduate, your budget, and the general spending expectations in your circle.

When attending a high school graduation, it’s important to strike the right balance, especially if you’re receiving multiple invitations during the graduation season.

You may be wondering how much your friends, relatives, or coworkers are giving as graduation gifts.

In general, close friends and family members typically give between $30 and $100, while parents or grandparents can give a bit more, with amounts up to $300.

Keep in mind that these are just suggestions and the most important thing is that your gift comes from the heart and is a meaningful gesture of support for the graduate.

As you navigate the graduation gift-giving process, remember to be thoughtful and considerate of the graduate’s achievements and future endeavors.

Your gift will not only serve as congratulations but also as encouragement for them to continue pursuing their dreams and aspirations in the next phase of their life.

Factors to Consider When Gifting Money

giving money as gift

Income and Budget

When deciding how much money to give for a high school graduation gift, first consider your income and budget. It’s essential to give within your means and not to strain your finances.

The amount you choose to give should not put you in a difficult position, even if you have a close relationship with the graduate.

Remember, it’s the thought that counts and even a small gift can show your support.

Relationship with the Graduate

Your relationship with the graduate also plays a significant role in determining the appropriate amount to give.

As a close family member like a parent, grandparent, or sibling, your gift might be more substantial compared to that of an acquaintance or friend.

Here’s a general guide to help you with this:

  • Close family: $50-$100
  • Extended family members: $25-$75
  • Friends: $30-$50

Keep in mind that these are just suggested ranges, and you are free to give more or less based on your unique circumstances.

Graduate’s Needs and Plans

Before deciding on the gift amount, consider the graduate’s needs and future plans. If the graduate plans on attending college or starting a new job, they may appreciate a more substantial gift to help offset expenses.

Conversely, if their plans do not require significant financial investments initially, a more modest gift may be suitable.

Financial Situation of the Giver

Finally, think about your financial situation.

If you are in a comfortable financial position and can afford to give a generous gift, by all means, do so. But it is essential not to overextend yourself, especially if you have multiple graduation gifts to give.

Remember, your financial situation and the perceived expectations of others should not dictate your gift choice.

Focus on your relationship with the graduate and your personal circumstances when deciding on the amount to give.

How Much to Give for High School Graduation as a Money Gift: Suggested Cash Gift Amounts

how much money gift

For Different Relationships

When giving a gift to a high school graduate, you should consider the relationship you have with the graduate.

The appropriate amount may vary depending on your connection with them:

  • Parents: As a parent, you naturally want to celebrate your child’s accomplishment. You can consider giving a more generous gift, ranging from $100 to $200.
  • Close friends and relatives: If the graduate is a close friend or relative, a cash gift within the range of $50 to $100 is appropriate.
  • Extended family members: For extended family members, a smaller gift of $25 to $75 is customary, with an average gift of $50.

For Different Education Levels

Do bear in mind that the cash gift you give may also depend on the graduate’s future plans and their educational level:

  • High School Graduation: As mentioned earlier, the average cash gift ranges from $30 to $200, depending on your relationship with the graduate.
  • College Graduation: If the graduate is moving on to higher education, such as a bachelor’s degree program, they may be facing significant expenses like tuition fees and accommodations. In this case, you might want to consider giving a more generous cash gift, within the range of $100 to $500.

Remember, the amount of money you give as a graduation gift should ultimately be based on your personal circumstances and what you feel comfortable with.

Creative Ways to Give Cash Gifts

piggy bank

Money Trees and Balloons

A fun and visually appealing way to give cash as a high school graduation gift is by creating a money tree or incorporating money-filled balloons.

You can fold bills into creative shapes and attach them to tree branches or slip them into balloons before inflating.

Your graduate will not only appreciate the cash, but also the effort you put into making the gift unique and memorable.

Cash Leis and Money Jars

Another creative way to surprise your graduate is by crafting cash leis or putting together a money jar.

Cash leis are traditional Hawaiian necklaces made from folded bills and colorful ribbons. They’re both festive and functional, serving as a wearable gifts and financial tokens.

Money jars, on the other hand, can be customized with the graduate’s name, school colors, or other personal touches.

Fill the jar with a mix of coins and bills to create a fun, engaging gift that graduates can keep as a memento.

Paper Money Flowers and Piggy Banks

Paper money flowers are a charming way to present cash to your graduate.

Simply fold bills into various petal shapes and arrange them around a small stick or skewer, creating a bouquet of cash flowers.

Alternatively, consider gifting a piggy bank or similar container filled with money.

This not only provides graduates with an initial financial boost but also encourages them to continue saving for their future.

Don’t forget that gift cards and digital payment platforms like Cash App and Venmo are also viable options for cash gifts.

These make it easy for graduates to access and use their funds without having to keep track of physical cash.

By choosing one of these creative ways to give a cash gift for high school graduation, you’ll be providing a memorable and useful present that the graduate will treasure.

Etiquette and Planning Tips

Giving Gifts in Person or Electronically

During graduation season, you have the option to give gifts in person or electronically. If you attend the event, presenting a money gift in person is suitable, such as placing cash in a greeting card.

For a more modern approach, consider using digital services like Venmo, PayPal, or gift cards to send your gift electronically.

This can be especially meaningful if the graduate is moving on to the next stage in their life and needs flexibility with their funds.

Proper Timing and Amount Disclosure

It’s essential to follow etiquette guidelines when it comes to timing your gift. Ideally, give your money gift within two weeks of the graduation ceremony.

Disclosing the amount of money you’re giving is not necessary, but providing a pleasant note or a brief congratulatory message is always appreciated.

Keep in mind that it’s the thought that counts, and there’s no strict rule for the exact amount to give. Make sure your gift fits within your budget and feels appropriate based on your relationship with the graduate.

Shopping for Graduation Gifts

When shopping for graduation gifts, consider these tips:

  • Think about the graduate’s needs: What’s the next stage in their life? A high school graduate heading to college may need dorm essentials or a gift card to a local college supply store.
  • Personalize your gift: Adding a note or customizing the gift with the graduate’s name or school colors can make it even more meaningful.
  • Stick to your budget: While it’s great to show your support, don’t feel pressured to overspend on a gift. Remember that it’s the sentiment behind the gift that matters most.

By following these etiquette and planning tips, you’ll demonstrate your support and be a responsible gift-giver during graduation season.

Additional Non-Monetary Graduation Gift Ideas

graduation gift

As you consider what to give for a high school graduation gift, there are plenty of non-monetary options that will be both meaningful and useful to the graduate. Here are some thoughtful gift ideas:

Customized Photo Albums

A personalized photo album can be an excellent way to help your graduate cherish their high school memories.

You can create a custom album with high-quality printing services, and gather photos of their achievements, friends, and special moments.

This keepsake will undoubtedly bring a touch of nostalgia and warmth to their dorm room or new home.

Meaningful Jewelry

Thoughtfully chosen jewelry can be a lasting reminder of this milestone in their life.

You could select a piece that symbolizes their growth or represents their passions – perhaps a charm bracelet, a necklace with a special pendant, or a meaningful quote engraved on a ring.

Consider the graduate’s taste and style when selecting the piece, ensuring that it will be something they’ll love and wear for years to come.

College Essentials and School Supplies

Help the graduate prepare for their next academic journey with practical gifts that will set them up for success. Items such as:

  • Planners and organizers
  • Bed sheets and dorm room essentials
  • Laptop cases or bags
  • Quality pens and notebooks
  • Laundry hampers and organizers

These useful gifts will be greatly appreciated and could save the graduate some expenses during their transition to college life.

Inspirational Books

Give the gift of knowledge and inspiration with a well-selected book that can guide the graduate as they embark on this new chapter in their life.

Consider titles that focus on topics relevant to their interests and goals, such as:

  • Self-development
  • Art and design
  • Finance and investment
  • Career guidance

An inspirational book can provide helpful advice and insights while also serving as a reminder of your support and encouragement.

By giving one of these non-monetary graduation gift ideas, you can create a lasting impression on the recipient while showing them your love, support, and pride in their accomplishments.


In the end, deciding how much to give for high school graduation as a money gift is a personal choice based on your relationship with the graduate, your budget, and your own understanding of the situation.

While there are suggestions and guidelines available, it ultimately comes down to what you feel is appropriate and what you can afford.

Here are some key points to consider when determining the amount to give:

  • If the graduate is a close friend or relative, consider giving between $50 and $100.
  • For extended family members, it’s common to give between $25 and $75.
  • The average high school graduation money gift ranges from $30 to $200.

Remember that giving a gift is not obligatory, especially if you receive only a graduation announcement rather than a direct invitation to the ceremony or party.

However, if you choose to give a gift, cash is often appreciated as it allows the graduate to use it for their future needs, whether that be college tuition, travel, or starting their journey into adulthood.

Most importantly, give from your heart and know that your thoughtful gesture will be cherished by the graduate. No matter the amount, your support and acknowledgment of their achievements will mean a lot to them.

So, make your decision based on your unique situation and feel proud that you’re celebrating a significant milestone in your loved one’s life.