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High School Graduation Gift: How Much Money Should I Give?

Graduating from high school is a momentous occasion worth celebrating.

Aside from hosting an awesome high school graduation party with awesome graduation party food in honor of the graduate, you might want to give them a gift to commemorate the occasion as well!

One of the safest, most fool-proof gifts you can give anyone (teens included) is cash. It’s useful, it’s practical, and you can be sure that whatever they decide to do with it or buy with it is something they’ll truly enjoy.

Since they might be pursuing a college/university degree next, your cash gift could also help them get started with buying dorm necessities or building an allowance for the first few months of school.

Still, the question remains: how much money should you give a new high school graduate? Is $10 enough? Or should you go all out and hand them over a Benjamin or two?

Whether you’re a parent, a grandparent, a relative, or a friend of someone who’s about to graduate from high school, this article will help you decide how much money is appropriate to give as a high school graduation gift.

Deciding On How Much Money To Give As A High School Graduation Gift

how much money to gift for graduation

Gifting cash can be tricky. How much should you give a teen who just graduated high school, and is there an actual limit to how little or how much you should give?

Although there really aren’t any rules as to how much you can or should give a high school grad, it would be best to consider a few things when giving money as a gift, as it can be a touchy subject for some families.

Even if you’re close to the celebrant/family, you still want to make sure you don’t outshine and outgive the parents, in case they decide to give their teen a monetary gift as well.

Factors To Consider When Deciding How Much Money To Give For A High School Graduation Gift

So, how much money should you give a teen for a high school graduation gift? Well, the answer depends on several things.

Here are some things that you should always take into consideration:

What Is Your Relationship With The Graduate?

relationship to graduate

Parents would usually want to be the ones to give their kids the most in terms of monetary gifts, not because they want to show off or anything but rather because their teen’s victory is, in some way, their victory too. Being able to give their teen a good amount of cash is like the cherry on top for them. On average, parents give their teens who just graduated from high school anywhere from $50 to $100 or more, but this can even reach upwards of $1000 if the parents have a sizable amount of disposable income.

Sometimes, though, grandparents can’t help but spoil their grandbabies with gifts, and that includes cash. If you’re a grandparent and you’re worried that the amount you’re thinking of giving to your grandkid is a bit too much, you can always ask the parents first if they’re okay with it. Like parents, grandparents usually give anywhere from $50 to $100 or more to their teen grandkids who just graduated from high school.

Extended family and family friends are always welcome to shower the new grad with monetary gifts, too, they but shouldn’t feel obliged to give more than they could. A good rule of thumb for gifting money when you’re part of the extended family or a family friend of the celebrant is to think of a material gift and give them the monetary equivalent of it. Still not sure? A good ballpark figure would be around $20 to $50.

Friends of the graduate, who are around the same age, wouldn’t have a lot of cash to spare, so it’s not really expected of them to give the celebrant a cash gift. However, if you’re set on giving your friend something for their graduation party, and you can’t decide on a material gift, a monetary gift of $15 to $25 would be perfect.

What Is Your Budget?

graduation gift budget

You should never go broke trying to impress someone when giving gifts, especially when you’re giving cash. If you’re giving a teen money as a high school graduation gift, you should always consider your budget first before handing out those precious dollar bills.

For parents who don’t have the biggest budget, but are intent upon giving their teen a monetary gift for their graduation, saving up to build your target amount a few months before the day of your teen’s graduation is a good idea and a thoughtful gesture that your teen will surely appreciate.

If you have a tight budget, gifting the graduate with cash ranging from $10 to $30 is not bad at all. If you have a bit more to give, you can probably go as high as $50. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with giving them more than $50, but do check with the parents first to make sure they’re okay with their teen receiving a rather big amount of cash.

Did The Teen Specifically Request Monetary Gifts?

Suppose the graduate specifically requested monetary gifts and they have it written on the invitation. In that case, there’s a good chance that they’re saving up for something big like a car or maybe a part of their college/university tuition. There’s also a good chance that their parents know about it and are okay with it. If this is the case, feel free to be as generous as your budget allows.

If the graduate has a gift registry instead but, for whatever reason, you’re not able to get the items from their registry; you can always take a peek and give them the monetary equivalent of what you would have picked out from their registry for them. Then, it’s up to them to decide whether they buy that item or use the money for something else.

Do They Have Any Notable Awards/Achievements?

Another thing you could consider when gifting a new grad with money is whether they have any outstanding awards/achievements. However, this one is something that, mainly, family and friends could use to gauge how much to give the graduate.

Suppose the average gift given to high school graduates is $50. If your teen graduated top of their class, doesn’t it make sense to throw a little more in there and at least make it $75 or $100?

Think of it as a reward for the new grad’s hard work over the years. The harder they worked to get those achievements, the more they should be rewarded, right?

Taking this into consideration might be a bit tricky when you have twin teens graduating from high school, though. Giving one twin more than the other could cause issues, so it might be best to work out a plan involving both twins to make sure they’re both okay with your “terms.” For example, you could set a base amount as your gift, and then add an extra amount for anyone with a special award or achievement from school.

Appropriate Monetary Gift For High School Graduation

Appropriate monetary gift

Still not sure what the appropriate monetary gift for high school graduation is? Check this out.

$10 to $30

It may not seem like much, but to a teen who just graduated high school, it’s a good amount they can use to treat themselves and maybe a friend or two.

This amount is an appropriate monetary gift for high school graduation if you’re:

  • A fellow teen who doesn’t have much cash to spare
  • A younger sibling of the graduate
  • An older sibling who hasn’t joined the workforce yet
  • Someone who’s currently in a tight spot
  • Someone who already gave the graduate a material gift, but wanted to add a little something as well.

$25 to $50

With $20 to $50, the new grad can do so much! They can get themselves a few things for their dorm/apartment in college, buy themselves something to fuel their passion and their hobby, or even open their own bank account!

This amount is an appropriate monetary gift for high school graduation if you’re:

  • A member of the graduate’s immediate/extended family
  • A family friend
  • A group of friends chipping in to give your friend (the new grad) a cash gift
  • Someone who has a bit of a bigger budget
  • Someone who has just started working and is giving out of their own pocket

$50 to $100

Teens who are gearing up for university/college will surely appreciate this cash gift. They can buy college/university books, add to their savings, and more with this amount.

Teens planning on taking a gap year, or those who aren’t planning on going to college/university, can use this to start a small business or invest in something to make it grow.

This amount is an appropriate monetary gift for high school graduation if you’re:

  • The parents/grandparents/godparents of the recent grad
  • Someone who considers the new grad near and dear to your heart
  • Someone with a fairly big budget for gifts

$100 or more

This is quite a significant amount of money to give teens, even as a gift for high school graduation. If your budget allows you to be this generous, though, feel free to do so.

This amount is an appropriate monetary gift for high school graduation if you’re:

  • The parents/grandparents or godparents of the new grad
  • Someone who’s feeling super generous and can actually afford this level of generosity

10 Creative Ways to Give Cash As A High School Graduation Gift

Cash gifting can seem a bit too impersonal for some, so adding a creative personal touch is a great way to make the gift more heartfelt. Here are a few creative ways to give cash as a high school graduation gift.

All That Dough – Graduation Money Pizza Box



Roll up to the graduation party with a box of pizza in hand and give it to the new grad. Watch their face light up when they open it to see a different kind of dough inside. This one is a great idea for friends who have a limited budget, but still want to do something nice for the celebrant.

Graduation Money Bouquet


Money bouquet

This would be such a sweet and practical gift from a dad to his daughter on her high school graduation day! You can even add some real flowers to make the bouquet more beautiful.

Graduation Money Lei


graduation money lei

Here’s an alternative and a cute idea for parents with boys who aren’t into getting flower bouquets: make them a money lei instead! A money lei for graduation is a very popular way to gift money to a new graduate.

There are several ways to make a money necklace for graduation, depending on how you fold the money. You can even add some candy in lei netting bags to make it more appealing.

Lei Netting Bags
Lei Netting Bags for Party (12 feet) Party Supplies

Graduation Money Stash in A Jar


money in a jar

This simple money jar is easy to make and perfect for grandparents who want to add a creative touch to their monetary gift for their grandbabies.

In Case Of Emergency – Graduation Money Box


in case of emergency

Here’s a cool one that your teen can reuse as decoration for their dorm (after emptying it out, obviously).

DIY a money box with this shadow box.

Shadow Display Box
Americanflat 11x14 Shadow Box Frame in Black with Soft Linen Back - Composite Wood with Polished Glass for Wall and Tabletop

Graduation Money Cake


DIY graduatation money cake

Here’s a showstopping piece that your new grad will be excited to dig into.

Or you can choose to insert a cake money box inside a cake and let them pull out a string of money instead.

Cake Money Box
Cake Money Box, 2021 Graduation Party Cake Cupcake Toppers, Surprise Gift for Graduation

A Box Of Tissues For Graduation Money Gift


money tissue box

Thinking of pranking the recent grad? Here’s a great idea for you. Simply fill a tissue box with notes, and watch how their face lights up as they slowly pull out the money roll.

Make It Rain Graduation Money


make it rain money

An umbrella seems like a very basic gift, right? But, what if the umbrella makes it rain with money?

Do It Vegas-Style

If you ever feel like channeling that cool mom/dad vibe, this money shooter might just be what you need.

Rain Money Gun
Sopu Make it Rain Money Gun Paper Playing Spary Money Toy Gun, Prop Money Gun with 100 Pcs Play Money Cash Gun Party Supplies (Money Gun)

Graduation Money Crown


money crowns

Test your origami skills and try to recreate this money crown for your teen at their high school graduation party!

Graduation Money Tree

Creating a graduation money tree is another genius way to gift money and gift cards to the recent grad.

You can fill it with different dollar denominations and add some of their favorite gift cards as well. This is also a great way to combine smaller gifts from several family members and friends to create an epic gift.

Graduation Money Tree
Mein Schatz Money Tree Gift Card Holder with 10 Clips and LED Lighted Tips

Graduation Gift Card Message Box

A graduation gift box is a classy way to collect gift cards and messages from guests at your graduation party.

Graduation Gift Card Message Box
Grad Cap Card Box (black) Party Accessory (1 count) (1/Pkg)

Final Thoughts

Monetary gifts can be tricky, but they’re undeniably useful and practical. There’s no standard amount for giving money as a high school graduation gift, but there are plenty of factors you should consider when deciding on what to give.

Always remember that money can be a touchy subject for some families. Some parents might not like it if you give their child money as a gift, so always check with the parents first.

You could also consider giving them gift cards instead. It’s a bit less impersonal.

To make your monetary gift seem more personalized, you can always add a creative twist to it.

In the end, it doesn’t matter how much money you can give but rather how genuine you are in wanting to see the recipient, a.k.a the new grad, happy and beaming!