Buy This, Not That: 7 thoughtful and unique graduation gifts — all under $25

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Caps off to these inspiring gifts.

It’s graduation season, and millions of college students will soon be donning a cap and gown. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, during the 2018–19 school year, colleges and universities are expected to award about one million associate‘s degrees and 1.9 million bachelor’s degrees. So we asked some of our favorite shopping experts to find unique and inspiring gifts for grads that won’t break the bank. Here’s what they uncovered.

Vintage-inspired hardcover travel journal, so they can chronicle all the places they’ll go (on trips) in the coming years. Roughly $14 on Amazon. Travel is a high priority for both Gen Z and millennials, research shows, and Courtney Jespersen, a consumer savings expert at NerdWallet, says a travel journal is a great present for grads, especially those who hope to use some of the extra money for their first jobs to hit the road or the sky. You can find myriad other travel journal options here.

Engraved business card case, so they can keep their business cards pristine. Roughly $10. New job, new business cards — and this inexpensive case is a personalized and useful way for grads to tote those around. Have more to spend? There are tons of inexpensive and unique options on Etsy.

Heartfelt personal photo printed on canvas, so they can hold that moment in time forever. About $24. It’s art for their new apartment — and a reminder of a special moment they experienced.

23-piece cooking utensils set, so they can stock up their first kitchen. Roughly $20. While Ramen might have been OK in college, it’s time for grads to up their game — in the kitchen. So savings expert Andrea Woroch recommends cooking utensils to “inspire the grad in your life to enjoy cooking.” And this set has many of the items they’ll need for a starter kitchen, from a whisk to kitchen scissors to measuring cups to spatulas Have a little extra to spend? Pair those with a cookbook for their favorite cuisine, says Woroch.

136-piece tool kit, so they can tackle whatever comes at them in their first apartment. About $25. Waiting for the landlord to fix that leaky sink could take weeks; but armed with YouTube and a tool kit, your grad may be able to DIY. This useful gift is something a new grad will keep for years to come.

Waterproof bluetooth speaker — for the shower, pool, beach or on the go. Roughly $11. Nerdwallet’s Jespersen recommends this useful gift — and users seem to love it too. It’s a best-seller on Amazon with one verified user noting that “the size, sound, ease of pairing and quality exceed my expectations … For the money, I don’t think you can go wrong.”

Classy 48-pack of thank-you-notes. About $11 “Because you won’t be around to remind them anymore,” jokes savings expert Trae Bodge of TrueTrae.com.

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