Yes, that season will soon be upon us--graduation time! While we love to celebrate this milestone with our young friends, multiple gifts can quickly add up and put a strain on the budget. After some web surfing, flipping through magazines, and talking to other people, I've come up with a bunch of thrifty gift suggestions for the graduates in your life. At the very end, I'll share my very favorite frugal ideas--one for young men, and one for young ladies. I'd LOVE to get your input and feedback about the best, frugal graduation gifts you've given or received. Email and I'll share your ideas on the Econobusters website next week.

Books are a meaningful gift--though not necessarily particularly frugal. Some good ones for Christian teens include: Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris and Cure for the Common Life by Max Lucado.

A lovely and less expensive option is a good-looking journal. I spied some classy journals on clearance in Borders this week for $4.00 each, and several pretty (and rich-looking) styles at Big Lots for $3.00. A fun idea is to wrap these in crisp dollar bills. Since they're small, it doesn't take too many bills to get the job done. Tie with bright ribbon and a tag cut from cardstock, and skip buying a card.

Other generic ideas include:

A fleece blanket, stainless steel or good plastic (BPA free) water bottle, pocket knife key chain, flash drive, hand-crank flashlight, road atlas, emergency car kit, or first aid kit. You can often pick these items up on clearance for a decent price-start looking now! Try online shops like, or, or hit TJ Maxx, Ross, Marshalls or similar stores for good quality products at a decent price. Try to get creative with presentation--it can make all the difference! Old road maps, for instance, make appropriate (and free!) wrapping paper.

For grads heading to college, or leaving home, a customized basket is a practical idea. These can be affordable if you plan ahead and have the time for smart, thrifty shopping. Some themes:

Bathroom: include a towel (monogrammed or otherwise personalized or decorated), and flip-flops for shower shoes

Comfort: microwaveable heat pack, bandaids, antibiotic ointment, tweezers, nail clippers, icepack, throat drops, etc. Here's a tutorial for making a basic heat pack--you can get creative with these with fun shapes and fabrics.

Laundry: a laundry basket or bag, a few rolled quarters, small detergent bottle, etc. (as well as laundry instructions)

Cleaning: Any chance they'll clean their new digs? Increase the possibility by putting together a bucket of homemade cleaning products (along with recipes for refills) and cute rubber gloves for the gals. Our February Digest featured several homemade cleaning recipes!

School supplies: post it notes, paper clips, scissors, tape, folders, ruler, etc. You'll find the best prices on these things in the back-to-school sales--remember to shop ahead next year!

Food: Always a favorite! Include convenience foods like granola bars, instant noodles, dried fruit snacks, jerky, single-serving soups, popcorn, hot chocolate or cider packets, etc. Shop sales, use coupons, and get the most for your money.

 Still with me? Below are my top pick frugal graduation gifts this year and, for the record, both met with teenage approval!

For the guys: A FrisbeeŽ filled generously with homemade cookies (something sturdy like chocolate chip or brownies.) Wrap snugly with cellophane, tie with a bow and cardstock tag. Include a stamped postcard--addressed to you! On the front of the postcard, print the message "Please send cookies!" On the back you can include a choice of three types of cookies if you wish (box or line to check) and an expiry date for your offer. (One year is good.) Then follow through with the goods when that card comes in the mail! Or, skip the cookies now, just give the Frisbee and the postcard(s).

For the girls: A glass tile necklace. I love these! Go to and type "glass tile necklace" in the search box. Many styles are available for less than $10.00. They are beautiful and available in such a variety of themes and colors. There is sure to be one to suit every girl on your list. BUT here's my suggestion. Buy the materials to make your own, and solve your gift-giving dilemma for girl graduates for years to come! These look so easy to make. Here's a good tutorial. Supplies can be purchased on I saw silver-plated chains for under $1.00 each and glass tiles for less than 50 cents. Now THAT's an affordable and special gift!

Finally, a gift you can make for either gender! How about a magnetic memo board you can make yourself? Take a look at this idea from Family Fun. Another option is to cut a piece of plywood to fit inside a thrifted, painted frame. Paint the plywood with chalkboard paint for a one-of-a-kind chalkboard.  

I think teen guys are harder to buy for than girls. I asked a male graduate-to-be what his favorite, frugal graduation gift would be. "Food, money, or gas card," is what he replied. I believe these would probably be on the top of the list for the girls, too!


Here is a sampling of the posts that I shared on my blog this week.
:: a reader shared some of her yard sale treasures
:: the discussion about keeping chickens continued (can anyone tell me why a chicken's toes curl?)
:: frequent guest blogger, Lisa, shared a recipe for homemade doggie biscuits
:: maybe there is something for you in the post on low-budget decor tips
:: get your free desktop wallpaper to remind you to save money for your "piggie" bank! 
. . . Look for more wonderful frugal tips and inspiring articles coming your way next week!
The Weekly Recipe
Instead of sharing a recipe with you this week, I thought that I'd give you a bunch of links to help you with last-minute party plans.  
Read my review of a cookbook that lists its recipes in a menu format - just grab a menu plan and create your party around the easy recipes!

Coolest Graduation Cakes (with pictures!):
This Week's Tutorials and Links
Here are some wonderful links corresponding to this week's "graduation theme."  
Make your own graduation announcements: 
Molly's Money-Saving Digest
May's Digest will be here soon! It is filled with tips and guidance about your child's education-from preschool to college and beyond. We've also included a primer on strawberries ('tis the season) and much more. Watch for more information coming soon!
We Want to Hear from You
We have some great topics in the works for Molly's Money-Saving Digests, and would love to include your stories and ideas. Remember, if we include your contribution in a Digest you'll receive that issue FREE. Here's what we're looking for.
We're always looking for "goal-getter" stories, examples of upcycled or repurposed objects, and frugal decorating ideas. Would you like a free Digest? Send me your story, and if it is featured, your Digest is FREE.

Until next week! 
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