The Big Day is Here – RSG Graduation Gift Guide to the Rescue

It’s that time again – graduation season. It doesn’t seem possible that I have friends with kids graduating from high school already. Crazy! Speaking of crazy… is your 8th grader graduating this year? I guess the more important question is, did you know that’s a thing? I learned about it two years ago when my oldest graduated. A LOT has changed since we were in junior high (like the name junior high!). Today schools celebrate this accomplishment with a dinner dance and a graduation ceremony. With all this celebrating to do, the RSG Graduation Gift Guide for high school and 8th grade graduates comes at just right time!

It’s hard to be unique and different when it comes to gift giving. So, I pulled in my most valuable resource to help with this guide — my five nieces.  They are all recent high school and college grads so I thought they’d have some fresh ideas to share. Thanks Shannon, Meredith, Heather, Emily & Ashley for your great advice. Hopefully this grad gift guide will help make shopping a little easier.


High School Graduation Gifts

This idea came from Emily…one of her friends received it as a gift last year. What a great idea!

College Survival Kit

Purchase a scrapbook from Michaels, Staples or Barnes & Noble. Inside the pages you can post your own survival ideas, below is a list of things that you might want to consider:

  1. Packing checklist for heading off to school
  2. Advice for dealing with boys in college
  3. Studying tricks and tips
  4. How to safely drink alcohol
  5. Pictures of events with friends
  6. High school achievements
  7. Memories with family

Memory Quilt

These are useful and meaningful gifts to give the high school grad. It will take some advance planning however. You will need to gather t-shirts and sweatshirts from the graduate to incorporate into the quilt. Usually kids have all sorts of t-shirts from sports they’ve played or sweats or sweatshirts from competitions they’ve attended. This etsy link will show you how to order one. I haven’t ordered from her, but she has a lot of images and very positive recent reviews to check out on the site. She charges $12 – $15 a square which seems to be the going rate based on other resources researched.

 Graduation Trip

Plan a trip with just Mom and daughter or Mom, Dad & daughter to make it special. Where has the grad always wanted to go that you’d enjoy taking them to? These trips on Virtuoso sound
fabulous! If you go, maybe I can tag along? 😉

AAA Membership 

If your high school grad is taking a car to school adding them to your AAA membership is a great way to keep them protected and save them a few dollars. I’m sure they’d appreciate having the extra cash in their pocket. Starting at $65 a year, this is a bargain.

College Springboard Package

BLUBERYL is a former public relations client of mine. The founder, Lorie, is fantastic! I spoke with several BLUBERYL clients when I worked with them and each one had great things to say about the individualized coaching and academic organizational tools. The College Springboard Package is a great tool to help graduates transition from a high school to college learning environment. It includes 10 customized sessions that will help boost organization and efficiency skills. The sessions cover real-world skills generally not taught on the college campus, but highly valued by both college students and their parents.

Foodie Gift Cards

Every college kid likes to eat outside the dining hall. What a treat when they don’t have to pay! With a little research on local eateries near the college grad’s school you can easily find many choices. Most restaurants offer online gift cards to purchase. Another option is to purchase them from sites like Giftrocket  (I just did this for Mother’s Day), OpenTable, or Amazon also has gift cards available from many restaurant chains nationwide.

Roth IRA or 401K

Looking to give the grad a leg up on a great financial future? Open a savings plan for the graduate, like a Roth IRA or 401K.

8th Grade Graduation Gifts

Dinner w/Friends

Take the graduate and her friends to her favorite hang out and treat them to dinner. Plan ahead and drop off a cake or pre-order a dessert with a congratulations message as a surprise. Pick them up a couple hours later. Be sure to choose a restaurant that won’t mind teens dining alone and taking up a couple hours! A place like Dave & Busters where they can entertain themselves might be a good choice.

Spa Day

How about a mani pedi and facial to celebrate? If you take her you can get pampered too. After all, you deserve to celebrate this accomplishment.


These bracelets from Mantraband are great and support our STRONG message at RSG. They come in several different inspirational categories, including: happiness, love, peace, strength and journey. Retailing at $25, these are inexpensive and meaningful gifts. They can also be stacked if you’d like to spend a little more and share a couple different messages with the recent grad. I’ve also seen them at The Paper Store and many other local gift shops as well. Here are just a few of the mantras I like:

  • She Believed She Could
  • She is Fierce
  • You are Enough
  • Believe
  • I Can and I Will

Photo Books


The Apple hard cover photo books are beautiful. I LOVE them! I’ve made several of these for the girls to commemorate each year of their Irish dance accomplishments. They look very professional and it is something they will have forever. Apple provides a lot of design templates to choose from to suit your personal style. If you have a Mac and use iPhoto it is super easy to drag and drop all the images in for use. The hardest part for me is cutting out the number of photos I want to use so it doesn’t cost me a fortune! Here’s a quick summary of how it’s done. Other online photo services offer these as well, such as Shutterfly and Snapfish. I haven’t used them personally. but I have friends/family who have and they’ve had positive experiences.

The idea my niece gave me above for high school grads could easily be transformed for 8th graders.

High School Survival Kit

  1. Study tricks and tips
  2. How to work effectively on team projects
  3. Checklist for high school (backpack, scheduler, etc.)
  4. Tips for managing time with sports and increased study load
  5. Pictures, memories and accomplishments from middle school
  6. Gift card to their favorite store for new school clothes
  7. Amazon gift card (for anything they might need!)

Strength-based Learning Tools

Want them to enjoy the break without summer school work lingering? Looking to help  prepare them for high school rigor? Check out the BLUBERYL Summer Six Package. This strengths-based learning and productivity package helps students complete their work in an organized and efficient way.

Congratulations and best wishes to all the grads and their parents! Well done.


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  1. Thanks, Katie. It is really hard to find something original and useful when it comes to graduation gifts. I’m sure he will love having other meal options!

  2. Thank you so much for the Giftrocket idea – my son is IMPOSSIBLE to buy for and this is going to be the perfect gift… he has been bemoaning the fact that he will be surrounded by awesome restaurants at school with no money to eat there 🙂 Love the new site!!!

  3. Thank you so much for the Giftrocket idea – my son is IMPOSSIBLE to buy for and this is going to be the perfect gift… he has been bemoaning the fact that he will be surrounded by awesome restaurants at school with no money to eat there 🙂 Love the new site!!!

  4. Thanks, I hope you are able to use one or two of these ideas for the graduates in your life!

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