Unique Graduation Gift Ideas

Some friends have shared (with me) a few of the really creative & unique gifts their children are receiving for their graduation this year.  I’m passing the ideas on to you in case you are looking for some “gift-giving inspiration”!

A unique gift one family participated in this year involved everyone sending the graduate a check for $20.11.  Get it?  The amount of the check is the same as their graduation year.

The next two involve a little more work, but the results are worth while.  In the first creative idea, the gift-giver uses photos from every school year (of the graduate’s life) to create a review of their life, in the form of a scrapbook.  And to make it a little easier, Hallmark stores have these wonderful “INSTANT” Scrapbooks.  These have the layout already done for you so you only have to add the photos and personal notations. 

And finally, if your graduate is like most, they have accumulated a large amount of tee-shirts as a result of their involvement in school clubs, sports, activities, etc. throughout their school years.  Check out this nice quilt a friend made for her daughter, using those shirts.  She simply cut-out the most important part or center of each shirt and added them to a coordinated fabric, creating a custom quilt.  Her daughter’s tee-shirts could have sat in a drawer, for years to come, until she finally decided to donate or throw them away.   But instead, they will be on display every time she pulls out her quilt for a warm cuddle.  Imagine sending off a high school graduate to college with a gift like this.  And every time they use it, they will remember how much they are loved.  I think this is a very special way to recycle a graduate’s personal memories and I applaud all of these creative ideas!  Speaking of which… don’t forget to check out my other Graduation gift ideas as well as the creative ways I came up with to gift wrap them!  Just enter “Graduation” in the SEARCH window or choose the GRADUATION category on the right hand side of my blog.

Enjoy the Creativity!!!


One of my FAVORITE traditions (in my book)

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve presented gifts, to friends and family, using this method.  I thought of it when my boys were teenagers and have used it for “event” birthdays (like this 60th birthday celebration – see photos below), Baby and Bridal Showers, Graduations, Mother’s or Father’s Day and Holidays.  Whenever I feel like showering someone with a little fun and happiness, I fill up an umbrella with goodies they love.  My brother loves Starbucks coffee and scratch-off lottery tickets, so I filled his umbrella with $25 worth.  He LOVED it!!!!   It’s so funny to watch their expression when they think you have bought them JUST an umbrella…… and THEN….. they open it up and are thrilled beyond words!

The assembly details and suggestions are in my book (CLICK on book icon, in right column, to order) as well as TONS of other fun ways to celebrate the Events, Birthdays, Seasons and Holidays of our lives.  Best of all…. they’re road tested!  Making memories is SOOO important.  If you (or someone in your life) need ideas, they will LOVE my book… gift them!

By the way, this time, I added a new twist to my gift umbrella.  I placed it in a cardboard tube (left over from the inside of a roll of wrapping paper) and then, wrapped the cardboard tube with bright birthday paper & curling ribbon.  I thought it would be fun for it to resemble an English Christmas Cracker – except mine is a Birthday Cracker, loaded with prizes!  Check out the fun he had ~

Patchwork Gift Wrap Idea!

[check out my other ideas under the categories, listed on the right]

If you would like to try a unique idea for wrapping a gift, here’s one…

This idea is especially helpful when you are short on time and find that you only have a small amount left of your favorite gift wraps.  It also falls under the “waste not, want not” category in life!   In this case, my favorite plain white paper came up a little short (on the ends of my gift) AND I only had a small amount of my other favorite black & white toile paper left.  So, it occurred to me that I should combine the 2 papers and unify them through my ribbon choice.  Here is the end result, which was a TRUE attention getter at the birthday party I took it to!

Simply use double-sided scotch tape to adhere side pieces of gift wrap


[And don’t forget to check out the idea,


from my book!]

GRADUATION Gift Wrap Idea #1:

GRAD_gift wrap

Design/Image/Idea copyrighted by Creative Family Traditions. All rights reserved.

This gift wrap idea is great because it is almost as easy as a gift bag. Once you wrap your gift in a paper of your choice, cut and wrap a piece of ribbon around the gift and tape where the ribbons meet. Next, check your local dollar or party supply store for a cardboard Graduation-themed die cut (see photo below) and using double-sided tape, cover the area where the ribbons meet with your graduation cut-out. To personalize the die cut even further, add self-adhesive letters (found in office supply depts. of discount stores) to add the gift recipient’s initials and check party stores for a small tassel to represent the graduate’s school colors. Also added to the die cut in this photo: several pieces of curling ribbon.


This is another great way to make sure your gift has a dramatic impact on the graduate by using their high school colors one more time.  First, find out the color combination of the graduate’s high school.  Next, check a gift, card or discount store for paper and ribbon to represent this color combination.  In the photos below, the female graduates’ school colors were orange & black.  I found this great black & white floral print paper at my local Hallmark Card Shop.  I then wrapped orange ribbon around my gift and added a bow to the top.  Using  her high school colors would have been impactful enough, but I decided to take it to the next level by, once again, personalizing it.  One one side of the package, I used my favorite… self-adhesive letters (found in the office supply depts. of discount stores) to add her name to one side and her immediate goal (transferring from high school to her college choice) on the other side.  My theory… why bring a simple gift bag when you can bring a “statement” instead?!

Grad Pkg_plain side

Design/Image/Idea copyrighted by Creative Family Traditions. All rights reserved.

Add graduate's name to one side of package

Add graduate's name to one side of package

Reference graduate's high school AND college on other side

Reference graduate's high school AND college on other side

GIFTING DAD, a GRAD, SPECIAL BIRTHDAY, Bride/Groom or New Parents, etc.


This is one of the most popular and only one of the creative traditions in my book.
I don’t know too many Dads who wouldn’t enjoy receiving this for Father’s Day or even Graduates, someone with a BIG approaching birthday (#16, #21, #30, #40, etc.), a Baby or Bridal Shower!  Whatever occasion you choose to do this for, keep in mind that it’s even better when you add a little humor to the gift!

First, purchase an inexpensive umbrella (Dollar Tree). Cut varying lengths of curling ribbon equal (in number) to the amount of items you will be placing inside the umbrella. Using double-sided tape, attach either money (21 – $1 bills for 21st birthday or16 – $1 bills for birthday #16), gift cards(i.e. favorite lunch spots, coffee shop, D.I.Y. store, where he buys his CDs or DVDs, movie rental store, gas card, etc.) or the most economical choice: simple, handwritten or printed certificates (“This is good for onehug, car wash, hour of uninterrupted T.V.viewing time, etc.”), one to the end of each piece of ribbon. Tie the other end of each piece of ribbon to the inside frame of the umbrella, spreading them around as evenly as possible. Turn the umbrella upside down and hand place each ribbon/gift inside and carefully close the umbrella. Gift wrap the umbrella (click here for a gift wrap suggestion).
Now comes the FUN part: when Dad (or any gift recipient) opens his gift, imagine his surprise when he finds a simple umbrella inside. Then, imagine his further surprise when you suggest that he open it “to make sure it works properly because you purchased it from the Dollar Tree” (indicating, of course, that you aren’t too sure about the quality). O.k., now he’s thinking your gift is not only odd, but also CHEAP! As in any good tale, however, the ending is a happy one when Dad opens his umbrella ‘o gifts and is showered with ribbons of goodies he can enjoy.
BONUS IDEA:This also makes a great gift for birthdays (esp. for teens), high school or college graduations, weddings, baby or bridal showers (as a group gift), etc.  Reactions may vary, but it is always hilarious!


Just prior to Christmas, every year, my husband and I along with our grown children set aside a day to be together and grab a little adventure that none of us have ever experienced before.  We call it our “Family Fun Day” and it’s just one of the ways we stay close.  With that in mind, I came up with this Father’s Day gift idea.

As I thought back over the past few years of our adventures (photos below), I realized that we did a lot of very macho activities…  simply perfect for a Secret Agent Father’s Day! Your mission(should you decide to accept it) will involve setting up appointments at 2 or 3 local Adventure facilities and scheduling them to begin in the morning and progress through the day. Below are a few potential ideas that may inspire an idea or two:

Adventure #1: a 5 minute helicopter ride

Adventure #2: five laps in a real race car at a REAL race car speed!

Adventure #3: five minutes in a simulated skydive

Adventure #3: five minutes in a simulated skydive (Design/Image/Idea copyrighted by Creative Family Traditions. All rights reserved.)

Other ideas for adventures you may have in your area:
  • Discovery flight (at a local Executive Airport)—fly both an airplane and helicopter
  • Parasailing
  • Fly in an open cockpit bi-plane (available at some regional airports)
  • Hang gliding
  • Glider ride
  • Zip Line (this eco adventure is popping up everywhere these days)

By the end of his adventures, Dad should feel as though he just experienced a day in the life of a Secret Agent (on a much tighter budget, of course; apx. cost for 3 ideas shown – $185)! And since gift stores usually carry a wide variety of frames, finding the perfect one to display Dad’s memorable photos in should be a cinch!

Idea/Photo courtesy of www.CreativeFamilyTraditions.com

2 Themed Gift Wrap Ideas

GIFT WRAP IDEA #1: Cut a large triangle (almost equal in length to the height of your gift bag) out of a piece of white Foamie or plain, white card stock paper. Also cut a bow tie and 3 button shapes out of a sheet of black Foamie or plain, black card stock. Glue to the front of a black gift bag for your 00-Dad gift. Gift suggestion: a watch, with a ton of special functions, for your Secret Agent Dad!!

GIFT WRAP IDEA #2: Glue a photo of Dad enjoying his favorite hobby to the back of a paper frame (found in the Scrapbook Dept. of stores). Optional: adhere a Personal (self-adhesive) message to the top and bottom of the frame (messages & alpha letters also in Scrapbook Dept.).  Glue framed photo to the front of Dad’s gift bag for the perfect, personalized gift wrap!

Idea/Photos courtesy of www.CreativeFamilyTraditions.com

BONUS IDEA!!!  If you like my idea of a Family Fun Day (around the holidays), you may also want to use that  day as a photo “op” for your Christmas or New Year Greeting Card.   It’s easy to create on your computer and then you have a unique e-Card to email to family and friends. Talk about saving money (postage, paper, etc.) in a tight economy!  As a sample, below are a couple of my own from previous years.  You may notice that my e-Cards are “New Year’s” Greetings.  That’s the price you pay when you own a  holiday design firm ~ no time to send out anything during Christmas! :-))  The neat thing I have learned, however, about sending out a New Year’s greeting is that everyone has finally slowed down, so your greeting is more memorable!  And as you can see (below), keeping your greeting light-hearted (by making sure it reflects something funny) will have your family & friends looking forward to receiving it each and every year!
Turning your greeting into a .jpg makes it easy to e-mail!

Turning your greeting into a jpeg will make it easy to attach to your e-mail

This year, we called ourselves the "Swamp Mafia" :-)

In this greeting, I simply couldn’t overlook all the sunglasses, so we called ourselves the “Swamp Mafia” 🙂

Our 2010 Adventure – Horseback Riding!