We’re already seeing a lot of searches on our site for ways to celebrate the graduates in our lives, whether that is by throwing a party with special, graduation-themed food, or by using one of the many newer graduation ideas that we still love from the spring of 2020 (lawn signs and door decorations FTW!).

And while we often gift a special children’s book to our graduates, along with a just-for-you graduation gift, nothing is quite as popular as giving new grads money–either in the form of cash, a check, or a useful gift card–to help our grads afford all the necessary things in life. . .like smoothie bowls. (ha)

If you’d like to do something a bit more fun and creative with your monetary gift than just putting it into a card, we’ve wrapped up a bunch of easy ways to give cash (or a check or gift card) for graduation to your favorite high school, college, or grad school graduate(s).

And, yes, we’ve even included ideas for sending money digitally since Venmo and Paypal are so popular.

Top photos: DIY Inspired and Merriment Design

Creative ways to give your graduate cash or a gift card

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1. Roll up the cash or check into a mini diploma

Gift money for graduation with these clever printables from Skip to my Lou

Printable graduation cards with cash diploma
Skip to my Lou, free download

Although my teens hardly ever use cash for transactions, they would never snub a crisp bill rolled up like a little diploma and presented on these short-but-sweet message cards from Skip to my Lou. Just pick a ribbon that matches their school colors to show that you’ve done your homework. If you chose to roll up a check, make sure they don’t mistake it for just a little rolled up piece of paper!

A note about checks: Though today’s teens and young adults may not carry around a checkbook, they still know how to deposit a check to their account from their phone, so don’t worry that a check will be something difficult to cash. 

2. Put money into a colorful, printable money holder

Lia Griffith's free printable graduation money holders are a bright and happy reflection on their achievement

Festive printable graduation money holder
Lia Griffith, free download

We love the bright colors and the “hooray” and “yay” on these festive printable cash-or-check money holders from Lia Griffith. With designs from nature illustrator Laurel Autumn, these cards really capture the excitement of the occasion. Graduation is a big achievement!

Related: 7 outstanding high school or college graduate gift books: On stepping into the arena, dreaming with eyes wide open, and professional troublemaking (in the best possible way)

3. Slide a crisp bill into humorous money envelopes for new grads

These three printable money envelopes from DIY Inspired cover all the important stuff for recent graduates

Printable money envelope trio for graduates
DIY Inspired Inc on Etsy, $7.50 for three printable

Tacos, gas, and extra spending money. . this printable trio of money envelopes from DIY Inspired covers all the bases for your favorite practical graduate. You can also grab the You Survived! printable on its own for $3.

And don’t miss their “Sh*t just got real” printable which gets an A+ for brutal honesty and is perfect if your graduate isn’t quite so over-the-top-whee! about graduation. I mean, after the past few years we’ve all had, you can’t really blame some kids for just being happy that school is over, can you?

4. Tuck dollars bills into a coffee can (or balloon or pizza box) for a unique graduation gift

Follow It's Always Autumn's tutorial for how to make this clever graduation money gift using a can

Cash-in-a-can graduation gift
It’s Always Autumn, free tutorial and printable

Featured a few years ago in our post, 6 fun, creative ways to give your graduate a cash gift and make it special, crafty gift givers won’t mind spending a few minutes to turn a stack of bills into a money chain. Grab the free printable from It’s Always Autumn, along with tips to make this idea really “pop”.

(This idea can be adapted for a birthday or Father’s Day using the additional printables on the site)

In addition to the “cash in a can” idea shown above, we’ve also rounded up ways to gift money in balloons, a pizza box, or a homemade popper using cake push-up containers!

5. Use this personalized printable book mark to give a useful gift card and a thoughtful book

These free personalized graduation gift card holder bookmarks for '22 have been created by Merriment Design

Persoanlized gift card holder bookmark
Merriment Design, free download with updated graduation year

Love that these free printable gift card holder bookmarks from the delightful Merriment Design can be customized with your graduate’s name or nickname. Plus she’s updated the cutest, tiny printable graduation date to ’22 so that you can attach it to the tassel (don’t worry, she has a tutorial for that as well).

Just tuck a gift card they’ll love into this bookmark and then place the bookmark between the pages of a new book like one of the 12 inspirational books for graduation gifts, beyond Oh, the Places You’ll Go! or maybe one of the 7 outstanding high school or college graduate gift books for reading and reflexion.

Related: The best group video makers for birthdays, graduation, teacher appreciation and more

6. Fold up a DIY graduation cap gift card holder

This DIY graduation cap tutorial from Skip to my Lou holds a gift card

DIY graduation cap gift card holder
Skip to my Lou, free tutorial

Another great DIY option from Skip to my Lou, this foldable graduation cap hides a plastic gift card of your choice inside its folds. I appreciate the easy-to-follow instructions that will help us create something that will definitely stand out in the pile of folded cards.

7. Order a dressed-up graduation gift card from Amazon

Amazon's graduation-themed gift card holder makes it easy to send a gift to a graduate

Amazon’s graduation cap gift card holder
Amazon, no charge for gift card holder; gift cards can be in any amount

If you need something fast and easy, there’s no shame in mailing out an Amazon gift card—graduates can use them for just about anything! Just make sure you package it in this appropriate black graduation cap gift box with a short note of congratulations. It may be fast and easy, but it will be so appreciated.

Related: 8 of the coolest small appliance kitchen gifts for grads

8. Create a DIY graduation cap that can hold multiple gift cards

If you have a little more time, and want to give a small stack of gift cards, check out this crafty idea for a grad cap of mini surprises from Hallmark Designer Kelly Castor.

This tutorial will show you how to attach as many gift cards as you’d like into one long chain. Then fold them all accordion-style and tuck behind a handmade paper mini graduation cap. Maybe a bit more advanced in terms of DIY, but we know some of you will have advanced degrees in craft.

9. Turn a Venmo payment into a special graduation gift

Venmo's new digital gift wrapping for graduation gifts

Venmo’s new gift wrapping
Free options, above is “Just Because” design

Perhaps the easiest way to gift money is the way teens and young adults do for most of their transactions: Venmo! Earlier this year, Venmo laughed a “gift wrap” option which makes your instant cash gift feel more special with a short animated GIF.

Of the 10 designs that are currently available, none are specific to graduates. . .yet. Instead, try using the above “Just Because” message which includes your personalized note of congratulations. Hopefully Venmo will add a graduation design soon.

10. Wrap up a bundle of gift cards for the new graduate using PayPal

Paypal's combo gifts, like the Recent Grads shown here, allow you to send a digital gift to your favorite graduate

Paypal combo gift cards
Various amounts

Paypal does not have any virtual “gift wrapping” like Venmo, but they do have unique combo card gifts for a set price that include multiple retailers grouped together by theme. For instance, the Recent Grads combo card gift bundles a $50 Target gift card with a $25 Chipotle gift card (did they survey my kids for this combo?)

Or check out their Late Night Eats card bundle for a high schooler about to go off to college, or Home Sweet Home for college grads who are planning to furnish their first apartment. It’s a neat way to send off some gift cards that can be uploaded to your graduate’s phone for use in the very near future.

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