Average Family Spending On High School Graduation Gifts in 2012

English: graduation of CAC at the pyramids in 2008

English: graduation of CAC at the pyramids in 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As the summer heats up this 2012, so will the numerous high school graduation parties. I know when such events arise I’m always interested in what my family budget and spending should be for these situations. Luckily, there is research on average family spending for high school graduations.

What does the average family spend on gifts for high school graduation?

The Average Family is Budgeting $99.94 in 2012

According to the National Retail Federation, the average family is budgeting $99.94 this year in gifts to celebrate Johnny or Jane’s pomp and circumstance. Per graduate, families are budgeting roughly $51.48.

Hopefully, you are inviting a lot of people because at $51.48 per attendee, you are going to need to invite about 250 people just to get through your first year of state school. May I recommend a stadium of guests?

No Surprise: Men Outspend Women

As I wrote in US News and World Report, women are far better gift shoppers then men. Graduation gifts are no exception. Although, women do not pummel the average male’s budget by the usual large deficit. Men are planning a total budget of $109.74 (over the average…of course). Meanwhile, women are looking to spend a total of $90.70 (below the average…of course).

Way to go guys! The average lady’s budget is only 17% lower than yours (much better than the 50% on Valentine’s Day).

Grandparents Love Grandchildren

…And it shows in the graduation gift spending. By age demographic, those 65+ spend the most per recipient of any other age group. On average, they’ll pay out $63.96 per recipient on gifts for the youth. Perhaps it’s all the leftover money from when a college degree cost less than a house.

Money is Popular

Don’t know what to give a new graduate? Do what everyone else does and give them money. Over 57% of families plan on shelling out cash over other potential gifts. Cards were the second most popular gift with 40.8%. Gifts cards were a distant third with roughly one third of families.

I know I personally aim for about $30. Although, I suspect I’ll be spending a lot more on my own children.

What are you to get out of this post? I guess, it’s that you should invite mostly men, all 4-12 grandparents and get your signature on for all the checks.

I wish all this year’s graduates well in future endeavors and congratulations on your achievements!

What are you budgeting for gifts for your graduate? Do you think $50/person and $99.94 total is too high or just right?

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  1. says

    I think that sounds just about right, but of course it depends on who is giving the gift and how close they are to the person.

    • John says

      I suspect you are correct. I find it hard to believe that closer relatives wouldn’t potentially spend more.

  2. says

    High school graduates or college graduates? I think $99 is fair for either. I can’t wait to graduate and I am not really expecting gifts.

    • John says

      High school graduates. Hopefully, you’ll be receiving The gift of a diploma and a good paying job.

  3. says

    We have two nephews and a niece who just graduated from high school. I’ve been struggling to think of a creative gift they’ll like, but have come up blank so far, so will probable resort to the old reliable cash. Apparently I’m perfectly average–$100 was what I had in mind for the gift to each.

    • John says

      Usually, I’m amazed at the budgets I find in the NRF surveys. This is the first time I’ve felt like the numbers were dead on.

  4. says

    That doesn’t surprise me either. If I look at what my parents spend on my brother and I, that figure is pretty close. I think all parents want to celebrate their kids success and they do what they can to do so. That number really just represents the percentage of one’s income that they are using for this gift. Everyone will give their kid something and chances are will give all they can.

    • John says

      Actually, income was a demographic of the survey. The stat didn’t inspire me at first since more income equaled larger gift. But, now that I’ve seen a few comments I may have to go back and amend the post.

  5. says

    I think cash is the way to go. I have 4 younger simblings and they never mind receiving money for their birthdays. Their HS graduations will be no different except that I will give them $100 instead of the usual $50.

    • John says

      Honestly, giving cash means that the recipient uses the money in some way. Be it spending or saving. It’s not always the case with things and gift cards. I think money is a great choice.

  6. says

    I think grad gifts are only really necessary if you are part of the graduate’s family. I never gave my friends grad gifts… haha. They usually just had grad parties/dinners and I would attend.

    For my graduation I had a BBQ and a bonfire at the beach. I was really happy that all of my family members came. I got flowers and their attendance and some jewelry and money… it wasn’t the gifts that made that day special though so I really think that grad gifts are not as important as say, a wedding or birthday gift.

    • John says

      Actually, many of those 18-24 are budgeting around $80. However, if you are attending a friend’s party, I don’t think a gift is necessary.

      I don’t actually remember my graduation. I’m getting old.

  7. says

    You put a lot of thought into this article. Thanks for the great post.

    My grandmother gave me a $100 series HH savings bond she bought when I was about 4 years old, it was held until my graduation. It was worth a couple hundred dollars by that time.

    • John says

      I used some savings bonds given to me on my birthdays to help buy a house. They make great gifts.

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