Budget Friendly Gifts for Moms, Dads, and Grads 

by | May 1, 2024 | Spending

Celebrating the special people in your life doesn’t have to break the bank! We’ve rounded up a selection of budget-friendly gift ideas for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and new graduates. No personalized mugs or blankets here: these are gifts they will actually want, not the same old suggestions you can find from other gift guides.  

The best part? Many of these gifts can be found at a variety of price points, so you can select the specific version that works for your budget and the gift recipient.   

Please note: This post is not sponsored in any way. 

Image of a couple playing badminton to represent a Father's day gift

Gifts for Moms or Dads

Doing Mother’s Day on a budget or need a quick Father’s Day gift idea? Check out these options to help make gifting easy and within your budget! 

Affordable spa services 

Looking to have your loved one reduce stress or boost energy? The Mayo Clinic says massage has those benefits and more. Gift guides often recommend an at-home spa kit for a gift on a budget, but busy parents often don’t get sufficient peace and quiet at home to use the spa products. 

However, there are plenty of spa services that cost about the same as all the bath products you would buy for an at-home spa kit! For an affordable spa service, look for reflexology spas near you. They often offer 30-minute massages or clothes-on massages in a communal room, which can be more affordable than a traditional hourlong massage in a private room. Another route to consider is spa services offered at nail salons, such as a manicure but opting for the deluxe service with extra massage offered. 

This way your loved one gets to carve out time for their own wellness, and there’s no additional clutter around the house! 


Plants – indoor or outdoor – are an excellent gift because they don’t clutter and they provide fresh oxygen, and sometimes flowers or even food! You can find plants for sale at the grocery store or hardware store, so it’s an easy gift to grab while running other errands – no extra trip required. 

If you have a section of a garden that needs a little attention, you can go the extra mile to make this an “act of service” gift by planting the plants, then revealing the updated space to your loved one on the morning of the holiday.  

Kid-free getaway

Make it a gift to one another! Take some time to hang out, just the two of you to recharge. A budget friendly version might look like a day trip to a state park or a quaint small town where you can explore a cute downtown and new restaurant. If you’re looking to take an overnight trip, check out our blog on how to plan a vacation on a budget.  

Sports equipment

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day kick off the warm spring and summer seasons, just in time to get some fresh air and spend time with family and friends outdoors. Get your gift recipient moving with some kind of sports equipment! This could be for their existing hobby (like golf balls for your avid golfer), or something novel like a badminton, pickleball, or foam cricket set, or new goggles or towel to hit the pool. 

Puzzle or board game

Want to still break free from the screens, but indoors? Get the family together to do a puzzle or play a board game! Board Game Geek is a great reference to learn more about the games you see on shelves at your local store or specialty indie games you can find online, so you can select one the recipient and family will enjoy. Not sure how to play? Search YouTube – there are multiple channels dedicated to making videos on how to play specific games, which makes it easy to get started. 

Tackling a chore the other parent typically does 

Here’s a way to make your partner feel loved at no cost. Pay attention to the household chores they typically handle, and choose one (or more) to take on for them. Whether that’s grocery shopping and restocking the fridge and pantry, doing the household laundry, or deep cleaning the bathroom, this can be a way to show your partner you understand and appreciate the work they do for your household. Just make sure to do the chore to their usual standard!  

Image of a graduate wearing graduation cap and gown outdoors on a college campus

Best Inexpensive Graduation Gifts

Whether you’re gifting for a high school or college graduate, there are plenty of affordable graduation gift options that can mark the occasion by setting them up for a success with the next step in their career or education. 

Professional attire or footwear 

If your new grad is starting a new job, there’s a good chance they’re going to need attire or shoes for the job, whether it’s scrubs to work in a medical setting or dress shoes for a more formal office. Help them jumpstart their professional wardrobe to celebrate their graduation! A gift card is a smart option here because clothes and shoes rely so much on fit, but also because your new grad will likely need to assess the professional dress norms of their future workplace. 

Membership to a job-hunting tool 

New graduates face some of the toughest competition in the job market. If your new college grad does not yet have a job lined up, help them get a leg up with a tool like LinkedIn Premium or Teal Premium which can streamline the application process and may help them land a great job faster! A month of each service is around $30. 

Meal prep containers

Having a set of uniform, high quality food storage containers make it easier to meal prep whether your new grad is stretching their grocery budget, or packing lunch as they commute to their job or college campus. Opt for the glass containers with a good rubber seal on the lid that snap down, and perhaps some with multiple compartments – they’re truly a game changer compared to single compartment plastic containers.

A non-phone alarm clock

Most people use their smartphones as their morning alarm, but that can lead to people scrolling the phone first thing which can increase stress – the last thing someone needs as they embark on the next phase of their education or career. Whether you go the analog route or a smart alarm clock that gently wakes them up with extra features, this can be a way to help build healthier sleep habits at a time when your new grad is likely adjusting their sleep schedule. 

Access to your network

Here’s a no-cost gift: open your network to the new graduate to help them find a role. Many new graduates find their first jobs through personal connections. Be sure to ask the graduate about their interests, education, and existing skills so that you can ideally make more relevant introductions. (Sometimes it’s not a great match, and that’s okay!)  

It could be the launching pad of their career, but even if it’s just part-time/temp work to gain resume experience and pay the bills while they hunt for a job in their line of passion or study, it’s super valuable. 


We hope you found our guide of inexpensive Mothers’ Day, Father’s Day, and graduation gifts helpful! Ultimately, the true essence of gift-giving is not about the price tag, but in the thoughtfulness behind each gesture. By being creative and resourceful, you can express your gratitude and make someone feel loved with just a few dollars – or sometimes at no cost!  

If you’re looking for a bank that can help you manage spending and have more money for the things that matter most, check out Milli! We’ve got helpful spending insights to keep you on budget, automated savings features, and a highly competitive annual percentage yield to get more from your savings. Download Milli from the App Store or Google Play and sign up today. 

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