Custom graduation gifts are taking over in a post pandemic world — here's why.

May brings with it the season of graduation and the end of school for millions of students across the United States. Consumers are expected to increase their overall spending on graduation this year to more than $5.1 billion. Students are looking for more of a personal gift this year.

May brings with it the season of graduation and the end of school for millions of students across the United States. Graduation season is a huge industry in the US, mostly because students have worked diligently towards their degrees and they want to celebrate their accomplishments with their family and friends. Consumers are expected to increase their overall spending on graduation this year to more than $5.1 billion. Families and friends are eager to shower their graduates with love, especially because they have not been able to be there in person to support them due to Covid-19.

Last year, Covid-19 drastically affected how families and graduates celebrated. a massive trend took off during graduation season. Because gathering in person was prohibited, families would do a graduation “drive by” celebration in which parents would decorate the front yard with personalized yard signs and decorations. Families would then drive by in their cars and honk and wave and let the graduate know they were there for them. This trend took off on facebook and social media and became a world wide phenomenon last year.

This year with restrictions being lifted families will be able to get together again and celebrate their graduates in small gatherings. These “drive by” rituals will still take place because most states are still not able to have large parties. Some students have had more than a year of school online and this has taken a toll on them. They are longing to connect with their families for the first time. One graduate who is receiving her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from University Of Southern California told us “To know that my family and friends are still supporting me during this time is all that really matters to me,” she said. “I think a graduation card, or even special photos and a nice sign would be all I need to feel special”.

Students are looking for more of a personal gift this year to remind them of their hard work. Parents and family members know this and have doubled down on making their graduates feel special. Dreamship has anticipated this shift and based on last years data have added the following items to the catalog so that family and friends of grads can make custom gifts that will make an impact and last a lifetime. Below is some info on who to target for Graduation gifts this year and product industry research.

Popular gift ideas for every Graduate:

Yard sign

As before mentioned, yard sign sales sky rocketed last year at graduation time. It is the perfect economical way for family members to show the graduate their support. Dreamship has put out a 4 pack of yard signed as it is popular for parents to order multiple signs to give to other family members to put in their yards. Our marketing director made a yard sign for her best friend Alex who graduated last year. She was not able to attend her ceremony so it was the perfect way to show Alex that she cared. "Honk for the Grad" designs have been one of the most popular yard sign options because it encourages drivers to join in on the celebration.

Anh nho Graduation Gift Set 2

Garden Flag

Garden flags are a more permanent way to honor a younger graduate. The yard sign could be reused each time a child/young adult graduates from a new grade. Every May/June parents, aunt, uncles and grand parents can put this out in their yard to celebrate their graduates milestone. It is custom for all family members to get together and celebrate each year.

Anh nho Graduation Gift Set 1

Photo Tile

Photo tiles have multiple uses for Graduation. They could be used as a decoration as shown in the picture below. Or they can be used to give a special gift to the Graduate. The photo tiles could have memories of the period of life that the student encountered during their education. One of the things you celebrate during graduation time is the friends and community you made while at school. This would a popular gift for college students to give their other graduating friends. They could give them a series of photo tiles with memories from their 4 years of college.


Parents, family members and friends are all looking for graduation decorations for when they throw family BBQs to celebrate the student. A poster is a perfect gift to make the graduate feel special. There are many designs and customizations that are popular sellers for posters in the US.

Mugs/Water bottles

Coffee is a HUGE trend among students in the US. There is a common phrase “ I could not have pulled those all nighters to get my degree without caffeine”. Mugs are great gifts for high school graduates as well as college students. Students love showing off their drinkware on campus and are highly addicted to coffee. A custom mug with a graduation picture and the year they graduated would be a special gift they keep forever to remind them of their hard work and that fun period in their life.

Anh nho Graduation Gift Set 3

Who is the target audience?

Graduation is a nationwide celebration at every age level. Parents and family members should be targeted when selling custom graduation gifts. It is custom to give graduates gifts at the following stages of graduation for a student:

  • Kindergarten (Graduation at the age of 6) - This is typically a small and sweet celebration for a young child to celebrate their movement to 1st grade.

  • Elementary School (Graduation at the age of 13-14) - This is a rite of passage for young adults. Families often celebrate with a small BBQ.

  • High School (Graduation at the age of 18) This is one of the most popular graduation stepping stones. It is standard to have a large party for the graduate. At this party you celebrate their accomplishments from their 4 years of high school (sports, drama, art, and academics). It is also typical to give the graduate gifts with the college they will be attending. At this point in a students journey it is very common to move on to University. Americans take great pride in where they go to college. Once the student get into University and select the college they will attend it becomes part of their identity.

  • University (Graduation at the age of 21-22) This graduation celebration is even bigger than high school. This is a VERY exciting time for a student as they have now completed their degree and most will be transitioning to the working world. During this graduation time (typically in may through June) family and friends come together to shower the student with gifts and wish them well on their journey.

  • Graduate/Medical School (Graduation at the age of 25-30) This is a very special graduation as these students have decided to continue their schooling and specialize in a subject they are passionate about. The family and friends of the graduate are particularly proud of this individual and shower them with money and unique gifts.

Allie Powers

Published 5/13/2021