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The best graduation gifts under $30 to buy for 2021

There won't be much pomp this year, but you can improve the circumstance with these great gifts.

My heart goes out to every high school and college graduate who didn't get to experience a much-deserved commencement ceremony, but just because they didn't get to walk on a stage doesn't mean there can't be gifts to mark their graduation. Of course, budgets are tight right now thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, so I was mindful of that when I rounded up some of my favorite cheap graduation gifts under $30. If you have any good ideas to add, please share them in the comments.

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Small living spaces demand small appliances. The top-rated Dash Mini Maker (it made CNET's list of the best waffle makers) is a perfect graduation gift, with a compact design and impossible-to-beat price: It's normally $15, but currently on sale for just $10.


A smart bulb is hardly a necessity for the modern graduate, but it sure could be fun as a grad gift. Kasa's dimmable bulb, equivalent to a standard 60-watt, allows for just about any color, and it supports voice control via Alexa and Google Assistant -- no hub required.

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Dorm rooms and apartments are, unfortunately, prime targets for thieves. So why not give your grad the gift of some smart tools to keep an eye on things? The Wyze Cam security camera is a fantastic choice for smaller living spaces, as just one of them can probably provide all the necessary surveillance.

For $10 more, the Wyze Cam Pan (pictured) adds panning to the mix, meaning the camera can survey a much wider area. Read the Wyze Cam review.


Forget the whimsical, obvious choice -- Dr. Seuss' Oh, The Places You'll Go -- and give a grad something of actual use: a book that teaches the basics of saving and investing money. Because, let's face it, few high-school or college programs give kids the knowledge they need. Elements is a relatively slim 208 pages, so it's not as intimidating as some money-advice books.

This article was published previously. 

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