21 helpful gifts for new grads under $50

With graduation season rolling around, chances are high that someone you know is about to enter the real world.

Sure, you can send a check, but why not pick out a gift that will be both practical and meaningful?

Here are 21 options that will honour this major milestone and help them get started in their new adult lives, without breaking your budget.

Help them stay informed no matter where they go.

Today's graduates prefer to get their news online, so a digital subscription to the New York Times or Wall Street Journal is the perfect way to help them stay current with world events. They will have full access to everything online, and easy access to the day's headlines through apps on their smartphones.

Price: New York Times, 99¢ for the first four weeks, and $US3.75 a week after that; Wall Street Journal. $US12 for the first 12 weeks, $US28.99 a month ($US7.20 a week) after.

Make home-cooked dinners a snap.

After relying on dining halls and pizza delivery for four years, it's understandable that most recent graduates don't know how to prepare meals from scratch. A subscription meal service that delivers perfectly proportioned ingredients along with easy-to-follow instructions is a great way to ease them into cooking at home.

Business Insider's Megan Willett tested out several of the most popular services and found that Blue Apron was not only the most affordable, but also helped her to improve her culinary skills.

Price: $US9.99 per person per meal.

Keep their batteries charged on the go.

Between finding a job and an apartment, new college grads are in for some long days. This tiny portable charger works as an external battery for iPhones, iPads, and Samsung Galaxy phones, so that they can keep on hunting.

Price: $US12.99

Get them thinking big.

Starting at the bottom in an entry-level job can be tough, so it helps to hear from people who have been there before. Any one of 2015's best business books can show graduates what it takes to rise to the top, and get them thinking about what they want to do when they get there.

Price: $US12.18-$US21.81

Organise their space with a floating shelf.

Books tend to languish in boxes after a move, but it doesn't have to be that way. This invisible bookshelf from Urban Outfitters is an easy storage solution, and makes any apartment look like it's been art-directed.

Price: $US16

Leave a good impression with #thankyou cards.

Between all the presents they will be receiving and the job interviews they will (hopefully) be getting, new graduates will have a lot of opportunities to say #thankyou.

These hashtag-inspired cards from Crane & Co. show that new media doesn't mean forgetting about old-fashioned manners.

Price: $US19

Turn awkward moments at work into a laughing matter.

At the end of a long day, the Awkward Moment At Work card game is a perfect way to let off steam. Players compete for the best reaction to a variety of uncomfortable situations, like accidentally calling your boss 'Mum.' It's been compared to Apples to Apples or Cards Against Humanity, and is sure to entertain anyone who is navigating their first office job.

Price: $US19.95

Make sure they will never lose their keys.

The days when a single ID card was enough to get them into dorms, dining halls, and the library are over. Graduates have more responsibility than ever before -- so make it easy for them to keep track of all their important keys with this stylish leather key fob from Madewell.

Price: $US19.50

Keep cyclists on the right course with a handy cell phone mount.

Steering a bike through traffic while checking directions on a smartphone is difficult, not to mention dangerous. Keep the cyclists in your life safe with this adjustable Nike handlebar mount that can fit any type of phone.

As an added bonus, it makes it easy for them to listen to music while they're running errands around town.

Price: $US20

Track their travels with a scratch-off map.

Whether they're already planning their first big vacation or have found a job that will take them overseas, world-travelling graduates will love this scratch-off map.

They can use a coin to scratch away at the places that they have visited so far, creating a colourful visual that looks great in any room.

Price: $US20

Move beyond the sweatshirt with a letterpress print of their college town.

After four years, any college student has probably already acquired a lifetime supply of memorabilia emblazoned with their university's name. A letterpress print mapping the city where they went to school is a more sophisticated alternative.

Wherever they hang it, it's sure to prompt conversations and bring back fond memories.

Price: $US22

Help them keep track of crucial dates.

Yes, most smartphones come with a built-in calendar. But when you're making an appointment, it's so much more professional to pull out a leather-bound planner than a scratched-up phone. This weekly calendar from Gallery Leather makes it easy to plan ahead, and will look great on their new desk.

Price: $US26

Steer them clear of disposable plastic shopping bags.

Every environmentally-conscious graduate knows that plastic bags are ruining the planet. But chances are that they don't own a sturdy tote bag to use instead. The witty Eat NYC tote from Food 52 is sure to be a hit.

Price: $US26

Make sure they're ready for stormy days.

Nothing is worse than showing up for a job interview in a soaking wet suit. Help graduates be equipped for any kind of weather with a wind-resistant umbrella from ShedRain. Whether you choose cheerful yellow or classic black, they're sure to arrive looking professional and prepared.

Price: $US28

Encourage them to grow something green.

Their first apartment probably won't come with a backyard, but new graduates can start a windowsill garden with this DIY mason jar herb garden kit from Terrain. No experience is necessary: it includes everything that they need to get started, plus video instructions.

Price: $US28

Bring note-taking to the next level.

Graduating from college doesn't mean that there's no reason to take notes anymore. It just means that you'll end up in more situations -- client meetings, job interviews -- where a ratty-looking drugstore notebook can give the wrong impression.

These marbled notebooks from Poketo are perfect for architects, graphic designers, or anyone else in a creative field where image is everything.

Price: $US32

Make over-sleeping impossible with a compact alarm clock.

In college, sleeping through class because your phone battery died overnight and your alarm never went off isn't the end of the world. But when you're expected to report to your job at 9 a.m., that's another story. This minimalist alarm clock from Muji eliminates the risk of oversleeping, and its modern design makes it a great accent piece for any apartment.

Price: $US34.95

Help them save money by brown-bagging lunch.

We all know that buying lunch at work is another easy way to mindlessly burn through your paycheck. Make brown-bagging simple (and stylish) for new grads with this handy bento box, which has five compartments for food and snacks.

Price: $US35.99

Keep them out of Starbucks with this coffee maker.

One mindless way that people burn through their paycheck: coffee. New graduates can get started on saving for retirement or building an emergency fund by making their own and putting $US3 a day in an interest-bearing account instead.

But that doesn't mean that they have to settle for bitter, unpalatable blends. The Chemex makes the most 'scientifically correct' coffee, and has won over coffee snobs around the world.

Price: $US36.93 - 42.56

Streamline travel with a passport holder.

Any graduate planning on working or travelling abroad will appreciate having a good-looking passport holder to go through customs in style. This one comes with pockets that hold a credit card, expense receipts, or a boarding pass.

Price: $US40

Want to stock up your grad's bookshelf instead?

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