The Best Graduation Gifts That Aren't at All Cliché ...

It's that time of year. That time when caps and gowns make appearances across the country as high school and college graduates prepare for a new journey in life. Are you going to graduate this year? Do you have a BFF who is taking the walk up to the podium? If you're not sure what to get as a gift for your graduate friend, I've got some ideas that are not your typical graduation gifts. These gifts are great for both high school and college grads.

1. Scrapbook/Personalized Calendar

If you're the crafty type, it would be a sweet gesture to make something special for your graduating friend. A scrapbook full of memories, or a photo calendar using pictures of you and the grad is a great way to remember the good times that were had in school. This is something they can look back on years down the road when they want to reminisce on their youth.

2. Messenger Bag/Briefcase

Whether your friend is preparing to go off to college, or enter the world of corporate America, they will need a nice bag to carry around their books or business papers. You can find grown up style leather bags, or more casual styles in fun colors. If you want to add a personal touch, embroidered monograms are an easy way to do that.

3. Gift Card to a Day Spa

Life after graduation can be stressful, no matter where the graduate is headed. And once they enter college or the "real world," things will only get more stressful. I don't know about you, but if I got a gift card to a spa, where I could get a massage and relax, I would be really grateful. Any graduate would be lucky to have the chance for some restful time away from life's chaos.

4. Piggy Bank

Saving money is one of the hardest things to do for anyone. It takes motivation and discipline. And because you want your graduating friend to have a secure financial future, you want to give them a way to make it easier to save. It might seem childish, but a piggy bank is a fun, cute way to help your grad start preparing that savings account.

5. Restaurant or Grocery Gift Card

We all know that most college students and new graduates are not exactly rolling in the dough. And food is a necessity that many on a shoestring budget can't afford to be lenient with. So show your friend that you want them to be well fed by getting them a gift card to the place where they buy their groceries, or to a decent restaurant where they can treat themselves to a nice meal.

6. Day Planner

Keeping up with classes, meetings and other important events can be difficult if you don't write the dates and times down. Most planners have nice features like an address book, important dates and phone numbers and other pages for storing important information. Not only will your graduate buddy be able to keep track of their schedule, they will be able to have a reference for other information when they need it.

7. Concert or Movie Tickets

Once graduation is over and real life begins, your graduating friend will have less time and money to get out and have fun. So give them a little something that they can enjoy when they really need some time away and can't afford it on their own. It's nice to get them a ticket to their favorite band's concert, or a ticket to a movie they love, but it makes more sense to get them a pair of tickets. You never know....they might ask you to join them!

You don't have to break the bank to get a nice graduation gift for your friend. In fact, it is often the small, thoughtful gifts that have more value. You could give money, but that's so generic. Anyone who graduates from school deserves a little something special for their achievement. What graduation gift do you think your BFF would most enjoy?