Graduation etiquette dictates that if you're invited to a graduation or a graduation party, then you must bring a gift. The etiquette behind graduation gifts remains the same, whether the person graduates from high school or college or receives a doctorate. Emily Post points out the difference between announcements and invitations; if you receive an announcement, but are not invited to any events, then you aren't required to send a gift. Gift etiquette for doctoral degrees refers to those invited to the ceremony or party and includes what to send.
According to Emily Post, you should give the gift on the graduation day, or as close to the day as possible. The exception applies to those not attending the graduation ceremony or any festivities. If you live out of town, you can send the gift a up to four weeks before the doctoral graduation. You can also opt to give the gift up to two weeks after the graduation, especially if there is time between the ceremony and party.
If the graduate plans on attending graduation ceremonies and you receive an invitation, then consider giving the person flowers as a gift. Many graduates wear a corsage or boutonniere during the ceremonies. You may prefer giving the individual a bouquet of flowers or a flower arrangement following the ceremony. If you do not attend the ceremonies, then opt for a flower arrangement delivered to the individual later.
Those graduating with a professional degree are ready to begin life in the working world. Treating that person to a gift for the future is highly appropriate. Consider giving the person a leather briefcase or leather bag for carrying their laptop. If the individual is required to travel for a new job, then purchase a small travel case and fill it with miniature bottles of lotion and bathroom products. Or, choose a passport cover for those traveling out of the country or a simple carrying case for transporting business cards.
Generally speaking, you should spend as much as you can afford on the graduation gift, given your budget. Divine Caroline points out that old adage that it's the thought that counts, rather than the amount spent. Expect to spend a minimum of $10 on the doctorate graduation gift. If you are on a tight budget, then include a message expressing your happiness for the person, letting them know that you care. Gifts of cash or gift cards are always appropriate.