It may seem like it was just yesterday that they were packing up to move into their freshman dorm, but now they’re graduating from college and starting out in the world as a real adult. This stage of life is full of so many new things — a new job, a new apartment and maybe even a new city. Celebrate this memorable time and show your new graduate how proud you are by surprising them with one of the best college graduation gifts.
While cold hard cash is always appreciated (hello, student loans!), a little sentimental is appropriate when commemorating this important milestone. To help shop for the college grad in your life, we’ve culled the greatest college graduation gifts, proving there is something for everyone.
How to Choose the Best Graduation Gift
When it comes to actually picking out the best gift for your child, partner, friend, nibling or whatever they are to you, we suggest taking a few minutes to really think about what kind of gift will land best. If you’re still not sure, here are a few questions to ask yourself:
Is there something they need for a new job? If your graduate already has a job lined up, buy something that will be useful for it. Whether it’s dealing with their new daily commute, helping them enjoy a healthy lunch or just providing a way to relax after a hard day’s work in new surroundings, life after graduation has plenty of need for a thoughtful gift.
Are they particularly interested in a hobby? Your graduate may not be going straight into work, but do they spend all their time doing a certain thing? Some people cook, some people play sports and some people love to travel. If something sticks out for your graduate, consider gifts related to their topic of interest.
Would they prefer something to keep forever or something temporary (usually food!)? While a lot of people assume an important or special gift has to be expensive and physical, the reality is that practicality or something memorable for the feelings it evokes can be just as well received. For example, a funny mug isn’t going to set the world alight, but when it acts as a daily reminder of you, it can be as valuable as something from the more expensive end of the scale.
To get your creative, gift-giving juices flowing, here is a small selection of our favorite graduation gift ideas. They include:
- Noise-canceling headphones
- Electric scooters
- Leather wallets
- Personalized books
- All-in-one cookware
- Commuter bicycles
- Action cameras
- Self-care kits
- Pre-seasoned skillets
From novelty ideas to classy home additions, we’ve tried to cover all bases and include college graduation gift ideas for every kind of graduate. The extensive selection also covers a range of budgets, meaning even if you don’t have hundreds of dollars to spend, there’s still something worthy of marking this special occasion. Scroll to discover our choices for the best graduation gifts.
Oh, the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss
More sentimental than useful, this childhood classic will let your favorite graduate know that you believe in what lies ahead for them. The book celebrates school milestones thanks to its poetry about upward potential. Plus, this little reminder can sit on the receiver’s bookshelf, allowing them to spot your love every time they glance at the shelf. Or they can pick it up on days when they need a little confidence boost.
Citizen Men’s Eco-Drive Watches
A watch is a traditional graduation gift, but Citizen doesn’t make ordinary timepieces. The brand’s Eco-Drive series runs on solar power instead of batteries. With normal sunlight exposure, your gift will last a lifetime without running out of power. This particular watch features a handsome stainless steel band and blue watch face with three sub-dials and a date tracker. However, we’ve also included links to a few other stylish Citizen watches so you can find the timepiece that best suits your grad.
Whether for work trips or weekend getaways, your new grad is going to need a carry-on suitcase that can take them anywhere. Away’s luggage has gotten rave reviews, making it the perfect piece to gift. It’s sized to fit in the overhead bins of most airlines and built to last. The interior makes it easy to stay organized with a compression system and hidden laundry bag. Plus, it comes in a range of colors so you can personalize it for your grad.
Brooklinen Luxe Hardcore Sheet Bundle
A set of sheets is the kind of boring-but-necessary gift that says, “You’re an adult now, congrats.” This is the type of product that a broke college graduate is unlikely to buy for themselves, which is exactly why it’s one of the best college graduation gifts. This sheet bundle from Brooklinen has everything they’ll need to outfit their bed like a grown-up.
Soundance Laptop Stand
Recent grads may be jumping from remote school to a remote job, so a gift that helps them get equipped to work from home could be greatly appreciated. This affordable Amazon buy has thousands of five-star reviews and comes in nine cool colors to add a little flair to their desk space. It’ll help prevent overheating and keep laptops at the perfect level to avoid the back and neck problems that result from hunching over screens.
TheBeardedMugMan Graduation Mug
If there’s one thing every college grad needs, it’s more funny mugs. So mark this special occasion with a can’t-fail graduation gift idea. This mug comes via Etsy, one of our favorite retailers, which also happens to have tons of great gifts for college grads. This particular model is available in two different sizes (we recommend the big one for the copious amounts of coffee needed during a first job) and two colors.
Carmel and Terrell Swan Embroidered College Pillows
After you’ve graduated, the time comes to pack bags, say goodbyes and leave college life behind. One way to ensure your memorable second home never leaves your thoughts is to immortalize it with one of these Carmel and Terrell Swan Embroidered College Pillows. Available for more than 50 colleges across the U.S., these beautifully embroidered home additions feature a range of the most famous elements of life around campus.
Pinch Provisions Work From Home Self-Care Kit
From offering relaxing treatments to putting a smile on their face, this comprehensive Pinch Provisions Self-Care Kit comes with everything your graduate will need to stay calm and collected when stepping into the work-from-home lifestyle. The 12-piece set includes a number of self-care items, such as a facial roller (and guide), an acupressure ring and lip balm. While other items — like the conference call bingo, do not disturb sign and “pants versus pajamas” decision coin — ensure they remember life isn’t quite as serious as it may sometimes feel.
Lodge L8SK3 Pre-Seasoned Skillet
One thing many graduates must address when coming into the real world is cooking for themselves. Whether that’s the case for your graduate or you just want to give them a way to create delicious food, this Lodge L8SK3 Pre-Seasoned Skillet fits the bill. This versatile skillet can be used to sear, sauté, bake, broil, braise or fry in the oven, on the stove or on the grill. It also comes pre-seasoned with 100% natural vegetable oil for unbeatable flavor and is available in a range of different sizes.
Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Headphones
When Sony first released the WH-1000XM4 wireless headphones, we named them the best noise-cancelling headphones in the world. And while you can also find great options from Bose and Apple, we still like the sleek design and audio quality of the XM4s. So if you’re looking for the best gifts for college graduation, it’s hard to beat the best wireless headphones on the market.
Bartesian Premium Cocktail and Margarita Machine
Graduation is the perfect time to celebrate with a drink. Try adding a touch of class to the equation with this Bartesian Premium Cocktail and Margarita Machine. After inserting one of the pre-mixed cocktail capsules and selecting the desired strength, this advanced device mixes up a cocktail in a matter of seconds. In addition to the easy production process, users love the device for its capsules, which have been created from quality ingredients by master mixologists.
Timberland Men’s Leather Wallet
Timberland makes fine leather goods. We think this handsome bi-fold wallet is one of the best gifts for college grads thanks to its classic design and practicality. We love the stitching detail around the edges and the very affordable price point. Every adult needs a wallet, and this leather bi-fold will last for many years to come. So gift your favorite college grad something he’ll use on the daily.
Bentgo Glass Leak-Proof Salad Container
Another wise gem you can share with your graduate is the difference a well-designed lunch box can make to your life. Not only does it keep food in better shape to eat, but the process of making/taking your own lunch can save you big bucks while also helping you stay on top of what you’re eating. This Bentgo Glass Leak-Proof Salad Container features a four-compartment tray on top of a large 10-ounce compartment, allowing you to keep wet and dry foods separate until you want to eat them. It’s also leakproof, microwave and dishwasher safe and comes in a range of different colors.
Woodford Reserve Bourbon Kentucky Derby Edition 2022
Raise a glass of this Woodford Reserve Bourbon Kentucky Derby Edition 2022 to celebrate this significant occasion. Inside this popular spirit, you’ll find more than 200 detectable flavor notes including wood, spice and fruit. It’s also a great base for a variety of cocktails like a rye Manhattan or mint julep. A bottle of this popular liquor is sure to go down well, no matter whether it’s enjoyed with you, friends or family over the coming years.
1800flowers Graduation Vibrant Floral Medley
Flowers are a timeless go-to suited to every kind of celebration, and graduation is no different. Choose this 1-800-Flowers Graduation Vibrant Floral Medley to give your graduate a beautiful boost of color with a range of flower types, including orange roses, Asiatic lilies and Peruvian lilies. Plus, the medley is available in small, medium or large and also includes an 18-inch Mylar graduation balloon.
BOY SMELLS Hypernature Votive Candle Set
The gift of relaxation is something that is hard to put a price on. That’s why this BOY SMELLS Hypernature Votive Candle Set may actually be worth a lot more than its price tag reads. The set contains five three-ounce candles made from a blend of coconut and beeswax, housed inside attractive, colored glass holders. Each USA-made candle also sports its own scent — such as Agua De Jardín or Rhubarb Smoke — and has a burn time of approximately 16 hours.
Nintendo Switch Lite
It may not be the most complicated gift idea on our best graduation gift list, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be one of the most well-received. Since its release in 2017, the Nintendo Switch has gone from strength to strength and remained popular with serious and everyday gamers alike. In this Nintendo Switch Lite console, your graduate will be able to enjoy their favorite games at home or on the go, thanks to the device’s lightweight and compact design. It’s also available in a range of different colors and comes backed by more than 65,000 five-star ratings from Amazon users who already love theirs.
Bluebird of Happiness
Bluebirds can be a symbol of health, joy, hope, inspiration, friendship and good news on the horizon. With that in mind, who wouldn’t want any or all of those things around their home, especially after stepping out into the real world? Each original glass Bluebird of Happiness is easily displayed and can serve as a reminder of loved ones, good times and to never give up.
GoPro HERO10 Black Waterproof Action Camera
While the world of work awaits, your graduate may intend to take a break and see some of the world. An action camera like the GoPro HERO10 Black will give them an easy and reliable way to capture their most memorable moments. And even if they aren’t taking a break and heading anywhere exotic, this top-rated action cam still allows anyone to capture all kinds of fun in 23-megapixel photos or 5.3K resolution, 60fps video. Anyone into any kind of action sport, be it scuba diving, skiing or off-road biking, is sure to love this tech gift.
A Custom Congratulations Card (Plus Cold Hard Cash)
While a nice watch, travel suitcase or set of sheets will always be appreciated, let’s be honest: Nothing beats cold hard cash. While that might seem impersonal, it’s the truth. With student loans what they are, money is one of the best college graduation gifts. However, to make this gift slightly more personal, combine it with a custom greeting card. These custom cards from Moon Pig are absolutely delightful, and even more so when combined with a crisp $100 bill.
Brooklinen Classic Cotton Sheets
It’s time to say goodbye to those extra long twin sheets! Your new grad is finally graduating to a bigger bed, so they’ll need sheets for the occasion. This top-rated set from SPY-favorite Brooklinen is made of silky soft 100% long-staple cotton and is machine washable. A queen-size set costs $139 and includes a flat sheet, fitted sheet and two pillowcases. We like the striped pattern, which screams, “I’m a grown-up now!”
Le Moderne Daily Planner
Real-world responsibilities can be a rude awakening. If you don’t want the recent college graduate in your life to get overwhelmed, get them a good planner to help keep things in order. Whether they need to track work tasks, social plans or grocery lists, a good planner is the best way to stay on top of it. This 16-week planner has plenty of space to plan days and weeks, write to-dos, make schedules and shopping lists, set and review goals and reflect on personal growth.
Retrospec Beaumont City Bike – Step Through 7 Speed
Bike riding can be a great source of exercise and a way to destress — or, if they live in a metropolis, a way to get around. This option from Retrospec has a vintage feel and offers all the efficiency of your typical bike. It comes in six colors and will definitely get the recent grad in your life into the groove of a smooth ride.
BLACK+DECKER Programmable Coffee Maker
If college got them addicted to coffee, just wait until they realize how much caffeine the real world requires! All those coffee runs can really add up, so help them brew their own with this 12-cup coffeemaker that features a programmable timer, auto-brew option and a nonstick warming plate. In case they forget to turn it off before running out the door, it automatically shuts off after two hours.
JOINTOP Leather Office Supplies
If your graduate is going to spend their time sitting at a desk, ensure it looks professional with these JOINTOP Leather Office Supplies. The two-piece set is made up of a single tray and a multi-piece tray, giving users plenty of space to hold their stationery essentials in an easy-to-grab yet organized way. The organizer is made up of five compartments, including a short tray, a pen holder and a stand for holding your smartphone upright. Additionally, this smartly designed desk piece folds into itself to make it easily transported and stored.
Who’s Most Likely To
This would be a great gift for friends who are graduating from college. The Cards Against Humanity-esque game can be played in large group settings, allowing you to choose the person who is most likely to fulfill the sentiment on each card. The person with the most cards at the end of the game loses. Buy this for nights of reminiscing with your college friends or get it for someone who might need a little help making friends during the next step of their life.
Meal planning and grocery shopping can be difficult for anyone, but especially for those who have spent the last four years living on dining hall food and the free snacks at campus events. A meal kit subscription is a great, cost-effective way for recent grads to ease into cooking. With HelloFresh, the food is generally quick and easy to prepare, and they can tailor the menu and frequency to their preferences. By gifting a subscription or some money towards their first box, they can try it out on you and then decide if they’d like to continue.
Mason Jar Indoor Herb Garden
Talk about a twofer. These vintage-inspired planters provide some greenery and herbs for cooking. No green thumb? No problem! The charming jars feature a passive hydroponic system that delivers nutrients to the plants’ roots while regulating moisture, so the soil always has just the right amount of water. Choose from a few organic options: Genovese basil, cilantro, non-GMO mint, Greek oregano, flat leaf parsley and sage.
Fix It Kit
It’s great having your own place… until something goes wrong. And when you can’t get your dad to come fix it, this tool kit is the next best thing. Inside the vegan leather case is all you need to cover the basics, including a hammer, LED Flashlight (two AAA batteries not included), long-nose pliers, tape measure, slot screwdriver, interchangeable handle, four sockets, 10 assorted screwdriver bits and a socket extension.
iRobot Roomba 694 Robot Vacuum
The last thing 20-somethings want to do is clean, which is why the Roomba robot vacuum is the perfect graduation gift. All they have to do is set it up based on their schedule and preferences, and it does all the cleaning for them. They can link it up to the iRobot app, Alexa or Google Assistant to get it going with a simple voice command, and the smart sensors and cleaning features take care of the rest by targeting and removing daily dirt, dust and debris from carpets or hard floors.
AmazonBasics All-Purpose Wine Glasses
Graduating from college calls for a toast, so let your new grad say “cheers” with a set of wine glasses. The set of four is made in the USA and dishwasher safe. The classic design works equally well for daily use and entertaining, and the AmazonBasics limited one-year warranty provides peace of mind.
Great Jones The Dutchess
Great Jones is known for creating simple yet effective cookware that will get the job done. This dutch oven comes in a variety of colors that will speak to your grad’s cooking soul. It uses enameled cast iron, and it’s dishwasher friendly.
JBL Charge 4 – Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker
JBL’s portable Bluetooth speaker packs the punch of a standard stereo speaker while also adding a travel component. It comes in multiple colors, and each full charge has 20 hours of playtime. It’s waterproof and has wireless Bluetooth streaming.
Primula Half Moon Glass Teapot with Removable Infuser Cups
For those moments of extravagance, Primula has your grad covered. This tea set has utensils for four people and features durable glass. Also, it has a superior infiltration method, and it’s easy to clean. It looks cool, and it’ll be a source of distinction in a post-grad pad.
Amazon Basics Large Travel Luggage Duffel Bag
Sometimes we all need an efficient and simple duffle bag. This option comes in three colors and features durable nylon as the main material. It has a 50-pound weight capacity so, for the recent grad with wanderlust, this makes one of the best college grad gifts.
TCL 50-inch Class 4-Series 4K UHD Smart Roku LED TV
Televisions are the pinnacle of college graduation gifts. This option from TCL is a smart TV and can stream all of the top channels through its Roku software. Also, this option has 4K resolution, which is perfect for gamers and sports fans.
Bloomscape Mini Money Tree
We all love the idea of manifesting money. The mini money tree from Bloomscape is perfect for bringing positive energy and good vibes to the grower — and who doesn’t need that fresh out of college? There are five-pot colors to choose from, and the plant is said to help stress and anxiety.
How to Adult, A Practical Guide by Jamie Goldstein
Adulting is hard. Why not buy the recent college grad a guide to help them get the hang of the basics? This guide written by Jamie Goldstein will help the grad get the hang of living, loving, working and spending like a grown-up.
Philips SmartSleep Wake-up Light
This wake-up light from Philips acts as a gentle alarm clock. It features five natural sounds and an FM radio. Also, it features a sunrise and sunset simulation that’s clinically proven to help with sleep patterns. For a college graduation gift that’s useful yet unconventional, this wake-up light is tough to top.
An Amazon Gift Card
If you would prefer to avoid giving physical cash and like the idea of knowing, to some extent, what your gifted money is going to buy, an Amazon gift card could be your answer. Yes, Amazon’s near-endless range of products means there isn’t much you can’t find, but it does mean your gifted cash won’t be lost or forgotten about when it’s used for a throwaway, day-to-day life item like gas or groceries.
A Reason to Curse Graduation Card
Sometimes the most meaningful thing you can do is say exactly how you feel. We have no doubt this A Reason to Curse Graduation Card does that for the majority of parents seeing their children graduate. Whether you choose to use this card as a standalone gift (possibly filled with cash or a gift card) or give it as part of a larger and more significant gift, you can at least be confident you’ve got your point across when it’s received. And, if you would rather avoid cursing on your card, there’s a wider range of graduation-ready cards to choose from.
SunshineAndCalm Yoda Graduation Mug
Everyone appreciates a little dad humor from time to time, so we’re sure this SunshineAndCalm Yoda Graduation Mug will be well received. The fun mug features everyone’s favorite Jedi master in his robes and mortarboard, holding a graduation scroll alongside the words “Yoda Best.” It’s also available in a range of different color combinations and has a 4.9-out-of-5 rating from Etsy customers.
45 Second Omelet Maker
Giving the gift of knowing you’re only ever 45 seconds from a delicious omelet sounds like a good thing to us. To create an omelet, simply place all the specified ingredients inside the dish and then let the microwave do the rest. It’s an ideal gift idea for grads stepping into the world of work, where that all-important breakfast may need to be a little bit quicker than it used to be. Additionally, this handmade stoneware clay dish actually brings a bit of style to your kitchen, especially when compared to its competitors.
75 Iconic US Landmarks Scratch Off Poster
Inspire your graduates’ inner traveler with this Scratch Off Poster, which features 75 iconic landmarks from across the U.S. Think Alcatraz, Mount Rushmore, Key West and plenty more of America’s trip-worthy places. The poster makes it especially easy to keep track of your progress by including foil coverings over each landmark that can be removed after a visit. If U.S. landmarks aren’t calling to you, there’s a range of other available scratch-off posters, such as states, national parks and things to do for your wellbeing.
ISeeMeBooksUS I Wish You More Book
For a truly thoughtful and personalized gift, try this ISeeMeBooksUS I Wish You More. After purchase, you’ll be required to fill in information about your graduate and upload accompanying images to create a personalized edition of this book, which was created by a duo with a New York Times bestseller to their names. This USA-made gift is 20 pages long and measures 8.5 by 8.5 inches.
One27Designs Customized Graduation Puzzle Piece
If you happen to be searching for college graduation gifts for fellow graduates or know a group who went through the process together, mark the occasion with this personalized One27Designs Customized Graduation Puzzle Piece Set. You can specify exactly how many pieces you’d like to make up your puzzle, meaning this gift can accommodate large groups. Each piece also includes an attached key ring and comes named and dated.
Hiboy S2 Pro Electric Scooter
If a daily commute is about to become a big part of your graduate’s life, the Hiboy S2 Pro Electric Scooter could make the whole experience a bit more enjoyable. This commute-ready mode of transport features large, 10-inch wheels, a 25-mile range and a top speed of 19 miles per hour. Dual shock absorbers built into the scooter’s rear wheels provide greater in-ride comfort, while its advanced folding design means it’s ready to carry in a matter of seconds.
My Life Story – So Far
Once it is crammed full of memories, stories and wisdom worth remembering, this My Life Story — So Far Book is sure to become one of your graduate’s most prized possessions. Each sewn, clothbound journal arrives full of prompts to create an in-depth look back at what makes life up to this point so special. From best school friends and favorite everythings to the reason their name was chosen and information about parents, this journal leaves no stone unturned.
If your graduate loves to read and doesn’t already own an Amazon Kindle, this one is a no-brainer. This compact device sports a 167 ppi glare-free display, which can be read in all kinds of conditions and also includes 8GB of storage for housing thousands of titles. For ease of reading, the device features a built-in front light. It’s also available in either black or white and comes backed by more than 25,000 five-star ratings. Furthermore, Amazon has a wide range of devices to choose from, including the Kindle Fire, which is also capable of playing all kinds of watchable media.
Living away from home to go to college can be a big enough move for many people, but post-college life can often involve a bigger, more significant move in pursuit of a career. If your graduate could benefit from a way to deal with homesickness when it appears, these Homesick Candles may do the trick. Each state-specific, soy wax candle delivers a scent crafted with thoughtfully authentic aromas aimed at transporting the smeller back to where they’re from. Examples include the botanical grandeur of California and the big bouquet of Texas.
College Cityscape Rocks Glasses
These College Cityscape Rocks Glasses provide a classy and functional way to remember your college days. Each Ohio-made pair of glasses feature hand-drawn, 360-degree illustrations of landmarks and iconic buildings from the chosen campus. Drinkers will also find the university’s logo printed on the bottom. Handily, the glasses hold 10.5 fluid ounces and are dishwasher safe, making them easy to clean and ideal for either casual or special-occasion drinking.
Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker
College grads aren’t always the most competent when it comes to cooking at home. The Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker is a smart, compact and versatile answer to bridging that gap. This unbelievably well-reviewed device comes backed by more than 120,000 five-star ratings and lets users choose from seven different preparation options. These include pressure cooking, slow cooking, a rice cooker, a yogurt maker and a sauté pan. It also lets you choose from 13 one-touch programs and comes with a dishwasher-safe lid, a steam rack and a stainless steel inner pot.
Apple AirPods Pro
There’s nothing wrong with sticking with popular, high-tech ideas when it comes to the best college graduation gifts. With this in mind, there aren’t many people who wouldn’t be glad to receive a set of these Apple AirPods Pro. They come with more 50,000 five-star ratings from users who already love them. They also include a range of advanced features, such as active noise cancellation, a transparency mode and adaptive EQ. Users can also choose from three soft, tapered silicone tips to ensure a secure and comfortable fit.
Our Place Always Pan
Thanks to its ability to replace eight individual kitchen cookware items, this Our Place Always Pan is ideal for anyone moving into a new place for the first time. The eight-in-one pan takes the place of a fry pan, saute pan, steamer, skillet, saucier, saucepan, nonstick pan, spatula and spoon rest. It’s also available in 11 color options and comes with a modular lid, beechwood spatula and a stay-cool handle to further increase user-friendliness. Handily, the advanced non-stick surface will forgive even the least experienced home chef.