Your family member or friend is graduating from high school or college this year, and you’re stumped for a gift. Teens are notoriously hard to shop for, and you no longer know the interests of young adults who have been living away from home for four years. How do you say congratulations with the perfect graduation gift when you’d rather not write a check?
Check out our list of the best graduation gifts for high school and college graduates. Hint: Our gift ideas work for clueless moms and dads who want to give a physical gift, in addition to a graduation party, financial help and a free place to live over the summer.
Whether your student needs a reminder of home in their dorm room or something to spruce up the walls of their first apartment, you can’t go wrong with a framed photo. Professional framing can be expensive and time-consuming, which is photo framing apps like Keepsake Frames and Framebridge are on the rise.
These apps allow for customization of every aspect: size, frame type and more. If frames aren’t your grad’s style, canvas options are also available. If your grad would rather have some nice art pieces, they’ll be able to upload digital art prints and more to be framed. Framebridge even offers diploma framing options.
Each app allows you to load photos to be framed directly from your phone, and then will ship the finished product straight to your door. Plus, both Keepsake and Framebridge offer digital gift cards.
For those students who are readers but aren’t looking forward to packing up and moving their book collection, e-readers are here to help. Both Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook offer sleek and multi-purpose solutions that will help them grow their personal library.
Each offers simple options designed for readers on the go, with e-ink screens designed to look like the pages of a physical book. Heftier readers that feature all the functionalities of a tablet are also available, and could prove extra useful if your graduate is facing potential online classes next semester.
If you want to help them get started on building their collection, look no further than Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited feature. Think of it as Netflix for books. The service offers unlimited access to over 1 million books, audio books, magazines and more. You can get your grad a monthly membership. It comes with a 30-day free trial.
Clothing Subscription Service
Keep them on trend and under budget by signing your student up for a clothing subscription service. Although they might be tempted to roll out of bed and head straight to class in their sweatpants, having a solid and timeless wardrobe is a priceless resource that will help them face all that adult life throws at them. It’s also useful for college grads entering the workforce for the first time.
Try the ever-popular Stitch Fix, which pairs each member with their own personal stylist. Customers take a style quiz, describe their likes and dislikes, and then receive a box with four to six pieces that fit their style guidelines. Stitch Fix offers clothes for everybody, including men, women, petite and plus size. Read more about how to give a gift card or gift subscription here.
Or, give a gift subscription to Amazon Prime so the new graduate can use Prime Wardrobe or even Personal Shopper by Prime Wardrobe. With Prime Wardrobe, they can try on up to eight items at a time and pay only for those they keep. With the Personal Shopper service, a stylist will curate inspirational pieces according to their style, fit, and budget to help them find that perfect look. (If they’ll be graduating from high school and going to college, a 6-month trial to Prime Student is another way to benefit from the wardrobe options.)
Help your grad make a statement and keep memories close with personalized jewelry. Choose their first or last initial to grace this pendant necklace, a classic and professional piece suitable for all settings. Help them keep their hometown or college town close to their heart with a custom coordinates necklace. Write some words of inspiration or an inside joke on this customized handwriting bracelet.
For the grad who prefers an accessory with more practicality, a watch will help them stay on schedule and provide a finishing touch to all their outfits. Try Fossil for watches in a variety of designs for both men and women, with options for engravings, as well as hybrid and smart watch options.
Set your graduate up for future home visits, work trips and spring break travels with a durable carry-on suitcase. The Carry-On from Away Travel is guaranteed to last a lifetime, and with 360 degree spinner wheels and an ejectable battery, this suitcase is perfect for travelers who always find themselves sprinting for the gate as well as those who arrive hours early. Plus, the suitcase is designed to fit in most airlines’ overhead luggage bins while still providing enough space to pack all the essentials.
Meal Subscription Service
Help new graduates get a jump start on home cooking with a meal subscription service. You can leave all the decision-making up to them. Most services offer a wide variety of options based on dietary guidelines, preferred tastes and how many recipes they’d like to make each week. Read more about meal subscription services and find which one is the best fit for your grad here.
Card & Board Games
Give your grad a way to break the ice with new friends or colleagues. A card or board game is a great way to socialize, and is well suited for both the student lounge and their first-ever dinner party. You can’t go wrong with classic games like Clue, Monopoly, Scrabble or even The Game of Life, but make sure to take a look at more recent games too.
Check out What Do You Meme?, a Cards Against Humanity style game for everyone who loves memes. For pun-lovers, try Pun Intended, or for something wackier, take a look at Exploding Kittens. If you want to give something that’s a little more strategy focused, try Codenames, Ticket to Ride or Avalon.
Journal or Mindfulness Guide
Transitions are always stressful. Journaling can help recent grads process stress and emotions, while also serving as a time capsule to preserve memories of their young adult life. Help them get the habit started with a classic journal from Moleskin, or select a beautifully designed one from Peter Pauper Press.
For those who might be daunted by the idea of starting and sticking with journaling, plenty of options offer more structure. This Five Minute Journal requires only five minutes of writing each day, while this One Line A Day Journal is geared toward creating a snapshot of daily life over five years. If lists are more your graduate’s style, don’t miss The 52 Lists Project journal, and its companion journals, 52 Lists for Happiness and 52 Lists for Calm.
Add a finishing touch to your gift by including a nice pen, which they’ll be able to use to journal, in the classroom or to impress at their first meeting or interview. Get a traditional fountain pen like the Waterman Graduate Chrome Pen, or something more contemporary like the Scriveiner London Luxury Pen. For something more stylish, lean into the popularity of rose gold with this three-pack of Crystal Gel Pens.
Now more than ever, technology is an essential part of learning and our everyday lives. While you may not want to foot the bill for new tech, you can give them something to help enhance and protect what they already have.
Pick up a personalized airpods case, or one with a modern feel to it like this Native Union Curve case. Also check out Case Mate for more colorful, waterproof, and branded options. Help them make their laptop stand out in the crowd with a unique laptop skin, like the ones from the Wallooks Etsy shop or Society6. Give them the gift of easy charging with extra long phone charge cords or a wireless charging pad.
Even two-day-old leftovers taste better on a real plate. Grab your grad some basic dinnerware like this Avesta Stoneware Set to keep them from having to get creative with how to eat their meals. For something a little less breakable, go with sleek plastic plates and bowls. Don’t forget to get them some silverware, too. To add a little flair, throw in a cute mug or two like this initial mug, or go for one that’s funny or inspiring.
If you liked this article, you might also like:
- 13 money tips for new college graduates
- How to score little-known college scholarships
- Good jobs that don’t require a college degree
- Is your college kid coming home? Here’s help
- How to leave college with less student loan debt
- Things college students should learn about money
- How to shop for your college student: Don’t