Best Graduation Gifts for High School and College Grads

graduation gifts

Graduation is an exciting time, whether it’s from college or high school. While money is always a welcome gift, but if you’re looking for other ideas, we’ve got you covered. Here are some ideas for graduation gifts you can buy to make them feel appreciated!

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Ideas for High School and College Graduation Gifts

The Gift to Top All Other Graduation Gifts: Cash

I know I said we would give you OTHER ideas, but I cannot stress this enough: it’s what graduates need at the end of the day. Whether it’s paper money, a Visa gift card, a check, or even a Venmo, any grad would be ecstatic to receive money as a gift. Living is expensive. Cash helps.

Gift Cards

Restaurants/Supermarkets: If they’re graduating high school, check out any local restaurants on or around their college. Or you could even get them a gift card to the supermarket that’s closest to their college. Perfect for those late-night snack runs.  If they’re graduating college, think about a restaurant that will be in their new city. Nothing makes you feel like a real adult, like dining out at a fancy restaurant without worrying about your exam the next day.

Wal-Mart/Target: Sometimes, you need the essentials. And what better place than these stores? Whether they’re off to a new school or setting up their new life post-graduation, these stores are sure to have all that they need. From household essentials to toiletries, school supplies, or food, they’re be set for success with a gift card to Target or Wal-Mart. Stores like this are often on or near college campuses, too!

Amazon: With an Amazon gift card, the possibilities are endless. Students can order everything from textbooks, shampoo, bed risers, games, organizers, groceries, and so much more. This is truly the perfect graduation gift because students can have items delivered directly to the school. For the college grad, Amazon can be a lifesaver if they’re starting on their own. Whether they need household essentials or a new pair of sneakers, Amazon’s got it.

Gas station: Okay, this isn’t the most glamorous option. But if you’re anything like me, gas is a necessity you wish you didn’t have to budget for. Having someone else pay for it is a welcome treat, and whether it’s a road trip or a trip home to see mom and dad, your grad will be grateful that it’s not on their dime!

Personalized Luggage

If they’re graduating from high school, traveling back home to see the family means they’ll need a good suitcase! Or, if they’re graduating from college, a nice carry-on or duffel bag will come in handy on their next post-grad adventure! You really feel like you’re “adulting” when you have a nice luggage set.

An Amazon Prime Subscription

This is the gift that keeps on giving. Not only will they get free shipping on millions of items, but they’ll also get award-winning movies and TV shows to stream! They can order textbooks, or if they’re moving, they can have all their purchases sent directly to their new address! Get them an Alexa-enabled device so they can set their alarms in the morning, check the weather, play music, and set reminders for their busy schedule.

Ideas for High School Graduation Gifts for the College-Bound

Not every high school graduate chooses college, and that’s okay! If you’re not sure whether they’re going to college, taking a gap year, or going directly into the workforce, a gift card may be the best option. However, if you do know that your high school grad is off to college, here are some of the best graduation gift ideas for their new campus life:


Having a bike on campus can make all the difference, especially if parking is limited. When they’re running late to that 8 am class with a heavy backpack, that bike will save the day! It’s great for commuting from all those campus activities, too!


Laptops are the lifeline of the modern student. Learning has jumped head-first into the tech era. Whether it’s taking notes, downloading assignments, researching, or studying, all aspects of college are tied to laptops now. Having a laptop with all the bells and whistles will set them up for success, no matter what they’re studying. Many occupations require a laptop, so this is a graduation gift that will continue to serve them after graduation, onto their career, and beyond!

Netflix or Spotify

When you’re studying and working hard, it’s nice to unwind with a great movie or some awesome tunes. It’s also a great way to bond with new hallmates and roommates in the dorm on the weekends. Music can also help students maintain their focus while studying! You can buy gift cards for streaming services, too, so the recipient can pay for their subscriptions with the gift card(s) if they already have an account.

Nice Headphones

Get them some high-quality over-ear headphones that block out everything, so they’re sure to get plenty of studying done and block out those distractions. You could also go the sleek and subtle route with AirPods too. Airpods are awesome for staying active and working out, too, a great graduation gift for someone who’s trying to avoid the Freshman 15.

Group Games

Making friends during your first year of college isn’t always easy. Games are a great way to break the ice and get to know other people. If your grad is more of the board game type, Catan, Codenames, and Ticket to Ride are popular choices. SpikeBall is a great group game that active college students love to play on the lawns!

Coffee Maker

Coffee is the fuel for most college students who are on-the-go. It can also be the saving grace for late-night cramming sessions (not recommended, but sometimes unavoidable). Whether it’s a single-serve machine like aKeurig or a classic drip-brew machine, coffee-drinkers are sure to appreciate it. Make sure they like coffee first, though! If not, you may want to consider getting them an electric kettle for brewing tea instead!

A Nice Insulated Mug

When you’re up bright and early for that 8 am class, you’ll probably need a good strong cup of coffee with you. That’s when a really nice, insulated mug or tumbler comes in handy. Whether you choose a nice brand like Yeti or a mug with their school’s name on it, they’ll be striding through campus, staying hydrated or caffeinated.

Personal Graduation Gifts

Sometimes, the best graduation gifts are sentimental. Going off to college is hard. You’re living in a new place, meeting new people, and working hard. Sometimes having reminders of home and the people who love you can help you make it through, especially that first year. Etsy has plenty of personalized gift ideas, from jewelry and keychains to keepsakes and photo displays. Find them a thoughtful and unique graduation gift that will remind them of the people who love them most.

DIY Graduation Gifts

If you just can’t decide, make them an elaborate care package filled with all kinds of useful things! Snacks, mugs, fuzzy socks, cleaning supplies, gum, coffee, baked goods, all of these are thoughtful treats that any graduate would be happy to take with them to campus!

Ideas for College Graduation Gifts

Entering the workforce or going back to school after graduation isn’t always easy. Gifts to college graduates let them know that they’re loved, appreciated and their accomplishments are important. If you can, send them a card as well, letting them know how proud you are. It could make all the difference.

Subscription Boxes

There are all kinds of subscription boxes out there to fit any lifestyle, and they make interesting graduation gifts. It can really give a grad something to look forward to. When you’re cutting corners and trying to make ends meet, there’s not always money left over for luxuries like these. Whether it’s wine, coffee, luxury goods, food/meal prep, or even just flowers, it can be nice to have something delivered once a month.

A Personalized Map of their College Town

Memories will tie them to that town forever. A keepsake like this will look great on the walls of their new home. This will remind them of all the late nights, the laughter, the heartache, and the adventures they had exploring their city of four years.


School prepares you for the workforce, but it doesn’t always prepare you for many other adulthood things. Whether that’s emotionally or practically, a self-help book may not be the most glamourous graduation gift. Still, it certainly may help with the growing pains of transitioning to independence after graduation. Check out The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter–And How to Make the Most of Them Now by Meg Jay.

Clothing Store Gift Cards

A gift card to a clothing store or boutique can come in handy when a graduate is going through job interviews or developing a professional wardrobe. Clothes are expensive, and building a whole new wardrobe can be a pain. Gift cards to clothing stores (Nordstrom, Macy’s, H&M) are a great grad gift to help make the transition to the workforce a little easier. Or give them a gift card to Stitch Fix, so they don’t have to do the shopping themselves. Let someone else style them!

Let Them Know How Proud Your Are With Graduation Gifts

Graduation represents years of hard work and accomplishment and deserves plenty of celebration. Whether your new grad is college-bound or workforce-bound, choose a great gift that will make them feel celebrated and loved. Share all your favorite memories from graduation day with the people you love on FamilyApp!

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