36 of the best graduation gifts you can give to upcoming high school or college grads

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  • Graduation season gives friends and family the opportunity to make a big life change - like graduating from school and entering a career - easier and better.
  • Whether they're leaving high school, college, or a master's program, below are 36 gifts to get you started.
  • Need more gift ideas? We also have a guide for college graduation gifts for him, for her, and graduation gifts under $100.

Graduation season is here, and both college and high school students are likely feeling all the joy and sadness that habitually comes along with one life chapter ending and another opening up.

With new jobs, responsibilities, and living arrangements comes a host of exciting opportunities and new responsibilities to navigate. But it doesn't necessarily come with the ideal budget.

Family members and friends are able to celebrate their graduate's accomplishments at the same time as they try to select gifts that commemorate their graduate's experience and, hopefully, make the next few foundational years a little easier to acclimate to. As a recent graduate myself, I can say your gifts (whether hyper-practical or sentimental) will have a big impact.

With that in mind, I've rounded up 36 of the best graduation gifts you can give.

If you're looking for more graduation gift ideas this spring, we have you covered:

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A Birchbox subscription so they can experience a little luxury every month (and discover new favorite products)

A Birchbox subscription so they can experience a little luxury every month (and discover new favorite products)
Gift a Birchbox subscription to your grad

In general, subscriptions are some of the best gifts that you can give. A monthly treat, especially on a tight budget, can be an extremely nice thing to look forward to. Every time it's delivered, they'll be reminded of you.

Birchbox is one of the best subscription services available and uniquely well-suited for graduates — be they on their way to college or the workplace. It combines monthly deliveries of personalized samples and an e-commerce shop to get around how inconvenient and expensive shopping for and trying new products can be.

The woman's subscription will likely include products like face primers, conditioners, cleansers, mascaras, etc. and the Birchbox Man box will have four grooming samples (like nice aftershave, body wash, or even cologne), plus a stylish accessory or gadget each time.

You can gift a woman's subscription gift card for 3 months for $45, 6 months for $84, or a full 12 months for $156.

You can gift a men's subscription gift card for 3 months for $30, 6 months for $60, or a full 12 months for $110.

A book about capitalizing on the huge choices you make in your twenties

A book about capitalizing on the huge choices you make in your twenties
Gift "The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter — And How to Make the Most of Them Now", $39.09

You make big, disproportionately impactful decisions in your twenties that impact the rest of your life. The best defense is a good offense — and she should know now, before any of them crop up, how to get the most out of her "defining decade."

A Brooklinen gift card for really nice new sheets for an adult apartment

A Brooklinen gift card for really nice new sheets for an adult apartment
Gift a Brooklinen gift card

Graduates will be moving from dorms to a new place that they'll likely take a bit more pride and ownership in, and that calls for an upgrade in bedding. They'll probably want to pick it out for themselves, but a gift card is a perfect way to give them a luxury they'll be extremely happy to have but maybe couldn't justify just yet for themselves.

Brooklinen has quickly become a standard-bearer for startups offering premium bedding at affordable prices. Their sheets look great, feel even better, and can genuinely offer you a better night's sleep. They're also our pick for the best luxury sheets you can buy.

You can get a Queen sheet set (flat sheet, fitted sheet and 2 standard pillowcases) for as little as $129 altogether.

A Blue Apron gift card to make navigating cooking easier

A Blue Apron gift card to make navigating cooking easier
Gift a Blue Apron gift card

Blue Apron is a great alternative to a grocery store gift card (especially if you're not sure which ones will be in their neighborhood) if you want to help your recent grad eat well without relying on buttered noodles or takeout — so long as they have a kitchen in which to cook.

Basically, they'll deliver the ingredients for a meal with detailed step-by-step instructions on how to make it. Depending on how many people the subscriber notes in their order, Blue Apron will also send the right portion size. They work directly with farmers and cut out the middlemen, so their foods are higher and fresher quality for less money.

Plus, your grad can learn how to make healthy, delicious meals by doing it themselves, with fresher ingredients, in a more convenient process than consistently going to the grocery store.

An Amazon Prime membership

An Amazon Prime membership
Gift an Amazon Prime membership, $119

An annual Amazon Prime membership is one of those things that immediately makes life easier and ultimately better. If you decide to gift one, the recipient will enjoy free two-day shipping, access to the Prime Now app (which provides free two-hour delivery on tens of thousands of items), Prime Video, Prime Music, the Kindle Lending Library, Prime Reading, Prime Audible Channels, unlimited photo storage, and more.

If you want to see how Amazon Prime actually gives you a lot more than free shipping, you can read our overview of the service here.

A commemorative map of their college town

A commemorative map of their college town
Gift a customized Grafomap poster, from $49

Commemorate their college town, hometown, or favorite place in the world with this customizable graphic map so they can keep it with them wherever life takes them.

A portable printer

A portable printer
Gift HP Sprocket Portable Photo Printer, $99.95

Sprocket uses the free-to-download HP Sprocket app and Bluetooth connectivity to make printing photos from social media accounts, smartphones, and tablets relatively seamless. This way, they can decorate their room with memories without needing to figure out where and how they can print on the cheap.

Fresh flowers delivered to their home.

Fresh flowers delivered to their home.
Take a look at The Bouqs' spring flower selection, from $36

Flowers are one classic gift that will never go out of style. Send a bouquet to brighten up their living space and remind them of how proud you are. Plus, it's a pretty convenient gift to give with delivery, since neither of you will have to carry it around for the day.

You can pick out an arrangement online from about $40 and up and have it sent directly to their door, so you both get all of the sweetness without any hassle.

Access to the best studio fitness in their city.

Access to the best studio fitness in their city.
Gift a ClassPass gift card

Most college students have had free access to a gym for the last few years, courtesy of their tuition. Out here in the "real world," they likely won't find free gym memberships to be so plentiful.

ClassPass gives people access to studio fitness classes in their city for a price that's much lower than normal. If you gift a gift card, they can use it to shop which classes and physical activities they like the most before committing, or they can keep using ClassPass for the variety.

A nice watch they can use to elevate outfits for work and beyond.

A nice watch they can use to elevate outfits for work and beyond.
Gift your grad a nice watch

Traditional watches can be expensive, but startups are changing that. MVMT is probably the best-known watch industry disruptor. If you'd like to read more about the company, we've covered them in depth here.

You can get the sort of classic, work-appropriate accessory that makes outfits look a bit more competent and established for as little as $105, and they'll be grateful they didn't have to invest their own limited funds into one just yet.

If you want to gift something engraved, you may also want to check out Timex.

Books that every young adult should read.

Books that every young adult should read.
Gift "The Happiness Advantage", $14.42

Graduates are bound to be excited about the end of classes, but learning can actually be pretty great when it's self-directed and at their leisure. They might realize a few months out of school that they're actually a little starved for something new to think about, or they've just noticed that most people in the office continue to read (for pleasure and for advancing their career opportunities).

Having a couple inspirational books on hand that can support ambition and reaffirm priorities is a great start, even if they don't pick them up for the first month or so that they're out of school. You can be one reason why they continue to learn by gifting them one or many of the books that every young person should read, and the sooner the better.

If you want a list to start your thinking, here are 10 books that famous CEOs loved reading.

A small, powerful speaker that's Amazon Alexa enabled.

A small, powerful speaker that's Amazon Alexa enabled.
Gift a Sonos One wireless speaker, $169

Sonos makes some pretty great speakers for recent grads, be they in dorms or their first apartment. They work well, can be used as a sound system, have useful features like a morning alarm that may sound more pleasant than their phone, and are not so expensive that they can't possibly build upon their collection. If he's planning on entertaining friends, the newest Sonos One is a great option, especially since it now connects with Amazon Alexa. You can read our full review here.

A toolkit, which they will undoubtedly need in "real life"

A toolkit, which they will undoubtedly need in "real life"
Gift a 148-Piece Tool Kit, $24.99

After graduation, the stress of a first apartment will include putting together furniture, Googling how to fix leaky faucets when your landlord avoids your calls, and enticing your friends to help you mount your living room TV with pizza. It's not the most strictly "fun" gift, but it will absolutely be necessary. Your grad will be thankful for the tools needed to handle whatever life throws at them, and this is one gift they may not immediately buy for themselves, but which you really want to have before the very second you need it.

Really nice headphones for the long nights and commutes ahead.

Really nice headphones for the long nights and commutes ahead.
Gift a pair of Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Headphones, from $349

Whether it's during a commute, late-night study sessions, gym time, weekend trips, or just at the office, you can be sure your grad will get a lot of use out of these fan favorite headphones. They're more than likely something they'll hold onto for years to come.

A Hydro Flask tumbler to keep drinks hot.

A Hydro Flask tumbler to keep drinks hot.
Gift the Hydro Flask Stainless Steel Water Bottle, $39.95

If they're going to be commuting to and from their first job or spending long nights in the library, make sure they don't have to spend $10 at a local Starbucks to have access to hot coffee. This double-wall, vacuum-insulated tumbler will keep their drinks hot for six hours and cold for up to 24.

An instant pot for no-hassle meal prep.

An instant pot for no-hassle meal prep.
Gift an Instant Pot, $69.99

Just in case the idea of tossing tons of vegetables, meat, and a couple other ingredients into a pot in the morning and coming home to a nicely cooked (and affordable, and potentially healthy) meal appeals to them, the Instant Pot is every recent graduate or dorm-room-dweller's best friend. It's an easy entrance into cooking in general.

Ultimately, if you spend most of your day at work or commuting, the last thing most people want to do is come home to devote two of their three free hours to making a lavish dinner for one. Plus, it cuts down on how many dishes they'll have to wash.

A suitcase that charges their phone on the go.

A suitcase that charges their phone on the go.
Gift an Away Carry-On, from $225

An Away suitcase is a particularly thoughtful gift for grads living far from home — either for college or for their new career. The cult-favorite luggage has an ejectable external battery that charges devices easily on the go, 360-degree wheels for no-hassle travel, and weighs next to nothing.

A funny, thoughtful card.

A funny, thoughtful card.
Gift the Kan Ye Believe It card, from $3.76

If there's one thing that always ages well, it's a card with a pun on it of a very specific celebrity. Here's a tiny time capsule to gift — and potentially lend some lightness to the big celebration.

An Echo Dot for an unobtrusive smart gadget.

An Echo Dot for an unobtrusive smart gadget.
Gift an Echo Dot, $49.99

The Amazon Echo Dot is a small, unobtrusive personal helper that can set timers while you cook, report the weather and traffic to you from the comfort of your bed in the morning, and perform many, many more helpful tasks without taking up much room at all.

The Dot is also really easy to use, and it's a big plus that it will work with any Amazon tech purchases he makes in the future, since they'll be in the same tech ecosystem.

A candle that reminds them of home.

A candle that reminds them of home.
Gift Homesick Candles, $30

It's hard to put a finger on just what makes home smell like home, but a whiff of a Homesick candle will transport them there with its nostalgia-inducing scents. Uniquely specific scents are made to capture the ethos of states, cities, and even memories like road trips, backyard BBQs, and cooking in Grandma's kitchen. If they're far from home, this affordable candle is a small but meaningful gesture that can bring them just a little closer.

A big weekender bag for trips.

A big weekender bag for trips.
Dagne Dover Landon Carryall, $185

Whether it's used for weekend getaways or to bring all their dirty laundry home from college for free cleaning, Dagne Dover makes one of our all-time favorite weekender bags — spacious, flexible, and stylish. The startup is also becoming increasingly popular, and you may not be surprised to hear they've been eyeing this themselves for a while now. It's also unisex, and comes in thirteen colors.

A tablet for Netflix and surfing the web when not at the office or library.

A tablet for Netflix and surfing the web when not at the office or library.
Gift an Apple iPad, $279.99 Or, for a more budget-friendly option, a Fire HD 10 Tablet, $149.99

On average, a laptop has a lifespan of about four years. If you've just attended a four-year institution, your own laptop might be on its last legs. Since most companies give their employees work computers, it's not totally necessary to go get another. But for streaming Netflix or surfing the web at home, an iPad can be a budget-friendly alternative that better suits their lifestyle. I bought one for myself as a senior in college, and it's basically all I use at home now almost a year after graduation.

A really nice business card holder they can feel good about pulling out.

A really nice business card holder they can feel good about pulling out.
Gift the Leatherology Business Card Case, $40 (+$10 for monogramming)

Their company will probably give out business cards, but they're not likely to already have a business card holder they can feel good about pulling out at work, internships, or networking events. This looks polished and high-end, and Leatherology delivers orders in beautiful boxes, which doesn't hurt for gifting. You can even get the holder monogrammed.

Plenty of merch for their new school.

Plenty of merch for their new school.
Browse the college team Fanchests here

One thing nobody tells you before going to college is that there is, in fact, an unofficial uniform for plenty of outings —games, tailgates, and so on. Send them to college with all the basics already covered. Better yet, they won't have to pay college bookstore prices themselves to gear up.

An Amazon gift card so he/she can buy whatever they need themselves.

An Amazon gift card so he/she can buy whatever they need themselves.
Give an Amazon gift card

If what you really want to do is just give cash but are looking for a nicer equivalent, an Amazon Gift Card is a subtle way to accomplish the same freedom and utility. Amazon has virtually everything a new grad could desire (really, there is everything), so you know that no matter what they'll be getting something they genuinely want — which, in a lot of cases, is best since they know what they need better than anyone.

The Best Self Co. Journal that helps make their 10-year plan tangible.

The Best Self Co. Journal that helps make their 10-year plan tangible.
Gift the Best Self Co. Journal, $31.99

The Best Self Co. Journal helps people map out their five- or 10-year plans in a tangible, easily managed way. It's a nice and low-pressure way to provide growth and direction after graduation, whether they're on their way to college, their first full-time job, or traveling.

A nice messenger bag or purse to carry into the office.

A nice messenger bag or purse to carry into the office.
Gift the Dagne Dover Classic Tote, $245 Gift the Ted Baker Edds Messenger Bag, $125

Graduates will likely want to upgrade their purse or messenger bag so they can feel good about what they're bringing into the office or their internships. Dagne Dover makes our favorite work purses (the Allyn ($345) and the Classic, ($245) which is shown above) and you can find great messenger bags for guys, like this $125 Ted Baker, at Nordstrom right now or Dagne Dover's unisex laptop bags (find a review here).

A wardrobe staple they'll rely on for years to come but can't afford on their own just yet

A wardrobe staple they'll rely on for years to come but can't afford on their own just yet
Give an Indochino gift card Gift an Of Mercer blazer, from $195

One gift worth its weight in gold is a high-end interview outfit. For him, that might mean a made-to-measure suit (from $389), and for her, it might mean investing in a blazer or dress she'll hang onto for years to come. Suits — especially the nice ones — are a large yet ultimately necessary expense for most men, even if it's only for special occasions rather than his everyday job. This is one gift he'll likely use for years to come, will inspire confidence and gratitude every time he puts it on, and is something he will likely need before he has the budget to afford it.

Indochino is one place where you can get a made-to-measure suit for as little as $389. We've actually even tried out the service ourselves and loved it. For her, you might find yourself choosing between Of Mercer's Prince Blazer ($235). You can also browse our favorite up-and-coming women's workwear companies here.

A fitness tracker for exercises.

A fitness tracker for exercises.
Gift the Fitbit Charge 2, $117.35

Give her a fitness wearable that will serve both as a tracker and a motivator to work out (and store up on endorphins, along with other health benefits). We think this option is the best fitness tracker that you can buy.

A bottle of bubbly with a custom label.

A bottle of bubbly with a custom label.
Gift Custom Wine and Champagne Labels at Esty, from $3.50

If they just graduated from college, a toast of champagne may be in order. Grab a nice bottle of bubbly and a thoughtful, personalized label they'll want to keep.

A foundational cookbook they will actually use.

A foundational cookbook they will actually use.
Gift "How to Cook Everything: 2,000 Simple Recipes for Great Food", $19.60

A lot of graduates are coming out of school with little knowledge of cuisine or the human palette as it pertains to tastes not including mac and cheese or $1 pizza (yes, it exists). A cookbook is a nice way to make sure they can get off on the right foot post-graduation, maybe eating some vegetables and enjoying the activity itself rather than relying on the same cheap eats out of habit or lack of know-how.

An extra long charging cord.

An extra long charging cord.
Gift the Micro USB 10 ft Nylon Charging Cable, 3-Pack, $10.98

Especially for high school graduates, an extra long charging cord is going to come in handy. In plenty of college campuses, it seems like dorms — particularly for the top bunk roommate — were not designed for your convenience. If you're already getting a few other gifts, throw this in. It may become their favorite one of the set.

A Kindle for post-grad reading that doesn't take up space or add weight.

A Kindle for post-grad reading that doesn't take up space or add weight.
Gift a Kindle Paperwhite, $129.99

Gifting a Kindle will complete a similar task to gifting graduates some of the books every young adult should read. Learning is an ongoing process, and graduation shouldn't be the end of it. Giving them a Kindle means they'll have the tools to keep being curious in their lives by having both the device that makes it an easy and affordable process and the reminder.

If they've already got a Kindle or they read on their phone or iPad, you might look into gifting them a Scribd membership. It's lesser-known than apps like Audible, but it's a better deal and will give them access to hundreds of thousands of books and audiobooks.

A monogrammed planner to look and feel organized.

A monogrammed planner to look and feel organized.
Gift a monogrammed planner, from $14.95

Life is busy in high school and college, and it doesn't stop being busy after graduation. Having a professional-looking, organized way to start off the year like a monogrammed Moleskine planner is a thoughtful and useful gift. It will also look nice in a meeting or visit with a professor.

An instant coffee maker for easy mornings.

An instant coffee maker for easy mornings.
Gift a Keurig coffee maker, $88.91

Coffee is something many of us rely on daily and don't want to spend a lot of time making. In the morning or in a rush, instant gratification is best. Which is why fast coffee makers that take the hassle out of the equation are so popular.

Gift cards — to everything.

Gift cards — to everything.

Few gifts will be as impactful as a gift card — whether it's meant to be used for fun or school books, it's one of the most thoughtful and valuable things you can give.

Everything: Visa Gift Card / Amazon Gift Card / Gift Amazon Prime Membership School books: Amazon Gift Card Coffee: Starbucks Gift Card Entertainment: Netflix Gift Card / Hulu Gift Card / Sling Gift Card / StubHub gift card Transportation: Uber Gift Card Decoration: Framebridge Gift Card Furniture: Amazon Gift Card / Wayfair Gift Card Music: Spotify Gift Card Sheets: Brooklinen Gift Card Groceries and food: Whole Foods Gift Card / Chipotle Gift Card Clothes: Nordstrom Gift Card / Everlane Gift Card Tech: Best Buy Gift Card Travel: Delta Gift Card / Away Gift Card
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