The best graduation gifts celebrate a graduate’s accomplishments, honors their experience and makes those bumpy foundational years a little smoother.
Graduation gift ideas that take a high school or college graduate’s new responsibilities and living arrangements into consideration can help them navigate situations they didn’t even know would pop up.
Great gifts, no matter how sentimental or practical, will make a pretty big impact.
Keeping that in mind, here are some of the best graduation gift ideas to help your friends and family celebrate the closing of one chapter and the beginning of another.
The Best Graduation Gift Ideas in 2020
1. Amazon Prime 12-Month Subscription
Some of the best gifts for graduation are the ones that have a lasting effect long after the big day is over and an Amazon Prime membership will immediately make the real world easier and better for a graduate.
It is one of the best nursing, law school or pharmacy graduation gifts as these graduates will have much less time to grocery shop or get household supplies. It comes with free shipping and Prime Now access for even more convenience.
2. Samsonite Omni Expandable Hardside Luggage
This Samsonite hard-shell features polyester lining, a zipper closure and 20-inch spinning wheels, which are multidirectional. It is scratch resistant, and with a 10-year limited warranty and TSA side-mounted locks, it will be by its recipient’s side for a long time.
Carry-on luggage is an especially thoughtful high school graduation gift for high school graduates taking off to become a new college student and one of the best college graduation gifts for graduates heading to a new city to work.
3. MaxKare Shiatsu Foot Massager
After a long day of running through hallways, waiting in lines for coffee and generally being on their feet all day, there aren’t many college graduation gifts more helpful than this foot massager. New grads can choose between 4 massage modes, 3 intensity levels and heat functionality to give their feet some needed attention.
Thought of as one of the best nursing graduation gifts, it is without a doubt the best graduation gift for friends who need to be on their feet for long hours of time.
4. Polaroid Mint Pocket Printer
Give them a smartphone printer they can keep in their pocket. Simply pair the printer via Bluetooth to any smart device and share and print photos seamlessly. Now they can print and share their high school or college graduation pictures instantly without worrying about expensive printing supplies or where to find the nearest printing service.
Available in 5 colors it works as a graduation gift for her and him and is definitely one of the best high school graduation gifts.
5. Bicycle Repair Kit
Particularly one of the best graduation gifts for a future college student, high school grads will find themselves biking around campus as a freshman without a car. This 17-piece bike kit will make sure they are up and running when they need to make a crucial trip to the grocery store.
Great graduation gifts for him or her that keep their bike in top shape is going to make those bicycle breakdowns much easier to bear. The practicality of this bike tool kit doesn’t make it any less of a great gift.
6. Custom Engraved Keepsake Box
College graduations are a big deal, as graduates are soon entering the workforce. Honor their hard work with one of the best gifts on graduation: this wooden treasure box, engraved with their name, class or date of graduation.
One of the best law school, nursing or police graduation gifts, it is a versatile keepsake box that serves as functional storage for photos, letters, heirlooms, loose chess pieces or other small treasures and looks great on the coffee table or office desk.
7. 400 Thread Count Sheet Set
Graduation gift ideas, like sheets, aren’t always top-of-mind, but these high-quality sheets will help new grads get great sleep. Made from 100% long staple cotton and a sateen weave, they are eco-friendly, super-soft and highly breathable.
The best graduation gifts for college guys and girls who don’t yet understand the importance of quality sheets, this beautiful but practical gift will also inject some much-needed comfort into the college graduates on their way to the medical and law fields.
8. Shatter the Glass Ceiling Necklace
For one of the best college graduation gifts for her, try this inspirational necklace. Bold and meaningful, the necklace has four charms, each with their own meaning – such as the pearl bead representing pearls of wisdom or the circle charms call to ‘be bold and grab the brass ring’.
A sleekly designed piece of jewelry, its collection of modern charms celebrates the accomplishments and power of women, encouraging them to keep going higher.
9. Roav Viva
Here’s one of the best graduation gifts for a best friend that loves tech. Give their car an upgrade with this smart device that provides navigation, can charge their smartphone and is Alexa-enabled. So the new grad won’t get lost on the road to their new home and can get the latest traffic updates or make a phone call while keeping their focus on the road.
10. Cards Against Humanity
Starting all over again can be hard, but with Cards Against Humanity, new grads will have a lot of fun making new memories in the dorms. A party game that most people know how to play and everyone has heard of, it will bring people together. Graduation gifts that make new grads fun to be around will never be forgotten.
It also makes for one of the more unique law school graduation gifts as a reminder to have a little fun once in a while.
11. Snack Chest Care Package
College graduations can be hectic. What better way to keep the new grad full of energy than with this snack chest box.
A variety of 40 brand-name chips, nuts, candy and protein bars are handpicked for each box which also includes a booklet of recipes. It is the perfect gift idea that will help them get through a long day.
12. Smart Reusable Notebook
The best graduation gift for soon-to-be-professionals who will need to take notes often, this notebook is the future.
Thirty-six pages of reusable paper can be wiped clean with the included microfiber cloth, then used again and again. The new graduate’s handwritten notes can be blasted to the cloud service of their choice and sophisticated AI technology makes naming, tracking and searching for documents easier. Organizing notes will never be the same again with this gadget.
13. Universal Portable Bluetooth Keyboard
Recent grads, whether entering the professional world or another learning institution, can use this Bluetooth keyboard to instantly turn their smartphone or tablet into a computer. Compatible with iOS, Android, Mac OS and Windows, you’ll want to take it with you everywhere; it is thin and light enough to carry in a backpack, purse or messenger.
The keyboard can go up to 6 months before it needs a charge and it is also backlit in 7 LED colors and two brightness levels.
14. How to Cook Everything
Written by the country’s first op-ed columnist at a major news publication to focus on food, this beloved book will put the most ill-equipped cooks on the road to mastering fundamental cooking techniques.
Any college graduate will admit cooking was not a priority, but, now, they will have to figure it out at some point. The best graduate gifts for college guys, this book is the perfect gift to have in any young adult’s kitchen.
15. 3-in-1 Lightning Cable
With this charger by their side, recent grads will have no reason to carry multiple charges. MiFi certified by Apple, Anker’s cables provide some of the most reliable, strongest and fastest charges – this one is no different.
It may seem like an odd add-on graduation gift, but unless you know the pain of having an Android smartphone but a tablet than runs on iOS, you can’t appreciate how crucial this cable is for a more pleasant existence.
16. Customized Passport Holder
Made from scratch-resistant faux leather, choose from over 15 designs to have engraved, along with the graduate’s name, class or certification, for free.
The best graduation gifts let graduates know you believe they will continue to accomplish their dreams. For the new grad that is studying abroad, taking a year off to figure things out or heading to a different part of the world to work, this passport holder will remind them of a day they were filled with pride.
17. The Magic Box
The best graduation gift is money, and this box adds flair to presenting it. Gift cards or cash inside the box cannot be accessed until the trick to unlocking the box is figured out. Then, the box can be used to hold their valuables.
High school grads pursuing work need money for gas, a professional wardrobe and groceries, while those going to school will need books and supplies. When in doubt, cash is the one gift that can never go wrong.
18. Plush Graduation Bear
Preschool graduation gifts don’t get more perfect than this ridiculously cute bear in a cap and holding its diploma. A sweet reminder of any graduate’s accomplishment, the bear is adorable and well-made. Sitting at 8.5 inches tall, the small size adds to the charm of this bear, making it even cuter in the hands of a preschooler or a 22-year old.
19. Insect and Butterfly Habitat Terrarium
Give your graduate the perfect conditions to grow and develop butterflies with this kit that includes a breathable mesh enclosure to watch the caterpillars grow. A great gift for nature-loving children, it’s one of the cooler preschool graduation gifts they will receive.
Let them bring home that pet butterfly they’ve always wanted as a graduation gift. Not only does this graduation gift make them feel as if they are more responsible, the whole family will be wowed.
20. DIY Photo Album Scrapbook
For a gift idea that will make a big impact, try this scrapbook photo album.
There are 40 blank pages that can hold more than 100 pictures, notes, cards or letters and a cardboard cover that adds to its worn look. One of the most touching DIY graduation gifts, it is a fun, elegant, stylish and impactful way to congratulate graduates for completing their journey.
21. Slim Business Card Carrier
You may think that a monogrammed case may be more appropriate, but this card holder case will not let you or the graduate down. Super-sleek, its appearance is one of absolute business and professional excellence. When new grads whip a card out from this holder, they can be confident that a good impression will be made.
Available in 14 gorgeous designs, it can hold between 10 and 20 business cards or be used to hold gift cards, IDs and credit cards just as fashionably.
Graduation Gift Giving 101: Etiquette, Tips & Ideas
Before embarking on their next big journey, graduates should be celebrated for their dedication, persistence and hard work. These tips, ideas and advice will help you find the best graduation gifts to honor them this season.
When are graduation gifts appropriate?
If you have received an announcement, generally it is not a requirement to send a gift. Families often use announcements to share the exciting graduation news with friends, family and colleagues, with most explicitly saying “no gifts”. In these cases, a card and a genuine congratulations to the graduate is more than enough.
When you receive an invitation to the commencement ceremony or grad party, however, you should bring a gift, along with a card.
Still unsure if someone belongs on your graduation gift list? Consider these factors:
Type of graduation / degree achieved
Is buying the best graduation gift for a middle schooler really necessary? Probably not. Gifts for college and high school graduations are more appropriate.
You and the graduate’s relationship
Generally speaking, your nieces and nephews are going to receive a gift before your neighbor’s graduating kid, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Think about the relationship you have with the graduate when deciding if you’d like to give them a gift.
The graduate’s needs
Is the recent grad traveling across the country, or perhaps the world? Are they off to get another degree or to start working? Consider where their next chapter is going and what gifts could serve them well.
When is the best time to send a graduation gift?
There are no strict rules about sending graduation gifts, though sending them any time after receiving an announcement or invite is completely fine – and the sooner the better.
Popular graduation gift ideas
Before we get too far, if you are a student yourself trying to figure out what to get a graduate, DIY graduation gifts are wonderful ways to really add the cherry on top to an awesome day. A homemade video, framed photos, a small card or special college memorabilia will be more special than a purchased item.
After considering the needs of the graduate, there are a number of popular gift categories to choose from.
Gift cards or cash
When giving middle school or preschool graduates money, anywhere between $10-$30 is average, but consider giving movie passes, concert tickets or gift cards to their favorite restaurant. For high school students, most gifts are between $20 and $100. For college graduations, between $20-$50 is the average range for acquaintances to close relatives.
Just remember there are creative ways to make the presentation a moment to remember. Keepsakes, like the Magic Box above or a money tree, are a great way to make gifting money more exciting and meaningful.
Whether graduates are leaving home, moving into their first apartment or sharing space with a roommate for the first time, personalized gifts can make the transition into the uncertain a bit more bearable.
Tailor-made gifts that remind them of home, their past success and the people that care if they succeed are always nice. Something as simple as a monogrammed desk clock that helps them get to work on time can mean the world on a bad day.
No luck with finding a customized gift? Don’t worry because you can also personalize gifts by getting something geared towards a graduate’s future plans or interests.
Do they love music? Give them noise cancelling headphones to listen distraction-free. Maybe they need help taking notes, get them a voice recorder so they can listen in class and play the lecture back later. Remember: graduates are living in a time when everything is connected.
Flowers and Gift Baskets
Some people feel that cash or gift cards are too impersonal and aren’t thoughtful enough. If you fall into that category, traditional graduation gifts for her include flowers and, for both women and men, gift baskets.
Congratulate This Year’s Graduates the Right Way
A high school graduate heading to college has to make adjustments the same way a preschool graduate has to when heading to kindergarten, and whether you grab a book to help them with their credit or a quality carry-on to make travel easier, these are some of the best graduation ideas to help them adjust to the real world faster and easier.
For more inspiration, be sure to check out graduation gift ideas for nursing graduates, pharmacy school graduates, law school graduates, police school graduates, college graduates, and pre-school graduates! We even have ideas for DIY Graduation Gifts. Happy Giving!