Graduating high school is one of the most important rites of passage in a young person’s life. It can be exciting, scary, nostalgic, nerve wracking, and exhilarating—sometimes all at once. It’s a brave new world out there for newly minted high school alums (this year more than ever), so it’s important to gift them with items they’ll need to take the next step, whether they’re going away to college, taking a gap year to explore, or staying at home for a bit. So, we’ve curated a guide of 25 incredible gifts for your grad.
1. For the grad with a green thumb: A plant to breathe some life into their space
An important part of post-high school life is learning how to take care of yourself—and, some day, others. A plant is a great, low stakes way to practice keeping something alive. Plus, it adds a pretty pop of green to any space and breathes life into a room. A succulent is a great starter plant. They’re cute and hardy (read: just about impossible to kill). We like this succulent that comes potted in a cute unicorn planter, perfect for adding a touch of whimsy to even the drabbest dorm room.
2. For the Type A personality: A weighted blanket for when life gets heavy
Post-grad life has a lot of ups and downs. There are so many new things to learn and experience and, frankly, sometimes it can be pretty stressful. If your grad is prone to taking on a lot, gift them a weighted blanket for optimum decompressing. Our pick is the Gravity Blanket, which is soft enough for lots of snuggle time and just heavy enough to provide that feeling of safety and security we all need when life gets too hectic.
3. For the grad on-the-go: A snazzy laptop case
Laptops aren’t cheap. Protect that investment with a stylish laptop sleeve to help keep their machine safe from dents and dings and reflect their personality. We like this retro striped case—it’s both simple and bold—but Society6 has a host of eye-catching designs from different talented artisans that are sure to speak to any grad’s tastes.
4. For the active grad: A water bottle for hitting those hydration goals
The recommended amount of water is eight 8-ounce glasses aka two liters aka a half a gallon of H20 each day. We’re not mathematicians or anything, but that’s a lot. However, hydration is super important for our health. This wide-mouthed stainless steel bottle packs 32-ounces of water—that’s half the daily amount! Its handle makes it the perfect accessory for the on-the-go grad, wherever their day takes them. Plus, it’s one of the best water bottles we’ve ever tested.
5. For the coffee lover: A mug that keeps a cup of joe warm
College means a lot of late nights cramming for tests or furiously penning term papers. That means your grad will likely be guzzling a lot of coffee. This sleek ceramic mug comes with a special charging base that uses magnetic induction energy to keep its contents (whether that’s java, tea, or even cocoa) at the ideal drinking temperature (135º). A bonus: the charging base can do double duty as a wireless phone charger. Fancy!
6. For the homebody: A candle that smells like home
If your grad is moving out of state for college, chances are they’re going to get a little homesick on occasion. Give them a piece of home with an aptly named Homesick Candle. Each hand-poured, soy wax candle was crafted with help from real locals to embody the signature scents of its namesake state. (Think: magnolia, aster flower, peach, and white musk for Georgia and apple, maple, cinnamon, clove, and vanilla for Vermont.) They’ll be able to simply light a wick whenever they want to feel a little more at home.
7. For the restless sleeper: A fancy set of sheets
Help them graduate to a better night’s sleep with their first set of real “adult” sheets. Brooklinen’s best-selling set comes with one flat sheet, one fitted, and two pillowcases, all in a luxe, 480-thread count, long staple cotton. These sheets are not only super comfy, but also cooling—a great buy for those who tend to get a bit warm when they sleep. Our lab named them the best sheets you can buy.
8. For the globetrotter: A suitcase to pack in plenty of adventuring
Now that your grad is officially a citizen of the world, it’s time to ditch the stinky gym class duffle or worn out backpack and upgrade to a real, adult suitcase. We like Away’s Bigger Carry-On, a sleek, hard-shell suitcase that’s big enough for a longer trip but still compact enough to fit in most overhead compartments (or car trunks). Plus, it comes in a variety of fun colors, from a neutral navy to a pretty blush. Now they’re ready to get out there and explore in style! (Passport not included.)
9. For the luxe lounger: Cozy slippers to make a night in feel special
A perfect graduation gift for her, these furry slide-on slippers channel old Hollywood boudoir glam while serving up nothing but comfort. Available in a variety of pretty color palettes, these fluffy slippers will have her walking on clouds—even if she’s just padding around her dorm.
10. For the early riser: A single-serve coffee maker for happier mornings
They can skip Starbucks and stick to a college budget with this single-serve Keurig coffee maker. At just 5” wide, it’s compact enough to fit in even the tiniest of cluttered dorm rooms and makes one perfect cup of coffee at a time—no cleanup required. Pro tip: pair this gift with a set of reusable K-cup pods to save them even more money and reduce waste. A win-win!)
11. For the smoothie lover: A personal blender set to mix up their culinary game
From smoothies to guacamole to virgin margaritas, they can use this 11-piece personal blender set to create some of their favorite eats—with very little muss or fuss. The easy-to-use set comes with cups with lids (they can take their green juice on the go) and is compact enough to store in a dorm or apartment kitchenette.
12. For the exam crammer: A stylish desk chair to make studying less of a chore
Hard work doesn’t have to hurt. Help them trick out their dorm room or home study space with this plush velvet chair. This modern, round desk chair sports a thick cushion, and high backrest and a hydraulic lift so they can easily adjust their height for hours of comfortable studying—or just hanging out.
13. For the grad with space issues: Cute stools that double as clever storage space
Dorm rooms and starter apartments are notoriously tiny. So, getting creative with storage space is imperative. We’re fans of these containers that do double duty as attractive stools. Made from enamel coated steel and featuring wood tops, these rustic-chic stools let your grad hide away hard to store items and provide extra seating for their new friends.
14. For the music buff: A portable speaker so they can rock out on the go
Where’s the party at? With this sleek portable speaker, the answer is: Wherever they want! The JBL Flip 5 speaker is Bluetooth compatible, has a rechargeable battery that packs 12 full hours of charge, and is waterproof, so your grad can bring their music anywhere—from a weekend camping trip to the shower. Plus, it comes in a few different bright colors, making it a great graduation gift for him or her.
15. For the aspiring author: Journals to pen their most important thoughts
These whimsically printed journals come in a set of three, so they’ll have plenty of pages to pen daily thoughts, to-do lists, or late-night ideas. Each 32-page journal comes in a different size (small, medium, and large) so they can keep one on their desk, one on their bedside table, and slip one into their purse or pocket for mobile musings.
16. For the serious snacker: A cleverly designed popcorn bowl
College students love to snack, and popcorn is always a crowd pleaser. From concessions for movie nights with their new roommate to brain food for studying, help fuel all their collegiate activities with this collapsible popcorn popper that serves as both a popcorn maker and a bowl. They can put any kind of kernel inside—all they need is a microwave. Then, they can nosh straight from the popper. The best part? It collapses down to become completely flat so they can easily slip it away for storage between uses.
17. For the host or hostess with the mostest: A fancy serving platter for hosting adult (ish) get-togethers
It’s never too early for young adults to learn how to entertain. And no, we’re not talking about throwing some Cool Ranch Doritos onto the beer pong table. Give your grad a head start into hosting with this charcuterie set—a nifty little bamboo serving platter with a hidden drawer that opens up to reveal three cheese tools and comes with a cute ceramic dipping bowl and matching bamboo spoon. We guarantee their new friends will be suitably wowed.
18. For the outdoorsy grad: A hydrating backpack for exploring nature or urban adventuring
Whether they’re off for a weekend hike in the woods or just a busy day on campus, this unisex backpack has all they need to be on-the-go. This hydration pack holds three liters of water they can sip right from their back and features a variety of handy storage compartments, including a top zippered pocket with a key clip, a zippered side pocket perfect for a cell phone or trail map, and mesh water bottle pocket for extra H20.
19. For the grad who craves quiet time: These must-have noise canceling headphones
Whether they want uninterrupted silence to get in the study zone or just need to drown out a roomie’s snores, they’re going to be extra grateful for a pair of noise canceling headphones. We love the Sony WH-1000XM4, which take noise cancellation to another level by adapting to both the wearer’s environment and movement.
20. For the grad moving into their first apartment: A real set of dishware
Lots of young adults eat off of paper plates or out of the same cracked, dingy bowl each day. Your new grad doesn’t have to be one of them! Having matching dishware is one of the first real markers of adulthood and, frankly, just makes every meal a nicer experience. This 18-piece set from Amazon is a great starter set—stylish and durable, but not so fancy that a broken plate is cause for tears.
21. For the selfie queen (or king): A cute camera to capture all the fun moments ahead
Sure, everyone is on Instagram now, but there’s still something to be said for real film. A tangible photograph holds a bit more weight—and they can use it to decorate their dorm or new apartment. This easy to use instant camera pops out pretty little Polaroids that will properly capture all the fun and adventures that lie ahead.
22. For the grad with a thirst for knowledge: A lifelong love of learning
Not all education has to happen inside a classroom—and it doesn’t all have to fall under the umbrella of academia. Enter: MasterClass, a virtual platform which hosts a dynamic, eclectic variety of intensive classes and workshops taught by experts in areas that include art, food, mixology, music, science, sports, business, and much more. An especially great tool for more time spent at home, MasterClass teachers include some big names like Judd Apatow, Gordon Ramsey, and Anna Wintour. Trust us, it’s cool.
23. For the would-be home chef: A fancy piece of cookware for easy, one-pot meals
One of the biggest names in French cookware, Staub makes high-end cookware for the discerning home chef. Which, with this versatile cocotte pot, could soon include your new grad! The cast iron pot can be used both atop and inside the stove to whip up a variety of tasty, one-pot dishes, from soups and stews to an entire roast chicken.
24. For the culinarily-challenged grad: A stove-free egg maker
No stove? No problem. This cute little egg maker has a cult-following on Amazon, and when we tested, we quickly found out why. Your grad can make themselves a healthful, pre-class breakfast in just a few minutes. Beats a McMuffin on the way to campus any day.
25. For the grad who likes a nice pair of stems: A pretty flower arrangement
And last, but not least, flowers! Artfully arranged blooms are a pretty way to brighten your grad’s day. Or, brighten their days for months to come with a flower subscription! We like the stems at Bouqs. They have a great selection of plants and flowers, and their subscriptions start at $36 for a basic bouquet plan.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.