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


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Syracuse graduation

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Editor's note: Many graduation ceremonies across the country for the Class of 2021 are canceled or postponed, but that doesn't mean students aren't still preparing to move on to the next phase of their lives. We hope this list provides some guidance for how to help them celebrate their accomplishments and smoothly transition to whatever form their next chapter may take.

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 40 of the best graduation gifts you can give.

A snack subscription Universal Yums

Universal Yums

Who doesn't love snacks? Whether your grad is moving on to a new school or starting their career, they will be busy and won't always have time to seek out food. A monthly supply of convenient snacks will ensure their tummy isn't rumbling as they tackle packed days. Universal Yums is great because it features unique snacks from a different country or region each month. This is the perfect gift for any adventurous foodie.

A Hello Fresh gift card to make navigating cooking easier meals on hello fresh

HelloFresh

Gift a Hello Fresh gift card, from $65

If your grad is more interested in learning how to cook, get them started with a gift card to a meal kit service. Hello Fresh 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, Hello Fresh will also send the right portion size. We named Hello Fresh the best for quick dishes in our guide to the best meal delivery services; perfect for students who are short on time.

A portable printer HP Sprocket Portable Instant Photo Printer

HP

Gift HP Sprocket Portable Instant Photo Printer, $99.99

2021 grads will appreciate how seamless the Sprocket makes printing photos from tablets, phones, and social media accounts. It uses Bluetooth connectivity and the free-to-download HP Sprocket app (for iOS and Android). The Sprocket offers an affordable way for them to decorte their room with their fondest memories.

A robot vacuum Moosoo MT 720 Robotic Vacuum

Amazon

Gift the Moosoo MT-720 Robotic Vacuum, $159.99

I talked to a few of last year's high school grads to find out what they wish they had received as gifts as they prepared to head off on their own. Surprisingly, cleaning supplies were at the top of the list. While it may not sound exciting to give your grad toilet bowl cleaner or disinfectant spray, they're sure to appreciate a robot vacuum. The Moosoo MT-720 is the budget pick in our guide to the best robot vacuums and does an impressive job for its low price.

For other spring cleaning ideas, check out our ultimate guide to spring cleaning in 2021.

A bath towel set Kassatex's Atalier Towels

Connie Chen/Insider

Gift the Kassatex Atelier Towels, $35.00

This is another gift recommended by the recent grads I talked to. When first moving out on their own, grads are going to need bath towels. Sure, they're great for drying off after a shower, but it's also nice to have extra towels around for cleaning up spills and other big messes. The Kassatex Atelier is the top pick in our guide to the best bath towels because it's the most absorbent model our testers tried. Make your gift extra special by getting the towels monogrammed for an extra $7 each.

An extra long iPhone/iPad charging cord Native Union Night Cable

Amazon

Gift the Native Union Night Cable, $39.99

An extra long charging cord is a must as high schoolers make their way onto college campuses this fall. The dorms weren't exactly designed with mobile devices in mind, and a long cord can make scrolling on the top bunk easier. An iPad or iPhone charging cable is a great add-on to any gift. You might also consider micro USB cables, which are helpful to have on hand for charging a variety of devices.

A pair of computer glasses they'll actually want to wear Felix Gray

Felix Gray

Gift Felix Gray computer glasses, from $95 for non-prescription

Even if they have 20/20 vision, a pair of computer glasses is an extremely useful gift. Felix Gray's blue-light blocking lenses protect eyes from the harsh effects of blue light emitted from computer screens, TVs, and smartphones. With a pair, they'll be able to work long hours at their job or internship and binge-watch their favorite shows without damaging their eyes. 

Read our full review on Flex Gray computer glasses here

A Tile Pro tracker so lost items can always be quickly found Tile Pro

Amazon

Gift the Tile Pro with Replaceable Battery, 2-Pack, $72

You can't go wrong with a tracker for their keys, wallet, or phone. The Tile Pro is compact and useful for pretty much everyone, especially if their new apartment charges $50 every time they accidentally lock themselves out. 

An Instant Pot for no-hassle meal prep $80 $90 Instant Pot Duo60

Amazon

Gift an Instant Pot Duo 6-Quart, $89

Just in case the idea of tossing tons of vegetables, meat, and a couple of 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.

An air fryer for quick and easy cooking Yedi Houseware Digital Air Fryer

Amazon

Yedi Houseware Deluxe Digital Air Fryer, $89.95

Alongside the Instant Pot, an air fryer is one of the best cheats to quick and easy cooking. As the best we've tested, the Yedi Houseware Deluxe Digital Air Fryer is a solid choice. If they're cooking skills aren't the best or they're just strapped for time, they'll be able to prepare a good variety of foods without using nearly as much oil as traditional frying. 

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

Birchbox Instagram

Gift a Birchbox subscription to your grad, from $45

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 812pT1QRzUL

Amazon

Gift "The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter — And How to Make the Most of Them Now," $11.99

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 Brooklinen

Brooklinen

Gift a Brooklinen gift card, from $50

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.

An Amazon Prime membership Amazon Prime

Amazon

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 grafomap $49

Grafomap

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.

Fresh flowers delivered to their home bouqs valentines day 4

The Bouqs Co.

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.

A nice watch they can use to elevate outfits for work and beyond. Best_Chrono_Gunmetal_Ever_1024x1024.progressive

MVMT

Gift a MVMT Watch, from $95

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 he'll be happy he didn't have to shell out for this small but meaningful luxury himself. 

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

Books that every young adult should read. 91t676VuwOL

Amazon

Gift "The Happiness Advantage," $15.22

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. sonos one (gen 2)

Sonos

Gift a Sonos One (Gen 2) wireless speaker, $248

Sonos makes some pretty great speakers for recent grads. 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" 91ISXye8kJL._SL1500_

Amazon

Gift a 148-Piece Tool Kit, $29.99

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 0017817725453_QC35_sl1_F.jpg

Bose

Gift a pair of Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Headphones, from $299

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 hydro flask $28

Hydro Flask

Gift the Hydro Flask 20-ounce Wide Mouth, $37.95

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-walled vacuum-insulated tumbler will keep their drinks hot for six hours and cold for up to 24 hours. 

A suitcase that charges their phone on the go Away luggage suitcase

Away/Facebook

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. Although you may not be traveling for leisure right now, it will come in handy when moving into a new place or taking trips back home.

A funny, thoughtful card il_fullxfull.1788482321_hc7d

Etsy

Gift the Kan Ye Believe It card, from $4.30

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 echo dot, $29.99

Amazon

Gift an Echo Dot, $39.99

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 homesick $29.95

Homesick Instagram

Gift Homesick Candles, $34

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 Dagne Dover 2

Dagne Dover

Dagne Dover Landon Large Carryall, $95

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 a bunch of colors. 

A tablet for Netflix and surfing the web when not at the office or library. fc4f49cc edcc 46f5 9284 a8ee74358bba_1.3974ca991aeb4d064a3a84007bbf05f5

Walmart

Gift an Apple iPad, $299.00 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 Business Card Holder 7_nzoom

Leatherology

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.

An Amazon gift card so he/she can buy whatever they need themselves Screen Shot 2017 05 04 at 3.43.34 PM

Amazon

Give an Amazon gift card, from $25

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 81JL25lcQIL._SL1500_

Best Self Co.

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 the work bag women everywhere have been looking for

Dagne Dover

Gift the Dagne Dover Classic Tote, $149

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 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 indochino

Indochino

Gift an Indochino Gift Card

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 $299. We've actually even tried out the service ourselves and loved it

A fitness tracker for exercises. fitbit charge 2

Fitbit

Gift the Fitbit Charge 2, $178.99

Give them 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. il_fullxfull.1851856959_50ow

Uncommon Goods

Gift Custom Wine and Champagne Labels at Esty, from $6.17

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. How to Cook Everything

Amazon

Gift "How to Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food", $10.81

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.

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

Amazon

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. d personalize 1

Moleskine

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. 71Ikuq6AAfL._SL1500_

Amazon

Gift a Keurig coffee maker, $64.43

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. Visa Gift Card

Tero Vesalainen / Shutterstock

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:   / Amazon Gift Card / Gift Amazon Prime Membership School books: Amazon Gift Card Coffee: Starbucks Gift Card Decoration: Framebridge Gift Card Furniture: Amazon Gift CardWayfair Gift Card Music: Spotify Gift Card Sheets: Brooklinen Gift Card Groceries and food: Whole Foods Gift Card  Clothes: Nordstrom Gift Card / Everlane Gift Card Tech: Best Buy Gift Card Read the original article on Business Insider

[Author: [email protected] (Mara Leighton)]


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April 7, 2021 at 11:42 AM 34 thoughtful graduation gifts under $100 for the class of 2021