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The 32 Best Graduation Gifts Every Grad Actually Wants

These practical gifts go the extra mile by preparing grads for their life as an adult with a career. They're also great for enterprising high school graduates, so be sure to bookmark this page for all the grad gifts you'll need this season.

01-Graduation-gifts-jump-start-adult-life-via-oliso.comvia oliso.com, shutterstock

Dress for success

“Dress for success might be an old adage, but it does work,” shares Mary Porter, vice president of human resources at TierPoint. “Dress as if you are always on that interview so you are the ‘professional’ in the crowd even if it’s a more casual environment.” That means ironed, neat attire is an absolute must. (This handy infographic lets you decode your office dress code.) The Oliso Smart Iron heats up quickly, is easy to use, and is designed for frequent use, making it one of the most perfect graduation gifts for the always-wrinkled grad in your life.

TG 1100 Oliso Smart Iron, $129.99, Amazon.com.

02-Graduation-gifts-jump-start-adult-life-via-tjx.comvia tjx.com, shutterstock

A pen for signing on the dotted line

“A pen or set is also always nice to give as a gift and will make the person stand out along with their portfolio when they’re interviewing,” explains Porter. Pens are easy to carry, unisex, and one of the easiest graduation gifts to add to a personalized stationery or briefcase for the new business person in your life.

Mont Blanc Roller Ballpoint Pen, $308.95, Amazon.com.

03-Graduation-gifts-jump-start-adult-life-via-paperstyle.comvia paperstyle.com, shutterstock

Sophisticated stationery

“Millennial or not, there are basic things that haven’t changed throughout the years to look professional and ace the job interview and can be used even after you land the position,” Porter says. “Stationery that is professional in an understated color is one of those things and makes an ideal, sophisticated gift.” Laura Ashley personalized notecards are perfect gifts for college graduates to mail handwritten thank you notes to recruiters, employers, and gift givers.

Laura Ashley thank you notes, $12.50 for 10, PaperStyle.com.

04-Graduation-gifts-jump-start-adult-life-via-artifactuprising.comvia artifactuprising.com, shutterstock

A framed moment

One of the best graduation gifts to commemorate the big day is gallery-quality framed photo. If you don’t have a photo of the graduation itself, opt for one of the grad with family or friends. This gallery frame comes in your choice of four finishes, with an ultra-thick mat, and is ready to hang.
Gallery frames, $65, Artifact Uprising.

06-Graduation-gifts-jump-start-adult-life-via-personalcreations.comvia personalcreations.com, shutterstock

Personalized briefcase

 

For men and women alike, career counselor Michelle Dubow of Northeastern University suggests personalized, monogrammed briefcases and business bags. “Bags with initials are some of the best gifts for college graduates if they’ll be traveling to and from work each day,” she shares. This canvas and suede travel bag is gender neutral, easy to carry, and fits the work-bound essentials.

Travel Tour bag, $79, personalcreations.com.

07-Graduation-gifts-jump-start-adult-life-via-nespresso.comvia nespresso.com, shutterstock

Something to brew a day-starter in

“A coffee, tea, or espresso maker is always a big hit with young professionals,” Dubow shares. “Getting someone’s day going on the right foot helps them feel more motivated.” Coffee is the way to do it, and the Piano Black Evoluo Deluxe by NESPRESSO brews espresso drinks and Americanos quickly and just as tasty as their more expensive café counterparts, making this machine one of our favorite long term investment graduation gifts.

Piano Black Evoluo Deluxe by NESPRESSO, $186.99, Amazon.com.

08-Graduation-gifts-jump-start-adult-life-via-brooklinen.comvia brooklinen.com, shutterstock

New worker bees need to rest soundly

“Gifts like really high quality sheets and bedding can help grads move from the college years to a more sophisticated time in life—a time when being well-rested starts to really matter,” says Dubow. Plus, if the grad in your life is moving into their own place, they may be moving up from dorm-friendly twin size beds to full, queen, or king-size beds. New sheets are a luxury that says “welcome to adulthood.” This sheet set has everything they’ll need to make a mature bed with the added cool factor of boutique-hotel comfort and design.

Classic Hardcore bundle sheet set, $179.25, Brooklinen.com.

09-Graduation-gifts-jump-start-adult-life-via-walmart.comvia walmart.com, shutterstock

Coffee not their cuppa tea? This will be

If coffee isn’t one of the best graduation gifts for the grad in your life, tea surely will be, and this tea kettle doesn’t just boil water—it actually heats water to the exact temperature your specific tea may require. There’s a perfect temperature for green tea leaves, for tender white tea-filled bags, for typical breakfast teas and even the most robust herbals. For a tea nut, this gift will please them morning, noon, and night for years. Here’s how to match your tea to your mood.

Savoy Stainless Steel Electronic Kettle, $60.62, Amazon.com.

10-Graduation-gifts-jump-start-adult-life-via-fomuicecream.comvia fomuicecream.com, shutterstock

A little something to nosh on (regularly)

“New grads are short on time to do things like food shopping and cooking, nevermind buying celebratory foods that help them socialize with other people after work,” says Dubow of one of the most practical graduation gifts out there: food. Fomu’s Seasonal Pint Club is just what it sounds like, an ice cream delivery company that mails pints of delicious artisanal ice cream pints for each season. That means this gift keeps giving for an entire year, and their options are easily tailored to people with specific dietary needs like lactose-free, dairy-free, egg-free, and even Kosher certified. Even the pickiest snackers will find a pint to get excited about.

Seasonal Pint Club, $130, Fomu.com.

11-Graduation-gifts-jump-start-adult-life-via-chipolo.netvia chipolo.net, shutterstock

Tech that helps streamline rushed mornings

If there’s one thing any young professional really needs, it’s the type of gadget that helps ensure they get out the door on time. “Gadgets that help get you to interviews and work in a timely fashion area always great graduation gift ideas,” says Dubow. The Chipolo Plus is a little key fob that is small and nearly weightless, but packs a big alarm punch. If your grad loses their keys, they can use their smartphone to activate the 100 decibel alarm emitted from the fob itself, helping them quickly locate their necessities and head out the door. If you have a messy or haphazard grad in your life, this one is a must. Here are 14 more life skills every new grad should have.

Chipolo Plus, $25, Amazon.com.

12-Graduation-gifts-jump-start-adult-life-via-barbersalon.comvia barbersalon.com, shutterstock

Something to keep those trendy beards at bay

“Facial hair is super trendy and gives an air of maturity and confidence if it’s done right,” shares Dubow. “But it’s important to keep it neat so a job-seeker doesn’t appear unkempt.” This beard trimmer is easy to clean, has an 8-foot cord, and helps beard-lovers nearly get in all their facial hair nooks and crannies.

BaBylissPro Original FX765 Trimmer, $54.95, barbersalon.com.

13-Graduation-gifts-jump-start-adult-life-via-skyroam.comvia skyroam.com, shutterstock

Something to stay connected

“New grads are on the go a lot when they hunt for new jobs,” explains Dubow. “It’s important they stay connected so they don’t miss work-related emails, chats, and assignments.” Skyroam is a personal Wi-Fi hotspot that enables travelers to keep their gadgets connected now in 100+ countries. It makes it incredibly easy to share documents, pictures, and stay in touch when you have to travel abroad for business.

Skyroam, starting at $99.99 per month, skyroam.com.

denim jacketCourtesy STSBlue

The classic denim jacket—with a custom update

The Oversize Denim Boyfriend Jacket in Alaska Wash from STSBlue doesn’t just have the oversize fit and destruction treatment teens and twenty-somethings swear by, but with the custom embroidery option, it can also show off your grad’s official graduation year. New alumni will be proud to broadcast their membership in the “Class of 2018” (or 2020 or 2040, any other year).

Buy now

14-Graduation-gifts-jump-start-adult-life-via-slumbr.comvia slumbr.com, shutterstock

The gift of a good night’s rest

“There’s nothing more important than a good night of restful sleep for a young professional, especially after all that coffee and tea at the office all day,” shares Dubow. “The gift of truly comfortable, high quality pillows is one that’ll last for years and help get your grad to the office on time, rested, and with a bright outlook.” A down alternative pillow is a great option for most sleep styles, hypoallergenic, and priced well enough to buy a pair.

Orion down alternative pillow, $60, slumbr.com.

15-Graduation-gifts-jump-start-adult-life-via-bose.comvia bose.com, shutterstock

A little “privacy” for their cube

Chances are high that your favorite grad will be starting his or her career in a cube—a cube that can be noisy and distracting at times. A pair of noise-cancelling, wireless headphones keeps those distractions to a minimum to help them focus on the task at hand. There’s no better shortcut to success.

Bose Quiet Comfort 35, $349.95, bose.com.

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So they arrive on time

Whether they’re starting the next chapter of their education or off to the races as someone’s treasured new employee, they’ll need to get there on time and in style. This ESQ Men’s Classic Stainless Steel Watch is a wheeler and dealer’s ideal entry into the world of sharp time-telling, but also a great statement piece for the forward-thinking career woman.

ESQ Quartz Stainless Steel Casual Watch, $225, Amazon.com.

bodybrewvia bodybrew.com, shutterstock

For the caffeine queen (or king)

Speaking of getting places on time, if waking up is constantly a problem for the grad in your life, they’ll appreciate this BodyBrew Cold Brew system that helps retain all the best coffee flavor while making coffee digestion way easier on the body. We think it’s one of the best graduation gifts for the health-conscious, and you call tell the recipient to read our list of calorie-free coffee hacks for more good ideas.

BOD Cold Brew System, starting at $69, bodybrew.com.

plantogramvia plantogram.com, shutterstock

For the well-rounded grad

This is going to sound kooky, but we think a live carambola tree from PlantOgram is the gift that keeps on giving. The star-shaped fruit tree easily lives indoors in cold climates, but can also be planted outdoors in warmer climates like southern states and the west to produce citrus-flavored fruits that are the easiest answer to fitting in your five a day. They also accent homemade cocktails well if your grad is the party-having type, but what really makes this one of the best graduation gifts is the company’s commitment to giving back. With each purchase, 20 percent of the proceeds go to Race to Erase MS, a foundation formed to help find a cure for the debilitating disease.

Carambola/Star Fruit Tree, $62.60, plantogram.com.

p touchvia amazon.com, shutterstock

Make adulthood easier

One of the most important tips maintaining a successful adulthood is just staying organized, which is easy to do if you have a Brother P-Touch Cube Smartphone Label Maker. It uses Bluetooth wireless technology, easily works with Apple and Android devices, and can print literally anything from “Mike’s lunch” to stave off starving roommates to “Jenny’s makeup” to keep up proper mascara hygiene habits (which can be so hard when you’re young).

Brother P-Touch Cube Smartphone Label Maker, $46.33, Amazon.com.

towelvia samsclub.com, shutterstock

Fresh towels are always needed

School’s out! That means grads deserve their hard-earned beach or pool time, which is why they’ll love brand new, easy to care for Member’s Mark Adult Beach Towels from Trident. They’re lightweight, colorful, and nicely priced.

Member’s Mark Adult Beach Towels, $11.98, samsclub.com.

bend and hook hangervia bendandhook.com, shutterstock

For the compact new living space

Some of our favorite graduation gifts are the ones that serve truly practical purposes, like these hangers from Bend & Hook that are designed with a steel wire core that can hold up to 20 pounds—meaning it’s safe to hang anything from a suit to a heavy winter coat, or even double-stack your outfits when closet space is tight. The Perfect Hanger is also designed to resist dreaded shoulder bumps and keep straps from stretching and slipping.

Perfect Hanger, $49.99 for 24-pack, bendandhook.com.

mug sestvia papyrusonline.com, shutterstock

A sip of inspiration

Sometimes you just need to start your day with an affirmation, and that’s exactly what this adorably positive mug from Papyrus offers new grads. For more inspiring words, check out the best pieces of advice given at graduation speeches.

Mug, $19.95, papyrus.com.

scansnap fujifilmvia amazon.com, shutterstock

Streamline the networking process

The Fujitsu ScanSnap iX100 is a new grad’s dream, because it’s an easy-to-use portable scanner that easily connects to just about any smartphone. You can scan bills, business cards from new colleagues or contacts at networking events, old pictures, or just about anything else, and it all goes straight to the cloud. No more clutter, and everything stays organized.

Fujitsu ScanSnap iX100 Wireless Mobile Scanner, $189.99, Amazon.com.

t3 cura hair dryervia amazon.com, shutterstock

The most sophisticated hair dryer

New grads have places to go, and things to do—they can’t spend all morning drying their hair, which is why the T3 Cura Hair Dryer is a game-changer for just about anyone with chin-length or longer locks. Unlike most hair dryers, this one emits negative ions, which are actually positive for hair. They help keep moisture in, repel dead ends, and give hair a shiny, healthy look. Did we mention it’s small, dries super fast, and is pretty quiet? Roommates will appreciate it, too.

T3 Cura Hair Dryer, $200, Amazon.com.

cinemoodvia amazon.com, shutterstock

For the entertainer

Let them host movie night anywhere, anytime, with this ultra-compact Cinemood 3″ standalone projector that converts any surface into a 12-foot magic cinema. It’s noiseless, too, but allows your whiz-kid grad to project video projects, creative presentations, or just the coolest YouTube videos anywhere he or she may go. It comes pre-loaded with kid-friendly content, so it’s even appropriate for the tiniest grads.

CINEMOOD Portable Movie Theater, $399.99, Amazon.com.

bella blendervia amazon.com, shutterstock

Because health is wealth

There’s nothing like knowing your newly graduated teen or young adult has the ability to make themselves healthy foods with actual fruits, veggies, and fiber. The BELLA Rocket Blender easily whips up smoothies, crazy high-protein shakes full of hard-to-name ingredients, soups, sauces, and nut butters, and it even grinds spices from semesters abroad.

Bella Rocket Blender, $24.78, Amazon.com.

lightvia amazon.com, shutterstock

Let there be light (when they’re reading)

The bright-eyed grad in your life will appreciate their post-grad studies in the light of a new Verilux Brookfield Apothecary Lamp, thanks to its chic vintage styling. Their apartment and their eyes will thank you. Of course, that lamp won’t be put to use without something to read. Here are the best books to give as graduation gifts.

Verilux Brookfield Apothecary Lamp, $252.43, Amazon.com.

swiss diamondvia swissalmond.com, shutterstock

For healthy home-cooking

To keep grads from always ordering takeout, give them the tools they need to whip up nutritious meals at home. The 25-piece Swiss Diamond XD Nonstick line lets you cook with zero butter or oil, and is so energy-efficient that you shouldn’t have to raise the heat over low-medium, which means less chance of burning. Did we mention it’s dishwasher-safe?

Swiss Diamond XD Nonstick Products, starting at $149.95, swissdiamond.com.

lenovo yogavia bestbuy.com, shutterstock

For the on-the-go grad

If they’re pitching new clients, going on interviews, or just redesigning the world as we know it, they’ll love the new Lenovo Yoga 920 2-in-1 convertible laptop. While this may be the biggest splurge on our graduation gifts list, it’s worth it, thanks to the frame being super lightweight, a 360-degree hinge that lets the device act as a tablet or laptop, and intuitive input.

Lenovo Yoga 920 Laptop, $1,999.77, Amazon.com.

belkinvia amazon.com, shutterstock

Bon voyage!

If your grad is taking time off to travel a bit, visit friends or family overseas, or just about any other travel-related adventure, they’ll appreciate this Belkin Global Universal Travel Charger Kit. It’s a thoughtfully affordable way to make sure their phone has enough juice to call and text you from just about anywhere on Planet Earth. Don’t miss these clever ways to save on international calls.

Belkin Global Universal Travel Charger Kit, $26.13, Amazon.com.

nespressovia nespresso.com, shutterstock

For the coffee purist

If they’re fans of top-notch espresso and crafted coffee drinks that’ll make their home feel like an ultra-posh cafe, they’ll love you for a lifetime when you give them a Nespresso Lattissima One machine. If you’re wondering, yes, it’ll even froth their milk. Make sure you also check out the best graduation gifts for every major.

Nespresso Lattissima One, $379, Amazon.com.

charge hubvia thechargehub.com, shutterstock

For staying powered up

The need to charge digital devices only escalates after graduation, when these young professionals need to plug in their phones, tablets, laptops—and probably the phones of all their visiting friends. The ChargeHub X7 7-Port USB Super Charger can charge up to seven USB devices simultaneously, at home, in the office or even on the road.

ChargeHub X7 7-Port USB Super Charger, $49, Amazon.com.

pitchervia amazon.com, shutterstock

Peace of mind for you, hydration for them

Sending your baby off to college or into the real world comes with a load of stresses, but knowing they’re eating and hydrating properly might just set your mind at ease. The ZeroWater 6 Cup Pitcher fits in a dorm (or office) fridge and comes with a free water quality meter that’ll make their every day a little more scientific. Cheers to clean water!

ZeroWater 6 Cup Pitcher, $26.36, Amazon.com.

For more ideas, check out these personalized gifts that can kick your gift-giving up a notch.

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by Reader’s Digest editors, who aim to highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we may get a small share of revenue from our partners, such as Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. We frequently receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We welcome your feedback. Have something you think we should know about? Email us at [email protected].

Bryce Gruber
Bryce Gruber covers gift ideas, shopping, and e-commerce at RD.com, although you've likely seen her work across a variety of women's lifestyle and parenting topics at TheLuxurySpot.com, Bravo, Parents.com, Martha Stewart, and on your TV screen through national talk shows including The Tamron Hall Show. She lives and works in New York's Hudson Valley with her five small children. Find her on social media at @brycegruber.