The 18 Best Graduation Gifts of 2020

Celebrate this milestone with the perfect present

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Our Top Picks

Best Book: Very Good Lives at Amazon

"The book from J.K. Rowling is sure to provide anyone with insightful gems they can apply to every day life."

Best for Cooks: Instant Pot Air Fryer at Amazon

"If you thought it was impossible for the Instant Pot to outdo itself, it now has an air fryer function."

Best for Homesickness: Homesick Candle at Amazon

"Apparently home has a specific smell and this candle is sure to make anyone feel all warm inside."

Best Memories: Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 at Amazon

"Unlike old instant film cameras, this one has gone high tech."

Best for Travelers: Raden Charging Wheeled Carry-On at Amazon

"The construction of this bag makes it easy to breeze through any airport and the range of colors makes it stand out from a sea of neutrals."

Best for Techs: Apple Watch Series 5 at Amazon

"The Apple Watch does it all and now the Series 5 display makes it even more desirable."

Best Gift That Keeps Giving: Amazon Prime at Amazon

"Free two-day shipping, unlimited photo storage, video streaming and more, all at a discounted price."

Best Laptop: MacBook Pro 16-Inch at Amazon

"The laptop is lightweight, has a vivid display, and is a generous gift any graduate with appreciate for years."

Best for Apartment Dwellers: Anvil Home Tool Kit at Home Depot

"You don't have to be super handy to appreciate this tool kit that includes essentials for common tasks."

Best Speaker: Echo Smart Speaker at Amazon

"With multiple useful capabilities, Echo is way more than just a pint-sized bluetooth speaker."

It's hard to define the perfect graduation gift. It can be one that the graduate will use in their everyday life, a useful home item, a fun electronic, or even a handy subscription. It truly all depends on what their needs are and what fits within your budget.

To help you find the perfect option, here are the best graduation gifts.

Best Book: Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination

J.K. Rowling isn’t just the author of the Harry Potter series, her inspirational story of rags to magical riches can inspire anyone. Her 2008 commencement speech at Harvard was so impactful, it was turned into a book. “Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination” tackles how anyone can use failure and even embrace it to better their future. It’s seriously an inspiring book for anyone, especially grads who are trying to find their way in the world.

Best for Cooks: Instant Pot Air Fryer

Is there anything the Instant Pot can’t do? Well, no—and it just got even better. The set-it-and-forget-it machine also comes with an air fryer lid. When you want to sauté, sous vide, steam, or slow cook any of your favorite meals, just use the go-to Instant Pot lid. But when you want to fry up some wings or french fries without the unhealthy oils, pop on the air fryer lid. The pot can hold eight quarts, which is perfect for cooking for more than one person or a big batch so there are leftovers.

Best for Homesickness: Homesick Candle

If your grad is moving away after graduation day, homesickness will definitely settle in at some point. Gift a little piece of home with this scented candle. You can choose from state-focused scents (apparently Texas smells like leather, lemon slices, and pine) or go with more general themes like “Grandma’s Kitchen” and “Holiday.” Each candle is made from hand-poured soy wax that burns for up to 80 hours. Your grad will feel like they’re home every time they light it, and, hopefully, they’ll give you a call.

Best Memories: Fujifilm Instax Mini 90

It’s true what they say about getting older: Time seems to speed up. Give your grad the opportunity to capture fun memories with this instant film camera. Digital photos are the norm, but unless they live on Instagram, they’re rarely given a second glance. This camera puts the photos and memories right in front of your new grad and gives them the opportunity to reminisce. And unlike old instant film cameras, this one has gone high tech. It’s able to detect the brightness of the environment to adjust the flash and shutter speed. There are also different modes to play around with for the perfect exposure levels, like double exposure mode, which lets you take two photos on one film sheet.

Best for Travelers: Raden Charging Wheeled Carry-On

Freedom from school means it’s finally time to take a vacation. Your grad could pile all their clothes into a regular duffel bag or they could travel in style with this sleek hardshell carry-on. The strong construction keeps their stuff protected (and waterproofed) and the many zippered compartments ensure that clothes remain tightly packed and wrinkle-free. Plus, with four spinner wheels, this bag can move seamlessly through crowded airports with little strain on the arms. 

Best Tech: Apple Watch Series 5

The need to constantly stay connected can kinda sorta be annoying depending on who you ask, but if you ask a recent graduate what tech item they want, the Apple Watch will probably be at the top of the list. Besides having a cool design, it’s quite functional. It can monitor fitness stats and or help your new grad stay connected on the go.

The Series 5 has a display that’s always lit, so no more needing to tap the screen or even lift the watch to see the time. Choose from one of several colors or even design a unique look, choosing the case and band the recipient will love. If you’re being super fancy or splurging, there’s even straps from luxury designers.

Best Gift That Keeps Giving: Amazon Prime

amazon-prime

Courtesy of Amazon

If you are sending your high school graduate off to college, you might want to think about getting them an Amazon Prime student membership that will give them all of the great benefits of regular Prime, like free two-day shipping, unlimited photo storage, video streaming, and more, all at a discounted price. If they are still students, they can qualify for student membership. Otherwise, you can buy them the regular Amazon Prime subscription. Both are available monthly or by the year.

Best Laptop: MacBook Pro 16-Inch

Purchasing major electronics like a laptop or desktop computer can be tricky, because you don’t know exactly what the recipient wants. But there’s no doubt they absolutely need a laptop, especially if it’s someone who travels often or may have a job that requires remote work. MacBooks are a solid choice for the bright display, fast processor, and the 16-inch screen that won’t leave you squinting. The backlit keyboard will also come in handy for those late night work sessions, of which there will probably be plenty.

Best for Apartment: Anvil Home Tool Kit

Anvil Tool Kit

Courtesy of Home Depot 

Yes, there absolutely is a tool kit on this list. Why? It’s an item most people, especially those new to living on their own, don’t realize they need.... until they go to assemble their first bookcase. This Anvil kit is made up of 76 items, including screwdrivers, a wrench, a hammer, and pliers. It’s an essential kit for tasks that range from hanging a photo gallery wall to tightening a bolt under the sink. It’s all included in a convenient case that stores away in even the smallest of spaces.

Best Speaker: Echo Smart Speaker

You don't need to invest in a whole speaker system for a new grad—all they really need is a solid Bluetooth speaker. At just six inches tall and weighing less than 27 ounces, the Echo’s speaker has 360 degree audio that can fill a room. More than just a speaker, you can use Alexa to play music, turn on/off lights, set timers, set reminders, and more. The microphone button can be turned off for any privacy concerns.

Best Coffee: Nespresso VertuoPlus Coffee Maker

This isn’t just a coffee maker, this is a money saving gift for the graduate who has probably been relying on caffeine boosts for the last few years. This machine brews a cup of coffee or espresso in literal seconds. Unlike some other Nespresso machines, this one is fairly compact, making it great for smaller spaces and countertops. It also comes with a dozen pods: eight coffee and four espresso. It's like serving up a cafe-style drink, but from the comfort of home, way more convenient, and so much cheaper.

Best Weekender: Moral Code Graham Bag

Moral Code Graham weekender bag

Courtesy of Moral Code

Week-long vacations are pretty amazing, but for the person who’s on a budget, a weekend trip is just fine. Instead of opting for a big suitcase, get them a stylish weekender bag that's big enough to fit several outfits and is crafted with durable material.

Moral Code’s Graham bag is made from quality leather (it comes in distressed cognac or black) that will certainly stand the test of time and probably even look better as the years go by. A single zipper reveals a roomy interior with side pockets. The detachable leather strap makes it appropriate to carry over your shoulder or by the handle. This bag is so stylish, you’ll probably be tempted to buy another for yourself.

Best Headphones: Beats Solo3 Wireless Headphones

Headphones used to be fairly cheap, but now? They can run in the hundreds. Your recent grad inevitably needs a pair for commuting or working out, so help them save their own money. Beats Solo3 aren’t wireless ear buds that will likely get lost, but the cushioned, on-ear variety. The sound quality is stellar and with a 40 hour battery life, they won't run out of battery in the middle of the work day. A single five minute charge provides three hours of playback. If the recipient has other Apple products, the headphones will seamlessly connect with them.

Best Mug: Contigo AUTOSEAL West Loop Stainless Steel Travel Mug

Whether they are in school or starting their first job, a travel mug is essential for transporting their coffee or tea. This pick comes in 16 colors with the option of a 16, 20, or 24 ounces.

What makes this travel mug so great is that it is spill-proof (really!), can be opened with one hand when you are ready for a sip, and it will keep cold beverages cold for 12 hours and hot beverages warm for five hours. Cleaning is even a breeze since it's designed so you can get into all of the nooks and crannies and there are no parts that can go missing. ​

Best Necessity: Miady Dual USB Portable Charger

“My phone died.” You’ll no longer have to hear that excuse if you gift this portable USB charger. Compatible with Android or iPhone, the high speed charger has twice the regular speed of similar products. It even has built in protection to keep phones from overcharging, which can damage a battery over time. Weighing less than half a pound and just 5.5 inches tall, this charger is easy to take on the go. Even better, each order comes with not just one, but two chargers, so one can stay in their work bag, and the other can stay in their car or at the office.

Best Style: Trunk Club

Trunk Club gift

Courtesy of Trunk Club

Buying clothes for anyone can be tricky for a variety of reasons. The sizing may be off, maybe it's not the person’s style, etc. But gifting someone with a Trunk Club membership is a nice alternative. This can be a one-time, monthly, or quarterly package. The recipient fills out a quiz about their style and a stylist chooses a few pieces he or she might like. The only cost to you as the giver is a $25 styling fee for each box. The recipient only pays for the clothes they keep or simply returns everything free of charge. This is a great fit for someone trying to figure out their personal style in the new phase of their life.

Best Service: Shipt

Shipt Grocery delivery gift membership

Courtesy of Shipt

New graduates, especially those who are moving into their own place or starting a new job, will probably have the realization there just aren’t enough hours in the day for adulting activities like grocery shopping. A Shipt membership eases that frustration. A six month or one year membership means free grocery deliveries from markets in the area, including Target. And not just free delivery, but same day and even two-hour delivery. If you’re already a Shipt member, you’ll even receive a $25 credit if you purchase a one year gift membership. That’s a win-win for everyone.

Best Moneyholder: HonestAFCards Graduation Card

HonestAF Graduation Card

Courtesy of Etsy 

Giving the gift of cash doesn’t have to feel thoughtless or tacky. Because let’s face it, sometimes you just don’t know what a recipient wants, and most people appreciate a little bit of extra cash right after graduation. So present those cold hard bills in a cheeky way with this money holder from Etsy. Upon opening the envelope, it’s immediately clear to your graduate what’s inside and everyone’s bound to get a chuckle out of the card.

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