We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.
A thoughtful college or high school graduation gift can be the perfect way to mark this important transition in a graduate's life.
We researched the best gifts that strike a balance between functional and celebratory while sticking to your budget. Our favorite picks include a practical cookware set from Caraway, glasses celebrating their alma mater from Uncommon Goods, and a luggage set from Calpack, perfect for post-grad trips.
Here are the best graduation gifts for every graduate.
Caraway Cookware Set
Your college graduate will likely start cooking more meals at home. Make sure they're prepared with the essential cookware set from Caraway Home. Each set includes a frying pan, saucepan, sauté pan, and dutch oven with matching lids, and a magnetic pan rack and canvas lid holder for easy storage.
What sets Caraway apart from its competitors is its ceramic coating. It's free from harsh chemicals like lead, cadmium, and toxic metals, without sacrificing quality. And the surface is nonstick with minimal oil or butter, so no heavy scrubbing is required.
Reviewers love how the pans feel weighted, sturdy, and long-lasting while still being easy to clean. The only note is that these pots and pans do get heavy, so be sure you have a good grip before draining pasta or dishing out veggies.
Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021)
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 them squinting. The backlit keyboard will also come in handy for those late night work sessions.
Parachute Classic Bathrobe
Parachute might be known for their bedding, but their range of loungewear wins for the most underrated gift. The texture of its cozy bathrobe is soft (100 percent Turkish cotton), cozy, and something anyone will want to wrap up in after a long day. The robe comes in white, blush, mineral, stone, or taupe and is easy to care for with simple machine washing.
Brooklinen Luxe Hardcore Sheet Bundle
In theory, bedding doesn't sound like the most glamorous graduation gift, but no one wants a poor night's sleep—that's where Brooklinen comes into play. Deemed one of the internet's favorite bedding brands, the Luxe Hardcore Sheet Bundle includes everything they need to end each day and start each day in comfort. The 480-thread count cotton is Oeko-Tex® Certified and easy to clean, too.
Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Noise-Cancelling Headphones
Headphones are essential, whether you're graduating or not. Upgrade their standard earbuds to these wireless headphones from Sony. We're fans of the noise-canceling properties, meaning they can jam to their favorite song on their way to work, at the gym, or on a study break. And, yes, they do adjust, so you don't have to worry about them being uncomfortable on your recipient's head.
Ninja AF100 4 Quart Air Fryer
Air fryers have become a household staple given how quickly they can cook just about anything. This one from Ninja can whip up two pounds worth of fries and reaches temperatures as hot as 400 degrees. Plus, it's not too big, so it won't take up too much room in their dorm apartment (and it's easy to clean).
VITRUVI Porcelain Essential Oil Diffuser
If they're heading to college, odds are there is a no-candle policy in their dorm. Give them an essential oil diffuser that is as stylish as it is compliant. Virtuvi's Diffuser is hand-crafted ceramic, meaning it will last them well past college—thus making it the perfect graduation gift.
airyoyo Gooseneck Electric Pour-Over Kettle
If they're heading off to college or their first living space, having a kettle will be much more exciting than receiving a single-use coffee maker. This one is electric, so no stovetop is required. Plug it in and have just under a liter's worth of water ready in two minutes.
Cuisinart Graphix 15-Piece Stainless Steel Hollow Handle Block Set
Nothing says 'adult' like a fancy knife set, especially if they're a budding chef. This 15-piece kit from Cuisinart is made from stainless steel and comes with a wide range of knife types. A serrated knife for slicing a freshly-made sourdough and a perfect chef's knife designed for prepping mirepoix are all included in this cutlery assortment. The minimalistic knife block also adds to the universal appeal of this gift.
Calpak Ambeur 2-Piece Luggage Set
Everyone needs a vacation, so if you can't afford to send your grad on one, help them get there in style. Calpack luggage is secure thanks to a TSA-approved lock and interior dividers made from easy-to-clean polyester. The exterior is chic, too, thanks in part to the multi-directional wheels, extendable handle, and chromatic colorways. Your grad definitely won't feel embarrassed picking this bag off the luggage carousel.
Artifact Uprising Hardcover Photo Book
Artifact Uprising’s photo book is an easy way to gift a personalized present that’s sure to show you care. Simply select one of six book sizes and start uploading photos of your grad or any pics that have special meaning to them. The book can start at 50 pages or go up to 150. The fabric book cover makes this look like an expensive coffee table book they’ll want to display.
Hydro Flask Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle Wide Mouth with Straw Lid
No one wants to spend their extra cash on plastic water bottles, especially as we're all trying to become more aware of our environmental impacts. Hydro Flask has stainless steel water bottles that keep their water cold and their coffee piping hot. With a variety of colors and sizes, there is one that they're sure to love.
Thrive Market Build Your Own Mixed Meal Bundle
Listen, finding time to shlep it to the grocery store can be tough for a college student and someone after graduation. Giving them a subscription to a grocery delivery service can make that task a bit easier. Thrive Market is a carbon-neutral, soon-to-be Zero Waste Certified online store that caters to most dietary needs. Orders ship within 24 hours of being placed, and there are constant gifts with purchase and promos running on the site. Trust us; they are bound to thank you for this one.
Instant Pot 6-Quart Duo Classic Mickey Mouse 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker
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. It can sauté, sous vide, steam, or slow cook with the Instant Pot 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.
Ember Temperature Control Mug
No one likes a cold cup of coffee, especially as they are pulling an all-nighter or working from home. And with a coffee mug from Ember, they won't have to run to the microwave to reheat their cup of joe. The temperature of this mug gets controlled from an app of their device, and battery life is extended with sleep mode. The only downside is that it has to be hand-washed, but it's worth it.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic Instant Film Camera
As we age, time seems to move more quickly. And while digital photos are the norm, a Polaroid-style camera allows your grad to reminisce on all of life's moments, both grand and quaint. Unlike old instant film cameras, this one can detect the brightness of the environment to adjust the flash and shutter speed. Be sure to give them film, too, so they can snap shots right away.
Mala the Brand Cereal Candle
With a name as iconic as cereal, this candle from Mala the Brand is sure to make any graduate reminisce on their childhood days. Notes include citrus, berry, and lemon, and this candle has a burn time of 7-80 hours. Reviewers say it reminds them of a bowl of Fruity Pebbles or Fruit Loops. The candles are paraben-free, phthalate-free, lead-free, and paraffin-free, so you can feel confident knowing that this candle is as safe for you as it is delicious.
Anker PowerCore 13000 Portable Battery
How many times have you been out and about and your phone died? In moments like this, you would do just about anything to have an outlet or a charger to bring your phone back to life. That's the moment where a portable charger comes in. This charger from Anker is compatible with many smartphones, including Apple iPhones and Ipads. And, after each charge, this powerpack holds just over two charges, meaning you'll never go a day without your device.
Uncommon Goods College Cityscape Rocks Glasses
Let them reminisce about their college days as they pour a glass of their favorite liquor into these College Cityscape Rocks Glasses. The maker uses hand-drawn, 360-degree illustrations of iconic buildings and landmarks around a selection of major college campuses. Each glass in this set of two holds 10.5 fl. oz. of liquid and is dishwasher-friendly, too.
Amazon Prime Subscription
If you're unsure what to get a high school or college graduate, a fail-safe option is an Amazon Prime Membership. Members enjoy perks like free two-day shipping, unlimited photo storage, video streaming, and more. They'll be able to order necessities or little luxuries in little to no time at all.
Fable Home Ceramic Dinnerware Set
Upgrade their five-dollar plates and bowls to the ceramic dinnerware set from Fabel. A personal favorite of writers at The Spruce, the 16-piece Fabel collection includes four dinner plates, salad plates, pasta bowls, and breakfast bowls, aka, all they need to host a soirée in their new place. Each item from this British Columbia-based brand is hand-crafted in central Portugal, making them as unique as your college grad.
Urban Stems The Unicorn Flower Arrangement
Sometimes the best gifts we can give are the simple ones that show we care, or in this case, are ready to celebrate the milestone that is graduation. For the individual that prefers the simple things in life, nothing beats a bouquet, specifically if the flowers are from Urban Stems. Arrangements often have next-day delivery, so even if you can't be there in person, you can show how proud you are of your graduate.
Shark IZ440H Vertex Pro Cordless Vacuum
Odds are both high school and college graduates require a vacuum cleaner. Why? Well, their parents are no longer around to make sure that their living space is clean. For all the crumbs from late-night snacking and after-party messes, the Shark Lightweight Cordless Stick Vacuum will be there to save the day. It's editor-approved and even folds in half, making it easy to store in both a dorm room and their first apartment.
Daily Harvest Gift Box
When you're entering the workforce, you tend to throw yourself into building your career, and you often forget to eat. Gifting your college graduate a subscription to a company like Daily Harvest, a plant-based food delivery service, will take one stress from their life. They can choose from an assortment of smoothies, flatbreads, ice creams, and more that come once a week to their door.
Stitch Fix Style Box
Help your grad curate a new wardrobe to prepare for the next phase they're entering. High school grads can prepare for college, especially those going to school far away, perhaps with a different climate. In college, they'll likely deal with internships and interviews that require professional attire. Either way, they'll appreciate the chance to change up their look for what lies ahead.
My M&M's Personalizable M&M's Occasion Bottle
If your high school grad is not old enough to pop champagne (or just prefer chocolate to bubbles), opt for a different kind of celebratory bottle. My M&M's offers a bottle full of custom M&M's in a gift basket with the phrase "Just for you." Add messages and images to the iconic candy, saying "Congrats" or one featuring the grad's name or photo. Grab a few for a graduation party centerpiece or let the grad keep all the goodies for themselves.
Monos Metro Backpack
Whether your grad is heading to college or the office, they'll need a versatile and heavy-duty backpack to keep all of their essentials close and protected. The water-repellant nylon Metro Backpack from Monos opens completely for easy packing and unpacking, perfect for taking on weekend trips. It also has a laptop sleeve and pockets to keep school and work items organized. If using for travel, the back of the bag includes a sleeve to easily slip over the handles of your suitcase for easy carrying.
Windsor Vineyards Personalized Wine Bottle
For those graduating college or grad school (and are over 21 years old), treat them to a nice bottle of wine with a twist. Windsor Vineyards allows you to customize your own label. Write the graduate's name or upload a picture using on the site's many available templates. Now, the gift doesn't end when all the wine is done. Additionally, you can choose their favorite vino from 11 classic whites, reds, and pinks.
Stephanie Gottlieb Baby Bubble Name Necklace
Celebrate this important milestone with a beautiful piece of jewelry they can wear and love for years to come. This personalized necklace from Stephanie Gottlieb features your grad's name in trendy bubble letters to add to any necklace stack. It comes in silver and gold to fit your grad's preferences. While expensive, Stephanie Gottlieb's jewelry are built to last and curate a capsule jewelry collection. They can wear their new piece to the first day of graduate classes or the first shift at a new job.
Quilling Cards Graduation Cards
For a simple gift that makes a big impact, look to Quilling Cards for a sentimental and beautiful keepsake. Quilling cards are handmade by local artisans and feature beautiful, textured designs that pack a punch. Choose from classic graduation designs including caps or the year of graduation. Then, add your sweet message on the inside to show your grad how much you care.
What To Look for in a Graduation Gift
Type of Graduation
Whether or not the student is graduating from high School or college will play a pivotal role in finding the right gift. Abbot says that high school graduation is a more basic milestone, whereas graduating from college is more complex. It is the moment where the individual is not just an adult, but "a 'mature' adult armed with the knowledge that (should) propel them into careers rather than just jobs." Additionally, the gifts for a college graduate should make the transition into the real world more manageable.
Looking at what career field the college graduate plans to pursue can aid in finding the best gift for them. August Abbott, PhD, etiquette expert explains that college graduates often leave university with a sizable amount of debt and need to invest as much money as possible into "striking out on their own" while going after their career goals. If you do not plan to simply write them a check, giving someone who obtained a medical degree a practical gift, like a stethoscope, or high quality pens to a teacher, would work quite well.
We often forget about personal budgets when searching for the perfect gift. And, when it comes to gifting as a whole, Abbott has one rule, "Spend what we can afford or at least not go into debt beyond what we are comfortable repaying." Take a look at your funds and make an educated decision based on what you have. Maybe consider speaking to a few others who plan to gift to the graduate and each chip in for a higher-priced item. Either way, no gift is worth putting yourself in financial hardship for, no matter how grand the milestone.
How much should you spend on a college graduation gift?
There's no set-in-stone number for how much you should spend on a college graduation gift. Nerdwallet reports that the average amount of money spent on a graduation gift is $107, but many people spend less on distant relatives or on friends.
How much money should you spend on a high school graduation gift?
The amount you spend on a high school graduation gift is up to you. But whether you're looking to spend $15 or $500, make sure you get a gift your high school graduate can use in college. Consider asking if they've made a college registry to find a gift from, or give them money for textbooks.
Why do we celebrate graduations?
We celebrate graduations because they often coincide with other important milestones, like turning 18 or getting a full-time job. Additionally, graduations mark the culmination of years of school and study, and it's important to celebrate hard work.
Why Trust The Spruce
Samantha Parsons reenvisioned this article to incorporate graduation gifts that are unique and desirable. She consulted with etiquette expert, Dr. August Abbott of JustAnswer, to ensure that the items recommended are aligned with what is appropriate to gift any graduate. When she is not spending her time writing for The Spruce, Samantha works for a beauty brand and is constantly searching for the latest product launches and trends.