The 9 Best Graduation Gifts to Buy in 2018

Celebrate this milestone with the perfect present

back of graduates during commencement
ake1150sb / Getty Images

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The day has finally come. The student in your life is about to toss that cap and graduate onto the next chapter, whether it’s a gap year, college, a job or a trip around the world. Mark this momentous occasion — and let out that sigh of relief — by getting a graduation gift that you know they’ll love.

These gifts aim to keep new grads organized, inspired, happy and well-fed when they’re navigating through whatever the future may bring. And while not every graduate is one size fits all — these ideas will help inspire you for the perfect present for the graduate in your life. From cameras to capture the memories yet to come to books that will help them grow, here, the best graduation gifts. 

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  • 01 of 09

    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.

  • 02 of 09

    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 now, 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. Double exposure mode lets you take two photos on one film sheet; bulb mode keeps the shutter open so you can photograph light trails; macro mode enables close-up photography and kids’ mode turns on a fast shutter speed to capture quick-moving subjects.

  • 03 of 09

    Best Book: The Quarter-Life Breakthrough

    No matter if your grad is 17, 21 or 30 years old, they probably have the same question: “What comes next?” This book offers inspiring career advice for anyone who’s not sure what they want to do with their life (and who is, really?). The author learned a lot of his lessons after he found himself in a well-paying, prestigious job that didn’t make him happy at all. In his book, he offers exercises and tips that will help any new grad pursue a career that makes an impact and fulfills them.

  • 04 of 09

    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 the stuff within protected (and waterproof) 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. 

    Available in seven colors to suit their style, this bag will go the distance from one graduation to the next. 

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    Best for Work or Class: Leather Tote

    Medium Leather Transport Tote MADEWELL
    Courtesy of Nordstrom

    Getting out of school means you need to ditch that clunky backpack and get something a little more fashionable for the real world. This simple leather tote easily transitions from a casual day out to an 8-hour day at the office. It comes in five stylish colors and gives wearers two carrying options: an over-the-shoulder strap and a cross-body strap that frees up their hands. The tote opens up to reveal a large interior compartment with a zippered pocket for valuables. On the outside, there’s a convenient pocket where she can stash her phone so it’s always readily available. With a little care, she’ll have this bag for years to come.

  • 06 of 09

    Best for Techs: Apple Watch 3

    If you know an early tech adopter that just graduated, it might be time to get them that smartwatch they’ve been coveting. Not everyone has a smartwatch right now (so there’s still that cool factor), but one day, they may actually take the place of smartphones. How? If you’re expecting a text, you’ll get a notification on your watch when it comes through. If you need to call home, you can talk directly into your wrist. You can also listen to music, use your favorite apps and set reminders. The fast Apple Watch 3 is water resistant up to 50 meters and comes with a heart rate sensor for fitness tracking.

  • 07 of 09

    Best for Cooks: 6-Quart Instant Pot

    Instant Pots are the must-have kitchen appliance right now because they make cooking so much easier. They combine ten kitchen tools in one: a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker, egg cooker, sauté pan, steamer, warmer and sterilizer. For grads that just moved into a small apartment, that space-saving ingenuity is worth its weight in gold. And if they never cooked before, the Instant Pot is a great way to introduce them to delicious, convenient recipes that they can finish in 30 minutes or less. Buy an Instant Pot cookbook to make this a combo gift.

  • 08 of 09

    Best for Coffee Lovers: 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 cup of joe — plus it will help them cut down on expensive coffee shop trips! This Amazon bestseller comes in 16 colors with the option of a 16 oz. or 20 oz. size, depending on their caffeine addiction.

    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. And cleaning is a breeze since it is designed so you can get into all of the nooks and crannies for a thorough clean and they're no parts that can go missing. ​

    Still can't decide on what you want? Our round-up of the best travel mugs can help you find what you're looking for.

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    Best Gift That Keeps Giving: Amazon Prime

    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. The student membership is $6.49 a month or $49 for the year.. 

    For those who are graduating school, you can buy them the regular Amazon Prime subscription which costs $12.99 a month or $99 for the year.