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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.
Apple 16-inch MacBook Pro (i9, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD)
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 Waffle Robe
A robe might be something a young grad may scoff at, but once they feel the softness of Parachute’s waffle robe? They’ll thank you for this gift. The texture 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, tan, or gray and is easy to care for with simple machine washing.
Mark & Graham Rustic Leather Catchall Tray
Encourage a bit of organization with this trio of catchall trays from Mark & Graham. The genuine leather trays range from six to eight inches and are the perfect sizes for a bedside table, entryway, or a desk. You can even add a monogram for a truly personalized gift.
Instant Pot Duo Crisp + Air Fryer 11-in-1 (8 Quart)
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. Or pop on the air fryer lid to fry up some wings or french fries without the unhealthy oils. The pot can hold eight quarts, which is perfect for cooking for more than one person or a big batch so there are leftovers.
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.
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 for them. The book can start at 40 pages or go up to 210. The fabric book cover truly makes this look like an expensive coffee table book that’s beautiful to display.
Milk Bar Bakery Gift Box
Few people will turn down a sweet treat, especially if it’s from Milk Bar. The sampler box has a little bit of everything to satisfy every taste. The bin includes two 3-packs of truffles, a slice of piece, and an assortment of six cookies. These are yummy treats for a celebration or any day of the week.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic Instant Film
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.
Amazon Prime Subscription
For the graduate moving away or into a new home, you might want to think about getting them an Amazon Prime membership which comes with perks like free two-day shipping, unlimited photo storage, video streaming, and more. A membership makes it easy for your grad to order any necessities or just fun items and receive them in practically no time.
Beats Solo3 Wireless On-Ear 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.
Harry & David Trophy Bouquet Graduation
After succeeding in school, your grad is more than deserving of a trophy. And this one from Harry & David is actually a trophy with an arrangement of colorful carnations, daisies, and more. Even after the bouquet is gone, the 8 x 6-inch “You’re the Best” trophy can stick around.
Contigo AUTOSEAL West Loop Vaccuum
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, and it will keep cold beverages cold for 12 hours and hot beverages warm for five hours. Also, cleaning is a breeze as the wide opening makes it easy to get into all of the nooks and crannies.
Miady 2-Pack 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, 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.
Nordstrom 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 a Nordstrom 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 they 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.
Etsy Funny Graduation Card
Gifting money 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.
What To Look for in a Graduation Gift
The first and most important thing to think about when purchasing a graduation gift is considering your grad's likes and interests. If they're a budding coffee aficionado, get them a coffee machine. If they love to travel, consider getting them a nice weekender bag. Thoughtful gifts are often the most valued ones.
Before purchasing a graduation gift, think about where the graduate is going. If they're headed to a new job across the country, get them something small that they can easily pack. If they're continuing on to more schooling, consider a thoughtful, study-friendly gift, like over-the-ear headphones. If they're not sure what's next, consider getting them the most flexible gift of them all—cash.
Of course, you'll need to consider the cost of your graduation gift too. If you're trying to keep costs low, consider going in on a group gift with friends or purchasing something more budget-friendly like a candle or gift basket. Want to go all out? Get them a gift they'll remember, such as a MacBook Pro.
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
This roundup was written by Patrice J. Williams, who has contributed gift guides to The Spruce since 2020. She loves helping her friends and family find unique, thoughtful, and wallet-friendly presents. For this article, she researched popular gifts and favorites from top-rated brands to select the perfect graduation presents. Additional reporting was done by Rabekah Henderson, a freelance design and decor writer whose work has appeared on MyDomaine, Atomic Ranch, Cary Magazine, and American Farmhouse Style.