Graduation Gifts for College-Bound Grandchildren

Some Practical Choices and Some Just For Fun

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There's nothing like a grandchild's high school graduation to evoke mixed feelings. Proud grandparents may also feel a little sad, knowing that this is the beginning of a journey that may take their grandchild miles away. On this day, you will want to give a gift just as awesome as the occasion. These gifts are based on the expectation that the graduate will be going to college, but many of them will work for someone entering the work force, too. See Also: Gifts for College Graduates

  • 01 of 10
    cruiser bike gift for grandchild
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    It would nice to give a grandchild a shiny new automobile, but most grandparents can't afford it. You can still give your grandchild some wheels. A bicycle is a practical way of getting around a college campus, but you'll also need to know something about the terrain at the campus that your grandchild will be attending. (That's another good reason to go on a college visit with your grandchild!) You'll also need to know what is "in," unless your grandchild is one who...MORE doesn't mind standing out in a crowd. Cruiser bikes are popular on most college campuses, but "fixies" -- fixed wheel bikes -- are hot in some areas. 

  • 02 of 10
    luggage as gift for graduating grandchild
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     You don't want your grandchild to be the one toting everything back and forth from campus in a plastic bag. A spiffy new luggage set will prevent that ignominy. If you want something unusual, a company named Moierg makes beautiful vintage-look bags that will be sure to get your college student lots of second looks. Besides the trunk boxes pictured, the company also makes rolling trolleys. My traveling granddaughter likes hard shell luggage, but hard shell sets don't always nest. Nesting...MORE is better for campus storage, so you might opt for soft sides. 

  • 03 of 10
    skateboard for graduation gift for grandchild
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    The popularity of skateboards for tooling around campus is exploding. Up until now, the debate has been between penny skateboards, which are short but inexpensive and almost indestructible, and longboards, the classic for city cruising. Now Penny Skateboards has a model that's the best of both worlds. As with bikes, however, don't buy one without consulting your grandchild, as each type of skateboard has its own devotees.

  • 04 of 10
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    The bungee chair is an updated version of the ever-popular papasan chair. Because the seat is made of a stretchy material, it goes flat when not being used and can easily be folded and placed in a closet or against a wall. That makes it a great choice for college dormitories and apartments. Teens love them for gaming — I mean, for studying! It's a budget-friendly gift choice, too, so you can afford to purchase a pair. 

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  • 05 of 10
    coffee maker for grandchild's dorm or apartment
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    The flexibility of this coffee maker by Cuisinart makes it a perfect choice for dorms and apartments. The thermal pot keeps coffee warm without a warming plate, which some dorms forbid. This system uses regular ground coffee with cone filters, so there's no K-cup waste. Your grandchild will also be able to get hot water on demand for tea, hot chocolate or instant soup. 

  • 06 of 10
    noise-cancelling headphones for college-bound grandchildren
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    These noise-cancelling headphones will enable your grandchild to shut out dorm din or allow for catching a nap on a plane. They are wireless for tangle-free use. Controls on the earpieces let users reduce the volume and allow outside sounds in, so it's not necessary to take the headphones off to have a conversation. This version by Plantronics can be used with all smart devices, so there's no excuse for missing a call from Grandma! Oh, and the dual built-in mics allow for easy Skyping...MORE with Grandpa

  • 07 of 10
    took kit for grandchild graduating from high school
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     Part of "adulting" is being able to fix a few things, and it's hard to do that without the proper tools. This kit by Apollo has the tools most often used, such as hammer, tape measure, pliers and screwdrivers, along with others not commonly seen in kits, such as a hacksaw. The tools come in a handy molded carrying case. If your grandchild is more likely to be working on a laptop than hanging a picture, you can buy similar sets that are geared for electronics repair. 

  • 08 of 10
    laundry sorter for high school graduation
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     Okay, this gift won't be right for everyone. But if you have a graduate who likes everything tidy and well-organized, this item could be just the ticket. Three sorting bags can be lifted out for easy transporting to the laundry room. The fold-down table can be used as an ironing board or as a surface for folding. The unit folds up for easy moving in and out of the dorm. 

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  • 09 of 10
    Go Pro Camera gift for graduate
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     All work and all play will make your grandchild dull, so give a gift for out-of-class fun. GoPro video cameras are especially great for adventurous grandchildren who like to bike, swim and ski, but they are also good for recording more mundane activities such as cooking. As one user remarked, a GoPro makes things that aren't cool look cool. Pictured is the compact Hero Session, but there are models for less and models with more features and a higher price tag.

  • 10 of 10
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    Your grandchildren rely on their smartphones for so much, and you don't want them walking around campus with a dead battery. That's why they (and you) will love this OLALA portable battery charger. It will charge their devices several times before it needs recharging. And when that occurs, it can be plugged into a wall outlet for a fast reboot. Apple certified, it can also be used for Android phones.

Sometimes the best gifts aren't found in stores. Don't overlook other options that will also be hits with a graduating grandchild. You can give money. Look on Pinterest for fun ways to package the long green. Gift cards are also great. Find out which restaurants are near your grandchild's college and create a bundle to be tapped when your grandchild is tired of dorm food. You can also make a contribution to a graduation trip or fund a weekend getaway.