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college graduation

Nazareth College

  • Graduation season gives friends and family the opportunity to celebrate big milestones.
  • As a recent college graduate, I know from experience which gifts had the most impact on my life.
  • I also know which gifts I would have been happy to receive, which is why I've rounded up 38 ideas.
  • Need more gift ideas? Check out our graduation gift hub page for all relevant gift guides.

Editor's note: Graduation ceremonies across the country are being canceled and postponed due to coronavirus, but that doesn't mean students aren't still preparing to move on to the next phase of their lives. We hope this list provides some guidance for how to help them celebrate their accomplishments and smoothly transition to whatever form their next chapter may take.

The graduation season is fast approaching and, with it, the opportunity to gift a loved one something useful or celebratory as they head into a new and exciting period of life.

The next chapter is likely filled with more responsibilities and needs than they may have the budget for. As a recent graduate myself, the most thoughtful and practical gifts I received made a much-appreciated and tangible difference in my post-grad life.

The best graduation gifts will all make a difference, but they do have range - from a thoughtful commemoration of her hard work and fond memories to practical luxuries she can't quite yet afford for herself. With that in mind, I've rounded up 38 thoughtful and practical graduation gifts for her.

The top 5 graduation gifts for her:

  1. A Brooklinen gift card for nice new sheets for her adult apartment
  2. A pair of gold earrings she'll own forever
  3. A book about making the most of your twenties
  4. A nice work bag from Dagne Dover or Senreve
  5. An Amazon gift card for all the little essentials she'll need

If you're looking for more graduation gift ideas, we've got you covered:

This list includes a Sponsored Product that has been suggested by Gravity Blankets. It also meets our editorial criteria in terms of quality and value.*

A monogrammed passport cover and luggage tag for her future travels
Leatherology Deluxe Passport Cover + Luggage Tag Set graduation gifts for her


Gift the Leatherology Deluxe Passport Cover + Luggage Tag Set, $85 (+$20 for monogramming)

Hopefully, post-graduation life brings with it plenty of opportunities for travel and new adventures. Perhaps not at the moment, but certainly in the future. This leather passport cover and matching luggage tag can be functional, stylish, and sentimental pieces they travel with for a long time — especially because you can have it monogrammed, too.

A sleek laptop with a long battery life
Dell XPS 13 Laptop, graduation gift for her, graduation gift for him


Gift the Dell XPS 13 Laptop, starting at $999.99 

Screen time doesn't end after graduating from college. In some cases, it might even increase, which is why a new laptop that has a lasting battery life can be the perfect graduation gift for her. Ranked as the best laptop overall in our guide to the best laptops, this one from Dell has a polished design, a high quality screen, a long battery life, and the latest hardware.

A Birchbox subscription
birchbox new pricing 3


Gift a Birchbox subscription, from $45

In general, subscriptions are some of the best gifts that you can give. A monthly treat, especially on a tight budget, can be a really nice thing to look forward to. And every time their subscription is delivered, your giftee has a nice reminder that you care.

Birchbox is a great option, and one uniquely suited to graduates. It combines monthly deliveries of small personalized beauty and skincare samples with an easy-to-use e-commerce shop. 

You can gift a woman's subscription gift card for 3 months for $45, 6 months for $84, or a full 12 months for $156. 

An Amazon Prime membership
Amazon Prime


Gift an Amazon Prime membership (12-month), $119

An Amazon Prime membership is one of those things that immediately makes life easier and, ultimately, better. If you decide to gift one, the recipient will enjoy free two-day shipping; access to the Prime Now app, which provides free two-hour delivery on tens of thousands of items; Prime Video, Amazon's streaming video service; Prime Music; the Kindle Lending Library; Prime Reading; Prime Audible Channels; unlimited photo storage, and more. 

If you want to see how Amazon Prime ($199 for the year) actually gives you a lot more than free shipping, you can read our overview of the service here. 

The first-ever weighted robe
Gravity Blankers Modernist Robe

Gravity Blankets

Gift the Modernist X Gravity Weighted Robe, $130

For many, graduating from college comes with an increased level of stress and anxiety amidst job searches, moving, and plenty of other lifestyle changes. This weighted robe is the first of its kind, and it takes after the same technology that weighted blankets use — which has been suggested to aid in anxiety management. 

The robe features a three-pound removable weighted collar, so if they decide against the weighted technology, they can still enjoy the softness of its 100% polyester fleece material.

*Sponsored by Gravity Blankets

A Blue Apron gift card
Blue Apron groceries

Blue Apron

Gift a Blue Apron gift card, from $60

In case that cookbook isn't always the first thing they turn to after a long day, Blue Apron is one of the most helpful subscriptions to have.

Basically, they'll deliver the ingredients for a meal with detailed step-by-step instructions on how to make it. Depending on how many people the subscriber notes in their order, Blue Apron will also send the right portion size. They work directly with farmers and cut out the middlemen, so their foods are higher and fresher quality for less money on average. 

Plus, your grad can learn how to make healthy, delicious meals by doing it themselves with fresher ingredients and in a more convenient way.

A nice watch


Gift the MVMT Lexington Watch, $125

One of the perks of getting gifts, especially as a graduate, is receiving things you'll be so happy to have but might not have the funds to buy for yourself, like those Mejuri earrings. Watches are like that, too.

Traditional watches can be expensive, but startups are changing that. MVMT is probably the best-known watch industry disruptor. If you'd like to read more about the brand, we've covered them in-depth here

You can get the sort of classic, work-appropriate accessory that makes outfits look a bit more competent and established for as little as $105.

The perfectly designed work bag


Gift the Senreve Maestra, $895

The Senreve Maestra is not a cheap work bag. In fact, we thought the price was ridiculous before trying it. But, if you're looking for a big gift, this is one is worth an investment. Its design is distinctive and sharp, its organization system excellent, and it can be worn in a few different ways — as a backpack, handbag, or crossbody. The leather is stain- and water-resistant and the bag also comes with a lifetime warranty. It also comes in three sizes: the Mini ($675), Midi ($795), and the Maestra ($895), but the largest size is the only one that holds a 13-inch laptop.

A Brooklinen gift card for really nice new sheets for her adult apartment


Gift a Brooklinen gift card, from $50

Graduates will likely be moving from dorms or outgrown bedrooms to a new place that's more fundamentally 'adult,' and that calls for an upgrade in bedding. They'll probably want to pick it out for themselves, but a gift card is a perfect way to give them a luxury they'll be extremely happy to have but maybe couldn't justify just yet for themselves.

Brooklinen has quickly become one of the best-known startups offering premium bedding at affordable prices. They look great, they feel even better, and they can genuinely offer you a better night's sleep for the third of your life you spend doing just that. They're also our pick for the best luxury sheets you can buy.

You can get a Queen sheet set (flat sheet, fitted sheet, and 2 standard pillowcases) for as little as $129 altogether.

Timeless gold jewelry from an up-and-coming jewelry company
mejuri everyday fine jewlery earring gold


Gift Sapphire Twin Hoops, $190

Gift affordable fine jewelry from Mejuri

Right out of college, she may not have the budget to treat herself to some of the things that have a long lifespan in the adult world. A delicate pair of 14K solid gold hoops with sapphires ($190) can elevate an outfit (be it for work or the weekends), and it's nice to be able to show a recent grad an up-and-coming company they can return to in the future. You can also find solid gold hoops for $50 on Mejuri, and find more spots to shop for fine, affordable jewelry here.

A commemorative map of their college town
Grafomap, $49


Gift a customized Grafomap poster, from $49

Commemorate their college town, hometown, or favorite place in the world with this customizable graphic map so they can keep it with them wherever life takes them.

An instant coffee maker


Gift a Keurig coffee maker, $120

Coffee is something many of us rely on daily and don't want to spend a lot of time making. In the morning or in a rush, instant gratification is best, which is why fast coffee makers that take the hassle out of the equation are so popular. Keurig is the most seamless, standard option. If you want to get her something slightly different, check out our Buying Guide to the best coffee makers you can buy

An Amazon gift card
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Give an Amazon gift card, from $1

If what you really want to do is just give cash but are looking for a nicer equivalent, an Amazon Gift Card is a subtle way to accomplish the same freedom and utility. Amazon has virtually everything a new grad could desire (everything), so you know that no matter what, they'll be getting something they genuinely want — which, in a lot of cases, is best since they know what they need better than anyone.

A fun cookbook she will actually use
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Gift "Cravings: Recipes for All the Food You Want to Eat", $21.23

Gift "Molly on the Range: Recipes and Stories from An Unlikely Life on a Farm", $19.54

A lot of graduates are coming out of school with little knowledge of cuisine or the human palette as it pertains to tastes that are not mac and cheese or $1 pizza (yes, it exists). A cookbook is a nice way to make sure they can get off on the right foot post-graduation, maybe eating some vegetables and enjoying the activity itself rather than relying on the same cheap eats out of habit or lack of know-how.

Wine and other goodies
b let there be wine l@2x


Check out all the gifts Winc has available or send a gift card, from $60

If your graduate appreciates a glass of wine every once in awhile, the subscription service Winc might be a particularly nice gift. New members take a simple six-question survey to get a sense of their taste preferences and then receive recommendations of four bottles for their first box. From there, members can choose to continue receiving four bottles a month or skip any month without being charged. Bottles start at $13 each, and members will receive extra discounts. 

High-quality noise-canceling headphones


Gift the Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Headphones II, $249

Whether for a daily commute, plane ride, or just to throw on to enjoy music and TV shows while her roommates are asleep, you can't find a much better option than the beloved Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones. On the fancy side of things, they have three levels of world-class noise cancellation, along with Amazon's Alexa built right in. 

Books that every young adult should read


Gift "The Happiness Advantage", $11.68

Graduates are bound to be excited about the end of classes, but learning can be a lot of fun when it's self-directed and at their leisure. Having a couple of inspirational books on hand that can motivate ambition and reaffirm priorities is nice to have, even if they don't pick them up for the first month or so that they're out of school. You can be one reason why they continue to learn by gifting them one or many of the books that every young person should read, and the sooner the better.

If you want a list to start your thinking, here are 10 books that famous CEOs loved reading. If you're not in love with any of those or "The Happiness Advantage", you might find "Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office" to be another good fit. 

A bouquet of flowers
the bouqs co

The Bouqs Co.

Take a look at The Bouqs' spring flower selection, from $31

Flowers are one classic gift that will never go out of style. Send a bouquet to brighten up their living space and remind them of how proud you are. Plus, it's a pretty convenient gift to give with delivery, since neither of you will have to carry it around for the day.

You can pick out an arrangement online from about $40 and up and have it sent directly to their door, so you both get all of the sweetness without any hassle.

The Best Self Co. Journal that helps make her 10-year plan tangible

Best Self Co.

Gift the Best Self Co. Journal, $31.99

Post-college is full of a lot of fun and a lot of excitement, but many recent graduates will find that they miss the clear goals given in their 15 or so years of schooling. The Best Self Co. Journal helps people map out their five- or 10-year plans in a tangible, easily managed way. It's a nice and low-pressure way to provide growth and direction after graduation.

A fitness tracker
Fitbit Charge 3, $128


Gift the Fitbit Charge 3, $164.99

Give her a fitness wearable that will serve both as a tracker and a motivator to work out (and store up on endorphins, along with other health benefits). This one lets you choose from more than 15 exercise modes, records sleep quality, and is swim-proof and water-resistant to 50m. 

An Echo Dot
Echo Dot Gen 3


Gift an Echo Dot (3rd Gen), $24.99

This smart-home device can turn the lights on, wake you up in the morning with an alarm, set timers, report the traffic and weather, and many more helpful tasks. In essence, the Amazon Echo Dot is an easy-to-use, affordable personal assistant that will make her life more convenient.

A book about capitalizing on the huge choices you make in your twenties


Gift "The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter — And How to Make the Most of Them Now", $14.39

You make big, disproportionately impactful decisions in your twenties that affect the rest of your life. The best defense is a good offense — and she should know now, before any of them crop up, how to get the most out of her "defining decade." 

A tumbler that keeps drinks hot for hours on end
Hydro Flask, $22

Hydro Flask

Gift the Hydro Flask Stainless Steel Water Bottle, $37.95

Keep her hot drinks hot up to six hours and cold drinks cold for up to 24 hours with this double-wall, vacuum-insulated tumbler. In other words, make sure she never gets to work in the morning with a lukewarm coffee ever again — no expensive Starbucks stop necessary.

A subscription to designer clothes
Rent the Runway

Rent the Runway

Gift a month of Rent the Runway, from $69

What's better than a never-ending closet of designer clothes you could otherwise never afford? Rent the Runway allows her to cycle out tons of styles over the course of the month. It's particularly useful when you're trying to make positive first impressions at work, and need an entirely different wardrobe for the hours of life not spend in an office. Read a personal review of the service here.

A small, powerful speaker that's Amazon Alexa-enabled
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Gift a Sonos One SL wireless speaker, $179

Sonos makes some pretty great speakers, a gift recent grads would love to get because they probably couldn't afford to buy it for themselves. They work well, can be used as a sound system, and have useful features like a morning alarm that may sound more pleasant than their phone. If she's planning on entertaining friends, or just loves listening to music at home, the newest Sonos One is a great option — especially since it now connects with Amazon Alexa. You can read our full review here

A nice business card holder
leatherology $35


Gift the Leatherology Business Card Case, $45 (+$10 for monogramming)

Her company will probably give out business cards, but she's less likely to already own a business card holder she can feel good about pulling out at work, internships, or networking events. This looks polished, and Leatherology delivers orders in beautiful boxes, which doesn't hurt for gifting. You can even get the holder monogrammed.

A great, well-organized work bag

Dagne Dover

Gift Dagne Dover Legend Tote, $149

Speaking of luxuries she'll thank her lucky stars for but can't yet afford, a really nice work bag with ample organization is a must — and normally too pricey to be possible right after graduation. We're big fans of Dagne Dover, thanks to their flawless construction, high-quality materials, and next-level organization structure — and they're a cheaper option in comparison to the Senreve Maestra. You can read the full review here

A nice blazer they can keep for years to come
OfMercer PrinceBlazer Black FrontView

Of Mercer

Gift an Of Mercer blazer, from $225

A high-quality, timeless blazer is something you can add to your wardrobe at 20 and still find in your closet a couple decades later. It's one of the best and most valuable workplace buys you can make or give. You're looking at Of Mercer's "Prince Blazer" ($245) above, but there are plenty of fresh and high-quality workwear shops to browse before buying. Here's a list of our personal favorite workwear stores

A Kindle for post-grad reading
Kindle Paperwhite


Gift a Kindle Paperwhite, $129.99

Gifting a Kindle is basically like gifting graduates all the books young adults should read. Learning is an ongoing process, and graduation shouldn't be the end of it. Giving them a Kindle means they'll have the tools to keep being curious in their lives by having both the device that makes it an easy and affordable process and the reminder. Kindle Paperwhite is waterproof and has a no-glare screen even in direct sunlight. If you can spend a bit more, the Kindle Oasis ($249.99) is our top pick overall.

If they've already got a Kindle or they read on their phone or iPad, you might look into gifting them a Scribd membership (3 months for $25, 6 months for $50, or 1 year for $100). It's lesser-known than apps like Audible, but it's typically a better deal and will give them access to hundreds of thousands of books and audiobooks. 

A gentle alarm clock


Gift the Philips Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock with Sunrise Simulation, $44.95

Make the routine of waking up early every day happier and more seamless with an alarm clock that mimics the sunrise. This way, she gets the luxury of waking up somewhat naturally, rather than to the blaring of an alarm clock. Whether she loves her first job or not, it's surprisingly impactful to start every day on a nice note.

Cooking essentials
potluck utensil set


Gift the Potluck Utensil Set, $80

Take care of at least twelve things she'll need in her post-college life with a set of nice but no-frills utensils with the Utensils Set from Potluck, an up-and-coming cookware startup. This set includes mixing bowls, a colander, peeler, ladle, measuring cups, etc. 

A set of luxurious candles
otherland candles


Gift Otherland 'The Threesome' candle set, $89

Candles make any home smell great, and this fancy candle set from Otherland will look gorgeous in any room in her new apartment — and give it a cozy, recognizable scent. The set includes three coconut and soy wax blend candles in beautiful glass vessels. Each candle burns for 55 hours — that's a lot of time that she can spend enjoying this gift.

A Framebridge gift card to frame her favorite college memories
frame memories


Gift a Framebridge gift card or frame a memory for them here, from $45

Framebridge is one of our favorite photo services because they make framing your memories and pictures easier and more affordable than ever. If you want to commemorate the years they've spent in college, or, if they're going far from home for a job opportunity — frame a nice picture of their loved ones. It's thoughtful, sweet, and something they'll likely be glad to have.

Access to the best studio fitness in her city
classpass $45

ClassPass Instagram

Gift a ClassPass Gift Card, from $49

Boutique fitness classes are typically a great gift for anyone who loves staying active. They can be easier to commit to in the busy post-grad adjustment period than a gym membership. While she may not be able to use it quite yet, a gift card should be a great holdover for when she's able to get back in the gym.

ClassPass lets her try studio fitness classes in her city for lower-than-normal prices, so she can test-drive a good variety without breaking her budget eventually. She can either continue to use ClassPass herself or commit to one she found through the experience and really liked. Right now, ClassPass is also offering plenty of free classes online.

A monogrammed planner
Monogrammed planner


Gift a Moleskine Monogrammed Planner, from $7.48

Life is busy in college, and it doesn't stop being busy after graduation. Having a professional-looking, organized way to start off the year like a monogrammed Moleskine planner is a thoughtful and useful gift. It's certainly better than writing things down on the back of their hand.

A New York Times subscription

The New York Times

Gift a subscription to The New York Times for 26 weeks from $85 or one year from $143

Make sure that they have the tools to be informed about the things that matter. By gifting them a subscription to The New York Times, you're making it much more likely that they'll read about the world around them. If they're a frequent BI reader, we've also got a subscription (one year for $99) that may be particularly good for business students looking for market analysis and interviews with top industry leaders.

A toolkit, which they will undoubtedly need in "real life"


Cartman General Household Hand Tool Kit with Plastic Toolbox Storage Case, $27.99

After graduation, you enter the "real world," and the real world will include putting together furniture, Googling how to fix leaky faucets when your landlord avoids your calls, and enticing your friends with pizza to get them to help you mount your living room TV. It's not the most strictly "fun" gift, but it will absolutely be necessary. She'll be glad she has the tools to handle whatever life throws at her confidently, and since this is one gift she may not buy for herself, it makes perfect sense as a post-graduation gift.

Gift cards for every conceivable need


If she just graduated and is dealing with moving, starting a career, and furnishing a new apartment — or other trappings of a new, adult life stage — she will have more expenses than funds. Here's how to take the edge off and make sure she builds in some necessary fun. 

Everything: Visa Gift CardAmazon Gift Card / Gift Amazon Prime Membership

Coffee: Starbucks Gift Card

Entertainment: Netflix Gift Card / Hulu Gift Card / Sling Gift Card / StubHub gift card

Transportation: Uber Gift Card

Decoration: Framebridge Gift Card

Furniture: Amazon Gift CardWayfair Gift Card 

Music: Spotify Gift Card

Sheets: Brooklinen Gift Card

Groceries and food: Whole Foods Gift Card / Chipotle Gift Card

Clothes: Nordstrom Gift Card / Everlane Gift Card

Tech: Best Buy Gift Card

Travel: Southwest Airlines Gift Card

Read the original article on Business Insider