17 Thoughtful Gift Ideas For Graduates

By: Elesha Piper


Graduation is a time to congratulate the new grad in your life on all their years of hard work! Whether you want to set them up for college life or give them something sentimental to cherish, we’ve got you sorted with one of these can't-go-wrong graduation gift ideas.

A duffel bag

A stylish duffel bag makes a useful gift for the college-bound student. Duffels take up less room than the traditional luggage set, making it easier to squeeze into compact spaces of a dorm. Great for toting items like linens etc. off to college and then used for weekend trips back home. Check out Travel + Leisure's range of the best rolling duffel bags and backpacks.

Noise cancelling headphones

Dorm life will be full of noise and distractions, making it a tough gig to study or just find some alone time to recharge. Noise cancelling headphone are the perfect solution for a grad to listen to tunes or study in peace, no matter how rowdy things are getting around them. Here are 2017’s best noise cancelling headphonesaccording to Techradar.

Monthly gift subscription box

Monthly subscription boxes have snowballed in popularity, you won’t be short on ideas to gift your grad a little surprise each month. Fun, practical or both, this will be a treat to look forward to. Popular choices from Cratejoy include Boomtown Box for lovers of the outdoors, My Reward Box for the gals and Hawaii’s Coffee Tour for caffeine lovers.

T-shirt blanket

Leaving high school means saying farewell to teams and clubs a grad has been a part of for years. It can be tough! Collect up all their sporting or club shirts and have a t-shirt blanket made. It’s a wonderful way to stitch all those memories together, literally, into a quilt for the dorm room. Just make sure you get their permission first, they may want to keep some shirts in 1 piece!

Inspirational print

Your grad can hang an inspiration print on the wall or prop it up on the desk. A beautiful way to brighten a dorm room, it’s also a daily dose of encouragement and a reminder to go out there at get ‘em! Behold, fabulous print ideas from Etsy.com.


Where would students be without caffeine? A personal coffee maker will be a welcome gift to fuel those all-night study sessions. Single serve coffee capsules are the easiest way to make a cup in the comfort of a dorm room. Paper due tomorrow? Let’s do this!

Yearly planner / organizer

College life will be busy. There will be a bunch of new activities and deadlines to keep track of. Help them stay organized with a beautiful planner to make jotting down important dates, goals and to-do list a pleasure. You can even gift a personalized planner.

Basic tool set

Super practical, this gift that will come in handy when assembling any flat pack furniture for their new dorm, saving them from having a #flatpackbreakdown.  We’ve all been there, it’s not pretty.

A small, handy toolset is also a budget friendly gift option.

Engraved jewelry

This classic graduation gift will never go out of style. Have a ring, necklace or watch engraved with the date of graduation or another sentimental note. Or give a piece of family heirloom jewelry for a truly meaningful congratulations.

Apple Watch Series 3

An alternative to the more sentimental watch, an Apple Watch Series 3  will help keep your grad healthy, organized and connected with a bunch of tech capabilities and apps. The Series 3 has a big focus on health and wellness tracking, perfect for a fitness lover or gym bunny.


Give them an early sense of control over their financial health by gifting stocks. Stockpile makes giving stocks incredibly easy. Gift cards - printable, plastic or email versions - are available to gift stocks up to the value of $2000. A nice way to give your grad a financial head start and get younger investors excited about the markets.

Luxury linen

Beautiful bed linen will add a touch of luxury to a rough and ready dorm room. Add towels, face cloths and a linen basket to round this gift out for ultimate practicality with a touch of luxury. If your grad would rather choose their own, a Brooklinen gift card is the answer.

On campus gift cards

If the college your grad is off to has a store on campus, a gift card will come in handy for any college supplies once they arrive, food, coffee, books etc. or as a little extra spending ‘mad money’.


Cash will always be a popular gift choice! Don’t just hand a wad of bills over- get creative and slip the cash (or a check) between the pages of a thoughtful book.  It could lean towards ‘self-help’ topics or something to complement their studies. If you're stuck for ideas, here’s the book that Bill Gates suggests every graduate read. Or take your pick of these 11 must reads for high school grads.

Diffuser and essential oils

Uplifting or calming fragrances can do wonders to help your grad get settled into a new environment. Gift a diffuser and selection of luxury essential oils, choosing scents that help with focus to study or relieve tension headaches are a great idea too. The VicTsing oil diffuser gets rave reviews and doTERRA is your one-stop shop for essential oils.


If the budget will stretch for a big ticket item, a new laptop will undoubtedly be a hit for the graduating teen. Add a designer laptop sleeve as the cherry on top of this ultimate graduation gift.  Check out these sleek options from Elle.com for laptop cases every graduate would be happy to tote around.

DIY gift basket filled with essentials

Get creative and assemble your own ‘college care package’ filled with a bunch of stuff, practical and fun, your grad will love. As always, you can rely on Pinterest for a bunch of inspiration - check out hundreds of ideas of what to include in a personalized college care package and college survival kits!

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