Ten Gift Ideas

10 Inspirational Graduation Gift Ideas

graduate hugging her parent

Whether it’s from your local high school or you’ve completed a college degree, making it onto the stage on graduation day is a major accomplishment.

Did you know that 30% of students won’t even make it past their first year of college? Similarly, may students place college on pause for work or other obligations and never come back, or are forced to leave high school for various of reasons.

No matter which institution you are a part of, graduation is an important occasion—it marks the culmination of all of your academic accomplishments and shows that you have the dedication and the drive to see through your commitments. The more diplomas and degrees you have, be it from high school or college, the more likely you are to find a job that pays better.

If a spouse or a loved one has a graduation day coming up, it’s customary to give them a gift to show your support for their efforts and recognize the hard work they’ve put into earning their degrees. So before you watch someone walk down the aisle, make sure you have a gift in hand that’s sure to inspire them.

We’ve put together our top ten picks for best inspirational graduation gift ideas. We’ll also be going over what you need to look for in a graduation gift as well as tips and tricks for making sure your pick gets the right message across.

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What To Look For in A Graduation Gift


Graduation gifts are a lot like other non-annual milestone gifts, like a retirement gift. Meaning that you often need to fulfill a need for the person in mind rather than shower them with gifts that may or may not be useful for their rapidly changing environment.

Still confused? Ask yourself the following questions to try and sort out which types of gifts are going to fit for your specific graduate:

  • ​Have I purchased a gift for this graduate before?
  • ​Will this graduate be relocating on account of their diploma or degree?
  • ​Does this graduate need something for their home?
  • ​Can I be there to give the gift in person?

​That last question is especially important to answer due to the underlying social duties bound to graduation time.

Often, graduates will invite many members of their immediate and extended families to their graduations. At least in America, you are either expected to arrive and present a gift in person or send money instead of your absence.

While different families and subcultures may approach this practice differently, it is worth considering whether or not a gift will be necessary in the first place.

If your graduate is finishing up their college diploma, they may be moving from the luxury of a loan-subsidized housing setup to their very own place or apartment that will be covered by entry-level wages.

If that doesn’t sound like a pleasant transition, it’s because it’s not. Graduates already find it difficult to land a job in their chosen fields and will need significant financial help in the first few months to figure out a work-life balance and get everything squared away.

Which is exactly why we recommend figuring out if a cash gift is going to be more valuable to your graduate than any other item. While a small gift or card is always appreciated, if you’re going to be mailing in your chosen item, you may want to stick to the socially-accepted cash reward and know that your new graduate may be able to put money to good use over any gift.

​How We’ve Chosen Our Gifts

​That all being said, if you’re still confident that a graduation gift is necessary and that you want something that’s inspiring, our top ten gift list compiles many possible options.

We’ve taken the time to choose gifts that both appeal to the greatest amount of people as well as appeal to graduates of different backgrounds and creeds.

​Top 10 Graduation Gifts

​While one of these gifts may be perfect for your graduate, not all of them will be; which is why it’s especially important that you take the time to answer our above questions and consider whether or not a specific gift is going to be a good idea.

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​Many graduates will be moving from buffet-style cafeteria food to the cold reality of their kitchen. To help them along with the practice of cooking their meals, why not gift them a solid set of cookware.

Products like the one we’ve chosen here will give your recent graduate the tools necessary to cook just about any meal. Whether or not they’ll commit to cooking them, however, is anyone’s guess.

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​Appeal to your graduate’s creative side with a gift that doubles as a fixture as well as a gathering place.

For record collectors, a good portable record player like the one we’ve chosen will give your graduate’s new place a bit of flair. Graduates can collect their favorite records, and if you have any, you may be able to help them start out their new collection with a handful of your picks.

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​Whether your high school graduate is moving into a dormitory or your college graduate is moving to the big city, we can think of many scenarios in which a sleep mask could come in handy.

Sleep masks will block out the light from annoying roommates and nearby streetlights. Some sleep masks also come with earplugs to ensure that there’s nothing separating your graduate from a night of sleep whenever they lay down to rest.

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​Wherever your graduate is off to, why not encourage them to remain introspective by purchasing them a journal?

Journals allow people time to reflect upon the things they’re up. Journals can also be used to document late nights and fun adventures that they may not ever want to forget.

Whatever your graduate does with a journal, ensure that they have a high-quality product like the one we’ve chosen here so that they can look back in fondness at this period in their lives whenever they’d like.

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​Your graduate may be swapping out the halls classes for subways and trains. To help them carry the materials necessary for their new job whether they end up, why not give them a high-quality bag?

Messenger bags like the one we’ve chosen here give graduates the comfort of using a product that makes them feel less like a student and more like an adult. Plus, messenger bags can be easily used as carry-on bags for travels and other adventures your graduate may find themselves on.

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​While this gift may be a half-measure between a gift and straight cash, we think that your graduate may have a better idea of what they may want than you would. Therefore, why not give them the power to pick out the gift that’s best for them?

Gift cards from online realtors like Amazon make it easy for graduates to order the supplies they need and have them delivered straight to their door. Likewise, you can also pick out gift cards to their favorite restaurants, stores, and other places.

Gift cards make great gifts for friends and family members that may not be especially close to the graduate or won’t be able to arrive in person to see the graduate off.

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​The odds are high that your graduate may be moving into white collar work. If so, why not help them start out on the right foot by giving them a gift that they’ll use daily?

Desk organizers are great for graduates who are moving from the dorm to the cubicle. They allow for easy organization of papers, forms, essays, and other materials, and are also great for the increasing number of graduates working from the comfort of their own home.

In either case, we’re confident that your graduate could (or at least should) find a use for a desk organizer, at home or work.

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​Your graduate may no longer be able to use their parent’s utility closet materials, such as a way to iron their clothes. Likewise, jeans and a t-shirt may not be appropriate dress for the kind of job they may be entering.

This is where a portable iron comes in. These small but powerful devices allow your graduate to quickly prepare for work or a personal fashion emergency. Plus, they tend to make great travel companions for when your graduate needs to travel for work, business, or pleasure.

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​While your graduate may be leaving behind the nightlife of their college town, they will still most likely be hosting friends or family members over. Whiskey stones like the ones we’ve picked out here give you to the opportunity to give your graduate a gift that makes them feel more like the adult that they’ve become.

Giving literal meaning to “on the rocks,” whiskey stones are re-usable rocks that can be chilled and placed into a beverage instead of ice. While these make great gifts for the mixologists in your family, just be sure that the person you’re giving this gift to is of age to properly use them.

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​Whether your new graduate is heading off to college or off to peruse their career, a few all-nighters are to be expecting in the first few months. To help them make it through finals season or a long day or work, consider purchasing them a coffee maker.

Standard drip coffee makers have never been easier to use or less expensive. Plus, students will appreciate having the ability to drink coffee that didn’t come from an old pot in the cafeteria.

​Buyer’s Guide

graduation cap and diploma

​As you can see, most of our graduation gift ideas fit a theme.

Most graduates aren’t looking to collect many items of little sentimental value or products that will only take up room in new homes and apartments. Appeal to your graduate by giving them a gift that isn’t flashy or big, but one that’s genuinely useful.

Be sure to find the product that meets the biggest need in your graduate’s life—even if that means skipping the gift plan entirely and going straight for cash.

Your graduate will be more appreciative of gifts that they can use over gifts that may have been more expensive.

Likewise, it may be worth speaking to the graduate’s parents or loved ones to see what sorts of gifts they’ve picked out for the recent graduate. This practice can help eliminate the risk of purchasing a duplicate product. It may also give you an opportunity to uncover which gift is desired but hasn’t been purchased yet.

So no matter where your graduate is off to, we hope that you send them off right with a gift that’s going to help them and inspire them all the same. You can appeal to the more artistic side of graduates by going for customized journals or records, or the more sensible by going for cookware and coffee makers.

No matter what, pick out the gift that makes the most sense for your graduate and includes a card that can inspire them and show them that you care. Now more than ever, your graduate may need some words of encouragement as they go off to take care of themselves and take on life with as much vim and vigor as you may have.

And as they do so, you can hope that your gift can play a small part in their large and bright future.

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