8 Practical and Sentimental Graduation Gift Ideas

Whether your graduate is finishing high school, college, graduate school, or a professional degree, the days after graduation can be a very scary time. When considering the graduate in your life, it’s best to pick graduation gifts that will help them feel loved and supported so that they are able to face the challenges of the unknown days ahead with confidence. Do you remember what it was like to be a new grad? Try and think of what the most memorable gifts you received were. Consider some of these practical and sentimental ideas to figure out what your grad would appreciate most.

  1. Decorations for their dorm or first apartment. Anytime you move to a new place, it can be hard to really make it feel like home. Filling it up with some personalized decorations is a good way to make the place feel homier, more welcoming, and more personal. Instead of plain old posters, consider things like framed artwork, framed albums or rare posters, photo collages, wall hangings, tapestries, paper lanterns, wall flags, etc. When picking a gift like this, consider the graduate’s personal taste and favorite colors.
  2. A grown-up kit: A new laundry basket, laundry detergent, rolls of quarters, cooking utensils and kitchen staples, and office supplies. These are simple things that the graduate might not think of on their own, so they will be grateful once they realize how necessary these items are.
  3. A How-To manual authored by you. Consider all of the things they may never have had to do on their own before and write up instructions. Be sure to include a table of contents! Write-ups might include: how to change a tire, how to remove mold in the bathroom, how to get out tough laundry stains, how to balance your checkbook, and how to handle your insurance.
  4. A donation towards some upcoming expense. This could include help with insurance bills, loan payments, first month’s rent, gas money, and groceries. Especially for the graduate who will be out on their own for the first time, these kinds of gifts will be greatly appreciated. If you don’t like the idea of just giving a check, buy some small gift that relates to the donation you want to make. For a donation to car insurance, place the check inside the trunk of a little model car. For a donation to the rent, include a check in a house warming basket that also includes items like a plunger, dish washing detergent, a small trashcan, etc.
  5. A bigger gift for their new home. A vacuum cleaner, a fancy trash can for the kitchen, a nice chair or nice pillows for the living room, a nice sheet or blanket set, towels, a nice shower curtain, bath supplies, and other little decorative items.
  6. A nice piece of jewelry. It’s traditional that a graduate will get a class ring, so you could always help the graduate pay for that. If the graduate doesn’t want a class ring, you could consider another nice item like a watch, a small necklace, pearl or gemstone earrings, or nice cufflinks for the men. If the graduate is in a fraternity, sorority, or honor society, you could get jewelry that compliments that. You can also get commemorative jewelry with the school logo or mascot included.
  7. Some of your time! If you’re someone close to the graduate, like a parent or grandparent, schedule a nice trip with the graduate. Take them some place they’ve been wanting to go, plan a nice dinner, and come up with some interesting activities. If your graduate is on their way to a new job, this may end up being one of their last opportunities to have a fun vacation before work starts! Alternatively, if you work in an industry that interests thm, offer to spend some time just talking to the graduate about that. Take them out to lunch or invite them to attend a day at work with you to see what it’s like. Answer their questions and be ready with lots of helpful hints to get the graduate planning for a career in your industry.
  8. Items that will be useful for them in their new venture: a bike if they will be moving around a new city frequently or a nice bike helmet, a nice overnight bag for the frequent traveler, a nice article of clothing or a nice accessory for the workplace, a gadget that will be useful to them, a computer bag, a briefcase, a nice purse or backpack, journals, and nice pens.

Helping Your Graduate

Spending a bit of time planning and considering some thoughtful gifts for the graduate in your life can have a big impact on how the graduate goes out into the world. Help them leave the nest and get acclimated to their new life feeling confident, encouraged, and prepared! Try to remember how you felt when you embarked on a new chapter of your life and think of what helped you transition well.

Emily Smith
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  1. As a 2015 graduate I definitely agree that either spending time with me or helping me with getting my life started are very important gifts. Just remember, that some graduates will already have some of the common household items if they already lived away!

  2. Great ideas here! I just received a couple of announcements and I was looking for some ideas. Thanks! I think I do a gift basket with money or gift cards.

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