High school graduation is a big deal. Not only is it a culmination of 13 years in school, it’s rite of passage into the real world. From here on out, they’re on their own — whether that’s college or starting a career. If you’re a parent, family member or close friend, it’s appropriate to give your graduating senior a gift. We researched hundreds of ideas and identified 41 quality picks. We also included some gifting etiquette and advice.
A life-long keepsake, this chrome ballpoint pen includes two lines of engraving at no extra charge. Add your graduate’s name on one line, and “Class of 20XX” on the second line — or get creative. The 100% metal pen has a heavy, quality feel for a relatively modest price.
As a newly minted high school graduate, living space and transport time are precious commodities. The folding bike will fit in a dorm room and allow him or her to zip around town without racking up excessive Uber fees. We recommend this model from Schwinn that comes with a lifetime warranty.
A quality, slim and portable laptop that will last your graduate through college is a gift that will end up paying for itself. Recommended by PC Magazine editors as a top choice for college students, the ASUS VivoBook (pictured here) is an excellent choice. Comes in a couple different cool color combo choices.
If your graduate already has a laptop, don’t forget about a good printer. College dorms are small, so consider something compact like this LaserJet Pro from HP. It claims to be the world’s smallest in its class. It’s wireless and includes scanning functionality, which comes in handy for emailing documents.
What is jr. going to do when mom and dad are no longer around to help? Let a smart speaker take care it. A nice little Bluetooth speaker in its own right, this Echo Dot will play games, answer questions and read the news — among many other skills.
This high quality, Italian leather-banded watch is engraved with the words “live your legacy” on the back. An inspiring message for a new graduate. Available in various colors and band styles to suite your graduate’s unique personality.
This inspirational starburst charm necklace comes attached to a card that reads “Get ready to accomplish the incredible. You can do whatever you set your heart and mind to. Wear your necklace as a reminder that you are capable of anything you imagine.” A great gift for your graduating niece or sister
This classic-styled pocket watch by Speidel is a timeless gift your graduate will treasure. A great gift from grandfathers to their grandsons, its brushed satin surface is ready to be engraved by your local shop.
This lovely, vintage-style box from J Devlin Glass Art can be personalized with up to three lines of text, such as name, school and graduating class year. A place to store special trinkets and jewelry.
For a graduate who’s an artistic and creative soul, consider this genuine leather notebook where he or she can begin chronicling new life experiences. Comes with a high end metal pen and 240 pages of non-bleed through paper. Packaged in a nice gift box.
A great group game that isn’t overly complicated, Ticket to Ride is perfect for a casual college evening with friends. Roll the dice and test your luck at building the longest railroad. With some strategic thinking and luck, you’ll be on your way.
A must have for any Game of Thrones fan, this quality leather wallet is printed with the Westeros map from the series. For $5 additional, a name or initials can be added to the wallet. A wonderfully unique gift as he charts his course in the real game of life.
Made from genuine split cow leather, this smart-looking wallet comes with free laser engraving of up to three initials. You’ll appreciate the attention to detail including a small zippered pouch, credit card slots, all in an economically slim design. A great idea for your grandson or nephew.
Available in five different metal choices, seven finishes, and a variety of fonts, this is your chance to build a truly unique gift your graduate will keep for life. Also includes the option to engrave state shapes, to help your graduate remember where he or she is from.
This detailed, sterling silver owl charm is sure to delight. It fits on Pandora bracelets and several other brands such as Angemiel. Inside is a beautiful pendant that radiates sparkle.
This versatile, well-made carrying bag can be transformed from backpack to messenger bag. Comes with a padded section for your laptop. Available in 11 different fabric styles. If traveling, it’s large enough for three days of clothes.
These designer wireless headphones from Apple will keep your graduate jamming to tunes, whether out running or in studying. Cut the cords and free up with these great little ear buds.
Buy some insurance against noisy roommates and dormitory chaos with a pair of quality, noise-canceling headphones. You’ll be shocked at how well these cans block distracting sounds. Will allow your graduate to concentrate on getting his or her homework done with audiophile style.
This mini cookbook is the perfect dorm room pocket guide for a hungry college student. Includes ideas for study snacks, dinners with your dorm makes, and more. Includes recipes that work even if you just have a common-area microwave and electric tea pot.
A must-have for the newly oven-less graduate, an electric kettle will ensure your graduate remains hydrated, warm and cozy in his or her know environment. The cordless version pictured here is backed by a 1-year warranty.
A compendium of quotes from Dr. Seuss’s best works, from The Cat and the Hat to Oh the Places You’ll Go! Wonderful, funny way to set your graduate on his or her way with some sage, yet humorous advice as he or she exits high school.
I think I can, I think I can…remember The Little Engine That Could? This is a follow up on the famous children’s book targeted to graduates. Offers motivation to keep going no matter what life throws at you.
If your graduate is traveling to a new location, make sure he or she is prepared to return home with a quality carry on bag. We recommend this hard-shelled suitcase with a TSA-friendly lock to ensure all prized possessions are safe and sound.
An edgy card game that’s popular with college students, Cards Against Humanity will make your graduate the center of the party. A fun gift from an older bother to a high school graduate.
Patrice Banks was, like most of us, skeptical of auto maintenance. But after working as an engineer for over a decade, she’s started an organization called Girls Auto Clinic. The goal is to give women to confidence and motivation to take care of their cars. She’s been featured on CBS, The Oprah Magazine and more. A great gift for the high school grad who will be driving on her own.
For the STEM-focused graduate, consider this fun periodic table t-shirt for “senior 2019.” Available in five colors and in both men and women’s sizes.
This motivational t-shirt is printed with words such as “powerful,” “confident,” “versatile” and “queen.” Overlaid on a lovely facial profile, it’s the perfect gift for a young woman embarking on her dreams.
A practical gift your graduate is sure to appreciate, this portable charger stores 3.5x charges allowing freedom to travel without worry about power outlets. Great for airplane rides, road trips and emergency situations such as power outages.
The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into in College gives your graduating senior the down and dirty on college life. From the party scene to personal finances, you’ll be glad you read this book before jumping off the deep end.
What appears to be a dictionary is actually a safe. Wherever he or she is moving next, don’t leave valuables exposed to theft. Add it to the bookshelf for peace of mind and an intellectual touch to one’s decor.
This fabulous little vintage metal fan will keep air circulating and stagnant smells to a minimum in the new dorm or apartment. Avoid the generic fans for sale at department stores and surprise him or her with this stylish gem.
Graduating from high school can on one hand be exhilarating, but also a bit terrifying. Help your graduate connect with stories from humans facing all kinds of unknowns. The New York Times says
“They are stories that attest to the startling varieties and travails of human experience.”
Add some style and sweet-scented air to your graduate’s new home. This hybrid humidifier and essential oil diffuser will turn a dingy dorm room into an oasis of serenity.
Help her look great and organized as she heads out into the world with this top-rated makeup bag. Fits all the essentials, giving her the portability she needs for a more transient lifestyle. Comes with a lifetime guarantee, not that you’ll need it.
This touching, inspirational card includes the following: “Never underestimate all the wonderful things you are capable of, the impact of your dreams and ideas, your uniqueness, and all you have to offer the world.” A great card for your son, daughter, grandson or granddaughter.
Freshman year is a make it or break it year for many. Help your graduate get on the right path with this insightful, compassionate guide to everything from studying to socializing. It addresses many concerns graduating high school students have, giving them the confidence to face freshman year head on.
This hilarious card reads “Nobody is better at graduating than you. All the other graduations are a total disaster compared to yours. Everyone agrees, believe me.” Sound like someone we know? A great card from siblings, friends, or that funny uncle.
Put your child’s achievement in perspective with a picture frame comparing their days of school with a grown up graduation shot. Made from two tone aluminum, this quality frame is built to be a life-long keepsake.
Help him get ready for professional life with this quality set of ties, cuff links, pocket squares and tie clips. All neatly packaged in a gift-ready box and available in three different styles.
Your graduate will get a total kick out of this funny pillow imploring him or her to give mom a call. Designed and made in North Carolina, the pillows are top quality, hopefully increasing the chances the message will be heeded.
Wherever your graduate is headed next, he or she might benefit from a little organizational help. With limited space in college dorm rooms and shared spaces, a shower caddy is a great way to keep the cleaning routine going without a hitch.
I’ve been invited to a graduation ceremony/party, do I need to bring a gift?
If you choose to attend a graduation, it is good etiquette to bring a gift and a card. Even if you can’t make it, it’s recommended (though not necessary) to mail the graduate a gift. Unlike other occasions, it’s okay if the gift isn’t right on time so don’t sweat it.
Gift card or physical gift?
A physical gift is a nice way for your graduating senior to remember you by as he or she embarks on a new life phase. This could be combined with a gift card if the gift is small. But if you’re really at a loss, a gift card and a card is perfectly appropriate. If you’re paying more than $50 for a gift, a gift card is not expected.
How much money should I spend?
As a general rule, we suggest parents and grandparents spend $75+. Aunts and uncles should spend $50+. Others can spend in the neighborhood of $25, but more is certainly appropriate depending on your means and relationship to the graduate.
Should I personalize the gift?
If you’re a parent or grandparent, it’s a nice idea to give a personalized gift the graduate can keep through his or her life. For guys we recommend watches and for girls bracelets. Personalized pens are also a good choice.
What’s a good graduation gift from parents?
Parents often give both a personal token gift (like a bracelet) as well as a practice gift to help their graduate get off on the right footing (such as a laptop).
What’s a good graduation gift from grandparents?
As a grandparent, it’s also appropriate to give a personalized memento. Make sure you coordinate with the parents on this. As the wise elder, books are also appreciated.
What’s a good graduation gift from aunts and uncles?
Nieces will love a little charm pendant and/or bracelet, while nephews will enjoy anything ranging from a board game to an monogrammed wallet.
What gifts should I avoid?
This depends on who is giving. In general, we recommend staying away from certain restaurant/movie gift cards or other local gifts that your graduate may not be able to use in a new location. Additionally, we advise staying away from cheap costume jewelry under $25 no matter how pretty it looks online.
You might also be interested in our year-end gift ideas for teachers.