Looking for the perfect gift for a guy graduating from high school? 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 quality picks guys will love. 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 his 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 his dorm room and allow him to zip around town without racking up excessive Uber fees. We recommend this model from Schwinn that comes with a lifetime warranty.
The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream
Internationally renown author Paulo Coelho tells the story of an Andalusian shepherd who dreams to find the world’s treasures. His quest takes him on an adventure of self-discovery, where he finds himself re-thinking what’s really important by listening to his heart.
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.
Help your new graduate get around town quickly without wasting all his money on ride sharing and expensive electric scooters. This top-rated HUDORA model is made from durable, rust-free aluminum with large wheels to make bumps easier.
Compact Wireless Printer
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 junior 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.
Live Your Legacy Watch
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 his unique personality.
Give him a college-ready backpack upgrade with this water-resistant, laptop optimized bag complete with USB charger access. Versatile enough for weekend trips, internships and everyday classroom use.
Engravable Pocket Watch
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.
Leatherbound Daily Notepad & Pen
For a graduate who’s an artistic and creative soul, consider this genuine leather notebook where he can begin chronicling new life experiences or just sketch. Comes with a high end metal pen and 240 pages of non-bleed through paper. Packaged in a nice gift box.
Ticket to Ride
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.
Personalized Game of Thrones Map Wallet
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.
Monogrammed Leather Wallet
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.
Convertible Messenger Bag/Backpack
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 him 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 him to concentrate on getting his 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 new 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 way with some sage, yet humorous advice as he 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 he is traveling to a new location, make sure he 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.
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.
Portable Phone Charger
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 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 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.”
Ultrasonic Humidifier/Essential Oil Diffuser
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.
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.
The Freshman Survival Guide
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 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 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 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 life. For guys we recommend watches. Personalized pens are also a good choice.
What’s a good graduation gift from parents?
Parents often give both a personal token gift (such as a backpack) 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?
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.