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Graduation season is officially here, and we bet you know at least one young person who's about to embark on a new chapter in life.
Whether their next move is college, the "real world” or maybe even a trip around the world, selecting the best graduation gifts doesn’t have to be tricky or expensive (and we know you can do better than just shaking their hand and sliding them a crisp $20 bill).
To help, we rounded up some awesome graduation gift ideas for any type of graduate — from coffee makers to a portable vinyl player. We even found an essential cookbook ... which could come in handy if it's their first time cooking on their own.
Best high school graduation gifts
In a few months, many high school graduates will be thrown into the world of dorms, fraternities, sororities, odd class hours, finals and every other crazy college experience. Prepare them for a new, hectic life that can sometimes be overwhelming.
Best high school graduation gifts for him
- 1. Crosley Tourmaline Cruiser Bluetooth Record Player, $69, Urban Outfitters
If you’re looking for a great graduation gift for a music lover, try a vinyl player that can easily be packed away and taken to college. Make the gift extra special by including a few of your favorite old school records.
- 2. "Wait, what? And Life's Other Essential Questions" by James E. Ryan, $10, Amazon
Written by Jim Ryan, the dean of Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, this book fosters curiosity, explores relationships and, of course, tries to figure out the key to building a deeper understanding of any given topic. The author "celebrates the art of asking — and answering — good questions."
- 3. The Casper Standard Pillow, $65, Target
A good night's sleep is an essential part of being a productive college student, and it starts with a comfortable foundation. Designed to suit any kind of sleeper, Casper's pillow is both soft and supportive.
- 4. Portable table tennis set, $31, Amazon
Who doesn’t love a spontaneous game of table tennis? Perfect for study breaks, this fun, portable set is a creative and affordable gift for any college-bound grad.
- 5. MVMT leather strap watch, $135, Nordstrom
Help your favorite graduate get to class on time with a stylish MVMT watch. The leather strap and black dial give it a timeless, yet trendy, look that can easily be dressed up or down for any occasion. He’ll wear it for years.
- 6. Custom framing from Framebridge, $59 and up, Framebridge
Don’t let your high school grad become the college guy with posters stuck to his dorm walls using sticky tack. Select a favorite photograph or poster and have it professionally framed by Framebridge. Shipping is free!
- 7. Adidas Adilette slide sandals, $45, Bloomingdale's
Shower shoes are not usually stylish, but they're a necessary part of life when you're living in a dorm or a fraternity. Luckily, Adidas' iconic rubber slides also happen to be very on-trend at the moment, so send him off to campus with this cool and practical gift.
Best high school graduation gifts for her
- 1. Mindfulness card deck, $15, Amazon
Transitioning from high school to college is challenging in a lot of ways. These simple cards will remind her to find joy, rest and calm despite the chaotic pace of campus life.
- 2. "This is Water" by David Foster Wallace, $10, Amazon
David Foster Wallace only spoke to a college audience once, at Kenyon College in 2005. More than a decade later, his thoughtful words on how to live a compassionate life still resonate.
- 3. Bandolier Emma iPhone 6/7/8 crossbody case, $88, Nordstrom
Perfect for events, concerts and running errands on campus, this clever crossbody phone case (with pockets for your ID and credit card) is a fun gift your grad will want to unwrap and start using while she’s still in her cap and gown.
- 4. Phase I skin essentials kit, $40, Glossier
Good habits last when they start early. Glossier is as trendy as it gets in the beauty and skin care world, and their products have received glowing reviews from thousands of customers. Start her off with this set of products that come in a stylish pouch she can carry with her everywhere.
- 5. "You're the next big thing!" card, $5, Of a Kind
Sometimes the best gift for a graduate is a well-written note. Skip the generic card aisle and pick a unique and stylish card like this one to pass on pieces of wisdom, share a funny story and wish them well.
- 6. UGG Jillie robe, $88, Amazon
She'll appreciate having something cozy and soft to wear on her walk to the showers on her dorm floor and while she's getting ready for a night out.
- 7. CoolingTech lightweight sleep mask pack of two, $9, Amazon
If your grad is headed for a dorm room, sorority or any kind of shared living space, she will be infinitely grateful for a sleep mask. This lightweight mask blocks out light without putting pressure on your eyelids. It just might be the best graduation gift ever.
- 8. BaubleBar signet ring, $54, BaubleBar
Personalized jewelry always makes a sweet and sentimental graduation gift, and BaubleBar has a wide range of affordable and customizable pieces. We love the subtle, classic style of this monogrammed signet ring.
- 9. 1-Year Prepaid Electric Toothbrush Supply, $65, Quip
This might not be the most glamorous gift, but sending your favorite grad off to college with a year of proper dental care will pay off later. Just be sure to find out the dorm's address so the recurring delivery of brush heads and toothpaste are sent to the right place!
Best college graduation gifts
Life after college has it's ups and downs. Graduation gifts for college grads should help make the "real world" a little bit more manageable!
Best college graduation gifts for him
- 1. Bonobos Riviera short sleeve shirt, $88, Bonobos
Not every moment after graduation is spent in the office. Remind him of how much freedom awaits after that diploma with a shirt designed for fun. These short sleeved shirts are whimsical and cool but just sophisticated enough sophistication to pass for a laid-back office outfit.
- 2. Single class taught by renowned expert, $90, Masterclass
Want to learn how to write from Malcom Gladwell? MasterClass teaches through a combination of audio, video, interactive assignments, Q&A sessions, peer review and other learning materials for an immersive experience that's perfect for the grad who's not done learning yet.
- 3. "How To Cook Everything: The Basics" by Mark Bittman, $20, Amazon
The perfect starter cookbook for any young person’s kitchen, this volume includes more than 1,000 photos to help any beginner master the fundamental techniques for cooking.
- 4. The Nylon Commuter Backpack, $68, Everlane
If the grad on your list is an avid traveler, frequent cyclist or facing a serious commute for their new job, you can’t beat the design and quality of Everlane’s water-resistant nylon backpack. The sleek look, durable fabric and smart pockets make this bag the perfect companion for work or play.
- 5. Six-Cup Chemex Pour-Over coffee maker, $44, Bed Bath & Beyond
Time to start making coffee like a grown-up. The insanely popular Chemex pour-over coffee maker is elegant and easy to use. All you need are grounds of your favorite brew, Chemex’s filters ($10 for a box of 100) and hot water.
- 6. Trunk Club gift card, $50 and up, Trunk Club
If your favorite graduate could use a little help in the style department (or is just due for a wardrobe upgrade), introduce them to the personal styling services of Trunk Club. This genius service sends you a box of items tailored to your specific tastes every month, and you only pay for what you keep.
Best college graduation gifts for her
- 1. UncommonGoods Fix It Kit, $30, UncommonGoods
What’s an independent young woman, living on her own for the first time, supposed to do when the zipper on her winter coat breaks? This portable collection is full of all the handy tools she might need for life's little emergencies.
- 2. "The Defining Decade: Why Your 20s Matter — and How To Make The Most of Them Now" by Meg Jay, PhD, $12, Amazon
Compiled from years spent working with hundreds of clients and students, Meg Jay's book mixes current science with personal stories. It's a perfect post-graduation read that provides tools and inspiration to help her make the most of her twenties.
- 3. Aaptiv membership, $15/month, Aaptiv
This app is free to download, but unlimited access to its guided audio “boutique” fitness classes — including yoga, marathon training, weight-lifting and spinning — costs $15/month. Compared to in-person group classes that can cost more than $30 each, this is a tech-savvy and affordable way to help a graduate you love maintain her fitness goals.
- 4. Slip silk queen pillowcase, $79, Shopbop
Treat a beauty-obsessed grad to a luxurious pillowcase she never knew she needed. Slip silk pillowcases absorb less makeup and moisturizer than your usual bed linen fabrics, meaning they stay cleaner longer (while keeping hair and skin in better shape, too).
- 5. Sugarfina Pop The Champagne candy gift set, $48, Nordstrom
Maybe you're not the type of person to give a grad a bottle of champagne, so give her some celebratory champagne candy instead!
- 6. Cuyana monogrammed leather passport case, $75, Cuyana
Encourage the graduate on your list to pursue her dreams and travel the world. Cuyana’s leather passport case can be monogrammed for a more personal touch.
- 7. Hario Mizudashi cold brew coffee maker, $17, Amazon
Any working professional will tell you that a strong cup of cold brew coffee is the best way to start a hot summer day at work.
This article was originally published on May 17, 2016 on TODAY.com.
For more gift recommendations, check out:
- 37 great gifts for teens who are hard to shop for
- 12 gadgets that will make perfect Father's Day or graduation gifts
- 35 wedding gift ideas newlyweds will cherish for years to come
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