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13 high school graduation gift ideas


Whether the student is going to college, taking a gap year, or going to work, mark this milestone with a thoughtful or practical graduation gift.

Gifts for graduates

As the school year comes to an end, many families are preparing to celebrate the graduation of their high school students. Whether the student is going to college, taking a gap year, or going to work, mark this milestone with a thoughtful or practical graduation gift. Here are examples of 13 graduation gift ideas that go beyond gift cards.

Something personal

The best gifts are often personalized gifts, such as an engraved necklace, a photo book, a cookbook for the whole family or personalized wall decoration. Consider fun memories you made with the graduate, as well as their hobbies, passions, and even future career areas. Custom gifts can be designed and found on websites such as Etsy and Shutterfly.

College wear

Many students show off their school spirit by wearing their college-branded tank tops, t-shirts, sweatshirts, sweatpants, shorts, and hats to sports games, tailgates, in class, or even running errands. Clothing, as well as themed bumper stickers, stuffed animals, and other items are usually available at a college bookstore or online store. Some merchandise can also be sold in local supermarkets if the campus is nearby.

Board games

Students interact with new people every day, including in a classroom, residence hall, club meeting, or gym. But making real connections can be difficult and intimidating. Playing board games can ease that awkwardness and connect graduates with their roommate, fellow students, or classmates. Consider gifting board games such as Cards Against Humanity, Pictionary, Bananagrams, Taboo, or the classic long game Monopoly.

Coffee maker or kettle

Students are known to stay up all night to finish exams or complete last minute assignments. So waking up for an early morning class may need a little extra help from a caffeinated drink like coffee or tea. Instead of having to walk to a dining hall first thing in the morning or spend money at a neighborhood coffee shop, students can instead make a drink in their dorm room using a coffee maker or kettle, if allowed.

Audiobook subscription

Some college graduates prefer to binge TV shows as a way to relax, while others bury themselves in a good book. For bookworms, a monthly subscription to audiobook services, such as Audible, Bookbeat, or Scribd, can be used on a daily basis. Students can listen to books before going to bed, during a study break or during a trip back to their hometown.


Quality headphones are essential for walks between classes, studying in noisy campus public areas, or working out at the gym. But the type of headphones to gift depends on the lifestyle of the graduate. For example, if the student is a runner, look for headphones that can withstand a lot of movement or consider wireless earbuds.

Bike, skateboard or roller skates

Biking, skateboarding, or roller skating on a college campus is a great way for students to get outside, exercise, and shorten their commute to class. For freshmen or other students without a car, owning one of these modes of transportation can be crucial for off-campus trips to grocery stores, parks, and other stores.


Help graduates get off to a good start at university with a reliable laptop for research, essays, job hunting and leisure. Computers are expensive, but they are essential for students to complete assignments and communicate with professors, among other things. However, students also have the option of borrowing laptops or using library desktops if needed. Look for graduation and vacation deals and discounts through the student’s university, or share the cost with others.


Whether a graduate travels to and from campus during vacations, or flies to a new state or country during their gap year, a suitcase helps keep clothes, toiletries, and other personal items organized. Consider buying a sturdy duffel bag, a carry-on bag, or even a full kit – if the graduate has enough room to store it.

Mini fridge

For students living in residence halls — who don’t have access to full kitchens — many colleges offer the option of renting a mini-fridge to store soda, perishable groceries, or leftovers in their room. But gifting one eliminates the rental cost and allows graduates to keep it for more than a year.

Personal safe

Personal items can get lost in hotels or hostels while a graduate is traveling on a gap year or on vacation. And while college campuses are fairly safe, theft also occurs in dorms, as students sometimes forget to lock their doors or decide to host a meeting in their room. To prevent this, graduates donate a personal safe to store their valuables.

Small tool kit

Graduates do not have to be professionals to use a toolkit. This practical gift can come in handy for a variety of projects and simple household chores, such as hanging art, assembling furniture or plugging holes in the wall to avoid fines at the end of the year. Small, affordable tool kits with the basics – a hammer, screwdrivers, hex keys, etc. – should cover general needs.


While a cash gift isn’t the most creative, it gives the recipient flexibility in purchasing. Those pursuing employment after high school may need money for basic necessities such as rent and groceries before finding a job. If the graduate takes a gap year, a little extra money can be spent on new experiences and field trips. And college graduates need money to cover educational costs, such as textbooks, club memberships, or tuition.

Planning for the first year.

Learn about ways to prepare for freshman year and the transition from high school to college by connecting with US News Education on Facebook and Twitter.

High school graduation gifts

— Something personal

– College clothes

– Board games

– Coffee maker or kettle

— Audiobook subscription

– Headphones

– Bicycle, skateboard or roller skates

– Laptop

– Suitcase

– Mini fridge

– Personal safe

— Small tool box

– Cash

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13 High School Graduation Gift Ideas originally appeared on usnews. com

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.