Graduation Gift Ideas Your Scholar Will Love (and Use!)

This year’s graduates deserve a stellar celebration. Recognize their accomplishments with gifts that reflect them and can only come from you.

You saved the date and found a map with a raised mortarboard. But what do you give someone who has taken an academic step in the middle of everything the last two years have been?

We would say one medal – maybe several – but that might cost a bit.

So let’s put aside the glitz, accept the circumstances and start celebrating your favorite graduates. Read on to discover gift ideas that reflect both you and the recipient, from practical to quirky, and won’t break the bank.

For the high school graduate, from the practical giver

how to earn money: For graduates of high school, college and beyond, this new visual guide to all things finance from New York Times bestselling author Jean Chatzky, Kathryn Tuggle and the rest of the HerMoney team is a must, if we say so ourselves.

Pen (or ink cartridges) and paper: We are all for going green and embracing digital. We also know that sometimes you have to print. The graduate on her way to college may not seem super excited as she unpacks, but in the wee hours of an upcoming sleepless night, she’ll be more than grateful.

Gift cards: Whether your graduate is furthering her education, traveling, or heading straight to work, chances are she can do a little better with the help of her friends (including you). Make that next stop at the campus bookstore, gas station, or grocery store a little cheaper, allowing him to breathe easier on his finances.

The laundry bag: My mom’s staple high school graduation gift for ages was a laundry bag, detergent, and a roll of coins. A clear winner every time.

For the college graduate (and beyond), from supportive family and friends

The thing (it’s probably not a thing): Over the past few years, your new graduate may have offered you a litany of what she would like to do when she graduates. The list may have included a visit to an exotic location, but activities like taking a nap, reading a book for fun, or cleaning up a neglected space are likely on there. Check out his current wishes and make at least one come true by protecting his time and space for an afternoon.

A personalized guide: Whether your graduate is staying put or moving, share some resources to help make this next chapter a great one. If she’s heading somewhere new, gather materials — think books, gift cards, hyperlinks — to help her explore and enjoy her new home. If she landed a nearby job, provide her with tools to reconnect with the place she might have missed while behind a textbook.

The gift of green: Yes, money is good, and go for it if you can. But here we are thinking of plants, those adorable organisms that enhance just about any space. Keep the recipient’s pets or children in mind (some leafy wonders aren’t the best to keep with four-legged animals or toddlers in the mix), not to mention space and recipient’s ability to provide plant care. But any type can beautify, and some can even nourish.

Tools: If you know your graduate needs a home tool kit, prepare one for her. (You can find this set of 39 pieces on Amazon for 19.99.) But also think about how you might outfit your favorite grad for days to come. Could you create a book or set of digital files providing a step-by-step guide to fixing things around the house, making a complicated and beloved recipe, or fixing a sock? You know your superpowers, and those that your loved one dreams of acquiring.

For the young at heart, for the book lover

I have enough By Grace Byers: Beautifully illustrated by Keturah A. Bobo, Byers’ book offers a mantra for all of us, and one that might be especially needed by anyone embarking on new challenges.

Harold and the purple pencil by Crockett Johnson: Remind your fresh grad to create their own world (with or without pie or porcupine), discovering original solutions to any puzzles that come their way.

I wish you more by Amy Krouse Rosenthal: Wishing the reader “more ups than downs,” Rosenthal’s book, with delightful illustrations by Tom Lichtenheld, shares the hope of uplifting children and adults.

Oh, the places you will go! by Dr. Seuss: This perennial favorite of Theodor Seuss Geisel recognizes that we will encounter obstacles even as he encourages us to move forward.

For anyone, support

A real letter (not an invoice): Choose a frequency that suits you, and commit to sending a card, a letter, an illustration – you get the idea – filled with good wishes, wacky jokes, interesting recipes, New York cartoons or anything else that will brighten the graduate’s day. Make it a surprise or, after graduation, let your loved one know what she can expect every month or two.

real food: Who doesn’t love a care package? Whether you’re dropping off their favorites in person or sending the basics needed to prepare those meals, the gesture will undoubtedly invigorate the body and soul of the recipient as they embark on their post-college life.

Real benefit: Does she have a favorite magazine or newspaper? What about streaming services? Check in with your graduate and ask if she would like snow or lawn services, meal delivery, or anything else you could set up and eliminate from her usual to-do list.

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