40 Fabulous Graduation Gift Ideas

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Graduation Gift Ideas

With my baby brother graduating this year, I was stumped for gift ideas.  Although I tried to remember my favorite graduation gifts, let’s just say my memory was a bit rusty.  Plus, my one of my favorite gifts was a camera that took actual film (ah, the good old days)!  Times have definitely changed.

So I turned to YOU!  We {heart} our Facebook fans; you are a plethora of creativity!  I asked for the best graduation gifts ideas you’ve ever given or received, and boy did you respond.  So with your help, here are 40 fabulous graduation gift ideas that are gender neutral and perfect for every grad in your life!

Money/Gift Cards for Graduation Gift Ideas

Although impersonal, money and gift cards can be exactly what a poor new grad needs to tackle the big world.  On the other hand, if you’d like to be a little more creative than just a bill tucked in a card, check out these creative ideas!

1. Money rolled in a tissue box

Take out the tissues in a tissue box and roll up bills instead.  Then add a cute saying and you will quickly alleviate any homesickness.

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2. Write a check for their graduation year 

While a check written for $20.17 might get an initial quizzical look, it will be followed by a good laugh.  You definitely get points for being creative.  Bonus points if the check is for $2017.00.

3. Dave Ramsey’s “Graduate’s Survival Guide”

So many of you raved about this gift set that I am tempted to get it for myself!  In a world ruled by credit and over-spending, many new grads can find themselves drowning quickly.  Give them a head start by learning about credit cards, part-time jobs, and student loans.

4. Shell Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree” with a surprise inside

Once there was a tree…and she loved a little boy.  If you’re tearing up already, this poem turned into a book about friendship, sacrifice, and generosity is the perfect gift for your special grad.  Stick a few surprise bills inside and they have a gift to treasure forever.

5. Gift cards to local restaurants

One of a mother’s significant worries, among many, are “Will my child starve?”  Give your grad a few gift cards to local eateries where they will be going to college or settling down.

6. Grocery store gift cards

Just enter any college town grocery store and they are milling with malnourished students hovering around the ramen noodles.  When living on a tight budget, a grocery store gift card can be a lifesaver.

7. Gas cards

Another necessity for every new grad.  Give them a gas card with the expectations that they are to visit home often!

8. Gift card to the college store

If you know where they are going to college, help a new grad buy those over-priced textbooks, or get some fresh new collegiate gear to wear on game day.

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9. Movie tickets

The post-high school dating scene can be tough when you have about $5 to your name.  Give your grad a slight advantage with two movie tickets for a special date night.

10. Stock shares

A creative and smart investment, buy your new grad shares in a company of their choice.  They will love having ownership and watching their money grow.


Practical Gifts for Graduation Gift Ideas

They may not be the most exciting or glamorous gifts but guaranteed your grad will appreciate those gifts looong after the tassels are turned and the caps tossed in the air.

11. Luggage

Our Facebook fans’ number top gift recommendation, so many of you share the tradition of gifting luggage for graduation.

12. Toolset

This gift was one of my personal favorites and many of you agreed.  Getting a toolset, although lackluster at first, has come in “handy” throughout life.

13. A car kit with jumper cables:

This gift, plus a free lesson in basic car maintenance, is perfect for both guys and girls headed out on their own.

14. First aid kit with medicine

We all want our mommies when the slightest sign of the sniffles hit.  But when mom’s not there, what better than a first aid kit loaded with medicine to treat every ailment.

15. Cookbooks

Don’t let them use “I don’t know how to cook” as an excuse for fast food three meals a day.

16. Cooking lessons

If you combine this gift with #15 above they will {hopefully} avoid that freshman fifteen.

17. The Pampered Chef Micro-Cooker

Many of you raved about this little cooking beauty that made dorm cooking so much easier.  For $20, a novice chef can cook a gourmet meal right in the microwave.

18. Scentsy warmer and scent packs

Dorm rooms literally stink.  Mask the musk with a plug-in warmer filled with delicious fragrances that will smell like home sweet home.

19. A nice set of clothes

For job interviews, work, or formal engagements that require a professional look.

20.  A quality backpack

A person could count toting around college books as their daily workout.  Those things can be heavy!  Therefore a  quality backpack is a must for any college-bound grad.

21. Global Positioning System (GPS)

Many smartphones already have them, but a GPS is a great idea for anyone heading out for adventures of their own.

Gift Baskets for a Graduate Gift Ideas

Gift baskets are fun to give and fun to receive.  Plus they are loaded with really useful stuff!

22. Laundry gift basket with quarters

There is a reason why this is one of the most popular grad gifts.  It is packed with every laundry supply you could imagine–towels, detergent, fabric softener, dryer sheets, bleach, stain removal, and especially rolls of quarters for those laundry machines.  (Many schools now use student cards as payment, so check with the school first.  You could also load money on the card for laundry.

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23. Food essentials kit

Because moving out on your own can be overwhelming.  So make the transition easier by stocking that new grad up with all of the food essentials he or she may need.

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24. Kitchen essentials kit

Dish towels, dish cloths, scrub brushes, dish detergent, utensils, plastic plates, bowls, glasses, etc., and maybe the caution: don’t put dish soap in the dishwasher (not that anyone ever does that!).

25. Bathroom essentials kit

Towels, washcloths, bathroom cleaners, *shower sandals (for those nasty dorm showers), shaving gear, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, toilet paper, toothbrush, toothpaste, makeup for girls, etc.

26. College supplies kit

Notebooks, a planner, pens, gum, study snacks, energy bars/drinks (for procrastinating studiers), stapler, three-hole punch, calculator, white-out, etc.

27. Themed gift baskets 

Things that stick” (3M hangers, super glue, gum, etc.), sports themed baskets (golf, basketball, football, wrestling, track, motocross, swimming, tennis, dance, etc.), state themed baskets (based on where they are moving to or going to college), beach themed baskets (flip flops, beach towel, sunscreen, frisbee, sunglasses, etc.), candy bar basket with sayings (“You are a real Starburst!”, etc.), fan themed baskets (favorite professional or college teams), fruit themed basket (everything strawberry: soap, lotion, drinks, treats, etc.), Starbucks themed basketMovie themed basket (favorite DVDs, popcorn, soda, movie treats), hair themed basket (great if going to Cosmetology school), 40 Graduation Gift Ideas - www.howdoesshe.com #graduationgiftideas

College themed basket: includes apparel and gear from their new school

Sentimental Gifts for Graduation Gift Ideas

These gifts come from the heart and are treasured forever.

28. Special quilt or afghan

Because everyone needs something to snuggle in while they are far from home.  Many of you agreed that a handmade quilt was and is one of your greatest graduation treasures.

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My dear grandma made this for my graduation.  She cut out blocks from some of the shirts my dad wore when he was a boy.  It is one of my prized possessions.

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Even if you don’t have the time or know-how to make a quilt, a nice, comfy blanket is a gift everyone can appreciate.  Love this Graduation Gift Idea!

29. Photo books

Include pictures and personal messages that document just how far they’ve come.

30. Keepsake boxes

If you are the sentimental type that saves everything from their first kindergarten watercolor painting to newspaper clippings that even mention their name, then give them a keepsake box.  We LOVE these memory boxes.

31. “Congratulations!  Today is your day.  You’re off to great places!  You’re off and away!  Best graduation book.  Ever.

32. Personalized gifts

Give your grad something personal, including cool custom T-shirts, personalized phone cases, monogrammed towels, pillow cases, money clips, etc.

33. Digital picture frames or memory books:

Then load them with pictures that will remind them of friends, family, and all of the great times.

34. Letters from friends and family

Have close friends and family write a special letter to the graduate that he or she can read throughout life.  Put them in a special book or memory box.

35. Postcards addressed to you, redeemable for homemade cookies

 When I went off to college, I dearly missed my grandma’s homemade cookies.  Send your grad off with postcards that they can mail back to you anytime they need a little home baked goodness.

Splurge Gifts for Graduation Gift Ideas

Life is too short not to spoil them just a little, right?

36. Travel

Take them on a special trip to Europe, DC, or a destination of their choice.  The memories made will last a lot longer than any physical gift will.

37. iPad/laptop

38. A nice watch

39. Special lessons

Maybe there is something they have always wanted to try…flying lessons, culinary arts classes, professional golf lessons, etc.

40. A special valuable coin

One reader’s grandfather gave him a special gold coin that has multiplied in value today.  However, he will never spend it because it is too special.

Graduation Gift Ideas Perfect for Any Graduate

Hopefully, you’ll find something on this list perfect for your special grad with these 40 Graduation Gift Ideas.  And feel free to share any other brilliant ideas for the perfect graduation gift!

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 If your graduate is leaving the nest, make one of these awesome message boards out of a pair of old shutters for them to display cards/letters from home.

card shutters 2

You can also help your grad stock his/her dorm room with some great stuff from the dollar store. See our tips for what is actually worth buying at a dollar store, and what to avoid.

The top 10 Dollar Store Buys (and what not to try!) www.howdoesshe.com

Another really meaningful gift for your grad – whatever their age – is a “Box of Love” filled with cards and letters from loved ones. Find out how to make one here:
Make a box of love with free printable download

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