Best College Graduation Gifts – Top 5 Best Qualified List for September, 2023
A college graduation is a joyous occasion. The end of a long and often tortuous educational journey, and the start of a new chapter in life (the first chapter in “adult” life), are legitimate reasons to celebrate.
That’s for the graduate. For his family and friends, it’s often a time to agonize. After all, it was tough enough to figure out what type of gift to buy for him when he was an infant, a toddler, a pre-teen and a high school graduate. For those presents, you could at least ask his parents for suggestions. But what on earth will a young adult, who lives in a connected world very different than the world most of us grew up in, truly appreciate?
Unless you’re very familiar with the graduate’s hobbies or special interests, don’t spend too much time trying to choose an app, video game or DVD he might like. Chances are good that if he’s interested in it, he already has it. The better approach is to think “big picture.”
Today’s college graduates may be young, but they’re complete people. They don’t just spend all of their time on their phones – even though it might seem that way. Entering the “real world” is just as challenging, scary and exciting for them as it was for us. And many of the things they could really use aren’t all that different than gifts we would have loved when starting adult life.
The Groom+Style team has compiled a list of top 5 gifts for the upcoming graduate. Not all of them will be suitable for every recipient, but we believe you’ll find a great idea or two for a gift which will be received gratefully by the new grad in your life.
What Happens When Someone Graduates College?
Yes, the issue at hand is the difficulty of finding the right graduation gift. But put that aside for a moment. The best way to choose a present for a new grad is to think about the life they’re about to begin, and what might make things a little easier for them. Let’s go step by step.
After listening to some boring speeches and tossing his cap into the air, the new graduate will either live at home with his family, move into his own place, or move to a new city. He’ll either be starting a new job or searching for one. And the chances are excellent that he won’t have much money, at least for a while.
Those are great places to start.
Gifts to Help With Everyday Life at Home
Moving back in with the parents may be comfortable at first, but the new grad will want to start spreading his wings sooner rather than later. He may do it by redecorating his room (and finally taking down that Lord of the Rings stuff), in which case a gift certificate for a poster or framing shop or a lamp store would come in handy. Once upon a time, a cool alarm clock would be a great idea, but every grad has an alarm on his phone. Today’s equivalent would be an Echo Dot, or if you have a bigger budget, a Google Home which can often be found on sale.
Those gifts would be appreciated just as much by a graduate moving into his first real living space. However, there are many more possibilities to consider. For example, who has sheets, towels, pots, lamps or a coffeemaker when they’re just setting up an apartment? True, those aren’t “sexy” gifts. But when the grad steps out of his shower and realizes he only owns a few ratty towels (ones whose history he’d prefer not to remember), he’ll be awfully grateful for that set of towels he got as a graduation gift. A gift card for Crate and Barrel or the Container Store can work just as well.
Gifts To Help With The Working World
Backpacks are “so college.” There’s nothing wrong with them, of course, and lots of adults use them regularly. But when a graduate is headed off to his first day at a real job or to an important job interview, wearing a backpack will shout “I’m a college kid!” Adults carry briefcases (or purses), and they don’t have to be leather or expensive to make an adult statement. The grad may not immediately realize how important his first briefcase is – but it is – and he’ll soon realize that fact and be grateful to have received one.
There are other possibilities for job hunters, like a gift certificate for a career coach, a resume service or a photographer who can take a professional headshot to be used on services like LinkedIn. Larger gift budgets let you think bigger; for example, a tooth-whitening kit would help the grad look his best while interviewing.
Gifts To Help With Finances
We haven’t mentioned the universal fallback, cash, because many people feel it’s too impersonal. Most grads would probably disagree, but there are alternatives which will be greatly appreciated by a new graduate.
When unemployed or working at a lower-level job, it’s often necessary to give up life’s small pleasures like going out to dinner or even making a regular stop at Starbucks. Gift cards for local restaurants or coffee shops can let a newly-minted graduate feel like he’s part of the real world and not living completely hand-to-mouth.
Those gift cards might be appreciated even more by grads moving to a new city where they’re not making much money and don’t even know the lay of the land. In that case, being able to take an evening away from the microwave or Ramen noodles to go out to eat at Friday’s or another decent chain restaurant isn’t just a luxury – it’s a survival tactic.
More Traditional Gifts
Naturally, more traditional gifts like jewelry, headphones or earbuds are in the mix as well, as is the time-honored graduation present of thank-you cards to everyone who actually had a great idea for a gift. Oh – and did we mention cash?
Hopefully, that got some of your creative juices flowing. Here’s what the Groom+Style team came up with; some of our suggestions are a little more offbeat, but will definitely be appreciated by your favorite college graduate.
Top 5 Gifts For The Upcoming Graduate
1. Aicok Single Serve K-Cup Coffee Maker
You can always substitute a Keurig for the Aicok if you have the budget for it, but the review team believes the Aicok Single Serve is almost as good and almost as versatile as a Keurig – and it’s half the price.
The K-cup design lets the grad place almost any mug underneath the spout, add water, and insert a Keurig K-cup (or one from any other company, like Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts) to brew fresh coffee in their choice of flavor. The process takes just a little over three minutes and delivers 15 ounces of delicious coffee; it’s much quicker if you don’t fill the reservoir completely.
The Aicok is lightweight and takes up very little counter space, less than the comparable Keurig model. It doesn’t get hot to the touch, it shuts off automatically after brewing is done, and it can also be used to make tea or hot chocolate. And there’s one more plus you normally don’t think about until after buying a kitchen appliance: the cord is long enough to plug the coffee maker in, even if your outlet is on the far end of the counter. There’s a removable drip tray, too.
Anyone would be delighted to receive a Keurig as a gift, but the new grad will be more than happy with an Aicok single serve machine whether he puts it into his new kitchen or on his new desk at work.
Facts and figures on the Aicok Single Serve K-Cup Coffee Maker:
2. Amazon Prime Membership
There’s a lot more to Amazon Prime than just getting free shipping, quick delivery, and movies. It also gives you access to Amazon Now, which is why the Groom+Style team thinks that recent graduates would find a membership invaluable.
Amazon Now provides one-hour delivery from a large number of restaurants in all major cities, and grocery delivery from local stores in nine cities (with more being added all the time). The combination of no-hassle take-out food and groceries will be welcomed by grads who are trying to arrange their new work and home lives. That’s especially true if they aren’t familiar with the restaurants and stores in the area, don’t have their own car and are dependent on Uber or Lyft.
It would be hard to find a young adult who doesn’t order regularly from Amazon, and the Prime membership will also save him money as he’s setting up his new apartment. It includes free same-day delivery of most items in all major cities.
A year’s Prime membership may be on the pricey side for a graduation gift, but you can give a gift card to pay for his first few months. After that, he can decide whether to keep the membership and will probably be better able to pay for it himself.
Amazon has become an important part of almost everyone’s life, and a Prime membership can take care of a new grad’s food and entertainment needs while he acclimates to being on his own.
Details on Amazon Prime Membership:
Buying jewelry as a graduation present can be tricky, particularly when shopping for unique items in lower price ranges. You can pick up inexpensive earrings for a female grad, of course, but they’re likely to be tacky and the metal may react badly with the recipient’s ears. Once you get past earrings, it’s going to be difficult to find something classy that the graduate will appreciate.
Here’s the exception: a sterling silver or gold brass bracelet with a brushed finish, and the graduation date hand stamped in Roman numerals on the face. The stamping is done by hand, by the artisan who produces these bracelets. The cuff bracelet is six inches long and ¼” thick and can be worn by either sex.
A pair of earrings or a cheap ring will likely be thrown into a drawer and forgotten. A hand-stamped bracelet that commemorates a graduation date, however, is a keepsake which will be treasured.
Looking deeper at the Adjustable Roman Numeral Brass Or Silver Bracelet:
4. Lumina 15000 mAh Compact Portable Charger
So you’re convinced that your favorite graduate is connected to some device 24 hours a day, and want to get him a gift that he’ll find 100% useful? A quality power bank won’t break your bank, and it will let the grad charge all of those devices he seems to draw life from.
This Lumina portable charger, which can also work as a backup power source, is a great choice. The 15000 mAh unit will charge several devices simultaneously through its two USB ports with fast-charge capability, and the charger works with Android and iOS operating systems so it will handle just about any phone or tablet. There’s an LED power display (activated with a quick shake of the device) so it’s easy to tell how much juice is left in the charger, and the Lumina comes with a lifetime warranty.
This unit is charged via micro-USB, and the case is made from aluminum alloy so it’s both attractive to look at and able to survive accidental drops.
Every young adult has more devices than they probably need and keeping them charged is a constant challenge. The Lumina portable charger, with its high-capacity battery, may be the most useful gift any modern-day graduate could receive.
More info on the Lumina 15000 mAh Compact Portable Charger:
OK, so this is more of an inexpensive, “funny” gift than a useful one. That doesn’t mean it’s not a great idea for the grad with a sense of humor.
This book is exactly what you think it is: 101 different recipes or ideas for meals that can be made from Ramen, the food staple familiar to anyone who’s lived on a budget for any length of time. Not every new graduate will be starting at minimum wage or be unemployed, but 101 Things To Do With Ramen Noodles can be a godsend for those grads – and at the very least, it can be good for a laugh.
If your gift budget has been depleted, and the recipient is the type of person who will take this present in good humor, 101 Things is a very cute gift. There’s a sequel available, too.
What you need to know about 101 Things To Do With Ramen Noodles:
Bonus: The Hypnograph Drawing Machine
Many students like to escape the day-to-day grind by drawing. For those who aren’t dedicated artists, though, working with a sketch pad and pencils can quickly become boring. The Hypnograph is a fascinating and addictive alternative, particularly for those who are interested in math or physics.
This machine is sort of like the Spirograph you probably had as a kid, but on steroids. It uses different-sized gears and a penholder (used as a fulcrum) to create intricate and beautiful repetitive patterns. Once the equipment is in place, all you have to do is turn a crank to generate amazing drawings. You can add up to 13 gears and position them any way you like – there are all sorts of instructional tables in the manual to help you design specific patterns – or just use a freestyle setup and see what the machine draws.
The Hypnograph is extremely versatile and easy to use. You can add or remove gears in a few seconds, you can change the length of the penholder by loosening and tightening one nut, and the holder will accommodate any type of pen, pencil, marker or crayon.
Many math and science classes are now using the Hypnograph as part of their STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, math) curriculum, but it’s just plain fun to use as a relaxing drawing tool.
If you feel the graduate in your life would appreciate something that they can treasure forever, then a luxury watch could be something you might want to consider. For some inspiration check out the articles below.