26 Epic Gifts College Graduates Actually Want and Need
Graduation is one of those milestones that's naturally bittersweet. It marks the end of one chapter but the beginning of a whole new and undiscovered journey. If you're looking for graduation gift ideas, you've got the easy job: new grads need a lot of things.
Think about it: they require almost everything necessary to be independent for the first time. They probably have new apartments to furnish, a career to build, and a social life to squeeze in, to boot. Or maybe wanderlust has set in, and they're gearing up for a period of exploration.
The choices are abundant — and can seem overwhelming. So we've curated the most unique yet universally adored items out there. Let the gift-giving commence!
Polaroid Snap Touch Instant Digital Camera
The recent grad probably doesn’t have many prints to put on display, especially if they use their phone to take photos. This camera makes it easy. They can snap a graduation pic, add frames and filters, then print a copy directly from the camera. So fun. It comes in a variety of colors, including black, blue, purple, pink, white, and red.
To buy: $180; amazon.com.
The leggings and a tee uniform she wore to those afternoon classes isn’t going to cut it for her new corporate gig. Send her off and into the real world with this smart styling service. She’ll fill out a style questionnaire and be matched with a personal stylist, who will send her an assortment of items to choose from. Give a gift card to cover what she decided to keep.
To buy: starts at $20, stitchfix.com.
Stammen Fabric-Wrapped Speaker
Any new grad will appreciate this high-tech device—some music after a long workday or while hosting friends will set the mood. Use this sleek little speaker with big-time sound capability to fill a small space, or wirelessly connect it to a second one for multiroom audio. Choose from six colors.
To buy: $349; urbanears.com.
FitBit Ionic Smartwatch
For her, it's a cool piece of wearable tech to rock in her new office. For you, it's an investment in her health and peace of mind. This top-of-the-line smartwatch offers virtual coaching for her workouts and even holds more than 300 songs for her exercise soundtrack. The GPS-enabled device holds a 4-day charge, so she can track her bicycle commutes and her weekend runs without losing battery life.
To buy: $300; amazon.com.
Cuisinart Advantage Color Collection 12-Piece Knife Set
Everyone striking out on their own needs a good set of knives, and these stainless-steel babies do the trick. They may look playful thanks to their nonstick coatings, but these Cuisinart knives mean business, too. Their ergonomic handles make slicing easier, and the color-coding with help prevent your newbie chef from cross-contaminating his foods.
To buy: $16.89, amazon.com.
Amazon Echo Plus With Built-In Hub
Getting out the door on time and dressed appropriately for the weather is all on her now. Give her the gift of a smooth morning routine with one of Amazon's latest tech offerings: the Echo Plus with built-in Zigbee smart-home capabilities. This top-of-the-line gadget will let her sync up all her music accounts, get news briefs, and request and Uber through a Dolby speaker system — and as she her life evolves, it will grow with her.
To buy: $149.99, amazon.com.
Fix It Kit
When the faucet springs a leak or a light bulb needs changing, he won’t be able to call campus services for an extra hand—he’ll need his own set of tools to get the job done. This kit includes just about anything he’d need, but is small enough to stow in a tiny apartment closet.
To buy: $30, uncommongoods.com.
Tall Bartending Drinking Glass Set
Gone are the days of solo cups and ping-pong balls in the fraternity or sorority house basement. But we’re wiling to bet the new grad doesn’t have many sophisticated cocktail recipes up his sleeve. Up his entertaining game with this clever set of four pint glasses. Each one has measurement lines that provide clear instructions for making four classic cocktails.
To buy: $29, urbanoutfitters.com.
MiniPresso GR Espresso Maker
A few months ago, commuting meant crossing the quad. Now, commuting means walking to the train station and taking a 45-minute ride across state lines. She’s really going to need her daily jolt of caffeine. Ensure she’s fully energized by the time she sits down at her cubicle with this portable espresso maker. A removable top doubles as a cup for maximum enjoyment enroute.
To buy: $60, amazon.com.
Ana Faux Shearling Throw
All that adult-ing can be exhausting. This cozy faux shearling throw by Ugg® will most definitely be put to good use during much-needed Netflix-and-chill nights. It comes in five neutral colors including Chambray, seen here, and can be conveniently machine-washed and tumble-dried (read: it'll probably last a long time).
To buy: $98, nordstrom.com.
Pastel & Brass Measuring Spoons
Whether your grad is a bona fide baker or is just laying claim to his first real, adult kitchen, this affordable set of brass measuring spoons with pastel-colored handles will be the perfect addition to his new digs.
To buy: $28, anthropologie.com.
Bear Butt Double Parachute Camping Hammock
The summer before moving on to a new stage of life is the perfect time to embark on an adventure! This super-soft sleeper hammock is a customer favorite on Amazon. It's easy to pack and set up, and it's lightweight but can hold 500 pounds — plus, it's built with enough space for two!
To buy: $30; amazon.com.
The Best Bluetooth Shower Speaker
Mornings don’t have to be boring, despite the fact that his alarm rings before the sun even comes up. This water-resistant speaker shakes shower time up a notch. It can stream music from any Bluetooth enabled device (iPhone, iPhone, Android) and features a microphone, too. (You know, just in case he’s running late for that conference call.)
To buy: $50, hammacher.com.
Gemfield Cheese Boards
Her transition from dorm life to domestic diva isn't official until she hosts her first wine and cheese party. The event will be one for the books when she busts out these marble cheese boards with turquoise inlays and brass accents. They're the perfect statement-making pieces for an effortless soiree.
To buy: $98, nordstrom.com.
Away: The Carry-On
This chic, unbreakable polycarbonate carry-on has an ejectable battery for charging a cell phone, a TSA-approved combination lock, and a hidden laundry bag. The company also offers a 100-day free trial and a lifetime guarantee. Did someone say "gap year"?
To buy: $225 (+$10 for a monogram), awaytravel.com.
“Call Me” Business Cards
She might not have scored a job just yet, but these personalized business cards will make a graphic first impression. They can be customized with a personal logo and are available in three bright colors and three pretty paper styles. Plus, every order comes with a card holder.
To buy: $30 for 25, minted.com.
Little America Polycoat Studio Backpack
Upgrade him from a book bag to a backpack with professional appeal. This one from Herschel Supply Co. not only looks city chic, but it's also made of a durable tech fabric that will protect valuables from rain-soaked commutes. An interior media pocket can hold his smart phone, and a padded compartment inside fits most 15-inch laptops.
To buy: $120, nordstrom.com.
Hay Gym Hooks
If her dorm room was nothing short of a disaster, increase the odds that her towel winds up back in its place with these hooks. They’re much more stylish than those white, plastic ones, and can hold everything from towels to jewelry. Available in three sizes.
To buy: From $25, aplusrstore.com.
Pizzacraft Dough Rolling Mat
If his local pizza joint can't compete with his hometown favorite—or frozen Tombstone pies, for that matter—let him roll (and flip) his own crust with this easy-to-follow slip-proof mat. Since it's marked with outlines for five different sizes, he can make an 8-inch personal pie or a 16-inch for a party.
To buy: $35, amazon.com.
Working Man’s Hygiene Kit
If his grooming routine was limited to shampoo and shaving cream before he signed that employment contract on the dotted line, this seven-piece set will have him looking and smelling fresh every day. The set includes body scrub, soap, knuckle wax, after shower oil, hand lotion, foot salve, and lip balm.
To buy: $50, uncommongoods.com.
Novel Duffel Bag
If she’s interviewing at firms up and down the East Coast, she’ll need a roomy duffle to pack her very best in. This heavyweight canvas piece comes with an adjustable shoulder strap, an interior compartment, and even a separate exterior zip shoe compartment.
To buy: $85, nordstrom.com.
Blunt XS Folding Umbrella
This supremely durable umbrella will help him keep his new suit dry, even on the dampest days. While slim enough to stuff in a briefcase, this umbrella’s canopy is specially designed to be extra tight, which helps it withstand even the harshest rainstorm without flapping or turning inside out.
To buy: $60, amazon.com.
Aqua Starter Set
For the kid who has everything but the office staples: A color-coded gift set that includes pens, a pen holder, a tape dispenser, and a stapler. Available in 13 vibrant colors sure to help her stand out from the rest.
To buy: $55, amazon.com.
Scratch Travel Journal
If he’s got an itch to travel, he can scratch it (literally) with this journal, which features interactive maps that allow him to scratch off the towns, cities, and landmarks he’s visited on every continent. The journal also features exploring tips and advice and 64 pages for logging the miles, events, and impressions on the way.
To buy: $29, uncommongoods.com.
Stop and Smell the Roses Idiom Bangle
Between all those conference calls, personal errands, and rendezvous with friends both old and new, the new grad will be lucky to find a few minutes to herself. This pretty rose gold bangle features a hidden message printed inside the cuff that will remind her to stop and take a deep breath every once in a while.
To buy: $32, katespade.com.
He shouldn't have to give much thought to where his essentials are when he's trying to catch an 8 a.m. train. This wall-mounted hallway organizer is the perfect spot for his keys, cell phone, and wallet, and when he gets home, he can drop off his mail here until he has time to sort through it — as he becomes all too familiar with the joys of bill-paying!
To buy: $59.95, bedbathandbeyond.com.