27 High School Graduation Gifts That Are Fun and Practical (but Mostly Fun)
Shopping for fresh graduates as they approach their high school graduation can be a lot more complicated than simply clicking add to cart. High school graduation gifts and college graduation gifts alike need to serve two purposes: New graduates, especially high school graduates, need a lot of gear to kick off their new away-from-home lives, regardless of whether they’re heading to college or straight into the workforce. They also want a lot of things, too, though, to make their new adventure fun and exciting.
You can strike a good balance between the two with a good graduation book, of course, but there are also a lot of creative, unique gifts you can get your graduate that they’ll love unwrapping and using. Help the recent grad in your life get it together with practical yet creative gifts that will help them put their best foot forward. Our list of the best high school graduation gifts for her and him go beyond your basic care package, with plenty of items they’ll enjoy and use (and, if you’re lucky, brag to their new friends about).
This year’s graduation might look different than you expected—some good quarantine graduation ideas can heal some of the sting of that disappointment for your graduate—but you can still send them off to the next chapter of their life with high school graduation present ideas that will come in handy at both the office and in the dorm.
Before the graduation songs begin to play, order one of these clever high school graduation gifts to give your graduate a great send-off, even if you can’t celebrate with them in person.
Letters to My Future Self
Take the sentimental route with this high school graduation gift. Encourage them to write letters for the future all at once or throughout their first year at college or in the real world; when they read them in a few years, the letters will serve as a time capsule for this exciting new stage in their life.
To buy: $15; uncommongoods.com.
Ode to Home State Pillow
Remind them of home with one of these sweet pillows, which feature your state’s natural flora and fauna on one side and an acrostic poem about it on the other.
To buy: $90; uncommongoods.com.
Turn Off Your Straightener Doormat
You might not be there to remind them, but you can be there in spirit with this graduation gift: Tell them to place this sassy doormat outside (or just inside) their dorm room or apartment, and they’ll never forget to leave the hair tool on again. (And if they skipped doing their hair that day, the mat will make them smile and think of you anyway.)
To buy: $32; etsy.com.
Riley Hooded Waffle Robe
Shared floor bathrooms, communal laundry rooms: There’s a good change their post-grad life will entail more than a little schlepping from the privacy of their room through a semi-public space to fulfill some basic needs. Keep them comfortable—and covered—with this cozy waffle robe, which has all the comfort of being wrapped in a thick towel but is cut short for a little cuteness.
To buy: $109; rileyhome.com.
Bedside Essentials Pocket
If their new, post-grad digs lack a nightstand—or they just have too many literary interests for one nightstand to hold—this sleek pocket makes a great high school graduation gift. They can slip the pouch into their bedframe to keep everything handy, whether that’s notebooks or video game controllers.
To buy: $20; uncommongoods.com.
Dagne Dover Dakota Backpack
They may be done with high school, but that doesn’t mean they’re done with backpacks. (Is anyone ever done with backpacks?) Give them a backpack to be proud of, whether they’re heading to class or to work, with this athleisure-esque option, which boasts a laptop sleeve, a durable, washable material, and side pockets for water bottles, keys, and more.
To buy: $175; dagnedover.com.
Open Spaces Medium Wire Baskets
Storage is in short supply in any dorm room or first apartment. Help them out a bit—and offer a small suggestion that they get organized right off the bat—with these sleek baskets, which can be used for everything from storing clothes to decorating to holding kitchen essentials.
To buy: $56 for two; getopenspaces.com.
Five Two Silicone Straws
Encourage their sustainable leanings with this colorful, reusable silicone straw set, which includes 10 straws, four travel cases, and even some cleaning squeegees—plenty of extras in case they lose a few straws along the way.
To buy: $25; food52.com.
Birdies Starling slippers
Give them appropriate, comfy (and still cute) footwear for shuffling across campus and to the dining hall: These super cushioned slippers have a no-slip sole, so they can take it outside, and chic uppers they’ll be proud to show off at the next study hall.
To buy: $95; birdies.com.
Stuff gets lost. And stuff seems to get lost quite a lot for those newly out on their own. Help your recent high school graduate keep track of their possessions with these small trackers, which stick easily to headphones, laptops, water bottles, and more and link to an app on their phone for easy finding.
To buy: $40; target.com.
Is anything more perfectly suited for a dorm room or first apartment than a bean bag chair? This one is extra plush, with a machine washable cover: the perfect spot for studying, gaming, and more.
To buy: From $325; lovesac.com.
DryBar DoubleShot Blow-Dryer Brush
College is both a time of messy buns and sloppy ponytails and polished, groomed locks, depending on the occasion (and the day of the week). Help them out a bit with this clever blow-drying brush, which dries and smooths hair at the same time, helping them save time in the morning or before an evening out with friends.
To buy: $150; nordstrom.com.
Ettitude Bamboo Lyocell PJ Set
Baggy T-shirts and leggings are always a solid fallback, but give them permission to dress up their jammies a bit with this sleek set, which is made of a sustainable bamboo-based fabric. (And if they end up wearing the shirt to class because they overslept, they can just pass it off as fashion.)
Polaroid Instant Print Digital Camera
Convince the recent grad to ditch their clunky printer with this handheld camera that allows you to capture high-quality photos on demand. The compact, 16-megapixel device is equipped with multiple modes for different moods, meaning you can capture the moment in vibrant color, black and white, or vintage effect.
To buy: $100; amazon.com.
Casper Glow Lamp
For the grad who fully embraces the snooze button, this innovative bedside lamp from the sleep experts at Casper is a serious game-changer. Glow is a gradually dimming light that helps you wind down before bed, plus it syncs up to the Casper Glow app, a handy program that schedules morning wake-ups.
To buy: $129; casper.com.
DIY Cross Stitch Kit
Gift your millennial coed a five-inch cross-stitch craft. Difficulty level: challenging but doable.
To buy: DIY Cross Stitch Kit, $18; thestrandedstitch.com.
The Real Simple Guide to Real Life
When it comes to being a proper adult, Real Simple has you covered, thanks to our tell-all guide that tackles tricky obstacles like apartment hunting and negotiating one's salary. Gift any grad with the guide and rest easy knowing they'll reach for it during tough-to-navigate times.
To buy: $11; amazon.com.
Apollo Tools Household Tool Kit
Help them handle every at-home task with this handy tool kit equipped with all of the right gadgets for the job. Each kit features time-saving assistants like a cordless screwdriver, adjustable wrench, long nose pliers, and other useful bits.
To buy: $45; amazon.com.
Mark & Graham Commute Clutch
Help her keep track of her goods on the go with this handy leather clutch. Available in nine versatile colors, each accessory boasts enough space for a phone, keys, cards, cash, and chargers, making morning commutes a breeze.
To buy: $129; markandgraham.com.
Adulting Survival Kit
Handle every inevitable gaffe or mishap with this genius survival kit mean to make sense of any sticky situation. Thank you notes and an amenity kit are just a few essentials, along with a lint brush, stain removers, and a handy laundry guide.
To buy: $25; papersource.com.
The Paper Works Sketchbook and Seriously Fine Felt Tip Markers
From art class (kraft) to office task (graph), this journal binds all of the essential papers into one book.
To buy: $15; amazon.com.
She’ll never miss an alert or call from Mom with this handy phone stand on the desk.
To buy: Metallic Phone Stand in rose gold, $14; boonsupply.com.
Essential 20s Guide Book
A new grad can use this foolproof guide to know what to keep on hand around the house—from helpful toolbox supplies to wardrobe staples.
To buy: Essential 20s, $11; amazon.com.
Maya Brenner States Pendant
Do your part to kick any feelings of homesickness before they ever set in. This pendant, available in sterling silver or gold and multiple lengths, keeps her home state (quite literally) close to her heart. For an extra-special gift, add a diamond to pinpoint her hometown.
To buy: from $98; mayabrenner.com.
Even when your wall sockets aren’t in use, they’re still using energy. But this socket shuts off after a pre-selected time (30 minutes, three hours, or six hours) so that you conserve energy, save money, and eliminate potential fire hazards when using things like space heaters, toasters, and irons.
To buy: $8; amazon.com.
I Just Graduated… Now What?, by Katherine Schwarzenegger
Graduation was fun and the four years that preceded it were even more fun… but once the commencement ceremony is over, graduating can feel like a really scary leap into the unknown. This book, told from the perspective of 30 highly successful notables, answers the tough questions: What to do in an unstable job market, balancing work and friends, choosing a lucrative career versus one your passionate about, and more.
To buy: $15; amazon.com.
Stylish enough for her studio apartment, sturdy enough for years’ worth of books and magazines (maybe even Real Simple), these bins are made from handwoven palm fronds. Inset handles with a stitched contrast trim make moving day a breeze. (As much as it can be, anyway.) With five additional patterns to choose from, there’s a bin to suit any style or decor.
To buy: From $38; serenaandlily.com.