26 Graduation Gifts That Are Fun and Practical (But Mostly Fun)
It can be tricky to shop for teens and young adults, but fear not: we did the leg work for you. New graduates need plenty of stuff—but they want plenty of stuff, too. Our editors handpicked more than two dozen gifts that are a perfect combination of the two. And none of them will bust your budget. Hats off to that!
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.
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, $13; boonsupply.com.
Turn even the smallest outdoor space into hangout central with this grown-up inflatable pool that fits four adults comfortably.
To buy: That’s Banana(leave)s! Minnidip Luxe Inflatable Pool, $70; minnidip.com.
This sturdy, lockable bike basket is the cutest way to transport books to class or a picnic to the park.
To buy: Buca Boot, $225; bucaboot.com.
Whether or not her career path involves chemistry, this trio of scented candles will add a quirky touch to her decor.
To buy: Beaker candle set, $75 for 3; bando.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: $20, urbanoutfitters.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, $15; amazon.com.
The Paper Works Sketchbook and Seriously Fine Felt Tip Markers
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: $80, baublebar.com.
Small Batch Tonic
A lesson she probably didn’t learn in college: Fine tonic is the key to grown-up cocktails. This small-batch version is a quinine concentrate infused with botanicals and sweetened with cane sugar for a literally bitter/sweet addition to most drinks. Want to mix it up? Package it with a fine bottle of gin or vodka.
To buy: $16, jackrudycocktailco.com.
Turn Off Your Straightener Printed Doormat
Those 6 a.m. wakeup calls are tough and, sooner or later, her straightener is bound to be forgotten amidst the frenzy of prepping for the day (Getting dressed! Letting the dog out! Packing lunch!). This whimsical entryway décor will be the envy of all her friends, plus it’ll help to ensure she doesn’t make a potentially dangerous mistake.
To buy: $33, bethereinfive.etsy.com.
Experience Passport: 45 Ways to Broaden Your Horizons, by Alex Egner
Bound to become more frequently used than his regular passport, this pocket-sized book features exercises and prompts (host a dinner party, volunteer at a charity event, draw a self portrait every day for a month) to encourage introspection, self-exploration, and a greater appreciation for the world around him.
To buy: $7, amazon.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: $14, amazon.com.
Diploma Tassel Frame
That diploma he worked so hard to earn paid off big time when he scored his first full-time job. Gift a frame that lets him admire and, well, show off that important piece of paper. The frame, which can be personalized with a variety of colors and the year he graduated, has a spot for his tassel, too.
To buy: $85, amazon.com.
Thinking of giving your niece money for graduation? Instead of a check, consider a taste of investing. With this service, you can select from more than 6,000 stocks and funds to send as an e-gift, spending as little as $20 or as much as $2,000. When she retrieves her gift, she can open a free brokerage account and access her investment. Stocks stay in a custodial account until the recipient is age 18 or 21 (depending on the state). As for fees, senders pay $3 per gift, plus 3 percent of the gift value. So for a $100 gift of stock, the total would be $106. And who knows what that might grow into.
White Leather Mouse Mat
Give her modest mouse an instant upgrade with a handmade two-toned leather pad, 8 by 9 ¼ inches. We’re partial to this gold-and-white geometric version, but—with more than 10 versions to choose from—the possibilities are almost endless. Just take your click!
To buy: $35, empressionstar.etsy.com.
Lucky Token Keychain
Wish you could be sure she didn’t lock herself out of that new apartment when you can’t show up with a spare? She'll hold on tight to her keys with this good luck charm. An engraved bar reminds her to always take the adventurous route.
To buy: $14, anthropologie.com.
Monogrammed Stainless Steel Bar Tool Set
His first real pad requires a grown-up tool kit—for cocktails, that is. The stylish stainless steel set includes a double jigger, ice tongs, a strainer, and a bottle opener. And these utensils are new-grad friendly, meaning they can withstand spins in the dishwasher. Monogram the set with a single or triple initial.
To buy: $37, williams-sonoma.com.
Key Hiding Rock
Make sure your graduate doesn’t have to worry about getting locked out—again. Handmade from a real stone found along the New England coast, this rock will blend right into the environment but has a secret cavity that provides an inconspicuous spot to stash a spare set of keys. It’s time to take the neighborhood locksmith off speed dial!
To buy: $22, uncommongoods.com.
Airmail Mailing Labels
Increase your chances of receiving a handwritten note with a stack of personalized labels inspired by air-mail designs (adding a booklet of stamps would help, too). All she’ll need to do—besides write the letter, of course—is plant one on an envelope. Available in a variety of colors.
To buy: $22 for 25, thepaperwink.com.
Caran D’Ache Ballpoint Pen
A traditional gift that's bold and cool enough for the college kid? Write on! Plus: Anything that makes hours of homework a bit more bearable (or at least more colorful) is, well, worth writing home about. Available in a variety of fluorescent colors.
To buy: $17 each, 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 dÃ©cor.
To buy: From $38, serenaandlily.com.
Roman Numeral Hand Stamped Brass Cuff
Engraved Roman numerals are an epic reminder of an important date—a graduation, maybe? The brass cuff is unique but simple enough to stack with her other favorite bracelets. Order with plenty of time to spare, since the lead-time is four weeks.
To buy: $30, accessoryconcierge.com.
Cosabella Bella Plus Short Sleeve and Boxer Pajama Set
Forget the T-shirts and shorts that passed for pj’s in the dorm. This soft and cuddly set all but guarantees sweet dreams. Available in two colors: pink with blue ribbing or blue with pink ribbing.
To buy: $128.50, shopspring.com.
Six-Pack Bike Bag
Give your buff biker’s ride a six-pack of its own: a leather carrier to make convenience-store runs less cumbersome.
To buy: $60, amazon.com.
Back Me Up! Mobile Charger
A bright and bold backup charger to keep her powered up, no matter where her travels—or daily activities—take her. A cheeky message—free refills—adds to the charm. Works with all lightening port iPhones.
To buy: $35, shopspring.com.