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As college comes to a close, there’s the ceremony with the chairs on the lawn and the polite clapping (more enthusiastically for that woman who got a double PhD—kudos). There’s the champagne in plastic cups and the celebratory family meal at the local restaurant. Then it’s time for the good stuff: graduation presents!
So what should you give as grad gifts? You want to get them something to help prepare them for things to come, be it their first “real job,” moving to a new place, or taking some time off to find their true calling. But you also want to get them something they’ll actually use and not just politely thank you for, then put on a shelf somewhere to gather dust.
The fact that you’re here means you’ve already taken the important step of avoiding the dreaded “fancy pen,” “smashing the glass ceiling” paperweight, and motivational cat poster gifts (good job). The next step is checking out the best college graduation gifts around, no matter who you’re shopping for.
By finding a gift that sets them up for the next chapter in life, you show that you’re proud while giving them something practical. Nobody wants a gift that will go straight into a memory box. Make it a present that’s perfect for the specific grad you’re celebrating.
Whether it’s late-night fast food, pints of beer, or binging candy, the college years aren’t always the healthiest. Giving the gift of a nutritious smoothie maker will get your graduate off to their next stage of life on an energetic note. This super-easy-to-use blender can be used hands-free, and auto-shutoff with a countdown timer means you can walk away and start looking for jobs while you make a delicious banana smoothie. Its detachable blades let you give it a good clean before you pop it into the dishwasher. With a hefty 1,200 watts, you’ll be able to blend up tons of fruit and vegetables.
Now that your grad is entering the real world, they’ll need to keep track of endless meetings, appointments, and other work-related events. An Apple Watch is a great college graduation gift to be used every single day. With a Retina display and digital crown, the 38mm watch is one of the best smartwatches on the market. Get your emails and texts on your wrist, and use Siri to pretty much get any task done with the simple twist of your arm. They’ll never be late again.
The real world is filled with new tasks for the new graduate to get used to. Cooking a properly tasty meal is high up on the “real grown-up” checklist. An Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 electric pressure cooker is the perfect reason to start having dinner parties. Whether it’s steaming, sauteing, or sterilizing, there are so many uses for this space-saving kitchen appliance. You can even make yogurt in it!
House plants and grow-your-own kits are very in right now, so this flower-plant terrarium with a swivel wooden stand is perfect for nature-loving grads. If they were a Biology or Horticulture major, even better, although hopefully it doesn’t remind them too much of those hours spent in the lab. This terrarium is multifunctional and would look great as a decorative feature on a desk or on a bookshelf. You can propagate multiple different plants in the three heat-resistant glasses, or just use the whole thing as an apothecary-style drinks display.
Want the best college graduation gifts for her? Pandora is a classic milestone gift for a reason. You start off with a simple sterling silver snake chain, then purchase additional Pandora charms to mark special life events (starting with graduation). That way you eventually build a unique bracelet that reflects your grad’s journey. A range of adorable graduation charms are available on Amazon, including mortarboards, piles of books, and wise owls.
Searching for the best graduation gifts for him? After graduation comes the inevitable long line of job interviews—or an actual job if your grad is lucky enough to have something already lined up. These Calvin Klein silk ties come in a range of subtle and tasteful designs, and would pair well with any smart suit. They also come in bundles of two.
Every graduate will appreciate a coffee maker for the road ahead. This Hamilton Beach two-way brewer lets you make a full pot or just a single cup for the road. You can choose the brew strength and keep your pot hot for hours. New graduates’ schedules can get pretty hectic, so the gift of caffeine will be much appreciated.
Did your graduate spend their four years watching Wes Anderson films and writing poetry? They may be the perfect recipient for an old-school instant camera. The Fujifilm Instax is an amazing throwback to Polaroids of the past but way more reliable. It comes with a pack of film so you can get shooting right away (say, at commencement). Even better is the beautiful case and photo album it comes with. That’s way better than Instagram since you can literally hold onto it forever.
It’s time to level up from warm beer in Solo cups. This set includes four glasses, whiskey stones, and a decanter. And it can be used for pretty much any kind of liquor.
If your graduate has the travel bug, set them off on the right path with this scratch-the-world map. It’s a nice way to scout out their next adventure and track all the countries they’ve visited.
When getting gifts for college graduates, you want something that marks the significance of the event but also helps set them up for their new life. Entering the real world can be tough; make it just a tiny bit easier with a thoughtful gift to get them on their way.
PopSci wants to help you find the most useful and expert shopping recommendations for the best gift ideas. Searching for more unique gifts? Check out more gift guides here: Gifts for College Students, Educational Gifts, Best Gifts for Small Apartments.