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Gifts Ideas for the Graduate in Your Life

Finding the perfect graduation gifts for grandchildren and other young people requires some thought. Do you present them with carefully made DIY graduation gifts, or would they prefer practical gifts to help them get through college or survive that all-important first year of work?

The answer depends on the graduate. Consider their personal preferences and personality as you brainstorm graduation gift ideas. If they’re sentimental, homemade gifts or family heirlooms make unique graduation gifts. If they’re focused on the challenges and opportunities of college, gifts to help them customize their dorm room or study aids might be better choice.

With that in mind, here are a few graduation gift ideas to inspire you. Graduating high school or college is a momentous event in a young person’s life, so mark the occasion with truly unique graduation gifts. 

Gifts for the Sentimental Graduate

If your graduate values unique gifts, family, and their relationship with you, any of the following make excellent and unique graduation gifts:

Homemade Gifts

If your grandchild has always admired your embroidery, woodworking, cross stitch, or painting skills, take advantage of this and make their graduation gift. A beautiful piece of needlework or a hand-carved picture frame will be treasured for life. 

Personal Letters

Grandchildren often find it hard to believe, but you were once as young as they were. The times may have changed, but as a young person, you experienced many of the doubts and dreams young people feel as they move into their adult lives. Take advantage of this with a heartfelt letter, sharing your memories from this exciting time of life. 

Family Heirlooms 

Family keepsakes make truly unique graduation gifts for grandchildren. Items of jewelry, watches, or small ornaments you know your graduate loves are meaningful gifts. Just remember graduates will likely move for college or work, so make sure your present is small enough to be portable. 

Graduation Gifts for College-Bound Kids

Graduates going to college need study materials, backpacks, and items to make dorm life as pleasant as possible. They may not be unique graduation gifts, but if your graduate is preparing for their first year of college life, the following make excellent presents:


Choose a sturdy backpack with plenty of compartments and pockets, then fill it with little items to make studying easier. Possible items include: 

  • Erasers

  • Highlighters

  • How-to books on college life

  • Notebooks

  • Pencil sharpener

  • Pens and pencils

  • Reusable water bottle

  • Scotch tape

  • Stapler

  • Sticky notes

Dorm Survival Aids

Help you graduate adapt to dorm life with these gifts:

  • Cookbooks for simple one-pot or instant pot meals

  • Electric kettles or instant pots for in-dorm meals

  • Portable Bluetooth speakers

  • Throw blankets for comfort and warmth

  • Wireless headphones to block out dorm noise while studying

Electronic Devices

Modern colleges require modern study solutions. A new laptop, phone, or tablet will see plenty of use throughout college. 

Gifts for the Future

Whether or not they go to college, graduates are ready for independence and their future careers. The following items make great graduation gifts for grandchildren as they make their way in the world:

  • A long-term savings plan and a promise to match the graduate's contributions.

  • An emergency fund savings account with some money already deposited in it.

  • Car maintenance, cooking, budgeting, or other lessons an adult needs to know.

  • Interview clothes and other professional work clothing.

If you’re at a loss, ask your friends what types of gifts they gave to graduating grandchildren, nephews, and nieces. Active adult communities are wellsprings of inspiring ideas for graduation gifts, as you can draw on community members’ experiences.

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