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Fantastic Gifts High School Graduates Will Love (2024)

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With graduation season fast approaching, it’s time to start thinking about the best gifts for high school graduates. Get your senior ready for adulthood with these commemorative presents that are guaranteed to please.

As the new graduates get ready to turn their tassels marking the end of one chapter and the beginning of another, selecting the perfect graduation gift becomes an important task. And you want to choose wisely because it’s an opportunity to celebrate achievements and support their next steps.

Our guide to the best gifts for graduating seniors aims to assist you in finding a present that supports their future goals and commemorates their accomplishments.

Graduation caps thrown in the air with Gifts for High School Graduates graphic.

From practical items to sentimental treasures, there’s something for every graduate on this list. Whether it’s a token of their hard work, a practical gift to help them navigate a new job, or a useful item to support a year of discovery, our list of high school graduation gifts will guide you in finding the ideal present for your favorite graduate.

So cheers to new beginnings and endless possibilities! Celebrate with a memento that is meaningful, inspiring, and perfect for the transition to adulthood.

About this Guide to the Best Gifts for High School Graduates

May can be a busy month. And I mean busy with a capital “B”. After celebrating our amazing Mothers, it’s time to buckle up for what I like to call the “end of the school year express”.

From the sports banquets to the graduation parties your calendar will soon be bursting with activity. And with all the celebrations you’ll soon be asking “So what do I get my favorite graduating students?”. 

We’ll dive into some amazing ideas for high school graduation offerings and include a few quick tips for gift-giving etiquette.

How to Find the Perfect Gifts for Graduating Seniors

The best high school graduation gifts are fun, yet functional. As grads are entering adulthood and leaving home for the first time, they will need a lot of things as they transition to their adult lives.

But, don’t forget they also appreciate fun things. The perfect senior gift ideas are the ones that embody fun and function.

Look for items that provide entertainment or make for a stylish accessory. Think about the basics of dorm living if your grad is heading off to college. Space-efficient, functional items like coffee makers and a to-go mug make excellent choices. 

If the graduate is taking a gap year, look for items that will facilitate their travel or work plans.

Gifts don’t need to break the bank, but they should serve a purpose. This list of the best presents for high school grads gives a variety of options for functional, yet fun gift ideas.

To Give or Not to Give?

When it comes to giving gifts for high school graduates, it can often be tough to determine where to draw the line. Your child may be attending a dozen graduation parties, and the cost of gifts starts adding up. 

A good rule of thumb for giving gifts to graduating seniors is if you received a formal invite to the ceremony and you’re close with the grad, then yes, give a graduation gift. 

Or you can consider giving gifts only to extremely close friends of your grad, and letting the rest of the parties be more about celebrating than gift-giving. Whatever you decide, remember that you don’t have to spend a fortune – you can find good gifts for $25. And the grad won’t care how much you spent if it’s thoughtful or useful.

Still have questions about graduation gift-giving? Check out the graduation gift etiquette post for answers to your commonly asked questions.

Graduation cap photo with gifts for high school graduates text overlay.

Best Gifts for High School Graduates

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s get on to the gifts!

  • Academic Planner: Give the gift of organization to college bound seniors. Help them keep track of class schedules, assignments, projects and so much more.
  • A good backpack is a must-have for college bound graduates, travelers or those entering the workforce. I’ve had the medium sized Knack brand bag for several years and it’s my go-to bag – I love that there is a place for everything, including a laptop.
  • College survival kit: purchase a new laundry basket & fill it with a variety of snacks & convenience foods (instant oatmeal, ramen, soup), an electric kettle and laundry supplies (detergent, softener, dryer sheets, quarters). 
  • Jewelry: commemorate the special occasion with a personalized piece of jewelry for her or an engraved watch for him.
  • Subscription box: these make a great gift idea for college-bound graduates. Whether you choose a box focused on meals, snacks or self-care, it will give them something to look forward to every month.
  • Gift cards: Target or Walmart, gas cards, restaurants, Starbucks and Amazon are popular choices. If the graduate will be attending college, consider selecting cards for merchants and restaurants near campus.  
  • Journals are a great way to document new experiences.
  • Money: cold hard cash is king (not really). But it can be a great gift for a graduate who needs to make a big-ticket purchase or a few necessities.
  • Yearly subscription to Netflix, Hulu, Spotify or other streaming service.
  • Inspirational books: choose titles that offer life advice like The Freshman Survival Guide or motivational books.
  • Cookbooks are useful for those living on their own for the first time. Be sure to choose titles with beginner cooks in mind like The 5-Ingredient College Cookbook or The Easy College Cookbook.
  • Monogram stationary: these high quality cards and envelopes will make it easy to send a note to loved ones. Don’t forget to tuck in a book of stamps.

30 Awesome Gifts for Graduating Seniors

Practical & fun gifts for graduates heading off to college, traveling or starting a career. Gifts for boys & girls, and budgets big & small.

Fun Ways to Present a Cash Gift

The general guidelines for cash gifts are the same as if you are giving a gift. If your bank account is fat and you’re feeling generous, feel free to give abundantly. Or scale back if funds are tight. Graduation is not an excuse to overspend. 

Cash and gift cards are acceptable high school graduation gift ideas. In fact, some graduates may prefer it. Receiving cash allows the graduate to pool the funds to purchase a big ticket item (like a new laptop for college). 

If you decide to go this route, be sure to check out these creative ways to package cash gifts:

As your graduate dons their cap and prepares to move on to the next chapter of their life, your gift can be a tangible reminder of the love and support you have for them. Whether it’s a useful gadget or a heartfelt keepsake the perfect gift can make this momentous occasion even more meaningful.

Did I miss anything? Drop a comment and let me know your go-to graduation gift ideas.

This post was originally published on 3/5/22 and updated on 4/17/24.

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  1. My friend’s daughter is going to be a graduate soon. I am thinking of giving her a gift which can be useful for her. Really liked your suggestions, especially the garment steamer one.

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