Graduation marks more than just the culmination of four or more years of hard work — it’s the commencement of a new phase in a person’s life. It stands to reason, then, that the best types of graduation gifts manage to celebrate both a graduate’s accomplishments as well as prepare them for their next phase. The 30 gifts in our roundup below do just that — whether it’s as utilitarian as a great mattress or as indulgent as a fine watch — we’re sure you’ll find what you’re looking for.
Graduation Gifts Under $100
Any post-graduation backpacking or road trip should be fueled by the same nitro as all those late nights in the library: good coffee. Kuju Coffee has perfected the instant-coffee game, with ethically sourced blends packed in disposable pour-over pouches. And when they finally does move into his first post-grad apartment, there won’t be space for a countertop espresso machine anyway.
Suily Universal Cell Phone Holder
Simple yet practical, the Suily universal cell phone holder is an essential tool for any modern driver. The Suily works as a third limb to hold your phone where you need it when you need it.
Rastal Teku Stemmed Beer Glass
The red Solo cup has a time and a place, and that’s a backyard BBQ. For literally every other occasion, they’ll want a real beer glass. The Teku has become somewhat of a standard in the craft-beer community. It has a flared lip for easy-drinking, as well as thick glass that won’t readily chip when things get saucy.
CRKT Bev-Edge Pocket Knife
One of CRKT’s handiest new pocket knives is simple: just a short yet effective high-carbon steel blade and a bottle opener built into the handle. It likely has the two tools they’ll use most, and it fits comfortably into a pocket.
Best Made Co. The 15″ Toolbox
This toolbox is made from 22-gauge, powder-coated steel and looks good enough to keep out in the open. Beyond tools, your grad could just as well use it to store whatever else needs a home — stray cables, sticky notes, petty cash.
Givenchy Gentleman Cologne
A fresh take on the 45-year-old classic, Givenchy’s Gentleman is sophisticated and approachable. The men’s fragrance balances iris with notes of bergamot, lemon, rosemary and musk.
Nomad Base Station
Apple dashed many dreams when it canceled its all-in-one charging solution, AirPower. If you’re looking for the next-best-thing to simultaneously charge your iPhone and new AirPods, this is it. Nomad also sells a model that can charge your Apple Watch as well.
Graduation Gifts Under $500
Zojirushi Rice Cooker
Cooking is one of the hardest habits to pick up — especially after years hitting the university food hall. With a rice cooker, there are no excuses. And few manufacturers stand up to Zojirushi, whose rice cookers are standard in the company’s native Japan.
Sonos One (Gen 2)
The One is still the best smart speaker for most people. It’s completely versatile, able to play on its own, in a multi-room system or in a home theater setup. It also works with many streaming services such as Spotify, Amazon Music and Apple Music.
These are essentially sweat-proof AirPods. They’re the only other true wireless earbuds other than AirPods that have Apple’s new H1 chip, meaning they can pair super seamlessly with an iPhone. Also, if AirPods don’t fit in somebody’s ears, these probably will.
Audioengine A2+ Wireless Speaker System
These are terrific little speakers that can be hooked up to a computer, turntable or stereo receiver. Thanks to built-in Bluetooth, you can stream audio directly from your smartphone or tablet, too.
Peak Design Travel Backpack
With access points on the back, side and top, multiple handles for carrying, and shoulder straps and a hipbelt that tuck neatly away, Peak Design’s Travel Backpack is as well-designed as a bag can be. It also has theft-deterrent zippers, a hidden passport stash pocket and a specific place for sunglasses. All this and a volume that expands from 35 to 45 liters make it a bag they can truly live out of.
Red Wing Heritage Iron Ranger Boots
This classic style from Minnesota’s respected Red Wing Heritage brand is a worthy investment. With proper upkeep it will last for decades and it can be rebuilt again and again.
David Kind Richmond Sunglasses
Go for a quality pair of sunglasses has the power to elevate any outfit. This style from David Kind offers a great value for the materials and finish — you’d be hard pressed to find a Japanese-made frame with five-barrel rivet hinges and lenses with anti-reflective coatings for less.
Tecovas Large Weekender Duffle
Made from thick semi-vegetable-tanned leather, this weekender is the perfect size for short trips. It features a cotton canvas lining, a handful of interior pockets, brass hardware and a snap-close grab handle.
The new grad will be served well by Seiko’s popular Presage Cocktail Time. Dressy enough for a suit, retro-stylish enough for hanging out, and built well enough to last far down the road as a treasured memento, it’s a great way to enter the workforce as well as the world of mechanical watches.
Nexx XG100 Racer Record Helmet
Nexx Helmets is only 18 years old, but that doesn’t mean it can’t evoke the spirit and style of the ‘70s. The XG100 Racer blends modern performance and construction seamlessly with timeless style and design for an ideal helmet for the 21t century everyday rider.
Breville Bambino Plus Espresso Machine
Teach your grad the finer points of coffee with Breville’s Bambino Plus, one of the best value-driven espresso machines out there. It features a three-second heat-up time, shot pre-infusion and a uniquely impressive milk wand.
Graduation Gifts Under $1000
Big Agnes Tiger Wall 2 Platinum Tent
With room for two people and dual vestibules for gear storage, the Tiger Wall 2 offers a suite of comfort that exceeds its 2 pounds 4-ounce weight. Whether they take it on the trail or decide to live in it full-time, they’ll do so in comfort.
J.Crew Ludlow Suit
Everyone should own at least one versatile, tasteful suit. This option from J.Crew is cut from Italian four-season wool and features a 3-inch notch lapel, a two-button closure, and a double-vent.
Escort MAX360C Radar Detector
With graduation out of the way, it’s time to start paying off all the bills and loans. It’s sad but true. One thing a new graduate doesn’t need to add to the debt is speeding tickets and the Escort Max 360C is one of the best in the business.
Autodromo Group B Series 2 Automatic Orange
A watch might be a standard graduation gift but an Autodromo Group B Series 2 is anything but standard. The Series 2 evokes all the right parts from the wild-eyed Group B era of rallying with a high-contrast color pallet and industrial-like efficiency of design.
Hamilton Khaki Field Murph Auto
In the movie Interstellar, the character played by Matthew McConaughey gives this watch to his daughter and it serves to help them communicate across dimensions. Beginning life as a film prop and only later available for sale to the public, the watch has an added sentimental quality, and its timeless design is perfect for representing significant moments like graduations.
For the Grad Who Has Everything
Parachute The Mattress
Is your grad moving into their first apartment? Let them splurge on the things they want by taking care of the things they need — like a mattress. Parachute’s version is made to order in the U.S., and it skips the foam for a longer-lasting combination of wool, cotton and steel coils.
2018 MacBook Air 256GB Model
This is the perfect lightweight laptop for most people. It’s pretty, thin and powerful enough for everyday tasks. We recommend the MacBook Air with 256GB of storage, as the base model with 128GB of storage might not be enough.
A watch is a very traditional graduation gift, but the Marq is no traditional watch. It comes in different builds for athletes, explorers, drivers, pilots, and sailors and can display muscle recovery time or topographic maps. It’s a best-in-class activity watch disguised elegantly as something well, a little more traditional.
Nomos Glasshutte Club Campus 38 Night
This is one of the few watches specifically marketed with a collegiate theme, making it particularly appropriate for the young graduate. Furthermore, it’s one of Nomos’s most affordable watches, a German brand respected for its hip, Bauhaus design sense and in-house mechanical movements.
Oris Divers Sixty Five
The Divers Sixty-Five has been a home run for Oris with its retro-chic 1960s design, wearable size, and approachable price. With a Swiss automatic movement inside, it will get an approving nod from watch enthusiasts, is stylistically versatile, and will probably still be that way when your grandchild is graduating.
Tudor Black Bay GMT
The Tudor Black Bay GMT is for the graduate that’s going places, both in terms of career and international travel. The quality, in-house movement, and Tudor name afford some prestige, while the GMT function helps track a second time zone. It does all this with sporty panache and never looks boring.
Giving a car as a graduation gift can be a lofty endeavor, especially if the new graduate has their eyes set on a sports car. A fair compromise? The Mazda MX-5. It’s perfectly balanced in every way, is immensely fun in corners, but it’s still a car that flies under the radar.
Have a matriculating student in your life? We’ve pulled together all the best gifts to give after they’ve turned their tassel. Read the Story