College graduation marks the end of one thing — pre-professional life, for most — and the beginning of real adulthood. Life changes in a hurry and demands some upgrades in utility, if not always in price, with job interviews, meetings and other steps upward looming in the near future. But giving the right gift doesn’t necessarily have to be investment-level; you can put something both thoughtful and useful in the basket for well below $50. If that sounds like the strategy you’re going for this season, you can get started with our picks below, and check out our other graduation gift guides.
Where I’m Calling From: Selected Stories by Raymond Carver
Carver helped revitalize the American short story in the 1970s and 80s, writing in deceptively simple prose about complex themes like love, marriage, family, blue-collar working life and personal struggle. It’s a crime that his work isn’t on most English class reading lists, but as they say, you shouldn’t let your schooling get in the way of your education.
Tweezerman Essential Grooming Kit
Putting your best face forward becomes more important than ever when you first enter the professional world — all the more reason to form good habits around grooming and hygiene. This kit of essentials will help.
Shinola Runwell Planner
Late spring might seem like a funny time to buy a planner, but this one goes for 18 months, ensuring whoever you gift it to will get at least a full year’s use out of it. And for the fresh-faced grad about to be busier than they’ve ever been before, a solid planner will be more than welcome.
Timex Weekender 38mm Watch
This is the analog watch at its most plain and basic, with a reliable quartz movement that’ll keep time for years. Add a leather strap to dress it up, or swap out colored NATO straps to match outfits — the price of entry is low and the potential for looking good is remarkably high.
Eddie Bauer Packable 45L Duffel
Weekend trips, gym sessions, beach vacations and overnights — a nice mid-sized duffel bag is eminently useful and more versatile (plus easier to store) than a suitcase. This bag also packs down into a little bundle when it’s not in use, allowing you to cram it just about anywhere.
Weber Smokey 14″ Grill
This compact little number from Weber is a classic choice that’s hard to mess up, and it’ll make a welcome addition to just about anyone’s first house or apartment.
Columbia Glennaker Rain Jacket
It’s no high-end designer rain jacket, but it’s packable enough to fit into a large purse, backpack or briefcase, which means it’ll serve its purpose and then some when the umbrella gets left at home. That’s a lot of value for not much money if it means the difference between getting soaked and staying dry en route to work in the morning.
Goal Zero Sherpa 15 Power Bank
Cheap power banks are all over the place, but most all of them are poorly made, poorly designed and don’t carry enough juice to keep your phone alive all day. This is the antithesis of all that.
Amazon Basics Home Tool Kit
Having the right tools for a home repair is at least half the battle, and with a toolkit this well-appointed, the new homeowner (or apartment tenant, as it may be) is equipped for just about any task.
Davek Mini Umbrella
This might seem like a lot of money for a tiny umbrella, but the tiny size makes it perfect to stow in your bag and forget it’s even there — until the next downpour, anyway. What’s more, Davek’s umbrellas are well-made and sturdy, meaning it’ll last through more than a few stormy walks home before you need to find a new one.
Uniqlo Ultralight Down Vest
Uniqlo does a lot of things well for not much money; its Ultralight Down collection is one of those things. The men’s vest is warm, ready for layering, and it looks just as good with modern office attire as it does with jeans, sneakers and a hoodie.
Brooks Brothers Repp Tie
There are plenty of great neckties out there, but this one from Brooks Brothers comes in multiple colors and can match just about any suit or ensemble. It’s also made well enough to last for years of regular wearing.
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
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