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Graduating from college and high school means lots of new responsibilities under a potentially tight budget. Here are useful gifts for a graduate.
Both recent college and high school grads are likely feeling all the joy and sadness that habitually comes along with one life chapter ending and another opening up.
With new jobs and living arrangements comes a host of exciting opportunities and responsibilities to navigate. But it doesn’t necessarily come with the ideal budget.
Family members and friends can celebrate their graduate’s accomplishments while also selecting gifts that make the next few foundational years a little easier to acclimate to. Below are 38 thoughtful, useful graduation gifts for the Class of 2022.
The 38 best graduation gift ideas in 2022:
Since a number of companies give their employees work computers, it’s not totally necessary to get one’s own. But for streaming Netflix or surfing the web at home, an iPad can be a budget-friendly alternative that better suits their lifestyle.
We think the 2022 standard iPad is ideal for general-purpose use, and it’s surprisingly affordable. You can read more in our buying guide for the best iPads in 2022 for every need and budget.
Commemorate their college town, hometown, or favorite place in the world with this customizable graphic map so they can keep it with them wherever life takes them.
Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider
Sony’s WH-1000XM4 are our favorite noise-canceling headphones for their balance of sound quality, noise cancellation, and comfort, making them a great pick for long commutes, focusing during work, or relaxing.
They’re also one of the items featured in our list of the All-Time Best products we’ve tested.
Send flowers to your graduate — whether you’re sending them in lieu of being there yourself or as a supplement a digital gift or card. We highly recommend UrbanStems; the company’s bouquets are one of the best items we’ve ever tested.
If you’re looking for something that won’t be gone after a couple of weeks, you’ll also find options for potted plants and low-maintenance dried bouquets.
This mug will control the temperature of their coffee or tea, so they won’t have to reheat or dump it out every few hours. A former teammate called the Ember “life-changing.”
You can also buy a travel-friendly version.
Leatherology makes luxe leather goods and delivers them in gift-wrapped boxes. This laptop brief bag is one they can own for many years, and it’s a luxe step-up from the backpacks of their past. You’ll find a few more budget-friendly options at Herschel Supply Co.
Get them excited for their college days or commemorate them with a wearable bit of school spirit. Fanatics is full of clothing, hats, bags, balls, games, and drinkware for NCAA schools. Your grad will be able to spot a fellow alum from miles away.
Grab a funny, sweet card and use it to tell them how proud you are of them.
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If they drink (and are old enough to drink), send them a nice bottle of bubbly to celebrate their big achievement. Drizly will deliver it for you.
Your graduate may appreciate an upgrade in bedding to match their new chapter or their new space, whether it’s their first adult apartment or a dorm.
Brooklinen is a common recommendation for us — you get premium, can’t-wait-to-go-to-bed bedding at relatively affordable prices. Read our Brooklinen sheets review here.
Fitbit’s affordable Inspire 2 tracker has no shortage of useful features to keep someone informed about their physical activity — tracking calorie burn, resting heart rate, and heart rate zones. It’s also one of the least expensive Fitbit models.
You can find our ranking of the best Fitbits here.
Good news for your grad: they can buy as many lattes as they want. They just need to choose the right accounts and investments so their money automatically grows for them.
Libby Kane, Insider’s Executive Editor for Personal Finance, says she regularly buys a new copy of this book just to give away, and it’s an excellent introduction to making the most of your personal finances — especially if your graduate is young or new to managing money.
Milk Bar cakes are one of our go-to gifts to send to friends and family — especially when we can’t celebrate with them in person. We love their classic flavors as well as the limited-edition stuff, too. You can find a review of the Milk Bar cakes here. It’s also one of the Insider Reviews All-Time Best products.
Best Self Co.
The Best Self Co. Journal helps people map out their five- or 10-year plans in a tangible, easily managed way. It’s a nice way to provide growth and direction after graduation, whether your graduate is on their way to college, a new job, traveling, or anything else.
The Roku Ultra 3 stands out from other streaming device options thanks to its 4K and HDR support, speed, reliability, and large library of streaming services (Netflix, HBO Max, Rakuten Viki, etc.). Plus, if your graduate wants to watch TV on the big screen without disturbing anyone, it comes with headphones for private listening.
Most of us appreciate some nostalgia. Since your graduate may not feel like investing in a nice frame, frame a photo of their friends or some of their favorite memories from school or home, so they can take them anywhere.
If they’re entering a new career, they can hold their business cards in this polished cardholder. You can even opt to get it monogrammed, and it’ll arrive ready in a gift box.
Magic Spoon tastes like the sugary cereal some of us daydreamed about as kids, but it’s high in protein and low in carbohydrates. A childlike cereal for grown-ups is a fun gift and makes the transition to full-time adult a bit easier.
You can find a full Magic Spoon review here.
A nice, reliable blazer that can be worn for everything from interviews to days in the office (if that’s what your graduate’s next chapter includes) is a classic wardrobe staple.
Or, if you’d rather leave the decision-making up to them, give them a gift card to a store like Everlane, Banana Republic, J. Crew, Nordstrom, or Universal Standard so they can shop for their own post-graduate clothing.
Whether they’re heading into a new college town, starting a new job, or taking a gap year, there will be nights when it’s more convenient or safer for them to Uber home. Make it an easier decision with a gift card for a ride home.
Lots of graduates enter this new chapter with little cooking know-how. Mark Bittman’s cookbook, which teaches the basics in a fun, digestible way for newcomers is one of the best gifts you can give for people who don’t want to solely rely on takeout.
It even has a list of ingredients they might have in their fridge already — and recipes to make with them. We’re personally big fans of the “How to Cook Everything” cookbook.
An Away suitcase is a particularly thoughtful gift for grads living far from home or planning future travel. The cult-favorite luggage has an ejectable external battery that charges devices easily on the go, 360-degree wheels for no-hassle travel, and weighs only 7.6 pounds. Throw in packing cubes if you really want to go the extra mile.
If their new job or college major requires lots of early mornings, they’ll probably appreciate a good cup of coffee. We love the Bodum Chambord French Press; it’s timeless, compact, easy to operate, and entirely unfussy. It’s also affordable — so they don’t need to be too precious with it.
You can find all our favorite French presses here, though this is our number one pick.
We all occasionally want a break from being a grownup — and Disney Plus is a good place to do it. Disney Plus lets subscribers stream movies and shows from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and more. You can also bundle it with Hulu and ESPN+.
There’s a reason people seem obsessed with air fryers recently. They’re exceptionally convenient and can whip up everything from salmon and veggies to French toast sticks.
Shop our pick for the best air fryer, which heats up within seconds and turns out evenly crispy food with greater efficiency than an oven. If you’re looking for something at a lower budget, we’ve got recommendations for that, too.
Suits — especially the nicer ones — are a large yet ultimately useful expense for most masculine dressers, even if it’s only for special occasions rather than an everyday job. This is one gift your graduate will likely wear for years to come — and something they will likely need before they have the budget to afford it.
They may not have the energy to cook every night after work or classes. Get them a gift card for the impending evenings in which takeout feels essential.
We think the Sonos Move is one of the best Bluetooth speakers you can buy. It has excellent sound quality, a good battery life that can last up to 11 hours on the go, and convenient smart features such as connecting to smart assistants from Amazon and Google. It’ll be useful for travel or for listening to music at home.
If they’ve just graduated from college, send them into their next chapter with a memento of their alma mater. We love this dish towel because it still leaves the major decor decisions up to the graduate. Plus, they’ll use it frequently.
Foreo cleansing brushes are also one of the Insider Reviews All-Time Best products. The company claims it removes up to 99.5% of dirt and oil and gently buffs away dead skin cells, and both female and male reporters on our team loved the results. On top of being waterproof, rechargeable, and made from bacteria-resistant silicone, it leaves skin feeling clean and rejuvenated (like it’s just had a mini massage).
David Foster Wallace’s “This Is Water” is a 2005 commencement speech he gave graduates at Kenyon College. In it, he discusses life’s many inconveniences, challenges, and irritations — and how we might adopt a perspective that allows us to lead more compassionate, meaningful lives.
No matter what their work schedule looks like, it’s important that your graduate still gets healthy exercise. Lower the barrier to entry and gift them a ClassPass gift card. With it, they can try tons of boutique fitness classes in their area — or, if they need to unwind, meditation sessions or spa days.
Trade Coffee Company
If they like a great cup of coffee, they’ll enjoy Trade. The coffee subscription service has a huge variety of coffee, and it’s easy to customize based on their tastes. We ranked it as the best coffee subscription service you can join.
If they’re a tea drinker, we’d also recommend checking out an Atlas Tea Club subscription.
Thiago Prudencio/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
Starting a new chapter can be exhausting, and they may be pulling long hours studying or working. We recommend a gift card to Blue Apron (our top pick for meal kits) or Instacart (our top pick for online grocery services) to do their grocery shopping for them. Both will show up at their doorstep.
If your graduate goes through notebook after notebook, this reusable option offers a long-lasting solution. They can use the included pen to take notes, scan each page with an accompanying app to save the pages digitally, and then wipe away the notes to use the same page over and over again.
Give them the gift of a meditation app that can help give them the tools to destress, practice mindfulness (which has positive effects on personal happiness), and possibly improve their focus.
After graduation, the stress of a first apartment will include putting together furniture, Googling how to fix leaky faucets when your landlord avoids your calls, and enticing your friends to help you mount your living room TV with pizza. A toolbox may not be the most strictly “fun” gift, but it will absolutely be necessary — and they’ll appreciate it for years to come.
Pick up a gift card to a store with affordable home goods such as Target or the Container Store so your graduate can organize and decorate their new space with less stress.
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