15 Graduation Gifts They Will Actually Use

It’s almost that time of year — gowns donned and diplomas handed out. Yes, the little boys and girls you once knew are now young men and women graduating from high school and college.

Now that they are adults, get your graduates something useful that will give them a head start on life. Here are some practical graduation gifts suitable for high school or college grads.

1. Amazon Prime

Amazon is the go-to shopping portal for everything from gadgets to groceries. With Amazon Prime, your graduate gets free two-day shipping on Amazon purchases as well as free streaming for Prime Video and Prime Music. Graduates can also get e-books, e-magazines and more for free through Prime Reading.

A three-month Amazon Prime membership is $39, or you can buy a whole year for $119.

2. Streaming TV

Cable television is expensive. Fortunately, there are many good streaming options nowadays. They include:

3. Box of kitchen supplies

If your graduate is moving away from home after getting a diploma or degree, he or she will need to stock the new residence. Help out by gifting a collection of kitchen supplies.

Include inexpensive small appliances, such as a toaster or hot plate. Also, throw in pots and pans, measuring spoons and dishes.

4. Towels or linens

Help your new grad stock up on high-quality bed and bath items that won’t go threadbare in a month.

While it can be tempting to buy a sheet set, these can be tricky to gift unless you know the recipient’s bed size and fabric preference. For example, while some folks love flannel sheets, others want nothing but cotton. For that reason, bath towels and kitchen linens may be a safer bet.

5. Tool kit

Even those who aren’t handy can benefit from having a tool kit on hand. You can buy a toolbox with the contents already assembled or put together your own. Essentials for any box include:

  • Hammer
  • Wall hangers
  • Flat-head screwdriver
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Pliers
  • Measuring tape

6. Luggage

Even if your graduate doesn’t have wanderlust, he or she could probably still benefit from having a good piece of luggage standing by. Look for one that can be used as a carry-on for flights.

Luggage can be expensive, but you don’t have to break the bank to get your graduate a nice carry-on bag. Many quality brands are available for less than $100 — or just a bit more, like this highly rated Delsey carry-on luggage.

7. Noise-canceling headphones

Noise-canceling headphones make it easier to concentrate in loud environments.

While top-of-the-line noise-canceling headphones will set you back a couple hundred dollars, there are cheaper versions available. One best-selling model from TaoTronics is for sale for a relative pittance at Amazon.

8. Portable charger

These handy devices ensure your graduate won’t get stuck with a dead cellphone or other wireless device. Although there are high-end portable chargers available, many highly rated models can be purchased for less than $50. Look for one that offers fast charging, and wireless charging is a nice perk as well.

9. Cloud storage

Cloud storage offers a simple way to sync up files and save them for online retrieval should something go wrong with a computer or other device. Many cloud storage services offer a free version with limited features, but you could give your graduate a paid service for more bells and whistles.

For instance, for $69.99, Microsoft OneDrive will give your favorite student a year of cloud service through Office 365 Personal. He or she gets not only 1TB of storage space on OneDrive, but access to Word, Excel, PowerPoint and other applications as well.

10. Roadside assistance

Shocking as it may seem, fixing flat tires is not a life skill taught in most schools. Make sure your graduate has a Plan B available when he or she can’t decipher the cryptic description in the owner’s manual about how to release the spare tire.

AAA is the granddaddy of auto clubs offering roadside assistance services. Costs vary depending on where you live, but services typically include things such as four 100-mile tows, emergency starting, flat tire replacement and more. An alternative is the Allstate Motor Club.

11. Emergency kit

Hurricanes, floods, wildfires — having an emergency kit doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. However, it likely won’t be on the top of a new graduate’s mind. Help them out by giving a supply of essentials.

For the basics, you can’t go wrong with a flashlight, batteries and first-aid supplies.

12. Umbrella

An umbrella combines old school charm with practicality. Many good-quality, attractive umbrellas can be purchased for $25 to $50 or less.

Consider a classic, stick model for the dapper graduate or a compact, automatic one for the graduate always on the go.

13. Gym membership

If your high school grads are going to college, they probably won’t need a gym membership. Their campus athletic center should have equipment they can use free of charge. However, college grads will be losing that perk and might appreciate a gift membership to a local gym.

14. Coffee maker

To-go coffee can quickly take a bite out of anyone’s budget. If your grad loves a good cup o’ joe, get a quality coffee maker to encourage them to brew at home.

Connoisseurs may prefer one with a built-in grinder, while those who like their coffee flavored may prefer a basic machine along with a basket of syrups, creamers and other add-ins.

15. Gas or grocery gift card

No matter where your graduate is going next in life, it’s going to cost some money to get there. Graduates won’t need to spend so much if you give them a gas card or transit card as a graduation gift.

Groceries are another staple of life. Even college students need to run to the store occasionally to stock up on ramen and snacks. Scout out which grocery store will be closest to your graduate’s new home base and buy a gift certificate for that shop as a parting gift.

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