By Kara Mason

10 Practical & Meaningful Gifts for College Grads That They Will Love


From one chapter to the next, these gifts will make the transition seamless.

“Your education is a dress rehearsal for a life that is yours to lead.” — Nora Ephron, writer

The ending of a chapter is a big moment, but for graduates, there is a lot of excitement for what is ahead and the celebration of what was accomplished. It takes a lot of work to get to be able to walk across a stage and retrieve a diploma!

This time of year is bittersweet for so many college students, whether they’re onto the next degree or heading out into the “real world”. Honor the graduates and all of their hard work with a gift that is both meaningful and useful. Grads are going to need something that is a little bit of both!

Picking out a gift for college grads

If picking that graduation gift seems a little stressful, you’re not alone. There are so many options, but there are a few that are sure bets!

This is the time to gift something they may need more than they want. For any other holiday or birthday, giving cooking pans or office supplies might seem odd, but there’s a certain air of excitement about getting those things when you’re about to start a brand new adventure. 

Consider these when picking out a gift:

  • Where the graduate is heading next. If they’re on to another degree, they may still be living in a dorm or small apartment. Aim for something really useful or small. Or both. If they’re off to a career or more stable living arrangements, think about something a little more luxurious. 
  • Budget. You don’t have to spend big to say you’re proud. The thing about graduations is that it’s a celebration of accomplishments. Even something inexpensive, like a nice pen or a new planner, if it speaks to their accomplishments and future potential, can be really meaningful.
  • Your relationship. If you’re close, a more sentimental gift is great. Jewelry or decor can work well because you have a sense of their style. But if this isn’t somebody you know well, stick to something universal, like stationary or a journal to help plan their future.

When you’ve done some thinking, ponder over these options. Here are 10 ideas for gifts for college grads that are sure to bring a smile to their face (and actually be used!).

1. Lessons Learned Notepad 

Author C.S. Lewis may have said it best: “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.” 

Each new chapter of life comes with its own set of challenges, and wading through them for the first time can be difficult. The Lessons Learned notepad makes it a little easier.

This notepad is the tool every new grad needs to overcome any minor setback they may encounter on their next endeavour. It’s built around “the 5 whys,” which digs down to the heart of a problem, eventually leading you to a new path or solution. This pad can help normalize the idea that challenges are just part of the process, so your grad can grow without fear.

2. Homesick Candles 

Sometimes our dreams take us far away, but that’s okay. A scent can bring us back for a moment. There’s a Homesick Candle for everybody. Whether the smell of home is the bluegrass of Kentucky or a seat in grandma’s kitchen, there’s a candle that is sure to transport your grad back there.

3. S'well Traveler Mug

Grads are always on the go, either from class to class or interview to interview. Help them keep hydrated with the perfectly convenient and equally stylish S'well Traveler Mug, which comes in a bevy of colors and designs. The 12 ounce version keeps beverages cold up to 21 hours and hot for up to 9 hours, so they’ll never have to worry about a cold coffee on the subway.

4. Gratitude Journal

Life moves fast and there’s a lot to be thankful for, but taking the time to appreciate it all can be difficult. New graduates know this especially well. They’re closing one chapter and moving on to the next. A gratitude practice can help keep those good memories close while building a sense of hope for the future. The Ink+Volt Gratitude Journal has 60 blank daily entries plus 10 weekly challenges to help you to enhance your practice.

5. Rose Gold Desk Set 

Whether your grad’s next stop is another degree or out in the workforce, send them there with a stylish desk set. It’s perfect for students and professionals alike and fits right into any work space, whether it be in a dorm or an office.

6. MasterClass Subscription 

Even as a graduate there’s still a lot to learn. MasterClass is loaded with lessons from industry leaders, such as Vogue’s Anna Wintour, photographer Annie Leibovitz, and conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall. Each of these classes are packed with lessons not learned in a classroom — which is the real key to success, right? This gift will keep giving.

7. Kate Spade Bangle 

Let there always be a reason to stop and smell the roses, even if it’s the inside of this Kate Spade bangle bracelet. It’s a sweet reminder to enjoy the small things no matter how hectic life gets, and it’s stylish too. 

8. One Cup Keurig 

Perfect for small spaces, the K-Mini also saves time and money. A win-win-win. A personal coffee maker is great for recent graduates because, even though they’ve just aced all of those finals, they are probably still in need of a quick pick-me-up in the morning.

9. Mini Instant Camera 

The present moment might not feel very glamorous or photo-worthy, but the memories that come along with a photo are almost always priceless later on. Help a recent grad capture them all with the Fujifilm Instax Mini Instant Camera. The camera is a fun throwback with a modern twist they will surely love for all those photo-worthy moments to come.

10. A Lavish Robe

Now that they’ve done all the hard work, it’s time for a little R&R for the graduate in your life. There should always be time for relaxation, and it’s always a little easier in the comfiest robe. The Atlantic Robe from Brooklinen is made from ultra soft jersey fabric, so whether there is more studying in their future or a well-deserved rest period, this robe will be up to the task.