It's graduation season and that means we need to talk about gifts for grads. Many colleges have started graduation already, and the high schools will be graduating their seniors' in a few weeks.
Soon to be grads are now preparing for a new life, new career, and most likely, a new living situation. And it's really helpful to get a meaningful gift for them.
If you have a high school or college graduate to buy for but aren’t sure what to get, here are ten awesome gift ideas that grads are sure to love.
Let’s face it: money will always be the gift that both high school and college grads are hoping to get.
Since most new graduates are living on a very limited income the cash gifts they receive from friends and family is a huge help.
You can’t go wrong with money.
If you don't want to just give money by itself, consider giving an actual share of the graduate's favorite stock (or an ETF). There are a number of websites dedicated to this exact option.
However, if you’re looking for a more creative solution or just don’t like the idea of handing out money and/or stock, here are some of the other top gifts for college grads.
When you give a gift card you’re giving a grad a chance to “splurge” on something they want. You could give a gift card to a favorite store, a grocery gift card, or even a gift card for purchasing gas.
Just think, if you have a high school graduate, they may be concerned about the impending costs associated with going to college, so they might not want to spend the cash you give them. If you have a college grad, they might be dealing with student loans.
A gift card says, "hey, go enjoy this for yourself". Also, Amazon is a great gift card for every occasion.
Related: How To Buy Discounted Gift Cards
Recent high school and college grads will be going through a lot of changes in the next several months. Professional clothing is a must! For college grads, it's interview time to get that job they want to land after graduation. For high school graduates, it's preparing for a new college look.
If you know the clothing sizes and style of the person you’re buying for consider purchasing a professional looking outfit or just piece of clothing (like a nice blazer). I've talked about how buying a suit was one of the best expenses I had after graduation.
Custom Business Cards
If the graduate you’re buying for will be attending networking events or plans on starting a freelance career, business cards will be an essential tool.
You can order custom business cards in the $50 - $100 range depending on which service you decide to go with.
My favorite place to get business cards is Moo.com. They have awesome card designs at a reasonable price.
A Nice Planner
Planners can help the high school or college grad you’re buying for stay organized. Scheduling job interviews, networking events, and other important meetings will be much easier. For the high school grad, staying on top of school events, meetings, and more.
Personally, I absolutely love planners and would consider a nice planner to be a fantastic gift.
Opt for a quality leather planner that allows for refill pages when the next calendar year rolls around. You can get one of these for about $30 from a place such as Amazon.
Help the person you’re buying for standout from the competition by hiring a resume service.
A resume service will write a high quality resume and cover letter for you. They’ll highlight skills and accomplishments in a professional way. And since resume services are highly knowledgeable in hiring practices the person you’re buying for will have a step up from the competition.
You can have a resume and cover letter created for about $100 from a resume service.
A Tool of the Trade
Is the college grad you know excited to get started with their new career? If so, consider purchasing “a tool of the trade.”
Here are some ideas:
- Stethoscope for a nurse
- Children’s books for an elementary teacher
- Desk organizer for office workers
Find something fun and useful that is career related. This will be a hit gift and will help enthusiasm for work grow.
Wondering how this could fit for a high school graduate? Consider getting them a backpack or briefcase, a new computer, or something that will help them on their college journey.
Good Alcohol (For The Over 21 Grad)
How many college grads haven’t spent their fair share of time over the past four years consuming alcohol? Not many.
If you’re feeling fun treat the person you’re buying for with their favorite alcoholic beverage. Buy them a case of their favorite beer, an expensive bottle of whiskey, or a nice bottle of wine.
Want to kick this up a notch? Take them on a winery or brewery tour, or do a whiskey tasting. Many grads want to learn more about beer, wine, and spirits, and a fun event could be just the thing!
Personal Finance Books
Ok, not the most exciting gift – I know. But personal finance books are a must needed gift.
Since students are racking up major debt pursuing their degrees why not give them some books that can help them start their young adult lives off on the right foot?
Here are some suggestions:
- I Will Teach You To Be Reach by Ramit Sethi
- The Neatest Little Guide to Stock Market Investing by Jason Kelly
- The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley
Also, check out our list of the best personal finance books here.
Whether you're a college grad leaving the dorm and moving out on your own, or the high school grad leaving your house and moving into the dorm, some cool room furnishings can be great gifts. That’s why home décor and home furnishing makes it on the list!
Ask the person you’re buying for what type of items they still need for their new place and find something that fits in with your budget category. And remember, if you don't want to screw this up, go back to #2 and just buy a gift card.
Final Thoughts On Gift Ideas For High School Or College Grads
When thinking of what gift to buy a new college graduate think of the personality and style of the person. When in doubt, young adults love money and gift cards, so don't think "I'm not being thoughtful" if that's all you get them. Trust me, it will be well received.
Another subject that people bring up a lot is how much should I give? Well, that's personal, but a good amount is either $50 or $100 depending on how close the graduate is to you. If it's a friends child, maybe $50? But a niece or nephew, maybe $100?
As long as your gift helps them in this new chapter of their life, it’s sure to be a hit.
What other gifts would you buy new high school or college graduates?
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him on the About Page, or on his personal site RobertFarrington.com.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.