Gift Ideas for Your College Graduate

Your college student is graduating.  Congratulations!  It’s possible that your student will move on to graduate school, or begin a career.  Whichever the direction, this is a milestone and you want to mark the moment with an appropriate graduation gift.  Your graduation gift may be large or small, practical or sentimental, but it may be time for some “real life” tools.

We know how personal special gifts should be.  These gift suggestions are intended to be starting points for your own creative thinking.  Some will be out of range for you financially and some will seem silly to you.  Take them for what they are and add the spin of how well you know the personality, needs, and interests of your graduate.

Use these possibilities to start your own imagination working. Have fun imagining and growing your own ideas.

Personalized leather portfolio – Your graduate may be either participating in interviews in the coming months or attending business meetings for the first time.  A quality leather portfolio will look polished and help her keep her papers together.

Travel Accessories – Your graduate may be traveling as part of a new job, or just for a well-earned vacation.  Consider accessories that might make traveling easier.

Luggage – If your graduate may be travelling, this may be the perfect time for some grown-up luggage.

Passport case – For the young professional who may need to travel, consider a leather case for passport and important documents.

Remote presentation device – Perhaps your young professional may be called upon to give PowerPoint presentations as part of a new job.  If so,  this device allows him to wander from the computer and still have control of his slides.  It will help him polish his presentational skills.

Apartment furnishings – If your graduate will be setting up housekeeping in a new place, almost anything to help furnish a new apartment will be welcome.

Laptop bag or briefcase – Has your student been carrying his laptop in a backpack or rather well-worn messenger bag?  Consider a quality laptop bag or briefcase for a more professional look.

Business Card Case – New business cards should have a quality carrying case!

Wallet – Perhaps this is a good time for a new, leather, wallet for a polished look and grown-up feel. (And women need a grown-up wallet, too.)

WiFi internet hotspot  – This small device will help your graduate to work on a laptop away from the office or home.

Kindle – Carry books and other reading material in a compact form.

iPad – This will serve many functions for your graduate as she moves into the professional world.

Diploma frame – Your graduate may want to display his diploma on the wall of his new office or apartment.

Vacation – Perhaps you’ll choose to send your graduate on a vacation to celebrate the end of the college years.

Car – If your student doesn’t already have a car, this may be the time that it will become necessary.  If you can’t afford to give the car as a gift, you might be able to help your graduate make the purchase.

Car maintenance package – Give the gift of a year’s worth of maintenance and registration fees to your graduate.

Work-appropriate clothes – Depending on the field in which your new graduate will be working, he may need almost an entirely new wardrobe.  Gifts of work appropriate clothes may be especially welcome.

Tour of the city – If your graduate may be moving to a new location, consider giving her the gift of a tour of her new city or location.  Consider something fun like a bike tour, a segway tour, a duck tour, or a themed tour such as chocolate, wine tasting or a ghost tour.  Visit a website for the location for ideas.

Professional organization memberships – Is there a professional organization that your graduate might like to join?  Membership may provide him access to journals, networking, and job searching possibilities.

Gym membership – Your college student may have had access to outstanding fitness facilities at school.  Perhaps she’d like to continue to stay active with a membership to a local gym or fitness facility.

Artwork – Does your graduate have a new apartment or office to decorate?  Consider some artwork to help him move beyond college posters.

Personal finance kit – Help your student get started on the right foot with her finances.

Office or desk accessories – If your graduate has a new office, she may appreciate a few quality accessories.

Jewelry – Perhaps a piece of understated jewelry will help with your graduate’s professional appearance.  Consider a new watch, necklace, cufflinks, bracelet, earrings.

Food – consider a gift of food that lasts or continues to arrive throughout the year.  Consider fruit of the month, jelly of the month, coffee of the month, almost anything of the month.  If budgets are a bit tight, your graduate will continue to appreciate this all year.

A gift certificate or membership for cooking classes – If your graduate will be living on his own, it may be helpful for him to know how to do more than boil water.  Even if your student already has the basics down, now that he will be cooking regularly, he may enjoy being able to be creative in the kitchen. Consider specialty classes such as Asian cooking, Italian cooking, vegetarian cooking.

A good cookbook or two – Whether your student has never cooked regularly or is a gourmet chef, there’s always something new to look up and learn. Everyone needs a couple of reference books on their shelf.

Apartment furnishings – Many college graduates will be moving back home – but many others may be setting up their own household for the first time.  Many of today’s young people are less interested in your hand-me-downs or the gleanings of your attic or basement.  Help your student get started by offering to purchase a large item such as a sofa, TV, dining table or bed.  Or give a gift certificate and let your student choose what he most needs.

Books – Although your student is probably looking forward to a break from studying, the right books will still be welcome.  Consider something fun such as Dr. Seuss’s The Places You’ll Go  or something more practical. (Find more book suggestions on our book resources page.)

Four legged roommate – You’ll want to think carefully about this one, but if your student has always wanted a pet, and is willing to take on the responsibility, and will be living somewhere which allows pets, this may be just the thing.  Be sure to talk this over with your student first and think through all of the implications – unless you’re willing to adopt the pet if your student can’t keep it.

Something profession specific – Perhaps there is an item that is specific to the profession your student is entering which would mark the occasion.  A stethoscope  for medical personnel, leather briefcase  for a lawyer or business student, art supplies, hardhat , drafting table.

Investment portfolio – If you have an investment advisor you trust, or if you handle your own investments, put together a small portfolio to get your student started.  Or arrange an appointment for your student to meet with a financial advisor to get started planning a financial future.  Even if your student can’t add to the investments right away, she’ll feel as though she’s getting started.

Tickets – Buy your graduate season tickets to something she enjoys. Whether it is the symphony, sports team, or Broadway theater, your student may not be able to afford something such as this during her first years out of college.

Be sure to check out our Holiday Gift Ideas for more suggestions that can be used for graduation as well.

Whatever you choose to give to your college graduate, it will let him know how proud you are of all that he has accomplished.  You’ve both come a long way since those first nervous freshman days.  Enjoy this moment and celebrate with your graduate!  Whatever comes next will be a new adventure!

Note: We think these are great gift ideas for your student no matter where you purchase them.  If you use our links, College Parent Central receives a small percentage of your purchase price. This does not change the cost to you.  We think it’s only fair to let you know that.