Best College Graduation Gifts – Unique Ideas for 2023 Grads
Do you know a college student on the cusp of graduating? Did you just start panicking about choosing a college graduation gift? Have you found yourself in the dark, abysmal universe of online shopping? Does your internet search history look like a frantic string of phrases such as, “best college graduation gifts,” “college graduation gifts,” “college graduation gift,” “graduation gifts college,” “gifts graduation college,” “how much money to give for college graduation gift?” because you’ve hoped that rearranging the words in every possible way might lead you to an easy answer?Search no further! In this blog, I’ll talk about different types of meaningful and unique graduation gifts college grads will love and appreciate.
Personal college graduation gifts
Whether personal gifts are simply your style or you have a close relationship with the college graduate, these college graduation gifts will warm their heart.
1) Handmade card
Anyone can make a card with paper and a pen. Or you can get creative and add glitter or color. You can make the card wacky, sincere, funny, cute, spooky, pretty, or whatever you want. Above all, the time, thought, and energy required to make anything by hand will mean the world to any graduate.
Flowers can liven up someone’s day, they can liven up a sparse new home, and they smell lovely. Also, if you grow flowers at your home, you can create a bouquet that’s both extra personal and free. Flowers are timeless graduation gifts college graduates adore.
3) Letter or poem
A great option for those worried about how much money to give for college graduation gifts: the written word. Similar to a handmade card, you have limitless possibilities. You could write a heartfelt letter, a funny letter, a silly acrostic poem, a short and sweet haiku, a long, beautiful free verse poem, or even one of each.
4) Gift basket from home
Many college graduates have moved away from home. So hunt down any of their favorite locally exclusive items or locally sourced items. For example, if they have a favorite candy shop in their hometown and you live nearby, pick out candy from that shop. Or if there are any companies based in their home state, pick out some of their products. Then put together a college graduation gift basket of items to remind them of home.
5) Support and encouragement
Another great option for those who’ve worried about how much money to give for college graduation: showing up. This gift can be given at no cost. For instance, maybe they’re looking ahead to graduate school for their master’s degree. Or maybe they’re getting ready for the MCAT and medical school. Consider learning more about their next steps to enhance the support you can offer. They’ll value your listening ears and general knowledge.
Unique College Graduation Gifts (Continued)
Personal and practical college graduation gifts
These are graduation gifts college graduates will love for their personal meaning as well as their practical uses and benefits.
6) Thrift store shopping spree
Shopping for a new living space doesn’t have to break the bank. Take them to all your favorite nearby thrift stores and make a day of sifting through eclectic items. At most thrift stores you can find silverware, glassware, cookware, home decor, and furniture. Also, you can bond over the triumph of finding unique items at low prices.
7) Inspire them to pursue a hobby or interest
Often, personal hobbies and interests get pushed to the side while students focus on earning their degree. So consider ways to reignite a students’ long-lost passion as a college graduation gift. For example, if you know they once loved camping but haven’t had time for it, you could give them new camping gear.
8) Spa Day
After several stressful years, treating a recent grad to a day at a local spa would give them a chance to relax. But as a cheaper, equally fun alternative, you could treat them to a DIY spa day. You only need cucumber slices, a face mask, Enya, and whatever other self-care you want to throw in.
9) Help them dress to impress
Take them shopping for a new suit, shoes, or accessories. If they haven’t landed a job yet, they’ll wear your gift to wow hiring managers. If they already have a job, they’ll wear your gift to raise their confidence during presentations or tense work days.
Unique College Graduation Gifts (Continued)
10) Day with you
Yet another great option for those worried about how much money to give for college graduation gifts: fun with you. Similar to a spa day, this college graduation gift will allow graduates to recharge and reset. Take them for a beach day, a mini road trip, botanical gardens, or anywhere the two of you will enjoy.
11) Future weekend plans
Check out the area they live in. Then find a gift that will get them out of their house on the weekends to explore. For instance, if they like to hike, they’d probably love a State Park Pass or National Park Pass. If they like art, history, or science, they’d probably love a local museum pass.
12) Recipe book
At meal times, college graduates will love having a recipe book within reach to help them with ideas and cooking instructions. This will help them save money on takeout and help them build their cooking skills. Alternatively, if you have your own recipes to pass down, you could make a binder of recipes as a college graduation gift.
13) Diploma frame
Decorative and functional, a diploma frame will allow a college graduate to show off their diploma while keeping it safe. They’ll know you feel proud of them because you gave them a way to show off their diploma. Also, combined with their high school diploma and awards, they can make a gallery wall of accomplishments.
14) Beginner plant parent kit
Plants bring any space to life. But keeping plants alive can become a challenge for first-time plant parents. First, pick out an easy-to-care-for plant like pothos, ZZ plants, or philodendrons. Second, pick out a plant pot, preferably with a drainage hole. Third, print or write instructions on how to care for the plant. And finally, throw in anything else you think they could use. Now you’ve got yourself a beginner plant parent kit. The perfect college graduation gift for any graduate with a burgeoning interest in plants.
15) Appointment with a fee-only financial planner
While you may be thinking about how much money to give for college graduation gifts, college graduates are busy thinking about how money will affect the rest of their lives. Fee-only financial planners act as fiduciaries, meaning they have their clients’ best interests in mind. So an appointment with a fee-only financial planner can improve a college graduate’s financial literacy and set them up to have financial security.
Practical college graduation gifts
Graduating from college can often mean moving into a new living space and a new phase of life. These are graduation gifts college graduates will need. But if you feel nervous to give purely practical gifts, I suggest elevating the gift’s presentation. To help with that, I’ll include a note I recommend attaching to your gift for added pizzazz.
16) Tool kit
Imagine this: a recent college graduate just moved into an apartment. Exhausted after a full day of moving, they want to build their bed frame and go to sleep. But the instructions don’t make sense, they can’t get the bolts tight enough by hand, and their arms hurt. Then they remember the best gift out of all their college graduation gifts: the tool kit. You can buy them a preassembled toolkit. Or you can put a tool kit together yourself. For instance, you could put together a hammer, measuring tape, small drill, nails, pliers, and a wrench.
Recommended note: To build the life of your dreams!
17) Power outage kit
Everyone should prepare for power outages. However, in the chaos of graduating, moving, and starting a new job, most people forget about emergency preparedness. Help a recent graduate prepare by giving them a power outage kit. You can buy a pre-assembled kit. Or put together things like flashlights, batteries, candles, matches, dry shampoo, bottled water, and snacks that don’t need heat or cold.
Recommended note: For when your electric personality blows a fuse!
18) First aid kit
Similar to power outages, everyone should prepare to administer first aid to themselves or a roommate. First aid kits make extremely useful college graduation gifts. They can rest easy knowing they have a first aid kit ready in case of a medical emergency.
Recommended note: For when your mind becomes so sharp that you accidentally cut someone with it!
19) Cleaning supplies
They’ll have to clean at some point and when they do they’ll think of you. First, choose a bucket and mop, then fill the bucket with bottles of glass cleaner, surface cleaner, bathroom cleaner, soaps, and sponges. Also, for those worried about how much money to give for college graduation gifts, this option is fairly low cost.
Recommended note: To keep your home shining as bright as you do!
Unique College Graduation Gifts (Continued)
20) Car maintenance
Recent college graduates don’t have time to care for their car. You can lighten their to-do list by offering to take their car for routine maintenance, detailing, or a wash. They’ll appreciate having that time to focus on other things because of your college graduation gift.
Recommended note: To keep your ride as smooth as your career trajectory!
21) Air purifier
In many parts of the US, air quality can become a big concern, especially during fire season. Also, air purifiers help with allergies and can even double as a white noise maker or fan.
Recommended note: To refine your air the way you’ve refined your goals!
22) Fire extinguisher
Rental units should have a fire extinguisher on site, but often these extinguishers expire without anyone noticing. And frankly, you can never have too many. Fire extinguishers make wonderful college graduation gifts while they also save lives and homes.
Recommended note: You’re on fire (in your career)!
23) Food storage containers
Made too much food? Food storage containers. Ordered too much food? Food storage containers. Meal prep? Food storage containers. Bringing lunch to work? Food storage containers. They always come in handy.
Recommended note: You didn’t waste any time following your dreams, so why waste your food?
On busy mornings before work, they can use a steamer quickly and easily. Steamers don’t require an ironing board so they don’t take up much space. Also, fabric will last longer when using a steamer instead of an iron.
Recommended note: May wrinkle-free clothes bring you wrinkle-free days!
25) Toaster Oven
Toaster ovens use less electricity than a conventional oven and they heat up quicker too. They reheat leftovers well, keeping crispy food crispy. So when your college graduate wants to quickly reheat leftover pizza and make it taste fresh, they’ll thank you.
Recommended note: Let’s make toast to you and your future!
Best Unique College Graduation Gifts in 2023 – Final Thoughts
In conclusion, don’t worry about how much money to give for college graduation gifts. Instead, focus on the college graduates’ needs and your relationship with them. You can find graduation gifts college graduates will cherish on any budget.
Mariya holds a BFA in Creative Writing from the Pratt Institute and is currently pursuing an MFA in writing at the University of California Davis. Mariya serves as a teaching assistant in the English department at UC Davis. She previously served as an associate editor at Carve Magazine for two years, where she managed 60 fiction writers. She is the winner of the 2015 Stony Brook Fiction Prize, and her short stories have been published in Mid-American Review, Cutbank, Sonora Review, New Orleans Review, and The Collagist, among other magazines.
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