high school graduation gift ideas
The National Retail Federation expects graduation spending to reach $5.2 billion this year. Although the most popular gifts are cash and gift cards, they’re not the only things grads will love and appreciate. With that in mind, here are some high school graduation gift suggestions.

1. Backpack, Duffle Bag or Trunk

Those headed to college will really appreciate a duffle bag or trunk, which can help with each year’s move into the dorms or off-campus housing. The backpack might get even more use — not just to tote books to the library, but also for any travel or study abroad that your gift recipient might embark on.

2. Bike

Many colleges don’t allow freshmen to have cars on campus, saving parking for upperclassmen. This is just one of many reasons why a bike can make a great gift for a recent high school graduate. Those bound for larger universities will especially appreciate having the ability to pedal to classes across campus.

3. Board Game

Moving into a dorm with people you’ve never met can be intimidating. Board games can introduce ways for your gift recipient to bond with dorm-mates and new friends.

4. Coffee Maker

If your recipient doesn’t have a coffee maker already, this makes a great gift. Single-cup coffee makers can be found for as little as $14. Even better, you can put it in a basket that also includes different types of coffee, a mug, filters, and other accessories.

5. Computer

If you’re willing to spend a bit more on the grad’s gift, you may want to consider buying a laptop or tablet. Although this might seem extravagant to baby boomers and seniors, college life has changed a great deal over the past few decades. In fact, some university classes even require that students have their own machines. This is a gift that will keep on giving for years to come.

6. Google Home

Although the name of this product might not sound like a good fit for a recent graduate — think again. This device can help your gift recipient stay organized in college: giving reminders about schedules, serving as an alarm and even helping with term paper research. Best of all, you can save money on Google Home at Costco right now.

7. First Aid Kit

College-bound people tend to overlook this essential item. A great first aid kit will have everything needed to clean and bandage an injury. Some kits also come with butterfly stitches and additional supplies needed to mend larger, deeper cuts.

8. Fitness Tracker

Everybody has heard of the “Freshman 15,” or the notion that you put on a few pounds your first year in college. Encourage the grad in your life to stay on top of fitness with a tracker.

9. Gift Card

Gift cards let graduates choose for themselves — and all you have to decide is which retailer or restaurant to buy it from.

Consider getting one from any store that sells supplies useful for college — that might include Amazon, since the site sells such a wide variety of items and often has the most competitive prices.

If your high school graduate has a car and intends to bring it to campus, a gas-related card would make a neat graduation gift. You can also consider an annual pass for public transportation or purchase an airline-specific gift card.

10. Headphones

Headphones — especially ones with noise-canceling capabilities –can prove to be beneficial to freshmen in college. The hustle-and-bustle of the library or the dorm can make it hard to focus on studying and the ability to drown out outside noise can make a big difference.

11. Merchandise from the College Bookstore

Most high school graduates have decided what school they’ll be attending in the fall. Consider buying them some swag from their university. If you can’t find what you’re looking for online, most college bookstores have gift certificates available.

12. Personal Safety Device

Personal safety devices can be a great buy for a recent graduate if you right-size the type of gizmo. Things like a whistle, mace or emergency call beacon are appropriate. But it’s probably overkilling it to buy a lifejacket, safety raft or parachute — unless your graduate is heading for the armed forces or intends to study marine biology or aviation.

13. Portable Charger

Another great non-cash gift is a portable or cordless, charger. Most teens’ cellphones and other mobile devices are practically extensions of their arms, so they’ll really appreciate being able to charge their gizmos on the go.

14. Roadside Emergency Kit

Another spectacular graduation gift is a roadside emergency kit, especially if the grad is headed far from home for school. Emergency kits come in different sizes — and the larger ones might include a jack, flares, and a small toolbox (see below).

15. Small Toolbox

New high school graduates may not be all that handy (yet). However, a small toolbox can help them fix small items and repair things themselves, a gift that could benefit them their entire lives.

16. Streaming Media

Streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu all allow you to pay in advance for any number of months or years at a time. Whichever you choose, it can make a tantalizing gift.

17. Subscription Box

A box subscription service is always a great gift for anyone who is going to be away from home. Each time it arrives, it will remind them of you, and it will be (hopefully) packed full of their favorite stuff.

18. Towels

Most incoming college students are trying to schedule classes, buy textbooks, and meet roommates. They don’t think about things like towels — or other bathroom items, for that matter. A set of towels is a gift that will be used daily and undoubtedly appreciated.

19. An Unforgettable Experience

Many young people think that cash and material gifts don’t mean as much as experiences. Examples include trips, concerts, events, or tickets to amusement parks. These gifts tend to more memorable than other types of presents.

20. Watch

Whether it helps a future college student arrive on time to class or helps measure how long a study session has lasted, a watch can be a great graduation gift. Smartwatches are even more helpful in keeping college students organized.

Most likely the graduate you know will be thrilled with anything you give as a gift. But if you’re still unsure, you can always give cash: Those who are headed to college could really use the money right about now.

Readers, are there any gifts you’d add to the list? What have you given as graduation gifts — or what types of presents are you thinking of giving in the future?

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