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Top Gift Ideas for College Grads in 2024

Personal, practical graduation gifts to help them get started on the next chapter of life.

7 min read
$80 at Bathing Culture
Bathing Culture colorful patterned towel
Bathing Culture Cosmic Rainbow Towel
Colorful, cozy and photo-worthy
$42 at Anthropologie
Delight Patisserie custom message shortbread cookies
Delight Patisserie Custom Message Shortbread Cookies
Almost too pretty to eat
$165 at Our Place
Our Place Wonder Oven air fryer cooker
Our Place Wonder Oven
Trade takeout for this multipurpose gadget
$35 at Skin Gym
Skin Gym Cryocicles Pink Facial Ice Globes
Skin Gym Cryocicles Pink Facial Ice Globes
Pampering without the price tag
$299 at CalPak Travel
CalPak Starter Bundle
Oh the places they'll go
$200 at Monos
Monos Metro Backpack
Backpacks never looked better
$25 at Etsy
Personalized Leather Journal
Document those post-college adventures
$35 at Little Words Project
Little Words Project customized friendship bracelet with beads and word
Little Words Project Customize Your Bracelet
A wearable message for the new grad
$34 at Uncommon Goods
homesick candle
Homesick State Candle
It smells like home!
$80 at Amazon
vinci cold brew maker
Vinci Express Cold Brew Coffee Maker
Keep the caffeine flowing
$267 at Fellow
French Press and Go Kit
A great option for a first apartment
$38 at Lively Root
money tree
Money Tree Bonsai Plant
No green thumb necessary
See at Vista Print
VistaPrint Custom Photo Prints
Thanks for the memories
$248 at Amazon
MVMT Watch
A sophisticated choice for the new grad
$128 at Béis
Beis' The Work Tote
A versatile bag for a new job
$38 at Amazon
Work From Anywhere Kit
A remote worker's dream
$469 at Amazon
Apple iPad Mini 6th Generation
A super useful splurge
$295 at Troubadour
Troubadour Orbis 2 Pocket Backpack
Sleek and sophisticated option
$18 at Barnes and Noble
oh the places youll go
'Oh, The Places You'll Go' Graduation Edition
Cue the happy tears
$10 at Amazon
Tiny Beautiful Things
'Tiny Beautiful Things' Book
A guidebook for their next chapter
See at Fresh Sends
Fresh Sends
Fresh Sends Bouquet
Brighten up their week

Buying a college graduation gift comes with the pressure of finding something that reflects a huge milestone in the person's life and is also personal and unique. Oftentimes cash is a go-to gift, but it's also nice to give something a little more memorable than a card with a check. I don't remember who gave me money for a graduation gift, but I do remember the friends and relatives who gave me more thoughtful, practical gifts that I still use today.  

When you set out to find that mix of personal and practical, it can be helpful to think about the graduate's next steps. If the grad you're shopping for is moving out on their own, a nice apartment gift is always a solid option. Or maybe they're deciding to backpack Europe right after graduating -- that's where a customized travel journal comes in. No matter the circumstances, here are some of the best college graduation gifts for 2024.

Bathing Culture

A fancy towel for the bath or beach is just the sort of thing that will delight your grad during a day at the beach or after a relaxing bath. These cozy, colorful towels from Bathing Culture are made from luxurious organic cotton and are certainly an upgrade from those thin dorm room towels. 

Delight Patisserie

Why just say "congratulations" to your graduate when you can have it written on delicious, buttery cookies? These Delight Patisserie cookies can be customized with a special message (12 characters per line and up to three lines) and they're so cute they'll probably consider not eating them. But who are we kidding? Of course they're going to get eaten -- after taking an assortment of pictures for Instagram first. 

Our Place

After graduation, you can only live on takeout food for so long. The Our Place Wonder Oven may be just the thing to help your grad cook delicious, easy meals as they enter this new world of "adulting." The Wonder Oven doesn't take up much space, it's aesthetically pleasing and, most importantly, it's able to air fry, bake, roast, toast, reheat and broil too. Sky's the limit with this kitchen gadget. 

Skin Gym

Chances are your grad will be starting a new job in their post-college life, and that can be stressful. Help them take the edge off with the Skin Gym Cryocicles Pink Facial Ice Globes. These globes are filled with cool liquid that can work to de-puff and calm skin, and are super relaxing when you use them in rolling motions across your forehead, cheeks and neck. It's like a mini facial you can do at home every day.  


For just under $300, you can get a checked bag, carry-on luggage, packing cubes and a luggage tag. I've spent countless hours researching different luggage options and can guarantee that this is the best deal I've seen thus far. Those looking to take off to foreign destinations after graduating will be set with the CalPak starter bundle. The luggage itself isn't top of the line and doesn't include all the bells and whistles more high-end suitcases may offer, but it's just what a graduating college senior will need for their upcoming trips. 


Every frequent flier knows that a good personal item can go a long way. If your grad is getting ready to jet set across the world, having a bag that can hold more than a laptop is essential. The Monos Metro backpack has a sleek design and comfortably holds a laptop, books and any extras. 


One of the best things a person can own is a journal. Looking back on entries from my travels and younger years is one of my favorite things to do when I'm feeling down. Gift the graduate a customized journal so that they'll always have a special message to look back on as they document their new adventures.

Little Words Project

Send your grad into the next chapter of their life with this cute, customizable beaded bracelet. You could personalize it with a short message of encouragement, a nickname, their alma mater -- the possibilities are endless, as long as you keep it under 13 characters. Bonus points if the graduate is also a Swiftie and in on the friendship bracelet trend. 

Uncommon Goods

These hand-poured soy wax candles have different scent profiles for each state. Arizona, for instance, smells like desert sand, blue agave and citrus. Kentucky has notes of bourbon and praline, while the Colorado candle evokes spruce, sandalwood, amber and cinnamon.


Cold brew is so tempting, especially in the summer months, but new grads often need to cut costs. Help them out with an at-home coffee maker. The Vinci Express Cold Brew whips up cold brew beverages in as little as 5 minutes (traditionally the process takes over 18 hours). Bonus: This model's compact size is perfect for first apartments.


Every coffee lover moving into their first apartment should look no further than Fellow's French Press and Go kit. The French Press and Go kit includes an electric kettle, a French press and two to-go mugs. The kit is available in a variety of colors, allowing a little bit of personalization to every purchase.

Lively Root

Gen Z loves houseplants, so a plant is already a good gift idea. But a money tree from Lively Root is a slam dunk: It's said to bring fortune and luck. $43 gets you a small plant, or splurge for the $136 XL size (extra luck?). There's also an option to add a pot or basket to your gift. Bonus: Money trees are great for beginner plant parents.

Vista Print

One of my favorite things to get my friends is photo books and prints of our time together. VistaPrint allows you to customize everything from canvas photos to glassware, making it a great website to personalize gifts for your college grad. 


To me, a nice watch is what differentiates an intern from an employee. Adding a watch to your everyday accessories truly signifies the start of adulthood. (Clearly, I'm still new to the whole adulting thing.) Buying a college graduate a Rolex might be a bit much, but there are tons of nice watch options out there for under $1,000. I love the sleek designs of MVMT watches, but Fossil also offers nice affordable watches. 

If your grad is looking for something a little more high tech, the Apple Watch Series 9 is a great option for smartwatch lovers. 


The Work Tote by Beis is the work bag of every young professional's dreams. The bag includes an interior zippered pocket, laptop pocket and adjustable straps. My favorite aspect of the tote is the design itself. The tote comes in a variety of designs, all of which help the bag easily transition from a work bag to a happy hour tote. 


I ordered the Work From Anywhere Kit on a whim before I began my job and I now swear by it. If a grad's first job is remote, having a kit on hand that holds charging cables, passwords and other tiny things commonly forgotten at home is more than beneficial. The case includes a two-in-one charging cable, phone stand, sticky notes and so much more. 


The iPad Mini 6th generation is Apple's newest mini iPad and can act as a notebook, sketchbook and TV screen. Although the iPad Mini may not be compatible with certain keypads, it can connect with all Apple pencils. The best part is that the Mini doesn't take up much space, allowing it to fit easily in most bags.


While a backpack may not be at the top of someone's wish list, as someone whose whole entire work life relies on carrying around a 16-inch MacBook, I can attest that a good backpack is essential. Grad school means more books and tech than undergrad, and having a nice backpack that allows you to comfortably carry around everything you need without breaking your back can be very valuable. Although they are a bit pricey, Troubadour backpacks sit at the top of my best backpack list. The design is professional and it feels light on your back, even when it's full to the brim. 


Dr. Seuss' Oh The Places You'll Go has solidified its place on every graduation gift best list. Whether your loved one is graduating elementary school or college, the book applies to every stage of life. For my college graduation, my best friend gave me a copy of this classic with all my friends' and professors' signatures in it, accompanied by their top recommendations of places for me to go after graduation. 


For the college grad looking for some life advice on everything from love to career to familial struggles, Cheryl Strayed's "Tiny Beautiful Things" covers it all. The book is a compilation of Strayed's advice column, which she writes under the pseudonym "Sugar." Featuring dozens of Strayed's columns, the book will help guide anyone through confusing situations in their life. 

Fresh Sends

Fresh Sends sends adorable bouquets straight to the graduate's doorstep. I used Fresh Sends recently to send flowers to my friends graduating down in Nashville and they loved it. The bouquets range in size and design, and you can attach a card and personal video to them! 

More gifts for grads