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The best graduation gifts for a first apartment

Nudge your recent grad away from packaged ramen and toward regular check-ins with these gifts for making their first new place feel like a home.

Commencement, of course, is not an end, but a beginning. When one graduates college, for example, one commences with having to repay any college loans. One also commences with having to find a place to live. All that commencing may leave little room for the recent graduate to outfit his or her new home with modern conveniences. Here, gift giver, is where you can pitch in.

Note that these products and services are independently chosen by our editors, and arranged from least expensive to most. CNET may get a share of the revenue if you buy anything featured on our site.

The best smart plug: Belkin Wemo Mini Wi-Fi Smart Plug ($25)

Belkin WeMo Mini Wi-Fi Smart Plug

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Smart home tech is a big, hairy market with lots of niches to get lost in. We like the Belkin Wemo Mini Wi-Fi Smart Plug because it's an easy way to get into home automation. It's easy to understand its benefits (lets you automate a lamp or a fan or anything else you can plug into it), and because it works with Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple HomeKit, it keeps every major avenue open if your grad wants to explore smart home tech further. At $30, it's also very low risk.

$29.99 at Walmart
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The best pressure cooker: Crock-Pot Express Multicooker ($50)

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

For novice cooks, we like the Crock-Pot Express Multicooker better than its Instant Pot equivalent because it's easier to use and easier to clean, although either would be a good choice to spare your recent grad from an entirely Maruchan-based diet.

$49.00 at Best Buy
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Best 4K media streamer: Roku Streaming Stick Plus ($60)

Sarah Tew/CNET

A Roku streamer will work with any TV that has an HDMI input, and it features pretty much every streaming service, from Netflix to Hulu and nearly everything in between. The remote controls the TV's volume and power, too. It's a perfect gift for anyone with a hand-me-down TV that doesn't necessarily have all of the latest streaming apps.

See at Amazon
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The best drip coffee maker: Bonavita Metropolitan ($69)

Brian Bennett/CNET

Bonavita might not be the first name that comes to mind when you think of coffee makers, but every one we've reviewed has impressed us with its ability to make superlative drip coffee from even standard grocery store grounds. The Metropolitan is a great entry-level model, although if your grad will be working from their new home, the step-up $109 Connisseur might be the better option, thanks to a thermal carafe that will keep coffee hot all day. 

$69.00 at Amazon
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Best toaster oven: Panasonic Flash Xpress ($125)

You can't pressure-cook everything. Well, maybe you can, but I don't think you'd want to eat an Instant Pot Pop Tart. 

The Panasonic Flash Xpress is hands-down the best toaster oven, and it's held onto that claim for the last six years at least. It's fast, it has a small footprint so it will fit on any countertop, and its presets are spot-on. You definitely don't need to spend this much for a toaster oven, but your grad will thank you if you do. 

$125.00 at Amazon
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Best battery-powered video doorbell: Ring Video Doorbell 2 ($199)

Chris Monroe/CNET

Among other things, what's great about the Ring Video Doorbell 2 is that it runs on batteries. If your grad's first home is an apartment, the landlord might not be keen on a new tenant messing with the doorbell wiring. With the battery-powered Ring Video Doorbell 2, your new grad can keep an eye on who's at the door and stay on his landlord's good side.

See at Amazon
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The best way to keep in touch: Lenovo Smart Display ($199)

Chris Monroe/CNET

You might hold out for the Nest Hub Max and its face-tracking camera in July. You could also opt for the Nest Hub (formerly Google Home Hub) if your grad is camera-averse. But if they are open to the occasional video chat, and they might also want a voice assistant, the 10-inch Google Assistant-based Lenovo Smart Display is the best one out there right now. A recent $50 price drop to $199 increases its appeal.

$199.00 at Walmart
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Best DIY home alarm system: Abode Home Security ($230)

Chris Monroe/CNET

A home security system might not be top of mind for most recent grads, but a good DIY system could at least bring you peace of mind. We like the Abode Home Security Starter Kit for its price (recently discounted to $230 from $300), the flexibility of its hardware, and the fact that you can add professional monitoring service on a month-to-month basis.

$229.00 at Abode
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