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Graduation Gift Ideas: What Was The Best Graduation Gift You Ever Received?

It’s that time of year—grad gift giving season. If you’re like us, each year you run out of good ideas. That’s why we asked you to Help a Parent Out by sharing the best graduation gifts you’ve given or received. Your response was overwhelming. From cash to car tires—and everything in between—you shared great ideas. Here are the suggestions. We hope they help others as much as they’ve helped us. Thanks.

Books

Car-related

  • Emergency items for a car
  • New Car
    • Some bought new cars
    • Some bought used cars
    • Some co-signed car loans
  • New Tires
  • Thule Rack System

Clothes

  • ID wallet keychains in their school colors  
  • Nice compass
  • Pocket watch
  • Personalized/custom wallet: add gift card(s) for a special touch
  • Suit for interviews and formal events

Experiences

  • Amusement park tickets for the graduate and friends.
  • Concert tickets
  • Party
    • Graduation party with family and friends 
    • Surprise party

Food

  • Bi-monthly snack box subscription
  • Personalized graduation M&Ms with their picture and school colors
  • Self addressed envelope with a card in it. The card says to return the 3×5 card with all of your favorites (fill in the blank with favorite candy____favorite cookie_____etc.) and their college address and I will send you two care packages. 

Funny Suggestions

  • A College Education! 
  • An eviction notice 
  • Diploma for high self esteem/confidence
  • Love and understanding for the last 18 years 
  • Pillow case with “call mom” written on it

Jewelry

  • A 🏳️‍🌈 pride ring
  • Engraved necklace that has the coordinates of home
  • Good, engraved watch
  • Grown-up piece of jewelry
  • James Avery cross on a necklace chain
  • Pearl necklace
  • Personalized bracelet
  • Personalized tie clip 
  • Necklace with the graduation year on it
  • St Christopher lacrosse player necklace
  • Start a charm bracelet

Keepsakes

  • Book of notes from people who have been meaningful or encouraging to them  through the years
  • Boombox! Invite friends, family, teachers, and  coaches to share a memory & photo. They submit their messages and photos directly to the Boombox Gifts website the team then compiles designs and prints them on card stock – and they arrive in a keepsake memory box.
  • Box filled with stuff they will need: sewing kit, first aid kit nail kit w/ clippers and tweezers, desk set w/ tape and dispenser, stapler and staples, envelopes and stamps, gift cards to local food places
  • College flag or pennant
  • Compass engraved compass with a quote
  • Custom cornhole games with the college logo 
  • Doorstop with a poem about opening doors
  • Engraved pen
  • Hope chest 
  • Keychain with their high school’s coordinates engraved on it
  • Nice leather bound journal with a note encouraging them to go on adventures and write about it
  • Personalized laundry bag
  • Photo album/scrapbook depicting memories and friends, preferably in chronological order
  • Plaque with graduation announcement 
  • Sign or pillow with the number of miles to back home
  • T-shirt quilt with their favorite, old and sentimental t-shirts
  • Write a letter which includes hopes, advice and other thoughts on their future and where they come from. Have it enlarged, printed and framed.

Money

  • Cash
    • Airline gift card
    • Cash is king 
    • Checking account/cash card with enough money in it to always be able to afford a plane ticket home.
    • College bookstore gift card
    • Food delivery service gift card
    • Gas card 
    • Grocery store gift card
    • Movie theater gift card
    • Nail salon gift card
    • Rideshare gift card
  • Investments
    • Donation to organizations that help first generation college students get to school
    • Establish a Roth IRA: consider contributing a bit each year until they are fully employed
    • Graduation Year Coin Sets at the Post Office
    • Life insurance
    • Set up a custodial account at ETrade: fund it with start up money
    • Silver ingot 
    • Stock
  • Money Art
    • Candy bar bouquet with gift cards
    • Candy tower with a roll of money inside 
    • Donation to organizations that help first generation college students get to school
    • Give cash/check/eTransfer in the amount of the year. So this year they’d get $20.22
    • Money cake
    • Money lei
    • Nectarine tree: tie $ bills to it
    • Pizza box with money with a “Need some dough?” note 
    • Umbrella with college logo: attach money inside so that when they opened it, it “rains money
    • Wrap $ bills up in ribbon like diplomas

School and Work

  • Backpack filled with school supplies
  • Nice messenger bag/soft briefcase
  • Professional portfolio folder for resume and other interview materials 

Stuff for House/Dorm

  • Acrylic tumblers with the grads name and an icon  
  • Blanket with college logo 
  • Camping mattress for visiting friends
  • Coffee maker
  • Command Strips
  • Cookbook and a journal
  • Crockpot with favorite recipes 
  • Dorm Kit: over the counter medicines, bug spray, sunscreen, hot/cold packs, travel size cleaning stuff, a door stop, tiny flashlights, batteries
  • Enviro cloth and a window cloth to clean 
  • Fireproof safe with birth certificate and social security card in it
  • Good quality, fun, personalized beach towel
  • Graduation cake: a tower and we hot glue items to it that are college small items like school/desk supplies food first aid tide to go pen etc.
  • Hammock
  • Hydro flask with logo or monogram 
  • I met my husband in college because I had an umbrella and he didn’t. He asked if he could walk under mine. I said yes! Then we got married and had four kids! 🥰 So I always give umbrellas
  • Laundry basket with towels, gas and gift cards
  • Metal bucket with their name or school:  filled with candy, deck of cards, Tylenol pens, highlighters, gift cards etc.
  • Mini refrigerator
  • Nice camp chairs
  • Pampered chef micro-cooker mix & chop and a case of ramen 
  • Period Pack: Heating pad, chocolate, and medicines
  • Popcorn popper
  • Portable fishing rod
  • Sheet sets
  • Tool box
  • Travel steamer
  • Under-bed storage ottoman
  • Yeti bottle 
  • Laundry
    • Canvas tote with name embroidered on it 
    • Laundry basket filled with dorm essentials: can opener, snacks, laundry detergent, duster, small tool kit, cleaning supplies, etc.
    • Roller laundry basket/hamper
    • Set of towels
    • Sheets set

Technology

  • Cell phone
  • Charging
    • Charging station
    • Customized iPhone charger
    • Extra long charging cord
    • Small to medium extension cord
    • Surge protector
  • Electric pencil sharpener
  • Gaming system of choice
  • Laptop
  • Laptop bag 
  • Mobile device projector
  • Nice camera with a photo printer and album
  • Scientific calculator
  • Smart Speakers
  • Surge protector with usb plugs
  • Tablets and mini tablets
  • Tablet pen
  • Turntable 
  • Wifi jetpack
  • Wireless speaker

Travel

  • Family Trip
    • A trip. Destination based on the personality of the kid
    • Cross country, summer, family road trip 
    • Family road trip to the graduate’s choice of destination
    • Graduation cruise 
    • One-on-one trips with parents
    • Travel kits: passport cover, travel size toiletries, travel size toiletry containers, toothbrush cover, etc.
    • Trip to a place where the locals speak with language the graduate studies
    • Travel to a sports event
    • Travel to the home of a friend (former international student, pen pal etc.)
  • Friend Trip
    • Bring a friend(s) along on a vacation
    • Summer trip with friends
  • Luggage
    • Backpacking gear
    • Blue IKEA FRAKATA Bags that convert into a backpack for moving in/out of college dorms or even future apartments/homes
    • Good set of luggage with luggage tags and packing cubes
    • Jon Hart duffle bag or the Patagonia rolling duffle

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