16 of the Best Graduation Gifts That New Grads Will Actually Use

Help your loved one kickstart their next chapter with these fun (and useful) graduation gifts
Help your loved one kickstart their next chapter with these fun (and useful) graduation gifts / Apple / Away / Amazon / Ugg; Justin Dodd, Mental Floss (background)
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Another school year is drawing to a close, which means graduation season is upon us. If you know someone who’s getting ready to don their cap and gown, chances are you’ve been searching for the perfect present to give them. Whether they’re headed off to college or grad school (or about to embark on a new career), the gifts on this list will help them kickstart the next chapter in their life and be useful for years to come.

1. Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation); $200

One of the most popular products of 2022, Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation), is pictured.
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) / Apple / Amazon

When it comes to true wireless earbuds, Apple’s AirPods Pros are some of the best that money can buy. New grads can use these ’buds for meetings at their new job or to listen to music and podcasts during their long commutes into the office. They come with a MagSafe-compatible case so they can power up on any MagSafe surface, and offer a listening time of up to six hours off a single charge (or up to 30 hours of total listening time with the charging case). Better still, the AirPods Pro are equipped with active noise cancellation, so your gift recipient can tune out the world if they want to.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Amazon Basics 8-Piece Non-Stick Cookware Set; $48

Best graduation gifts: Amazon Basics 8-Piece Non-Stick Cookware Set
Amazon Basics 8-Piece Non-Stick Cookware Set / Amazon

For recent grads who are moving into their first apartments, kitchen gadgets are essential. This eight-piece cookware set from Amazon Basics has everything they need to get started, including two fry pans, two saucepans with matching lids, and more. Made with a non-stick coating for easier cooking and cleaning, these BPA-free aluminum pots and pans are basic but extremely functional, and perfect for those just venturing out on their own. There’s also a 15-piece version (currently on sale for $57), which includes a pasta server, soup ladle, and other useful utensils.

Buy it: Amazon

3. Cartman 148-Piece Tool Set; $35

Best graduation gifts: Cartman 148-Piece Tool Set
Cartman 148-Piece Tool Set / Cartman / Amazon

From hanging pictures to assembling that new IKEA furniture, a tool set will come in handy for recent grads in more ways than one. This 148-piece collection from Cartman comes with all the essentials they need to tackle small tasks and projects around the house. They’ll get a hammer, screwdriver set, wrench, hex keys, and a lot else; each piece is also corrosion-resistant and easy to store in the included carrying case.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Official Creality Ender 3 3D Printer; $189

Best graduation gifts: Official Creality Ender 3 3D Printer
Official Creality Ender 3 3D Printer / Comgrow / Amazon

Recent grads who love to create can do a lot with a 3D printer. Whether they’re looking to make everyday objects like ceramic cups and bowls or they want to create moving parts like hinges or wheels, 3D printers can help make it all a reality. This budget-friendly model is more affordable than most other options (which typically cost hundreds of dollars) and offers some nifty features, like a resume printing function that kicks in if there’s a power outage.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Away Carry-On Suitcase; From $250

Best graduation gifts: Away The Carry-On suitcase
The Carry-On / Away

Part of the beauty of graduating from school is that it frees folks up to explore other passions, like travel. If someone special in your life plans to embark on a lot of trips in the months to come now that they have more leisure time at their disposal, a suitcase can be an underrated—but very practical—gift idea.

This one is famous online not only for its sleek, contemporary look, but for its features: The Carry-On from Away boasts 360-degree spinner wheels, a TSA-approved combination lock, and an interior compression system, meaning they’ll be able to fit a lot of stuff inside. You can also opt to get it with two built-in, USB charging ports, so they won’t have to stress about their phone’s battery life while they’re waiting to board the plane.

Buy it: Away

6. Zendure SuperMini 20-Watt Portable Charger; $60

Best graduation gifts: Zendure SuperMini 20-Watt Portable Charger
Zendure SuperMini 20-Watt Portable Charger / Zendure / Amazon

Designed to fit right inside their pocket, this small power bank from Zendure is a convenient option for new grads who are always glued to their phones. It comes in white and red, and even though it’s only roughly the size of a credit card, it can charge two gadgets at once, including smart watches, tablets, and other electronic devices. According to the brand, it can also power phone batteries up to 50 percent after only 30 minutes, and can recharge devices fully about three times.

Buy it: Amazon

7. HelloFresh Subscription; From $50 per box

Cooking healthy, nutritious meals can be a major struggle for new graduates who are strapped for time; a weekly food subscription box, like this one from HelloFresh, can help make the transition more manageable. The service offers a variety of cuisines and delivery options to choose from. Folks who are pescatarian, vegetarian, or vegan can even customize these meal kit boxes to fit their dietary preferences.

Subscribe: HelloFresh

8. Kindle Paperwhite; $140

Person reading a Kindle Paperwhite e-reader in nature
Kindle Paperwhite / Amazon

Reading doesn’t have to stop once students are handed their degrees. Encourage new graduates to keep getting lost in good books with this Kindle Paperwhite e-reader. This 8-gigabyte (GB) device is fully waterproof and has a 6.8-inch display screen, plus it offers up to 10 weeks worth of battery life off a single charge. Users can even get the Kindle Unlimited service free for three months, giving them access to more than 2 million digital titles, including audiobooks and more. 

Buy it: Amazon

9. Echo Show 5 (3rd Gen, 2023 release); $90

Best graduation gifts: All-new Echo Show 5 (3rd Gen, 2023 release) is pictured
All-new Echo Show 5 (3rd Gen, 2023 release) / Amazon

A smart gadget like the Echo Show 5 is like having an extra set of hands around the house, and for a new grad who’s potentially moving into their first apartment, it could be a game-changer. Using this Alexa-enabled device, your loved one do everything from creating to-do lists to ordering stuff online; if they’re using smart light bulbs or thermostats, they can even control the lighting and temperature around their pad.

The 5.5-inch display screen is good for streaming shows and movies, displaying photos, and capturing live camera feeds. Because it’s so thin, it’s easy to move it around, so whether your giftee is trying to follow along with a recipe in the kitchen or just listen to new music in their bedroom, they can take the Echo Show 5 with them everywhere. It’s even good for roommates because each household member can create a personalized profile.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Amazon Prime Subscription; From $15 per month

Amazon Prime delivery vans in loading lot area
Deliveries made easy with Amazon Prime. / Amazon

If your graduate is a frequent online shopper, getting them an Amazon Prime subscription can take all the hassle out of waiting around for orders to turn up. The service ensures most items will arrive in two days or less, and offers plenty of other perks, like access to original Amazon Prime movies and television shows, grocery deliveries in select service areas in under two hours, and more.

Buy it: Amazon

11. UGG Women’s Coquette Slippers; From $120

UGG Women's Coquette Slippers on a white background
UGG Women's Coquette Slippers / UGG/Amazon

Treat the new grad in your life to the gift that keeps on giving: a good pair of slippers. These UGG Coquettes are practically fluffy cushions—they have sheepskin upper and insole linings, and the warm shearling fabric inside will keep their feet nice and cozy in any setting. Thanks to the durable treads on these shoes, your loved one can wear them outside if they want. 

Buy it: Amazon

12. Shark NV360 Navigator Lift-Away Deluxe Upright Vacuum; $160

Best graduation gifts: Shark NV360 Navigator Lift-Away Deluxe Upright Vacuum
Shark NV360 Navigator Lift-Away Deluxe Upright Vacuum / Shark / Amazon

Tired of loaning out your vacuum? Consider gifting that new grad one of their very own so they can have an easier time maintaining their floors and cleaning up messes. This upright vacuum from Shark works well for small homes and apartments, as it comes with a detachable motor that can be used to create a canister-style vacuum. Additionally, there’s a swivel joint within the brush head, which makes it good to use around tight corners and other potential obstacles, and it comes with an upholstery tool that’s ideal for removing pet hair.

Buy it: Amazon

13. Fujifilm Instax Mini 40 Instant Camera; $85

Best graduation gifts: Fujifilm Instax Mini 40 Instant Camera
Fujifilm Instax Mini 40 Instant Camera / Fujifilm / Amazon

Memories can last a lifetime, but it doesn’t hurt to capture them in the moment, too. Gift that special new grad in your life a Fujifilm Instax Mini 40 instant camera so they can cherish theirs all the more. This particular camera has a selfie mode (and mirror!), along with built-in automatic exposure, making it an excellent option for Gen Z grads who want something simple.

Buy it: Amazon

14. Stanley Quencher H2.0 FlowState 40-Ounce Tumbler; $55

Best graduation gifts: Stanley Quencher H2.0 FlowState 40-Ounce Tumbler
Stanley Quencher H2.0 FlowState 40-Ounce Tumbler / Stanley / Amazon

A reliable tumbler like this can help new grads maintain those daily hydration goals, even when they’re constantly on the go. The Stanley Adventure Quencher travel tumbler is a TikTok favorite that’s constantly selling out (at one point, it had a waitlist of 150,000 people), but the H2.0 FlowState 40-ounce version is back online and could make a great graduation gift. The vacuum-insulated, dishwasher-safe cup can keep drinks cold for up to 11 hours and even hold ice for up to two days. It’s also made from 90 percent recycled stainless steel and has an ergonomic handle with comfort-grip inserts.

Buy them: Black; Soft Matte Dune

15. Custom Graduation Puzzle; $42

Custom Graduation Puzzle on a tan background with puzzle pieces to the side
Custom Graduation Puzzle / Robin Ott/Minted

After all the pomp and circumstance, give your giftee a personalized keepsake of the day they graduated. You can customize this 252-piece puzzle from Minted by picking colors, adding a photo, and choosing the words that are printed on it. The design template was created by Robin Ott, an artist from Orrville, Ohio, who has won over 250 awards. 

Buy it: Minted

16. Keurig K-Slim Coffee Maker; $90

Keurig K-Slim coffee maker on a white background with an orange cup being filled with coffee.
Keurig K-Slim / Keurig/Amazon

The Keurig K-Slim is proof that good things come in small packages. At just under 5 inches wide, it won’t take up too much counter space in your new grad’s apartment or dorm, and it has more features than you might expect for its size. It has a 46-ounce water tank, offers three cup-size options, and brews coffee in just a few minutes. The drip tray is detachable, so mugs up to 7 inches tall can fit under the machine. 

Buy it: Amazon

A version of this article was originally published in 2022; it has been updated for 2023.