College Graduation Gifts They Will Actually Use

Posted by Mark & Heidi Shilensky on

College Graduation Gifts They Will Actually Use

College Graduation Gifts They Will Actually Use

It can be overwhelming to think of what college graduation gifts your recent grad will actually want. Sadly, even the gifts given with the best intentions can still end up in the back of a closet.

In the United States alone, 77% of people said they will return at least one gift a year according to a recent survey. That’s a lot of bad gifts.

For some inspiration, think back to when you were starting out. What did you wish someone had gifted you?

To avoid being the bad-gifting relative, we’ve rounded up a few ideas you can be proud to give. From coffee to housewares, here’s everything you need to know about giving good graduation gifts.

Coffee Is Always in Style

Coffee is one of the most universally appealing gifts for college grads. For a young adult, there are often a lot of late, long nights ahead. Give the college graduate in your life, a much-needed pick-me-up.

Make the gift personal with beans or a bag of coffee from your favorite coffee shop. You can also find out their favorite campus coffee shop and give them a bag of coffee as a memento. To go along with the coffee, consider giving a new coffee pot and a custom mug or tumbler.

Throw these all together for a beautiful coffee gift basket that will get them through a lot of early mornings. If you’re giving a virtual gift, look into monthly coffee subscriptions from a local coffee shop.


Jewelry is a sweet and personal sentiment that will mean a lot to a new college graduate. Consider giving a natural stone, gem, or crystal to offer up positive vibes for this new phase of life.

If your recent grad is just starting a new job or beginning the interview process, send them some good luck. Positivity or seven chakra bracelets make great choices for new beginnings. 

A jewelry box or display holder can make a nice add-on as well. Jewelry is extremely personal and something they will keep forever.

Gift Cards

A gift card is anything but impersonal. Gift cards can make for really creative college graduation gift ideas. Pair a gift card with some curated theme items for a fun gift basket.

Let’s say your college graduate just got a new car. You can give them a gift card for gas along with a couple of cool car accessories or a year's worth of tune-ups.

If they are moving into a new apartment, give them a gift card towards moving expenses. Throw in some packing supplies, snacks, and new items for their home and you'll have a practical gift basket they’ll appreciate.

A cash gift card is always a handy gift. They can use it anywhere and keep it for big purchases and essentials.


Giving kitchenware is one of the best ideas for a college grad. When you’re just starting out, you need almost everything for your new home. From silverware to pots and pans, stocking a new kitchen is hard.

Your recent graduate will likely need almost everything in terms of basic kitchen supplies. Take this time to stock them with the good stuff. Buy them a nice set of knives or pans. Bakeware and small appliances are also great gifts.

They will appreciate getting some of these big-ticket items checked off of their list. You’ll save them a lot of time and money getting their new kitchen up and running. According to Business Insider, there are a few staples every kitchen must-have. 

To personalize these gifts even further, you can also create a custom recipe box. Make recipe cards with recipes from people in your family. Loved ones will enjoy being a part of this process and sharing family secrets with the new graduate.

Gifts That Inspire

The gift of inspiration is extremely thoughtful and personal. You can make a creative gift basket filled with items that will encourage the young adult in your life to pursue their dreams.

Consider a high-end notebook or planner paired with a set of business cards or portfolio supplies. You can throw in a set of thank you cards for them to use after job interviews and personalized stationery.

Inspirational necklaces also make for some of the best graduation gifts. It’s a little something they can wear around their neck when they need some encouragement. 

Give the Gift of Travel

If you’re considering a big-ticket gift idea, a trip is priceless. Give your graduate the experience of a lifetime. When most college students are just starting out on the job hunt, it can be hard to afford travel.

An amazing experience with family or friends is they might not have otherwise. Take this opportunity to spend time together, explore new places, and check sights off of your bucket list.

For a creative gift presentation, give them the paperwork to apply for a passport and a passport holder. Throw in some travel books or magazines to reveal your upcoming destination. Travel is one gift they are guaranteed not to return.

If international travel isn't in the budget, take a day to explore local sights with them. Buy them passes to a museum exhibit or a performance. Be a tourist with them in your own city.

College Graduation Gifts That Come From the Heart

When it comes to college graduation gifts, you want to make sure it is something they will actually use. Things like coffee supplies, kitchenware, jewelry, and travel make for some of the best graduation gifts.

Make gift giving personal. When your gift is meaningful to the two of you, it shows.

Whether it is local coffee from their favorite campus shop or an inspirational piece of jewelry to offer encouragement, they will love the sentiment. For more beautiful gift ideas, check out these special pieces here.