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10 Gift Ideas for College Graduation

Updated on August 26, 2015
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Rose is a full-time freelance writer who frequently writes about education, special education, DIY projects, food, Milwaukee, and more.

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Are you looking for some different college graduate gift ideas this year or simply aren't sure to get for the graduates that you know? These ten ideas can be given by friends or family members and are a good fit for many different types of graduates. There are lots of options here for customization and personalization as well as different price points.

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1. License Plate Frame

Plenty of students do purchase a license plate frame during college. However, if students have not yet purchased frames, an alumni frame is a great option. You can show off your alum properly wherever you go with a license plate frame. If you don't live close to the college, there are a number of ordering options online. Google "college alumni license plate frames" for warehouse sites or check out individual school bookstore web sites.

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2. Diploma Frame

Personally my husband and I weren't too interested in framing our undergrad diplomas, but we do enjoy displaying our respective medical and master's degrees. Whether you will have a professional work environment to hang your diploma or you simply want to hang it at home, a high quality diploma frame will make all the difference. Thrift stores are a great place to score cheap frames that may simply need a new wood finishing or coat of paint.

There are lots of handmade custom college and Greek life scrapbooks out there.
There are lots of handmade custom college and Greek life scrapbooks out there. | Source

3. College Scrapbook

This is a great gift option for those of you who are crafty. For those who are not crafty, consider purchasing a personalized handmade scrapbook, such as the one that I've linked on the right. Work with the graduate to design the perfect layout or surprise the graduate with a book you've designed yourself with blank spots to add photos.

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4. Cookbook

Until I lived in an apartment my last year of undergrad, I had done very little cooking on my own. My husband and I got a couple cookbooks for our wedding, including the one I linked below, that are still really helpful when I need a basic recipe or just want a cooking tip. Whatever the level is of the graduate's cooking skills, a high quality cookbook can still be a valuable resource. Consider the graduate's cooking preferences as well as tastes and diet (i.e. lactose allergy, gluten intolerance).

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5. Fun Fiction or Non-Fiction Book

The majority of my undergrad classes were moderately to heavily reading intensive. I read very few books for fun throughout the entirety of undergrad simply because I didn't find it relaxing to sit down with another book during my downtime. This didn't kill my love of reading, though, and I got back into reading for fun a couple years after I graduated. This is true for many graduates. Give a graduate one of your current favorite fiction or non-fiction books.

Whether you rent or own, you never know when you'll need basic tools.
Whether you rent or own, you never know when you'll need basic tools. | Source

6. Practical Apartment/House Gift

Even if graduates acquire a handful of practical apartment/house items during undergrad, there are most likely a number of items that they will still need once they are living on their own. While these may not be the most exciting gifts, they will be invaluable and will often last a long time. Consider an all-purpose tool set, cleaning supplies (go beyond Windex and think about a vacuum or mop), cooking gear, and more.

My husband and I love to try new restaurants in any city.
My husband and I love to try new restaurants in any city. | Source

7. Future City Gift

Many college graduates move to a brand new city for a job or further schooling. Consider giving them a resource for the city such as a restaurant guide or a road map. If you're feeling more ambitious, put together a binder with resources or create a future city gift set. Additionally, think about gift certificates for local restaurants and stores. Many places offer gift certificates online and/or through phone orders.

Purchase versatile pieces that you can dress up for work and dress down for the weekends.
Purchase versatile pieces that you can dress up for work and dress down for the weekends. | Source

8. Clothing Gift Certificate

I simply didn't have a great need for a lot of professional clothing during undergrad and spent a fair amount of money investing in a professional wardrobe during my first couple years of teaching. During this time, I always appreciated getting gifts of professional clothing or clothing store gift certificates for places where I could buy work appropriate outfits. Even if graduates don't have jobs yet, this can still be important to consider, as at a minimum, they will most likely need interview outfits.

Fashion tips: Basic wardrobe building and planning

Jenny makes briefcases and other professional bags that are ideal for men and women.
Jenny makes briefcases and other professional bags that are ideal for men and women. | Source

9. Briefcase or Professional Work Bag

I loved my backpack and ID holder key chain in undergrad and really don't love carrying a purse, but I also believe that it's important to live up the role of a professional with the proper accessories. Hang onto your backpack for family trips and weekend outings and get a briefcase or other high quality work bag that you can use every day. As the gift giver, be realistic about your budget and the size of the bag that the graduate will need. There are lots of options out there.

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10. Classic Jewelry

This is an obvious choice for women, but don't discount this as a possibility for men, too. Classic male jewelry options can include watches/pocket watches, cufflinks, and a simple ring with a birth stone. One of my favorite classic options for women is pearls. Think about the type of jewelry that the graduate wears. For example, a necklace might be an ideal choice for one person, while for someone else, earrings will be the jewelry that they wear every week.

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    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks, Rpenafiel! I'm glad that you enjoyed so many of the ideas here. There is nothing wrong with higher end gift items, such as tech options and cars, for people who can afford them.

    • Rpenafiel profile image

      Rpenafiel 

      5 years ago from United States

      Great hub, voted “useful for this one”, the gift ideas are great for both sexes and the personalized registration plate is something that would come out of the magic box. Genius indeed. The practical apartment/house gift is something that would make every graduate smile. Maybe you can add new gadgets, laptops, cell phones and a car if someone can afford to give such gifts too, and that ‘ll be an awesome gift to consider. Cheers.

    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks! Haha I'm sure that's true for many graduates!

    • Om Paramapoonya profile image

      Om Paramapoonya 

      6 years ago

      Really great ideas. When I graduated from college years ago, the best gift I wish I had gotten was a job! lol

    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      That's great that you got so many of these gifts!

      Thanks!

    • profile image

      rmcleve 

      6 years ago

      Now, THIS is the sort of stuff I hoped for as graduation gifts. Fortunately, I have sensible friends and family so I got pretty much each and every one of those things! (My graduation was also at the same time as my birthday, Christmas, and housewarming. I scored that year!)

      This list is college graduate certified. Good buys for all grads!

    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks Steph! I also would have loved apartment/house gifts and a great briefcase or handbag.

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 

      6 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Great ideas for graduation season! Personally, I would have loved an apartment/house gift or a briefcase/handbag for a job search. Rated up!

    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks Prasetio! I'm glad that you have some new gift options now.

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 

      6 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Very inspiring hub. My friend, you came up with solution. Now I have various options for gifts idea. Thanks for share with us. Voted up and useful!

      Prasetio

    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks so much Kelley!!

    • profile image

      kelleyward 

      6 years ago

      I love your ideas! Your hubs are so creative yet practical. I really like the license plate frame idea! Thanks for sharing. Voted up and useful. Take care, Kelley

    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Yes for sure! Shoes would be a great place to start for professional clothing.

    • CASE1WORKER profile image

      CASE1WORKER 

      6 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      I think clothes would be a good idea- after three years of jeans and sweaters; money for office clothing would be good- or indeed for a sensible pair of shoes

    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      You are definitely right, Shasta! My father-in-law owns a True Value and frequently gets us gifts of this nature. They aren't the most exciting, but they often end up being some of the things that we use the most often.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 

      6 years ago from USA

      These are great ideas for a college graduate. Often, when venturing out to their own place, they will forget some basics, like a shovel or toilet plunger. They may not appreciate these gifts when they first get them, but I bet they will appreciate them when they need them!

    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks!

    • Pollyannalana profile image

      Pollyannalana 

      6 years ago from US

      These would all be great gifts, and some appropriate for either sex. Very good, voted up.

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