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40 Practical High School Graduation Gift Ideas

Updated on March 2, 2013

The Best Gift Ideas for High School Graduation

Are you puzzled when it comes to selecting graduation gifts? There are a multitude of things every high school graduate needs; particularly if they are college-bound. This lens is designed to give you ideas for graduation gifts and also serves as a great shopping list for the college-bound student and his or her parents.

This page has been built at the request of my son who will be graduating college in May. He said, "It would have been great to have a list of all the things needed for moving into a dorm room."

We have all witnessed the graduate who spends the cash they receive on frivolities before they have written their thank you notes. It takes a super-disciplined young person to prevent this from happening. It is the suggestion of this author that you purchase a solid gift that will be useful for the graduates future instead of giving cash. Gift cards are better than cash because the graduate will need to purchase something useful with it.

The list of items below have been selected for their functionality and will get the graduate through the next four years of college or life.

Electronics for the Graduate

Graduation Gifts from Parents, Grandparents, and Friend Groups

The following group of Graduation Gift Ideas are a little pricier than most, but are perfectly suited for parents, grandparents, and family or friend groups. They are sure to thrill any High School Graduate!

Lap Top Computer

No student can survive without a lap top computer, so it would be a really big deal to receive a lap top as a graduation gift.

While the MacBook costs a little more, the PC lap top is equally as functional for less. The student who is enough of a computer geek to know how to clean the registry will experience smooth sailing with it all four years of college.

A word of advise: do not purchase less than 4 GB of RAM! The higher the RAM, the better the performance.

Dormitory Refrigerator

Not all students need a mini refrigerator in their dorm room, but most will appreciate having one. The number one complaint of all college students is the dining service food. Having a mini refrigerator in the dorm room will help them keep healthy, tasty food at hand.


A television certainly isn't a necessity for any graduate, but it is something they will be looking for as they begin their college days.

This is an excellent gift for the college-bound who is moving into an apartment instead of a dormitory or Greek house or the graduate who is entering the workforce and their first apartment away from home.


No student can function without an iPod. Whether they are walking to class or studying in a noisy environment, I rarely see a student today who doesn't have their iPod playing. Even Apolo Ono used an iPod before his short track races in the 2010 Olympics.

iPod Docking Station/alarm

Everyone needs an alarm clock these days - especially college students with early morning classes. Let them wake up to a fully charged iPod and tunes they choose themselves.

Noise Canceling Head Phones

Dormitory living is noisy, so help the college student shut out the noise during study time with noise canceling head phones. I use these at work where I dwell in cubical world and have an intensely focused job. They work like a charm!


Skype is a video communication devise that allows you to call your student and see them at the same time on the computer. This is a great gift for the student who is a long way from home and needs to see Mom & Dad every once in a while.

Our son just used it to show us his new apartment. We live 700 miles apart.

Dorm Room Graduation Gifts

Oscillating Fan

Unless the dorm room is air conditioned (most are not), an oscillating fan is a necessity in the Fall and Spring.

Lasko 40-Inch Wind Tower Oscillating Tower Fan with Remote
Lasko 40-Inch Wind Tower Oscillating Tower Fan with Remote

This is the perfect dorm room fan because it takes up very little space and pushes a lot of air.


Space Heater

On the other hand, a dorm room can be terribly cold in Winter if the dorm is an older building. You're sure to get a thank you or two for this gift!


Twin Extra Long is the standard in any dormitory room these days.

This extra long plush mattress topper is a must - there have been scores of people sleeping on the mattress, so a mattress cover is essential. It is essential for cleanliness as well as comfort. Those mattresses are as hard as rocks!

Laundry College Style


Not only will the student have to learn how to do laundry, but they will have to put quarters in coin-operated machines. Buy them these laundry items and pack some rolls of quarters inside them!

Purex Complete 3-in-1 Spring Oasis, 20-Count Box
Purex Complete 3-in-1 Spring Oasis, 20-Count Box

These sheets eliminate toting heavy containers of liquid laundry soap and fabric softener. I hear they are loved by college students.

Panasonic NI-S300TR 1200-Watt Steam Iron with Curved Titanium-Coated Soleplate, White/Green
Panasonic NI-S300TR 1200-Watt Steam Iron with Curved Titanium-Coated Soleplate, White/Green

Not everyone irons clothes these days, but if you have spoiled your kids with ironed shirts, they'll need an iron of their own.

Febreze Fabric Refresher, Extra Strength, 27-Ounce (800 mL) Bottles (Pack of 6)
Febreze Fabric Refresher, Extra Strength, 27-Ounce (800 mL) Bottles (Pack of 6)

I have heard from lots of college students that Febreeze is the new laundry system of choice. Instead of spending money washing unsoiled, but smelly clothes, they spray them with Febreeze!


Dorm Cooking

coffee maker

More and more college students are cooking in the dorms than ever before so the following list of graduation gift ideas will give the graduating High School student a leg up on equipping them to prepare meals and snacks in their dorm room.

microwave oven

Another helpful item for any college student is a microwave oven. Even in a dorm room, students will appreciate the ability to occasionally make their own meals. A microwave along with the cookbook below would make a delightful graduation gift for the college-bound.

College Cookbooks

dorm cookbook

Every college student discovers that ramen noodle soup is a staple. Help that college student become more creative with that ramen noodle soup with this delightful cookbook!

More college cookbooks that will help reduce the complaints you'll be hearing about college dining service food.


Nothing will keep the college student healthier than a soy protein shake each morning. Give them this personal blender and a supply of Herbalife Formula 1 Shake Mix to keep them healthy.

crock pot

Girls might use a crock pot more than guys, but if they get a hankerin for a pot roast or homemade soup, this gift will see lots of use during winter months.

electric skillet

electric skillet

This electric skillet can be used for a lot of things - from frying burgers to deep frying french fried or battered fish or fried chicken. If the high school grad you know loves to cook, they'll be thrilled with it.

Dormitory Personal Care Items


shower caddy

Showering in a dorm requires going down the hall, so every student needs a caddy of some sort to tote their supplies back and forth.


Towels can be purchased anywhere and most High School grads who are heading to college receive a ton of towels as gifts. However, be choosy about the kind of towel you buy them. This may be personal preference, but I do not like towels that have those bound strips on either end of them. Those tightly-woven strips always shrink leaving you with a good portion of unusable towel that doesn't actually absorb water and are difficult to fold.

Practical Graduation Gifts for the college bound

back pack

Even though every High School student has been carrying a back pack since kindergarten, the need for a college-level back pack is high on the list. They will be carrying heavy textbooks and a lap top computer to every class and carrying them across campus instead through the halls of a High School building.


College calculations are far more complicated than High School, so a technologically advanced calculator is necessary.

College Textbooks

Give a highly practical Amazon gift card to the High School graduate and let them know they can purchase their text books at discounted prices on Amazon.

If you are like most of us, you know a lot of High School grads and have a lot of gifts to purchase.

Buy Amazon Gift Cards in Bulk

Add to this list of practical High School Graduation Gifts - Your ideas will help build this list!

If you have more great ideas for High School graduation gifts, please add them here. You can add Amazon links in a jiffy.

Don't forget to vote these items up or down the list.

Leave a comment on this lens!

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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      What a dream for degree.

    • Uphoricdysforia1 profile image


      5 years ago

      Great Lens. Loved all the stuff. I would like to add Acer Liquid Z3 - A Low Budget Android Smartphone to this list. Very handy phone indeed.

    • studyaids profile image

      Steve Jones 

      5 years ago from Birmingham UK

      A fatastic lend indeed.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      @rossoneri48: yes

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Nice lens with all the resources one would need in order to get information on the subject. Good Gift Ideas for backpack

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Nice lens with all the resources one would need in order to get information on the subject.

      Good Gift Ideas

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      8 years ago from Central Florida

      Lots of great stuff that I would have loved having back in my college years. Like you said, money just gets frivoled away and they have nothing to remember the gift by.

    • mschuerer profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      @anonymous: Thanks for the great compliment. Hope the list gave you some ideas you might not have thought of before.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      This has been the easiest and most straightforward site I have ever seen. Thank you


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