20 Thoughtful Graduation Gifts They’ll Actually Use

Looking for gift ideas to celebrate your loved one's graduation? We’ve curated a list of the 20 best gadgets, accessories and more for inspiration!

Reviewed by Chris Leitch

Illustration of a bearded man handing a gift to a graduate wearing graduation gowns

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Graduation is a special milestone for every student. While the ceremony and the day itself might be bittersweet, as one chapter closes and a new one begins, it’s also the culmination of all their efforts.

If you’re looking for a gift to commemorate a loved one’s graduation and celebrate their accomplishments, then read on. We’ve compiled a list of the 20 best gift ideas for graduates.

1. Flower-themed bookmark by Toirxarn

If you’re looking for a thoughtful but affordable gift for your beloved bookworm, then this flower-themed bookmark might be the perfect choice — especially if they tend to use anything in sight to mark the page that they’re on, be it old receipts, flyers or paper scraps! It could also be a great way to help them transition from academic reading back to reading for pleasure!

2. Leather business portfolio by Gavarnie

This one is the perfect gift for the aspiring entrepreneur who’s about to embark on their career journey.

This business portfolio is spacious enough to hold a medium-sized laptop or tablet. It also comes with several compartments, including a phone pocket, business card slots, elastic pen loops and a writing pad holder. Best of all, you can engrave the portfolio and add the graduate’s name or a meaningful message for a more personal touch.

3. Refillable handmade traveller’s notebook by Robrasim

Notebooks are always a safe bet when it comes to gift-giving. However, this handcrafted leatherbound notebook is both unique and timeless. In fact, the distressed leather used on the outer layer will eventually attain a vintage style look and will last a lifetime, making it a wonderful gift for someone about to start a new chapter in their life.

Its archival-quality pages are ideal for anything between journaling, sketching, painting and daily planning. Plus, the notebook comes with a PVC zipper pocket, making it great for carrying credit cards, documents, tickets and small papers.

4. Scratch-off world map poster by Landmass Goods

If your loved one’s post-graduation plans involve lots of travelling, then this scratch-off map poster will be a great gift! As they check off more places from their bucket list, they’ll be able to scratch off the golden foil that encases the regions on the map to reveal a vibrant watercolour design below it.

This bundle includes two maps: a world map featuring world capitals and 210 world flags, and a scratch-off USA map featuring US capitals. It also comes with a scratch-off tool and stickers to mark places travelled to and to be visited in the future.

5. Gold compass necklace by Hundred River

Jewellery is always a quaint and more sentimental option when it comes to celebrating big life events. This necklace design by Hundred River comes with a meaningful message that commemorates the graduate’s achievements.

There’s also a selection of other designs that come with their own message. However, a compass seems quite fitting and symbolic in this case.

6. Daily planner by Anecdote

For the organisation geek who utilised academic planners throughout school and university, a new daily agenda will make an excellent gift as they begin planning for their future.

Designed with practicality in mind, this planner by Anecdote has room for daily planning and scheduling, as well as adding notes and recording ideas. Its layout also allows recording of monthly, weekly and daily targets and goals. The receiver of this planner will also be able to start at any month or year, meaning this is an excellent all-year-round gift.

7. Engraved compass by NEOVIVID

If you want to go with a more symbolic gift, then this antiquated brass compass is a good contender. It also features an engraved quote by transcendentalist author and philosopher Henry David Thoreau, which seems quite fitting for this special occasion, making it a lovely keepsake.

The compass comes with a leather pouch, which will definitely make this a more impressive package.

8. ‘This smart face has a master’s degree’ coffee mug by WHATCHA

This one is a tried-and-tested gift that you can’t go wrong with — after all, you can never have enough mugs!

The packaging and presentation add more elegance to this choice, and the high-quality design and gold printing make the mug all the more impressive. You can also pick from a range of other graduation-related messages to encase the mug through the WHATCHA store on Amazon.

9. Graduation gift set for her by Swgglo

If you want a gift that has a little bit of everything, or you just can’t make up your mind, then this set is a good choice to run with.

This assorted gift box by Swgglo includes a picture frame, a mug, a teddy bear towel, a scented candle and a mini bouquet of dried flowers. The items included are wonderful, but the box itself is of high quality, featuring a colourful graffiti pattern on the surface and a carefully assembled package. This also eliminates the need to repackage once the gift arrives.

10. Graduation teddy bear by Bearington Collection

While a stuffed toy might seem like an absurd gift for a diploma holder, these teddy bears are always a popular gift idea.

Plus, the Bearington bear is handcrafted with fine detail and comes with the quality assurance of an award-winning company. Only the best for the new graduate!

11. Leather passport holder and luggage tag by Lychii

Here’s another great gift for any young graduate. Even if your loved one doesn’t plan on backpacking around Europe straight after graduation, this sleek passport holder and luggage tag will definitely come in handy on their next trip. The design is simple but classy, and the holder and tag will arrive in elegant giftbox packaging.

12. Wine bag by QWURDTGK

Does your favourite graduate love wine? Then why not pair a bottle of their favourite vino with this keepsake wine bag? Made from eco-friendly, natural cotton linen, this is both a durable and fun gift. You can also pick from various designs available.

13. Graduation owl charm by Pandora

If you’re looking for a graduation gift for her, this Pandora graduation charm is perfect. Owls symbolise wisdom and knowledge, so this is the perfect way to commemorate a college graduation.

Made with sterling silver, the charm is also adorned with blue crystals and sparkling cubic zirconia. If your loved one already has a Pandora bracelet or necklace, this will be a lovely addition for it, and if not, you can also get a Pandora bracelet to accompany the charm.

14. Diploma frame by Americanflat

This one is a practical and thoughtful gift option. Featuring a shatter-resistant glass and a steady backboard that will hold the diploma document in place, this frame also comes equipped with hanging hardware that will make the process much easier.

You can go with a classic black frame or pick from other available colours and material such as oak, silver and mahogany. 

15. Instant camera by Polaroid

If your loved one is passionate about photography, then an instant camera is a lovely way to help them capture memories as they enter a new chapter of their lives.

Polaroid’s point-and-shoot model is simple to use and easy to carry, making it the perfect instant camera. You can also pick from a range of fun colours. (Note that the camera does not come with film, which you will need to buy separately.)

16. Scrapbook photo album by OLAI

Speaking of capturing and preserving memories, a scrapbook is the perfect way to do just that! 

If your beloved graduate is quite the sentimental type, they can use this scrapbook to give their college memorabilia and photos a permanent home. The album is made with high-quality material, a wear-resistant linen cover and thick, acid-free paper. It also comes with painting templates, various stickers and a set of metallic pens.

17. ‘Congratulations, By the Way’ by George Saunders

George Saunders’ graduation speech at Syracuse University for the class of 2013 had an impact on millions of people. His message, while simple, touches on the importance of kindness and offers powerful insight which will no doubt leave an impression on any graduate about to embark on their next adventure.

This is a short read, but gifted to the right person, it will probably be reread and revisited often over the years.

18. Set of 3 custom map prints by Mesign

Another thoughtful graduation gift idea is this custom map wall art print.

If the graduate loved their time at university, and the city they lived in, then a map of a place that is close to their heart will definitely be appreciated. That way, they can carry a commemorative piece of their college town wherever life takes them.

19. Fountain pen by Scriveiner

This one is quite a luxurious gift and a great choice if the graduate appreciates good quality stationery. Scriveiner’s luxury fountain pen promises a superb writing experience; it’s perfectly weighted and designed for daily use. It also comes in a neat presentation box, making it a brilliant gift option.

20. Gift card in graduation cap box by Amazon

If none of these suggestions sound quite right, or if you just can’t pick, then a gift card is a simple, yet great, solution.

This Amazon gift card will arrive in a graduation-themed box, and you can pick exactly how much you want to include in the card. You will also have the option to add a personalised message that will appear on the packing slip.

This way, the graduate will be able to treat themselves to something they really want which will save you the worry of picking the wrong gift — it’s a win-win.

Final thoughts

Graduation, whether it’s from high school or college, is always a special day for both the new diploma holder and their loved ones. Commemorating the occasion with a thoughtful gift, then, will definitely be both appreciated and cherished.

Remember: you don’t have to pay astronomical prices to get something the graduate will love — and with the suggestions above, you can’t go wrong!

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Join the discussion! Have you got any other graduation gift ideas? Share them with us in the comments section below!