gifts they might actually want

22 Graduation Gifts for Every Type of Grad

Photo: Retailers

Graduation is upon us, and while it’s easy enough to stick a $50 bill in a greeting card, we’re here to help you step it up this year — especially since it’s a different kind of year — with some graduation gifts you know they’ll love. Whether they’re moving on up from kindergarten, middle school, high school, or college, we’ve selected the 22 best graduation gifts, many of which have been recommended by various experts and students themselves.

Kindergarten graduation

For the grad who has all the planets memorized

We’ve all spent a lot of time at home lately; this dreamy tent will freshen up a kid’s surroundings and provide a new opportunity to flex one’s imagination.

For the grad who’s always begging for Mister Softee

An ice-cream-truck fort, for the ultimate summer role-play.

For the grad who’s an aspiring Monet

This smart easel folds up for easy storage, adjusts to four different angles, and doubles as a lap desk.

For the grad who can’t get enough Legos


This set comes with 847 pieces — enough to create five different robots — and came recommended as something that’s both complex and fun. One expert we spoke to said, “These toys bring Legos to a whole other educational level.”

For the grad who’d rather play outside

If your kid doesn’t have a scooter, now’s the time. The Micro Kickboard series is a favorite of Jennifer Cattaui, owner of New York City kids shop Babesta, and of thousands of Amazon reviewers.

For the grad who loves to explore

This expert-designed, kid-tested subscription box from KiwiCo — a toy brand highly recommended by Karen Blumberg, a math teacher at the Brearley School — teaches STEAM concepts and encourages curiosity.

Eighth-Grade Graduation

For the grad who suddenly decided to become a vegetarian

Chef Amanda Cohen of Dirt Candy loves this classic cookbook; she says, “The approachable recipes were a great way to ease me into the kitchen.”

For the grad with a wrist full of friendship bracelets

Accessory designer Susan Alexandra, who’s known for her whimsical beaded pieces and first started her career at age 12, says, “Everyone loves custom word jewelry.” (Find Alexandra’s other DIY jewelry essentials here.)

For the grad who’s never not playing video games

Although you can’t go wrong with any new gaming system, one teen we spoke to said that “the Nintendo Switch has become the hottest console this season,” and described it as the “*fire emoji*” item of the moment. While the Switch has been selling out immediately for months, the Lite — which, unlike the other model, is solely a handheld device — is usually in stock.

For the grad who has a newfound interest in photography

The whole VSCO-girl movement may be a thing of the past, but teens’ enthusiasm for photography will never waver. “Every girl needs one to capture memories, fun moments with friends, and even darker days,” one recent high-school grad told us. She owns — and loves — the classic Polaroid.

For the grad who’s more interested in the memories than the photography

If they have tons of photos and nowhere to put them, consider gifting a few scrapbooking essentials. Strategist writer — and scrapbooking camp alum — Chloe Anello recommends starting with this simple vinyl album and a couple of pads of colorful paper.

For the grad who, like everyone on Instagram, wants a tie-dye sweat suit

Let them make their own tie-dye sweats — and anything else they’d like to add a splash of color to — with a DIY kit (plus supplies).

High-school graduation

For the grad who just got a car

Strategist contributor Chris Black loves this car mount, which “adjusts a full 360 degrees and attaches with a clean adhesive” and will keep a phone right where the driver can see it (and, crucially, keep it out of the driver’s hand).

For the grad who prefers to get around on eight wheels

We spoke to a handful of experts about the best roller skates, and several agreed that these (which can be worn indoors and out) are the best for beginners. If your grad is looking for an upgrade, try the highly recommended Moxi Skates Lolly.

For the grad who’d like to spend the summer in the pool

Since many public pools will be closed around the country this summer, consider giving the gift of a handy — but stylish — inflatable pool.

For the grad who’d like to spend the summer indoors


Perfect for curling up with a good book — for now, at home, and come fall, in the dorm.

For the grad who’s already dreaming about decorating her dorm room

You don’t have to spend a lot to give the gift of an on-campus status item. “I’m hard-pressed to think of a single cool girl on campus who doesn’t have one in her room,” one college student told us of salt lamps.

College Graduation

For the grad who wants to keep learning

Just because college is over doesn’t mean the education has to stop. Consider a subscription to MasterClass, where you can learn everything from scientific thinking taught by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson to beat-making from Timbaland.

For the grad who (finally) wants to learn to cook

Or if they’d rather learn a practical skill — namely, how to feed themselves — this guide to cooking from the editors of Munchies is a good place to start.

For the grad who has knitted more scarves than she knows what to do with

If they’ve been knitting away their anxiety with the help of needles and yarn, this kit is both stylish and far more seasonably appropriate than yet another muffler.

For the grad who’s planning to travel the globe (as soon as that’s possible)

Vacations are on pause for now, but they won’t be forever (and for now, this wireless outlet will come in handy for marathon laptop sessions on the couch).

For the grad with an unsustainable Starbucks habit

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22 Graduation Gifts for Every Type of Grad