painless shopping

24 Strategist-Approved Graduation Gifts (That You Can Buy at Nordstrom)

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

Another graduation season has rolled around and a new batch of fresh-faced grads are about to strut across the stage to receive their diplomas. To help you celebrate all their achievements — and set them up for a bright future ahead — we’ve rounded up some sure-to-please graduation gifts from Nordstrom. They’re all things we’ve written about before, so rest assured that they’re tried and tested by experts, cool people, and discerning Strategist staff alike.

For the grad who closes out the library

If all-night finals cramming has messed up their sleep routine, this Slip eye mask will help them catch some sorely needed z’s. Made of 100 percent silk crêpe de Chine, this mask is “really soft and feels amazing on the face,” according to Tamara Mellon. It’s also a favorite of fashion and accessories designer Karen Walker, who likes that this doesn’t leave her “feeling quite dry and puffy around the eyes.”

For the grad who’s moving far from home

Give them a small reminder of their roots with these nostalgia-inducing candles from Homesick that TikTok candle influencer Kudzi Chikumbu says are “not very strong, you can burn it for a long time, and it’s an incredible price point.” (Nordstrom also stocks Chicago-, Texas-, Seattle-, and New York City–scented candles from the brand — in case they’re not a California kid.)

For the grad who’s used to studying with music

Photo: retailer

When technology writer Jordan Bowman tested the best Bluetooth speakers, he found that the Emberton “produces a full, immersive sound across all genres whether it’s punk rock, reggae, or even a podcast.” It’s also equipped with a lengthy 20-hour battery life, plus a “convenient LED that always displays how much battery is left.”

For the grad whose new job has a business-casual dress code

They don’t have to give up on jeans quite yet with these Levi’s Wedgies, featured in our roundup of the best black work pants and recommended by Le Whit co-founder Liza Curtiss. The high waist lets her “wear shirts tucked in or out while always looking polished,” and the very deep pockets are perfect for a self-described “no-purse kinda person.”

For the high-school grad moving into a dorm

Multiple college students have told us an essential-oil diffuser is on their dorm wishlist — and it looks nice enough to bring into a first apartment, too. This is one many celebrities can’t live without, including Ellen Pompeo. “It just makes the room feel fresh and not germy,” she says. “That moisture and nice scent in the air just makes the room feel fresh and gives it a vibe.”

For the grad who’s into hydrotherapy

There’s not a problem that can’t be solved by drinking more water. The Hydro Flask is kitchen and dining writer Emma Wartzman’s personal water bottle of choice because it’s “sleek and durable, and it keeps my water cold or cool all day.”

For the grad who’s constantly trying new recipes

The Our Place Always Pan is a do-it-all pan that functions as eight different pieces of cookware — meaning it’s a great way to reduce clutter in a kitchen that will potentially be shared with roommates. Strategist beauty writer Rio Viera-Newton gushes that “not only is it adorable, it has a pour spout for sauces, as well as an attachable spatula and steaming basket for easy access.”

For the grad who’ll be working from home

If their post-grad job is remote, they’ll need a comfortable wardrobe to get their work done in — whether their home office is their desk or their bed. Either way, they’re sure to appreciate this ultra-comfy pair of Eberjey pajamas that they can at least send their first few emails of the day in. Cup of Jo founder Joanna Goddard says the brand makes “the softest, most buttery version” that is “great for padding around at home and on trips.”

For the grad who’s always on the go

If your grad is the early-to-bed, early-to-rise type, this pair of leggings from Girlfriend Collective boasts a “high comfort factor and ability to withstand multiple movements,” according to personal trainer Tally Rye.

For the grad in need of stress relief

Whether they’re coming out of undergrad, graduate school, law school, or a residency program, they’re probably looking for something to take the edge off. Strategist senior writer Liza Corsillo tested these bath salts right as lockdown began in March 2020, when her stress was at an all-time high. “I was looking for any way to relax and soothe my tense back and shoulders, and these salts did the trick,” she says. The salts also contain flower petals, pink salt, and essential oils, a soothing mixture that Corsillo says makes her “ready to fall into a deep sleep.”

For the grad who’s been schlepping around a big campus

When we asked stylish people about their favorite slippers, Vogue market editor Naomi Elizée revealed that she owns four pairs of Uggs in different colors, silhouettes, and styles. These slides “add a little flair to any lackluster WFH fit I throw on,” and keeps her feet toasty warm.

For the grad who’ll be spending the summer on the sofa

They deserve to veg out, and they’ll be nice and cozy cocooned in this Ugg blanket. Jennifer Hudson calls it her “good blanket” and makes sure she has it with her at all times. “Seriously, I have it with me everywhere: on flights, at hotels, at home. It makes any place feel like home.”

For the grad who’s been nervously biting their nails waiting for grades to be posted

If your grad’s stress habit has ruined their manicure, they’ll surely delight in this Deborah Lippmann cuticle oil. Former Allure editor Danielle Odiamar applies it “when I remove my nail polish after a long period of time, and then a couple times a week during the down period when I don’t have nail polish on” in order to strengthen her nails in between coats.

For the grad who’s trying to spend less at Starbucks

Wartzman named this Fellow kettle the very best electric kettle for its attractive gooseneck design and precise temperature regulation. Plus, it’s a gift that will stand the test of time. “I’ve had mine for maybe five years, and it’s still in great shape,” says Marco Suarez, one of the owners of Methodical Coffee.

For the grad whose laptop is all scratched up

Leaving your laptop bouncing around in your bag unprotected means it’s more likely to get banged up. Help them safeguard their tech with this Baggu laptop sleeve, which Corsillo considers the best thing she bought in 2021. She found that the slippery nylon material helps it “slide into a backpack or purse quickly and easily,” and “they’re ultra-padded, so they protect my computer no matter what bag I throw it in.”

For the grad who loves to lounge

Strategist writer Ambar Pardilla crowned this Coyuchi robe the very best bathrobe, and for good reason: Reshma Patel, founder of jewelry store Quiet Storms, says it’s “the dreamiest robe to put on post-shower or over PJs in the winter.” Plus, we’re a big fan of Coyuchi’s sustainability and ethical production practices.

For the grad who just finished sommelier school

These wine glasses in shades of blush, cobalt, and lavender will look lovely holding everything from pinot noir to sauvignon blanc. Trend forecaster Jaye Anna Mize told us that Stephanie Summerson Hall, the founder of Estelle Colored Glass, is “the girl for all things glassware,” so the wine expert in your life will definitely appreciate her stemless glasses.

For the grad who’s moved on from Glossier

No knock against Glossier — the brand is a perennial Strategist favorite — but these luxe lipsticks from Tom Ford are giving off slightly more grown-up vibes. When Viera-Newton sourced the best lipstick recommendations from her followers, Jenny, a manager at Bloomingdale’s, raved about the “wonderfully smooth and long-lasting” formula. “It’s the perfect your-lips-but-better shade,” she says.

For the grad who wants to upgrade their backpack

This stylish, classic tote is one of the best bags for working women thanks to its luxe-looking faux leather and affordable price. Plus, you’re basically getting three bags in one, because it’s reversible — and it comes with a detachable wristlet for tucking in cash, credit cards, and other small sundries.

For the grad who’s about to embark on a European vacation

The Longchamp Le Pliage duffel has been name-checked as one of the best travel bags by multiple cool people, including creative director Daniela Velasco, who looked for “a bag that can sit on top of my carry-on, fit a lot of items, and be easily stored when not in use.” Julie Mulligan, the owner and designer of cocktail lounge and restaurant Lot 15, is a fan too and thinks Longchamp is a reliable brand “when it comes to quality” and she appreciates the many color options.

For the active grad who keeps losing AirPods

Jianca Lazarus, a surfer and sports photojournalist, appreciates that these Bose earbuds have a wire that sits behind your head to help them stay in place during high-intensity workouts. “I love that they stay in my ears when most others fall out due to sweat,” says Lazarus. “The sound quality is phenomenal, and the mic is great when I get incoming phone calls so I can continue exercising while taking care of business.”

For the grad who can’t be trusted with real gold

If you think your high-schooler will go off to college and lose their real gold earrings at some frat party, these elevated but plated knife-edge hoops made our list of cheap earrings that look expensive. From the NYC-based brand Argento Vivo, they’re a slightly edgier take on the classic gold hoop.

For the grad who’s mastering their morning blowout

Photo: Courtesy of the vendors

If you really want to splurge on a gift for your grad, you can’t go wrong with the iconic Dyson Supersonic. Everyone from Bobbi Brown to Dita Von Teese and Supergoop! founder Holly Thaggard has sung its praises; Strategist writer Tembe Denton-Hurst knows that it’s pricey, but its heat control and speed make it well worth it. “It takes me about 20 minutes total to blow-dry my hair with this — with my old, cheaper blow-dryer, the process took me 45 minutes or more,” Denton-Hurst writes.

For the grad in search of their signature scent

There’s nothing more elegant and adult than having a signature scent. If your grad is on the hunt for theirs, Three Women author Lisa Taddeo says both she and her husband share this “deep and powerful” Hermès scent. “It reminds me of meeting my husband — it reminds me of being carefree and childless,” Taddeo says. “I’ve completely appropriated it [from him].”

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

24 Strategist-Approved Graduation Gifts