Practical High School Graduation Gift Ideas for Every Occasion

Is your high school grad headed to college, planning a summer trip to a new place, or moving to their first apartment?

Or maybe they’re just biding their time, saving money, and plotting to take over the world.

high school graduation gift guide

Whatever their plans are, graduation is worth celebrating. Check out our gift guide to find the perfect gift for any high school grad whether you’re sticking to a tight budget or splurging for something special.

Gifts for the college-bound students

For many high school grads, the next step is college. Give them a gift that will make campus life a little easier.

Budget-friendly pick: Insulated water bottle

    Staying hydrated can be tricky when you’ve got back-to-back classes all over campus. Make it easier with an insulated water bottle that doubles as a coffee mug.

    Splurge-worthy gift: Laptop

      A laptop might be a pricey gift, but it is one of the most useful things you can give a future college student. They can use it for taking notes in class, writing papers when the computer lab is full, watching movies when they need a break from roommates, and even video chatting with parents. We suggest getting a lightweight laptop with long battery life so your student can use it wherever they go, whether that’s the library, coffee shop, or dorm room.

      A sturdy backpack

        We recommend choosing a backpack with room for a laptop, a few textbooks, and plenty of compartments for keeping things organized. We like this one because it can also double as a weekend bag for overnight trip


          Most of us rely on our phones to check the time, but an old-fashioned watch can still come in handy—especially during intimidating organic chemistry tests. A watch will make it easier for your student to take tests without panicking about how much time they’ve got left to answer questions.

          Noise-canceling headphones

            Sometimes it’s hard to find a quiet place to study—noise cancellation will make it easier for your student to drown out the surrounding noise and focus on prepping for their test on the French revolution.


              Sometimes back-to-back classes on opposite ends of campus make it hard to make it to a pop-quiz on time. A bike (and a quality lock) can help your student get around campus quickly. We like this foldable bike because college students are often short on extra space and this one is easy to store in a crowded dorm or the back of a car.

              Gifts for the traveler

              Maybe your high school grad is spending their first summer after graduation traveling the world. These gifts can help them stay safe and have fun while exploring new places.

              Budget-friendly pick: Tile GPS tracker

                Traveling comes with lots of opportunities to see new places and have cool experiences, but it also comes with lots of opportunities to lose things. Tile makes it easier to keep track of things like camera bags, wallets, keys, and laptops. You can see lost items on a map or have the tile play an alarm to make it easier to locate.

                Splurge-worthy gift: Sturdy luggage

                  If your high school grad plans on traveling the world, start them off right with a quality set of luggage and a TSA-approved lock.

                  Lightweight, waterproof jacket

                    Travelers need to be prepared for rough weather at a moment’s notice—but that can be hard to do when you’re trying to pack light. We suggest giving your travel-bound grad a lightweight, waterproof jacket that is easy to bring along whether they’re going on a short day hike or a two-week trek across Europe.

                    Portable charger

                      Most of us rely on our phones pretty heavily in everyday life, but traveling often means even more phone use than normal since phones double as maps, music players, cameras, event tickets, and more. Give your traveler a portable charger so they can request rides, look up directions when they’re lost, and of course call for help in an emergency.

                      International power adapter

                        Speaking of keeping things charged—a power adapter is an inexpensive gift that will make traveling much easier.

                        Instant camera

                          Chances are high that your high school grad already has a cellphone with a decent camera, but an instant camera with tangible, printed photos offers a kind of gratification you can never get from a screen.

                          Gifts for the grad who’s moving out

                          High school grads often move into furnished apartments, but they’ll still need some supplies for their first place. These gifts are perfect for helping them set up their new home.

                          Budget-friendly pick: Multi-tool

                            If a full tool set isn’t in your budget, give your high school grad a multi-tool. This one comes with essentials like blades, pliers, screwdrivers, scissors, and a bottle opener; plus, it’s easy to carry around and takes up no storage space.

                            Splurge-worthy gift: Projector

                              If your recent graduate is a fan of movies and TV shows, consider getting them a projector—young people often move frequently, and a real TV can be a pain to move and store. A projector will give them more flexibility while still letting them enjoy movies on something bigger than a laptop screen.

                              First aid kit

                                Help your son, daughter, or grandkid stay safe in their new home with a well-stocked first aid kit. Hopefully, they’ll never need more than bandages and antibacterial ointment, but you’ll feel better knowing they’ve got the essentials if there’s ever an emergency.

                                Heavy-duty laundry bag

                                  Make treks to and from the laundromat easier with a study laundry bag that’s easy to carry. Throw in some laundry detergent and dryer sheets to help your grad keep their clothes clean.

                                  Portable shower caddy

                                    If your high school grad is moving in with roommates, they’ll appreciate a portable shower caddy to keep their personal items in. That way they won’t have to worry about balancing yet another shampoo bottle on the rim of the tub.

                                    Gifts for everyone else

                                    These gifts will be welcome no matter what your high school grad has planned, whether they’re working for the family business, staying at home to save money, teaching kids to kayak at summer camp, or watching every single episode of Bob’s Burgers.

                                    Budget-friendly pick: Wakeup light

                                      Your high school grad might not have their plans all figured out yet, but they’ve still got things to do. Make waking up and getting started easier with a sunrise light that helps you wake up naturally and gradually.

                                      Splurge-worthy gift: Tablet

                                        This tablet is sleek, portable, and powerful. It can be used to browse the internet, watch movies, play games, and read, but it can also double as a real computer for things like photo editing and word processing. This makes it a great option for someone who is keeping their options open. They could take this tablet on a trip, to college, or use it at home for entertainment.


                                        It isn’t the most creative gift, but if you’re still stuck, cash is always welcome. A new high school graduate will have no trouble finding something fun or helpful to spend some extra money on.

                                        Finding the perfect gift can be tricky, but you’ve got this. Do you have any other unique high school graduation gift ideas? We’d love to hear from you. Share your gift ideas in the comments below.