Coming up with college graduation gift ideas doesn't have to be hard — and the gifts definitely don't have to be corny. Most graduates won't wear something that has their graduation date on it or don a "congrats grad," piece of jewelry, because nothing says fresh meat in a new work environment like those kinds of gifts. Plus, after a few years, college graduation may seem like a distant memory, so you want to make sure you get them something thoughtful, yet still useful, as they embark on their new journey as an adult.
This list includes some fun and quirky stuff they'll need (and love) for their first apartment, some accessories and clothing they'll need for job interviews (and eventually the first few weeks on the job), fun stuff for their cubicle or other work space, and even books that can help them figure out how adulting works and give them inspiration and hope for when times get hard. There is sentimental jewelry on this list, but it doesn't necessarily say outright that it's a graduation present, just some inspirational messages and reminders that you think they're awesome. There's something on this list for most graduates, and I'm sure you'll find something they love. I mean, what could be better than officially being done with school?
1. Coordinates Jewelry
This unique graduation gift will have such special meaning for the graduate wearing it. Get the coordinates of their childhood home on one ring, and then their college they attended on another (or both on a bracelet). And eventually, maybe the coordinates of their very first place? Only they will know what the numbers mean, and it's a subtle nod to their history and a great conversation starter.
2. Grad Mug
3. Card Box
Need a place for all of those graduation cards they received? If the graduate you know has a soft heart and can't imagine throwing away the thoughtful cards they received, a card box might be the perfect gift. Stylish and organizational? Perfect.
And they can forever have a place for all of the other cards they'll get from friends and family over the years for holidays and birthdays — and they won't argue with their significant other about why they feel the need to keep all of the cards they've ever received when they're just taking up space. Not that I've done that or anything. Love you, honey.
4. Bangle Bracelet
What's better than a cute bangle bracelet? One that has inspirational messages for your graduate. You can customize this bracelet to have bangles that say "Wander," "Explore," "Adventure Waits," "Explore, Dream, Discover," "Soar," and "To Travel Is To Live." How inspiring and exciting for your graduate about to embark on the rest of their life.
5. Phone Stand
6. 'How to Cook Everything: The Basics'
Let's face it. Most recent college graduates don't really know how to cook for themselves. They've had the school cafeteria, or have subsided on ramen noodles, Easy Mac, and popcorn for their entire college career. This book is basically the beginning cook's bible with thousands of pictures and easy basic recipes, including things everyone needs to know how to do, like boiling pasta or cooking eggs.
7. Instant Pot
Recent grads are super busy applying for jobs or trying to get used to their new work schedules. Make sure they're not blowing their entire paycheck on takeout for every meal and get them an Instant Pot. They'll be able to make thousands of meals quickly and easily with this appliance. And this particular Instant Pot is multi-use, so they can use it as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, to sauté, steam, or warm meals.
8. Cookware Set
It's important to have stuff to actually cook with in order to not eat out for every meal, and a graduation present of a cooking set is the perfect gift for the recent graduate about to embark on their own.
9. Knife Set
10. Container Set
Obviously they'll also need a place to store those leftovers from their culinary genius. They can save food and money in style with these adorable containers. Plus they'll be the talk of the break room when coworkers see their leftover spaghetti sitting in the fridge.
Brighton has some really cute, sweet, and sentimental stuff. And if the graduate in your life already has one of their adorable charm bracelets, then you can just add to their collection with this "I believe in you" charm to remind them you always have their back. If they don't already have a bracelet, now is a great time to start. Get them a "holder" with a few other cute graduation charms, beads, and spacers, and you can add to it over the years.
Did your recent graduate land a job where they need to wear a fancy suit and tie to work every day? First of all, good for them. Second of all, these fancy cufflinks will be perfect for client pitches, meetings and even job interviews if they haven't scored that dream job yet.
13. Gift Card
Whether it's to Amazon, where the sky's the limit of what they can purchase, or to a professional clothing store, this gift card is sure to be a hit. (Or maybe they'll just buy video games. That's cool, too.)
14. 'Oh the Places You'll Go' or 'Oh the Sh*t You Don't Know'
When I graduated from high school, my parents bought me Oh the Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss. It was such a sweet and sentimental gift to me, and the story was inspiring. It may be the same for the college graduate in your life. If you both have a sense of humor and don't like mushy stuff, the spin-off book, Oh the Sh*t You Don't Know, may be more accurate and hilarious to read.
15. 'Lean In for Graduates'
An expanded edition of the original bestseller, Lean In, this version is for graduates. It's written for recent graduates embarking on the journey of entering the workforce, and offers advice on how to get the most out of a first job, how to write a resume, interviewing tips, asking for a raise, "owning who you are," and "listening to your inner voice."
16. 'The Confidence Code'
"Working women today are better educated and more well qualified than ever before. Yet men still predominate in the corporate world. In The Confidence Code, Claire Shipman and Katty Kay argue that the key reason is confidence," according to the book's description. That's why this book is a great gift for the female college graduate who is about to get thrown into the male-dominated workforce.
17. 'Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life... And Maybe The World'
My dad has always told me since I was little that the best way to start the day right is to have a freshly made bed. It just sets the tone for the rest of the day. And according to this book, it can do much more than that. This book shows that even the smallest things that seem insignificant can cause a huge impact and prepare you for success.
18. Inspirational Necklace
Sometimes, post-college graduation is scary and hard. In fact, I think it's like that for a lot of kids. Remind your graduate that you have their back and that they're braver than they believe, stronger than they seem, smarter than they think, and loved more than they know," with this necklace.
19. 'The Book Of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World'
If they're feeling down and disheartened because, let's face it, adulting is hard and can definitely suck sometimes, this book by the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Carlton Abrams may provide some inspiration and hope. They explore "The Nature of True Joy," the "Obstacles of Joy," and then the "Eight Pillars of Joy," for consideration, which will hopefully provide some spiritual comfort for the recent graduate going through a rough patch.
Journaling was really important for me after graduating college. It helped me through the rough transition of trying to find a job in 2008 (one of the worst economies ever), to navigating the breakup between myself and my high school sweetheart a month before college graduation, and new flings post-college. Journaling kept me sane and grounded, when I could've really gone off the deep end to be honest. My favorites were Moleskine journals, but this journal can help your college graduate with daily prompts of what to write about for five years. Sometimes just putting pen to paper is all you need for a clear head and to plan out your next move.
21. Book Ends
22. Tape Dispenser
23. Sticky Note Set
24. Glass Decanter & Whiskey Glass Set
25. Beard Trimmer & Balm
Unfortunately, most places of business don't appreciate the shaggy college beard look. Make sure before he goes on the job hunt he keeps his beard nice and tidy with a beard trimmer. Don't forget the beard balm to make sure his beard is nice and smooth for that interview.
Congratulations class of 2018 (oh my God do I feel old now). You've earned it! Good luck.