Father and Daughter at high school graduation

Best High School Graduation Gifts They Actually Want

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These are some of my favorite high school graduation gifts updated for 2021.

They made it!

After all the last minute homework assignments, late night cramming, and sneaking out they’ve finally reached the end.

While some may still have some growing up to do, high school graduation is considered by many the official transition into adulthood.

Whether they’re off to college, the military, tradeschool, or a full time job, greater responsibilities will now rest on their shoulders. To help your graduate with the transition I’ve put together this list of somewhat random but helpful graduation gifts you can give them. Let’s get started.

Dorm Gifts for High School Grads


Throw Blanket

A throw blanket may not be the first thing you think of when trying to select a great high school graduation gift.

But they’ll almost certainly need one no matter where they’re going next and it’s probably something they wouldn’t think of until sitting cold on their couch. There are tons of fun throw blankets to choose from. If they’re going to college you could get one that branded by the school.

You could also get a simple soft on like this. You could also go with a weighted throw blanket that will surely help them get some sleep.


Durable Backpack

Their high school backpack just isn’t going to cut it in college (if it even survived high school that is).

So help them out with a higher quality backpack that will make lugging things around campus a breeze. This Targus CityLite backpack will hold a 15.6” laptop and includes a space for a USB charger so their phone or ta let is never out of juice.

If you’re looking for something a bit more stylish than that one, check out this canvas backpack.


Laptop Tote

If they’re off to college and don’t want to lug around a backpack a good laptop tote is exactly what they need.

This one is stylish and has plenty of space for a 15.6 inch laptop plus room for books, notepads, and snacks. It’s also available in several cute colors.

I also really like this one made from PU leather that’s available in even more colors and just as spacious.


Bath Towels

A good set of towels is an oft overlooked item for high school students headed off on their own. Don’t let them swipe a set from home to move out with.

Instead, get them this towel set with two bath towels, 2 hand towels and 2 wash cloths. These absorbent towels are exactly what they need to wash and dry. They’ll stay incredibly soft even after many cycles through rough college washers. Plus, they’re available in 6 different colors.


Hammock

One of my favorite ways to relax after a hard day or week is laying in a hammock.  This one from Wise Owl is a fantastic option.

It’s incredibly portable, fitting in a nice small bag that could easily stay stashed in the trunk of a car or in a backpack. It includes tree straps and even comes in two options for one or two people.

I recommend the two person option for everyone because it’s more roomy even if just one person is in it. It’s also available in over a dozen fun colors so you’re sure to find a version they’ll like.


30 Inch Footlocker Trunk

In this day and age of high tech suitcases a trunk may seem like an odd gift. But these things are truly fantastic. They’re super easy to fill up with stuff for the actual move. Then, after you unpack, you’ve got cute storage you don’t mind having on display.

Trunks are great for keeping those warm winter blankets packed away in the summer. They’re also great for storing all of those random knickknacks you seem to collect in life. Even better, if you have valuables you’d like to keep away from prying eyes this trunk has a sturdy lock. Check out all the available colors.


Portable Table Tennis

Table Tennis is one of the greatest games to play with your friends. The problem with college dorms is they’re lacking in the necessary tables needed for this game.

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With portable table tennis, you will be able to set up any table into a competitive table tennis match. This is a great way to have fun with your friends at any party or event.

When it comes to being the life of the party, portable table tennis is one of the best high school graduation gifts out there. Buy this portable table tennis set here.


The Naked Roommate

Books are among my favorite high school graduation gift ideas. This book covers over 100 different tips on things that will help you through your college experience.

From dealing with roommates to taking notes in class, you will find a wealth of information that will make the college experience so much better. Click here to order a copy today.

Check out a few of the best books for high school graduates.


Basic Tool Box

Make sure they have the basic tools they may need in their dorm or apartment.

This simple toolbox includes just about everything they would need to do small repairs or projects. If you want to add to it, I always recommend a simple drill. It’s incredibly useful and the first power tool most people purchase.

I’ve used this exact drill from Dewalt for years and it’s still going strong.


Photo Album

Give them a lasting gift with a completed photo album filled with pictures of friends and family. This high school graduation gift will take a bit longer to put together but they’ll love being able to flip through it while they’re away from home.

Make sure to include pictures from throughout their life and even reach out to some of their friends to see if they have other pictures they could send you that you can use.

Cooking Gifts for High School Graduates


Instant Pot

If they’re moving out they probably don’t have any cooking appliances and will most likely be short on space to store many of them.

An instant pot is a great option because it’s compact and you can set and forget it so they don’t need to spend a bunch of time in the kitchen cooking.

This 6-Quart Instant Pot is just the right size and has 15 one-touch programs so they can make rice, yogurt, cake, broth, beans, oatmeal, and more. It’s a fantastic high school graduation gift.


Electric Kettle

If they are headed off to college this simple electric kettle can be a fantastic high school graduation gift.

Not only can they use it to make tea or coffee but it can also be used to make instant oatmeal giving them an easy breakfast or ramen noodles for those late night study sessions.

This efficient electric kettle will have water at a rolling boil in no time. Don’t be surprised if the grad reports using this kettle every single day.


Rapid Ramen Cooker

One of the main staples of any college student’s diet is delicious ramen. While you as a parent may hope they eat a little healthier once they leave the nest, many, many college students eat ramen at least once a week.

With a rapid ramen cooker, they’ll get their ramen cooked quick so they still make it to class on time. The rapid ramen cooker is an inexpensive graduation gift idea that will be used many times throughout a college student’s career. Click here to buy one today.


Book: How to Cook Everything

When your high school graduate leaves home, they are going to have to cook for themselves, possibly for the first time in their lives. It’s important to give them the resources that will help them learn the skills to cook something more than just TV dinners.

How to Cook Everything is a great cookbook with over 2,000 easy recipes. Your graduate is bound to find food they will love from this extensive list of recipes. Order a copy of How To Cook Everything here.

Tech Gifts for High School Graduation


Portable Speaker

A bluetooth speaker is a fun high school graduation gift and definitely falls in the category of gifts they wouldn’t buy for themselves. There are tons of great options out there. I recommend looking at playtime, whether it’s waterproof, and if you can pair multiple speakers.

JBL produces one of the highest quality options available, the JBL Flip 5. It’s IPX7 waterproof meaning it’s waterproof for up to three feet deep. It also has PartyBoost which allows the speaker to pair with other JBL speakers for a more all around sound.

It’s a pricier option so if you’re looking for a great speaker at a lower price point take a look at this one from Anker or the JBL Flip 4. Both are great speakers but may lack some of the features of the JBL.


Fitbit

Help your new high school graduate avoid the freshman 15 with a fitness tracker. Fitbit’s track your steps, calorie burn, distance traveled stairs climbed, and some even monitor your heart rate. And they tell time so your graduate won’t be late for work or class.

If you’re particularly ambitious, pickup a Fitbit for your graduate and yourself. Then you can compete to see who is more active each week.

I love wearing the Fitbit Versa and think it’s the best option they have, however it’s also a bit pricey. So if you want a more affordable option, check out the Inspire 2.


Pocket Printer

Make it easy for your high school grad to print off pictures of their friends.

The Canon Ivy is one of the best pocket printers on the market. This tiny printer spits out great qualty 2”x3” photos which are the perfect size for decorating a dorm or apartment.

This printer doesn’t use ink but rather a unique heat transfer process so no need to by more ink, you just need to purchase a pack of paper and you’re good to go


Noise Cancelling Headphones

Trying to get some late night studying done while your roommates watch a football game in the next room is nearly impossible. Fortunately hardworking college students everywhere can now study in peace and quite with noise cancelling headphones.

Noise canceling headphones are a relatively inexpensive gift that will be used time and time again during a college experience. Your high school grad will thank you for all the times you helped them cram for test and finish papers thanks to this gift.

You can go the premium route with the famous Bose noise cancelling headphones or, for a more affordable option we found these great headphones that I’ve been using for the last few months.


New Laptop

One essential for nearly every high school graduate is a laptop. Whether they’re heading off to college or not a laptop will be invaluable. But picking one can be challenging with the shear number of options.

A MacBook Air is definitely a college favorite and will work well for them if they have an iPhone. This one from Acer is a bit more affordable but has the specs to meet most college students needs.

Of course, if they are big into gaming you may want to talk with them before you buy anything or pick up an Amazon or Best Buy gift card so they can buy what they’d like.


Computer Monitor

A new computer monitor is one gift I would have loved to receive when I graduated high school. I was stuck working off a small laptop screen in college for the first two years before I splurged and bought a monitor.

It was an absolute game changer and made it so much more efficient to get all of my work done. Suddenly I could have notes pulled up on one screen and look at them as I wrote papers.

I highly recommend this one that’s big enough to be useful but small enough that it will fit on most desks in college dorms or apartments.

(If you’re looking for a gaming monitor check out this one).


Smart Speaker

Smart speakers are incredibly convenient and useful. It can provide homework help, wake up alarms, music, sound machine, and even entertainment.

Alexa is easily the most popular smart speaker and also the most afordable depending on the model. The Echo dot is the cheapest option and quite compact. However, if you go with an Echo Show they can also watch videos on the device which is convenient.

You could also go with the Apple HomePod though its a bit more expensive.


AirPods Pro

Perhaps one of the hottest gifts recently are AirPods Pro. These noise cancelling in ear Bluetooth headphones produce great sound while lasting for many hours of use.

The active noise cancelling function will serve them well when their roommates are loud but they need to stay focused on a late night study session or paper. The AirPods Pro also offer a more customizable fit so they can wear them for hours without the discomfort that many inferior in ear headphones provide.

Give them a pair of AirPods for a graduation gift and they’ll be thanking you for years.


Bluetooth Keyboard

If they’ll be using an iPad or other tablet as their note taking device in class a good portable keyboard will be incredibly useful.

Typing on a screen is just not as fast as an actual keyboard. This Bluetooth keyboard is durable but compact so it can fit on a small in class desk with the tablet.

This 10.2” keyboard is compatible with iOS and Android devices. This lightweight, compact keyboard is exactly what they need for in class note taking on a tablet.


Hatch Restore

Help them establish good sleep routines and get up in time for class with the Hatch Restore. This is a sound machine, reading light, sunrise alarm clock and an all around personal sleep machine.

With a programmable sleep routine this simple clock will remind them when it’s time to head to bed for a good nights rest and when morning comes, gently wake them up with lights and sounds.

If your grad needs soothing sounds to help them fall asleep this includes soundscapes, meditations and calming sleep stories to help them get the sleep they desperately need.


Adobe Creative Cloud Subscription

If your high school grad will be pursuing a degree in graphic design, advertising or videography this can be an invaluable asset for them.

Adobe Creative Cloud includes all the tools they’ll need from Photoshop, InDesign, Premiere Pro, and so much more.

If they are pursuing any type design degree they’ll be using this every single day both for school assignments and for personal projects.

High school Graduation Gifts for Bikers


Bike Lock

One of the most widely used forms of transportation during the college years is a bike. If you were to talk to any campus police officer they will tell you that bike thefts are one of the most commonly committed crimes on campus.

A sturdy bike lock is a simple way to deter criminals from snatching your graduate’s bike. Here’s my top pick.


Bike Repair Kit

Bikes are easily one of the most popular modes of transportation in college. They’re quick around campus and much more affordable to buy and maintain than a car.

If your graduating high school student is headed to college with a bike a good bike repair kit is a great graduation gift. This well thought out kit includes a bike pump and tire patches, two items they’ll use more than anything else. Plus it includes all of the different tools they may need for deeper repairs.

Of course, you could also add a tube of Slime Tube Sealant so they can fix pesky flats quickly. And if they’re in need of a bike, this one is a great all around bike for most college students.

Other High School Graduation Gifts


New Wallet or Purse

A classic high school graduation gift is a new wallet or purse. It’s a rather simple gift that can let them upgrade from the days of high school to a full fledged adult wallet or purse.

This slim RFID blocking wallet will fit seamlessly in their pocket while holding everything they need.

This pebbled leather Kate Spade purse is simple yet elegant and will go with just about any outfit.


T-Shirt Quilt

for this unique gift gather up all of their favorite t-shirts. Maybe they’ve collected a bunch from sporting events or concerts or just general t-shirts they wear all the time.

Then you can either send them off to Project Repat or, if your good with a sewing machine, you can see them into a quilt. This is a special gift that can help preserve all the memories that came with each shirt without storing a whole bunch of old t-shirts.


Family Jewelry

Jewelry can always be a great graduation gift. There are many cute options like this gold necklace or this beautiful tennis bracelet. But if you want to make it an extra special gift you could give a piece of family jewelry.

Whether it’s one of your own pieces that they loved to wear or it’s a piece that has been handed down from grandparents. A piece of heirloom jewelry will truly make them smile when given as a graduation gift.


Graduation Gift Card

Gift cards are definitely one of the best graduation gifts for high school grads. This universal gift is bound to excite and impress recipients.

With the graduation cap design, this gift card can be a great way to show your graduate how impressed you are with their accomplishment.

With an Amazon Gift Card, you will be able to allow the graduate to choose what they really want. Choose your pre-loaded amount, and let your graduate go on a shopping spree. Pick up a gift card here.


Amazon Prime Membership

The Amazon online marketplace is one of the greatest things to ever happen to online sales. When Amazon began offering Amazon Prime, buying products online was suddenly easier and more convenient than ever before. With free standard shipping on most items and overnight shipping for a small fee, items can be shipped in no time.

When I was in college Amazon was always my first stop when shopping for textbooks. Their prices are routinely cheaper than the book store and the books ship quick. Prime also comes with access to millions of songs and Prime video to keep your graduate entertained.

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