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Best High School Graduation Gift Ideas

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These are some of the best high school graduation gift ideas based on input from several current college students. Some are items they received at graduation that they loved and others are things they realized they wanted or needed later and wish they’d received.

a collage of six different gift ideas with title text reading High School Graduation Gift Ideas

The #1 Best High School Graduation Gift Idea is Money

This is the easiest and most popular graduation gift for a reason – it’s always appreciated. Not only is college expensive, but for many young adults, it’s the first opportunity to exercise financial independence from their parents (or at least ease into it). Having a small nest egg to draw from as they start their new life as a college student provides a great sense of security.

A personal check or gift card inside a graduation card is completely acceptable and much appreciated. However, if you want your generous gift to stand out from the dozens of other gift checks, consider one of these more creative (and memorable) cash gifts:

Roll bills diploma-style and stuff them into a jar with a graduation cap lid. Find complete instructions for this Graduation Glass Bottle Gift on Crafty Morning.

best high school graduation gift ideas - money rolled in a glass jar topped with a graduation cap

Penny Pinchin Mom has put together 20 different money gift ideas using dollar bills to make everything from leis to topiaries!

a collage of the best high school graduation money gift ideas with title text reading 20 Awesome Graduation Money Gift Ideas

If you’re not crafty, don’t worry – there’s still an easy way to set your cash gift apart from others. Give a financial gift that keeps growing! With SparkGift, you can gift stock funds in companies or mutual fund shares. You can buy stock for as little as $20 and the online process is incredibly simple.

unique graduation gift idea

Practical Gifts

One of the problems graduating high school students face is that since they haven’t yet been to college, they don’t know what they will need when they get there. Even if they do, the last thing they want to do with all that cash they’re getting at graduation is to spend it on things like laundry detergent and school supplies.

When we took our son to college, we had a long packing list for the dorm freshman year.


Aside from the cleaning supplies (which in all honesty was on the list due solely to my wishful thinking he would use them), ANY of the items on the list would be appreciated and used.

My son says the mini-fridge was his favorite item from the list. That, or a microwave, make an impressive gift on their own. You could group several small items together to make a themed-gift.

Hygiene Supplies

For example, you could put together a shower caddy filled with basic hygiene supplies like this one:

best high school graduation gift idea - hygiene supplies in a shower caddy

Laundry Supplies

Or laundry supplies packed inside a laundry basket like this one from Julie Blanner. Notice the jar full of quarters too!

best high school graduation gift idea - laundry supplies in a wicker basket

College Apparel

For the four years most students spend in college, they can never have enough apparel with their school’s logo on it. You can never go wrong getting them a t-shirt, sweatshirt, hoodie, hat, jacket, or jersey from their college or university.

If you’re the type of person who brings a gift for your friend’s older child when your friend has a new baby, you might also want to pick up some shirts for mom and dad too who will be happy to show off their pride in their graduate.

Awesome Memberships

Since many students won’t have televisions or cable in their dorm rooms, a Netflix gift card makes a great gift. Students can watch Netflix on their laptops if they don’t have a television.

A Spotify subscription is another service most college students appreciate since it allows them to listen to their favorite music wherever and whenever they want. The only downside to buying a Spotify gift card is that it can’t be converted to the student discount account so you’ll pay full price even though a student could get the subscription at half the price if they purchased it themselves.

Many new college students don’t realize that Amazon has a special membership for students. It’s called Prime Student and it’s half the price of a regular Amazon Prime account with all of the benefits:

  • Free Two-Day Shipping
  • Free Video Streaming
  • Prime Reading – unlimited access to over 1000 books, magazines, comics, etc.
  • Unlimited Audible Original Series Listening
  • Unlimited Photo Storage
  • Early Access to Lightning Deals

College students get 6 months free when they sign up for Prime Student.

There’s no way to give a Prime Student membership as a gift since the student needs to sign up using their college e-mail address, but you can share this helpful resource with them along with a $50 Amazon Gift Card (to cover the first year’s membership fee after the free trial ends).


The year BEFORE my son went to college, we gave him a Chromecast for Christmas since he didn’t have cable in his room. He said the Chromecast came in handy, particularly coupled with a Netflix membership, since one of his roommates brought a television set.

Another item students might not realize they’ll need is a good set of noise-cancelling headphones. It can be hard to predict how difficult it is to study in noisy dorms. And for those who study best with music playing, headphones make it easy to do even in the silent library.

If you are willing to splurge, one thing all college students need is a reliable laptop. If that’s too steep for your graduation budget, considering giving one as a group gift with other friends or relatives.

The Best High School Graduation Gift Ideas That Are Just for Fun

Don’t underestimate the value of a great experience. Some of the best presents are items you can’t gift wrap. Consider one of these ideas:

  • Tickets to a concert
  • Gift certificate for a spa day
  • Season passes to a sports team or local attraction
  • A vacation
  • A unique experience (e.g. driving a race car, skydiving)

I hope you’ve found some inspiration above. These were the best high school graduation gift ideas based on the recent graduates that I know. If you have more ideas, I’d love to include them! Please share them with me in the comments.