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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

18 Great Graduation Gifts New Grads Will Use Again and Again

This story is part of Gift Guide, our year-round collection of the best gift ideas.

Graduation season is in full swing, and that means it’s time to find the perfect gift for the grad in your life. Whether they’re graduating from college or high school, graduation is a major milestone. You’ll naturally want to celebrate their success with a thoughtful gift that will help usher them into the next phase of their life. 

A college grad might be heading into the real world and getting their first apartment. A recent high school grad might soon be starting a job or moving into a freshman dorm room in the fall. Regardless of what their next phase is, we’ve rounded up a batch of graduation gift ideas — ranging from practical to traditional to trendy — that most grads will appreciate. Take a look.

Land’s End

Travel Carry On Luggage Duffle Bag

For weekend visits

They might be off on their own, but that doesn’t mean they can’t come and visit every now and then. This sturdy Land’s End duffel is the perfect size for weekend trips. It usually costs $105, but you can get it on sale now for $73. And if you want a more personalized graduation gift, you can have their initials embroidered on the front for an extra $8. 

$73 at Land’s End

Sony WH-1000XM4

For tuning out roommates

Dec 2020

The Sony WH-1000X4 are arguably the best all-around noise-canceling headphones. While they list for $350, they frequently sell for closer to $275. That’s still expensive for a set of headphones, but compared to the AirPods Max at $549 this graduation gift seems like a bargain.

Read our Sony WH-1000XM4 review.


$350 at Target$348 at AmazonGet Price Alerts$350 at Best BuyYou’re receiving price alerts for Sony WH-1000XM4 (Black)


American Soft Linen, 6-Piece Towel Set

For their new abode

Whether they’re moving into a dorm or their first apartment, every new grad needs a fresh set of towels. These 100% Turkish cotton towels are fluffy, soft and super-absorbent. Choose from 16 colors, from neutral white and taupe to bold turquoise or yellow.

$40 at Amazon

David Carnoy/CNET

Sonos Roam

For taking the party outside

Available in white or black for $179, the Roam is currently Sonos’ smallest and most affordable speaker, though it’s fairly expensive for a mini wireless speaker. This model, like Sonos’ earlier, but more expensive, Move portable speaker, is equipped with both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi and can tap into an existing Sonos multiroom audio system and link with other Series 2-compatible Sonos speakers. This gift idea makes for a good starter speaker for those new to the Sonos world. Read our Sonos Roam review.

$179 at Sonos, Inc.$179 at TargetGet Price Alerts$150 at Best BuyYou’re receiving price alerts for Sonos Roam

David Carnoy/CNET

Theragun Mini

For easing stress

Here’s a grad gift that’s sure to please: a massage gun. There are many to choose from, but the Theragun Mini is nice, compact and surprisingly powerful (and pretty quiet). Available in a few color options, it retails for less than $200. 

$199 at Theragun$158 at Amazon

Lillia & Charles

Lillia & Charles Linen Quilt

A warm blanket that breathes

Down comforters are great but I find them to be a bit oppressive, especially in seasons that aren’t winter. A sturdy linen quilt or comforter has a lot of the weight and warmth of a down or down alternative but also breathes better as linen always does. This is a great year-round blanket round but your new grad will appreciate it even more during those warmer months. 

Lillia & Charles’ excellent quilt is made from 100% linen, machine washable and clocks in at a reasonable $215 for a queen. It can be purchased in one of four colors. 

$215 at Lillia & Charles

Microwave Pasta Pot

For easy late-night meals

Perfect for beginner cooks or college students, this microwavable pasta pot lets you cook up noodles within minutes — no stovetop or stirring required and no big cleanup afterward. It’s a life-saver for grads who don’t have a stove in their new dwelling.

$29 at Uncommon Goods

Sarah Tew/CNET

TCL 4-Series Roku TV

For binging their favorite shows

Roku is our favorite platform for a live TV streaming service like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video, and it’s even better baked into the TV. This TCL 4-Series can’t beat the more expensive models on image quality — its 4K resolution and HDR compatibility don’t do anything to help the picture — but it’s perfectly fine for most people, especially for the price. It comes in sizes from 43 to 75 inches; the price below is for 65 inches, more than enough for most grads.

Read our TCL 4-series Roku TV (2021) review.


$370 at Best Buy$440 at AmazonGet Price AlertsYou’re receiving price alerts for TCL 4-Series Roku TV

Paige Thies/CNET

Astrea One Filtered Water Bottle

For staying hydrated

Chances are wherever your new grad is going, they might not have access to great-tasting tap water. This filtered water bottle is our top pick for making tap water taste crisp and pure. Dorm dwellers can stash it in a mini-fridge and easily take it with them on the go. Not only will it save them from having to shell out for bottled water, but it’s easier on the planet too.  

$40 at Amazon


Mophie PowerStation Go Rugged with Air Compressor

For auto emergencies

If your grad drives a car, the Mophie PowerStation Go Rugged is a versatile charger to have around. Not only does it house a 15,000-mAh battery for charging multiple devices but it has a built-in air compressor, as well as detachable cables for jump-starting a car.

Along with car tires, the air compressor can be used to pump up bike tires, inflatable boats and balls. Adapters and needles for the air compressor are included. Also worth noting: The battery has an AC outlet so you can power small devices that require a power cord and don’t have a USB charging option. 

$160 at Amazon


Sunbasket Meal Kit Subscription

For healthy meals

One harsh reality that accompanies graduation is that food doesn’t magically appear. Whether your grad has been back home enjoying meals prepared by Mom and Dad or leaning on the campus cafeteria for sustenance, one thing is clear: It’s high time they learned to cook. 

One of the easiest ways to do that is with a subscription to one of the many great meal kit services in 2022. Sunbasket is my favorite overall meal kit of the 10 or so I’ve tried, with loads of interesting recipes that aren’t terribly complicated to execute — even for a beginner. There are also some excellent budget-friendly meal kits as well as those aimed at healthy eating and even a slew of fully prepared meal delivery services for the truly kitchen-phobic.

Sunbasket allows you to send a gift in any amount for your grad to use on making healthy meal kits, instead of on a bar bill.

See at Sunbasket


Amazon Gift Card

For the fickle grad

Not every grad wants or needs new items for their next adventure, and there’s definitely nothing wrong with that! If the grad in your life isn’t sure what they want or is hard to please, an Amazon gift card is a good way to go, and this one has a personal touch since it comes in a nifty grad cap gift box.

$25 at Amazon

Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple AirPods Pro

For everyday listening

If your graduate doesn’t already have these, they probably want them. The ultracompact, lightweight AirPods Pro feature a noise-isolating design that fits most ears securely and delivers top-notch performance for making calls, truly perfect for high school graduation gifts or college graduation gifts. (If your grad has an Android, check out the Beats Fit Pro instead.)

$180 at Amazon$200 at Best BuyGet Price AlertsYou’re receiving price alerts for Apple AirPods Pro (2021, MagSafe case)

Black & Decker

Black & Decker 60-Piece Drill and Tool Kit

Since Mom or Dad can’t be there to fix stuff

It can take years to acquire all of the tools needed for a household. This 60-piece kit is the perfect gift for this major milestone and will give your graduate a leg up by equipping them with everything they’ll need. You get an 8-volt drill, a hammer, a level, a tape measure and a bunch of wrenches and screwdrivers — all neatly packed into a handy carrying case, making it a perfect present for any new grad.

$43 at Amazon

Angela Lang/CNET

Apple Watch Series 7

A new twist on an old classic

The Apple Watch puts a modern spin on a traditional graduation gift. This is stylish and more practical than a simple bracelet. The Series 7, which can usually be found starting at under $400 for the smaller 41mm size, features an always-on display, blazing-fast speed and a host of health and wellness features.

$329 at Amazon

Wemore Weighted Blanket

For a good night’s sleep

Most young adults need plenty of rest. (Don’t we all?) Heavier than a regular blanket, this weighted blanket provides a calming effect that will help them get a better night’s rest. And bonus points: The fuzzy texture makes it extra-snuggly. This blanket normally retails for $50, but right now, you can get it on sale for $45 when you apply a coupon at checkout.

$45 at Amazon

David Carnoy/CNET

Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro

Affordable AirPods alternative

If you don’t want to shell out around $200 for the Apple’s AirPods Pro, Anker’s Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro, the company’s first earbuds to feature active noise canceling, are a good alternative for significantly less money. Like the AirPods Pro, they have an IPX4 water-resistance rating (splashproof). 

While I had an issue with the included ear tips and had to use some other tips (it’s crucial to get a tight seal or both noise canceling and sound quality will suffer), they should fit most people comfortably. Sound quality is better than Anker’s earlier Liberty Air 2 and the noise canceling is effective. These also work well as a headset for making calls and are available in multiple color options. Read our Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro review.

$60 at Amazon$130 at Best BuyGet Price Alerts$188 at WalmartYou’re receiving price alerts for Anker Liberty Air 2 Pro

Roku Express 4K Plus

For streaming shows

If you can’t afford a new TV for your grad, you can still beef up their home entertainment options. Roku’s excellent video streamers can turn any HDMI-equipped TV into a gateway to online entertainment bliss, featuring Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, YouTube, HBO Max and literally hundreds of other streaming channels. The Express 4K Plus is cheaper than the company’s Streaming Stick 4K+ and other 4K HDR streaming devices, and it’s our top pick for best streaming device overall.

$40 at Target$39 at AmazonGet Price Alerts$40 at Best BuyYou’re receiving price alerts for Roku Express 4K Plus (Black, 2021)

Find The Perfect Gift

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Five S Kneading Massager
$35 at Amazon

Hydro Flask
$35 at Hyrdo Flask

Nintendo eShop Gift Card
$50 at Amazon

Fox in the Forest
$12 at Amazon

SteelSeries Arctis 1
$50 at Amazon

Jacques Torres bonbons
$55 at Jacque Torres

A bouquet of exotic meats
$90 at Man Crates

Sarah Chloe diamond locket
$145 at Sarah Chloe

The Bouqs Co. Pixie bouquet
$99 at The Bouqs Co.

Sweet heart bamboo
$35 at Plants.com

Max Brenner chocolates
$37 at Max Brenner

Ingarden microgreens garden
$100 at Amazon

Shun Sora Japanese petty knife
$70 at Amazon

Wolf Circus Toni gold bracelet
$95 at Wolf Circus

Champagne Gummy Bears
$9 at Sugarfina

MakiMaki sushi roll kit for 2
$125 at MakiMaki

Cote des Roses rosé
$16 at Wine.com

Flavored Truffle Gift Box
$38 at La Maison du Chocolat

Barrel Aged Hot Hive Honey and Reaper Salt Series
$40 at Fuego Box

Carrie Hoffman X studs earrings
$290 at Carrie Hoffman

Wanna Date? sweet date spread
$12 at Uncommon Goods

Italian olivewood serving board
$17 at Sur la table

Three-piece cheese knife set
$20 at CB2

A delivery of fresh pasta
$25 at Goldbelly

Maison Miru heart nap earrings
$75 at Maison

Bokksu Japanese snack box
See at Amazon

State cashmere blanket throw blanket
See at Amazon

See at Amazon

Nixplay smart digital photo frame
$20 at CB2

Online cooking classes
See at Online Cooking School

Washable Silk Tee & Shorts
See at Quince

Ouai Chill Pill Bath Bombs
See at Ulta

60 Hour Candle
See at TheraBox

Dyson Supersonic hair dryer
See at Dyson

Mint & Lily Mama necklace
See at Mint & Lily

Sephora gift card
See at Sephora

Google Nest Hub
See at Google

Theragun Prime
See at Therabody

Matador NanoDry Towel
See at REI

See at Mixbook

Tiki fire pit
See at Amazon

Mario Badescu face spray set
See at Ulta

Flower delivery from BloomsyBox
See at BloomsyBox

Slip silk pillowcase
See at Amazon

Aarke water carbonator
$230 at Bed Bath & Beyond

Disney Plus Gift Subscription
$80 at Disney

DJI Minin 2 Fly More Combo
$600 at Amazon

Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 Instant Camera
$69 at Amazon

ThisWorx Portable Car Vacuum Cleaner
$36 at Amazon

Perfect Pot
$165 at Our Place

Letterfolk Customizable Tile Mat
$75 at West Elm

Parks Project Candle
$36 at Parks Project

iPad Mini 2021
$500 at Best Buy

Crown & Paw Pet Canvas
$50 at Crown & Paw

Coravin Wine Preservation System
$150 at Target

Botley 2.0
$47 at Amazon

Arcade1Up Arcade Machine
$600 at Best Buy

Biolite TraveLight 135
$40 at Biolite

Blockaroo Blocks
$40 at Amazon

Gloomhaven: Jaws of The Lion Board Game
$32 at Amazon

JBL Go 3
$50 at Amazon

Illy Y3.3 Espresso and Coffee Machine
$149 at Amazon

Lenovo Smart Clock
$35 at Best Buy

Keurig K-Slim Coffee Maker
$79 at Amazon

Lego Speed Champions Corvette
$30 at Amazon

Madewell Transport Tote
$178 at Madewell

Lunya Silk Sleep Mask
$48 at Lunya

$13 at Target

Lodge Cast-Iron Grill Pan
$20 at Amazon

Wyze Cam v3
$36 at Amazon

Apple AirPods 3
$150 at Amazon

EarFun Air Pro 2
$80 at Amazon

Sony WF-1000XM4
$250 at Walmart

Sony PlayStation 5
$499 at Amazon

Roku Express 4K Plus
$39 at Amazon

Apple iPad 2021 (9th generation)
$280 at Amazon

Acer Chromebook Spin 713
$530 at Amazon

MacBook Air M1
$1,000 at Best Buy

Bose SoundLink Flex
$150 at Best Buy

Dell G15
$1,100 at Best Buy

HP Pavilion Aero 13
$1,000 at HP

Lenovo Yoga 7i (2-in-1)
$850 at Best Buy

Mosaic Plant-Based Meal Delivery
$70 at Mosaic

Trade Coffee Subscription
$40 at Trade

Vizio MQ7 65-inch
$1,000 at Amazon

Apple Watch SE
$269 at Amazon

Apple Watch Series 7
$399 at Best Buy

Atlas Tea Club
$199 at Atlas Tea Club

iPhone 11
$499 at Apple

iPhone 13
$799 at Apple

Fitbit Charge 5
$179 at Amazon

Google Pixel 6
$599 at Amazon

iPhone 13 Pro
$999 at Apple

LG C1 OLED 65-inch
$1,797 at Amazon

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
$1,166 at Amazon

TCL Series 4 TV 65-inch
$529 at Amazon

TCL Series 6 TV 65-inch
$999 at Amazon

Theragun Mini
$199 at Amazon

Best of Dylan’s Candy Bar Gift Basket
$100 at Dylan’s Candy Bar

The Mirror
$1,495 at Mirror

Echo Dot with Clock
$60 at Amazon

Croissant Light
$19 at Amazon

Spanish-style Wine Glasses
$20 at Amazon

Nintendo Switch OLED
$350 at Target

Xbox Series X
$499 at Amazon

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