May is here, and if you’re a college student, that means the end of the school year—and for some, college graduation! If you know someone graduating this year and are struggling to find the perfect gift, here are 20 ideas for consideration—from the practical to the motivating to the heartfelt:

Practical Gifts

Finishing college and heading into the “real world” is major. It’s very natural for students to feel a bit anxious about all of the life change coming their way. Going for a gift that will come in useful as your graduating friend or family member makes the transition (even if they might not know it yet)? Here are a few possibilities:

  1. A leather briefcase or messenger bag
  2. A luggage set
  3. A good vacuum
  4. A toolkit with a screwdriver and heads, hammer, level, wrench, tape measurer, pliers, and ratchet
  5. A nice coffee maker
  6. Cookbooks and spices
  7. A leather portfolio and business card holder
  8. A tech accessory pack: iPhone/iPad stand, mobile power bank, and Bluetooth speaker

Inspirational Gifts

Earning a college degree is a big achievement that takes effort and sacrifice. Honor the graduate in your life with some sort of inspirational keepsake that means more than a gift card ever could. Ideas to think about:

  1. A picture frame to hold their college diploma (or a gift certificate to a framing shop to have it professionally framed)
  2. “This is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life” (often lauded one of the most captivating commencement speeches of all time, delivered by David Foster Wallace)
  3. A motivational piece of artwork, like “This is Your Life
  4. A globe
  5. A book about personal and professional development (check out this great list on Goodreads)

Heartfelt Gifts

It’s ok to get a little bit sappy! If sentimental gifts that spark a little emotion are more your speed, here are some suggestions that will make the college grad in your life reflect on their college experience with fondness:

  1. A framed piece of artwork of the college campus where they attended—an artistic photo, a poster, or a painting
  2. A special book (check out Real Simple’s 27 must-read books for college graduates)
  3. A personalized piece of jewelry
  4. A “Class of 2017” throw pillow or other piece of home decor
  5. A framed world map or state map from the state where their college is located
  6. Personalized stationery and a matching pen
  7. A camera and a photo album to fill

Whatever you choose, don’t forget to write a personal note letting the college graduate in your life know how proud you are of their hard work. This is an exciting milestone in the journey that is life—a sincere congratulations is in order. Now, let’s get shopping!


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