Party Planning

13 Smart Graduation Gifts

Graduation Gifts - coldwater grad

A Coldwater High School graduate receives her diploma during commencement ceremonies.

The graduate in your life survived high school so you’d like to reward the college-bound kid with more than a high five.

Need ideas? I gathered some tips on smart (aka, practical) gifts from college experts including those who annually cram thousands of incoming freshmen and their stuff into shared dorm rooms.

Julie Miller, director of the Business Enterprise Center at Wright State University-Lake Campus in Celina, Ohio, drew on her work and personal experience to give some valuable advice.

“My own family has appreciated a good travel bag, laundry pods and favorite recipes, if they have a kitchen,” she said.

Miller also suggested gift cards from a local pizza place that is willing to deliver to students during finals week. Smart move. Keep ’em studying!

Graduation Gifts

Wall and other types of decorations can perk up a dorm room or apartment. Photo courtesy of

Dan Bertsos, director of Student Residence Life and Housing at WSU, said dorm decorations also make good gifts.

“Anything to decorate and brighten up a room are good ideas,” he said.

WSU, like many other colleges, offers students an online move-in checklist, which is loaded with graduation gift ideas!

How about a Brotoga? Yeah, I hadn’t heard of it either! It’s the newest product by college supply retailer

“It’s a robe, it’s a coat, it’s whatever you want it to be!” according to the company’s marketing and graphic design manager, Brittany Ciullo.

She also suggests giving the grad a trunk or footlocker that party guests can fill with college necessities. A+ to you, Ciullo! A gift that provides storage and a place to sit!

Grad Cap

Here are my 13 smart graduation gift ideas, in random order:

  1. Portable battery charger or power bank. Smartphones, tablets and other devices will need plenty of juice on the run. Check out Gadget Review’s recommendations.
  2. Mattress topper. If you’ve ever slept a night in a dorm room bed — No. Explanation. Needed.Graduation Gifts Gift Card Bouquet
  3. Gift cards. Choose Internet cafes, grocery stores and pizza places. If transportation is an issue, grab a gift card for gas or the local campus shuttle service.
  4. Keurig Single Serve Coffee Makers. Late-night cramming and early morning classes require loads of caffeine. Heavy java drinkers may appreciate a more economical coffee maker.
  5. “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” The Dr. Seuss book by Random House is a traditional must-read for every graduate. It’s also the last book Seuss ever wrote. Are those tears?
  6. Netflix account. “All work and no play … ,” as they say. Your grad will enjoy a night off to catch a good movie anywhere on any device.Headphones
  7. Noise canceling headphones. Help him/her block out the annoying trombone player down the hall or the party animals upstairs.
  8. Car jump starter kit. A dead battery. It can happen. Be the hero and get your grad prepared.
  9. School apparel. T-shirts and sweatshirts with logos and mascots might boost school spirit or at least provide more clothes when laundry day gets skipped.
  10. AAA membership. A personal AAA membership could prevent a dangerous scenario with a disabled vehicle along the highway.Graduation Gift - Emergency Kit
  11. First-Aid kit. Go store-bought or personally organized. Hopefully, only a Band-Aid will be used.
  12. Digital news subscription. Choose one that suits your grad. Ex., business major: Wall Street Journal. A subscription to a hometown paper is another option.
  13. Money. I saved this one for last because it is the most common choice of gifters. Cold, hard cash is diverse but it isn’t a unique present. You can do better.

For creative graduation gifts, party ideas and inspiration, you can visit our Graduation Pinterest board.

Graduation Gift Koozies

If you’re the graduation party planner, check out our customized koozies®. We’ve got tons of designs to choose from or we can help you create your own! We also can personalize your drinkware,  napkins and tableware, and more graduation party supplies!

One final thought from this mother of four:

Tell your graduate how proud you are, inspire them with confidence and continue to support them on their journey.”

— Shelley Grieshop

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