51 College Graduation Gift Ideas for the Class of 2021
Even if you have a reputation among friends and family for being an excellent gift giver, coming up with college graduation gift ideas for the class of 2021 poses a unique challenge. After all, they’ve had a far from normal senior year, and plans for in-person graduation ceremonies remain uncertain at most colleges and universities. So, what do you get the grad who is entering adult life at such an uncertain time? Well, think about what their interests are. If they’re an artist, treat them to an iPad Pro that they can do digital illustrations on. Or maybe you know they have a green thumb, in which case you can surprise them with a plant baby for their new apartment. And if you’re still stumped, try one of these 51 presents they’re sure to appreciate regardless of what life looks like in the coming months.
1. Bose 700 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones
For the audiophile
Shopping for a music lover? Gift her these headphones with impressive active noise-cancelling technology so her favorite song won’t get interrupted by any outside sounds. Even if she mostly ends up using them to drown out strangers on her walk to work or her younger siblings battling over the remote downstairs, they’ll definitely come in handy.
2. Nespresso VertuoLine Coffee & Espresso Machine
For the Starbucks lover
Sure, it was one thing when they could use campus dining cash to pay for their morning Starbucks at the student center. But now that they’ll be paying for it with their own hard-earned money, it’s probably time for them to learn how to make it at home. Enter: This easy-to-use coffee machine. You can even get them some Starbucks pods to use with it.
3. HelloFresh Subscription
For the grad who ate at the dining hall 24/7
If he relied on the dining hall for all of his meals, living on his own is going to be a rude awakening. Soften the blow by signing him up for a HelloFresh subscription. This way, he’ll get pre-proportioned ingredients and clear recipe instructions delivered to him each week to make cooking for himself feel a bit less intimidating. Plus, then you can rest assured knowing he’s not eating Ramen for every meal.
4. Mejuri Diamonds Open Ring
For the wardrobe minimalist
Maybe she likes to wear the same jewelry on the daily (a woman after our own heart). In that case, get her this dainty 14-karat gold diamond ring. It won’t oxidize or get discolored, so she can keep it on even while she’s taking a shower or working out.
5. Hulu Subscription
For the TV lover
She’s been using her roommate’s Hulu login to catch up on The Bachelor for the past four years, but now it’s time for her to get her own account. Help her out by covering the first year of her subscription and she’ll be totally psyched. FYI: Plans start at $6/month, so a whole year’s worth of membership, so a whole year will cost you $72.
6. Brooklinen Super-Plush Towel Move-In Bundle
For the grad with good taste
If she’s been using the same scratchy bath towels since her freshman year, surprise her with an upgrade to this set made from one hundred percent Turkish cotton. After all, there’s nothing like premium bath linens to make you feel like a true adult (even if you’re still crashing with the rents for the time being).
7. Apple 11-inch iPad Pro 2nd Generation
For the artist
The most advanced iPad models aren’t cheap, which is likely the reason why your favorite budding artist doesn’t already own one. Once he unwraps it and downloads the Procreate digital illustration app, you probably won’t see him for hours. Just make sure to get him an Apple Pencil to go with it too, otherwise he’ll be stuck drawing with his fingers.
8. Winc 2-Month Wine Subscription
For the wine lover
Now that she’s graduating college, it’s probably time that she graduates from boxed wine, too. Get her started by gifting her a Winc wine subscription. After taking a quick palate quiz, the brand will recommend bottles that appeal to her taste preferences. From there, she can select exactly which ones she wants to receive for the month.
9. LG CineBeam PH30N 720P Wireless Projector
For the movie buff
A projector is an awesome grad gift because it’s something they probably want, but would never buy for themselves. This model from LG is designed to create a move theater-like experience at home, and offers two hours of battery life per charge so they can even set it up outside for a summer movie night if they want.
10. Sevsillustrations Custom Portrait
For the grad who already misses her friends
These digital portraits are all over TikTok, so chances are she’s already thought about ordering one of her and her besties. Pull a photo from her Instagram feed, send it to this artist, and she’ll produce a pretty digital illustration of the group. Frame it and you have the graduation gift she didn’t know she wanted, but will immediately show off on her Instagram Story.
11. Ring Video Doorbell
For the grad who’ll be living alone
Want to make sure your graduate feels secure in their new living arrangement? Set them up with this Ring Video Doorbell. It features motion detection and connects to an app on their phone, so they can see who’s at the door at all times. For extra peace of mind, you can connect it to your phone too so you know they’re safe.
12. Ella Jayne 12lb Reversible Weighted Blanket
For the insomniac
Thanks to their soothing pressure, weighted blankets are ideal for lulling insomniacs to sleep. So while it may feel like a strange graduation gift at first, they’ll surely thank you after seeing how their sleep quality improves. This one from Ella Jayne is reversible, so you can be sure at least one side will go with their existing room decor.
13. Tory Burch Perry Leather Tote
For the grad who needs a work bag
A color-block backpack may have been sufficient for hopping across campus from class to class, but a sleek leather tote is much more appropriate for the working world. This one from Tory Burch comes in eight pretty colorways, and features three interior compartments to keep belongings organized. Plus, it’s big enough to hold a 13-inch laptop.
14. Samsung Galaxy Chromebook
For the grad who needs a new laptop
If they got their current laptop as a high school graduation present, chances are it’s pretty slow these days. Help them upgrade to this Samsung Chromebook, which doubles as a tablet. According to one PureWow editor, it works so well that it convinced her to ditch her MacBook Air.
15. Parachute Percale Venice Set
For the grad moving into a new apartment
Good-bye, twin XL mattress! It’s time for a major bedding upgrade and this luxe cotton set is an excellent place to start. It contains a fitted sheet, a pillowcase set and a duvet cover, all of which are so soft, they’ll make your grad feel like they’re staying in a luxe hotel...not their tiny apartment.
16. Slip Silk Pillowcase
For the grad with great hair
A dreamy silk pillowcase is the perfect gift for any graduate who takes a serious approach to haircare. The 100 percent mulberry silk is gentle on skin and hair, meaning it won’t cause breakage and split ends over time like a cotton pillowcase might.
17. Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat
For the cooking newbie
This popular cookbook won’t just show them the necessary steps to bake a loaf of bread, it also explains why those steps are necessary and what exactly they’re meant to do. This way they can learn to become not just a good home cook, but a smart one, too.
18. Milk Bar The Sweetie
For the grad with a sweet tooth
The most delicious way to celebrate your favorite grad from afar? Send him this assortment of Milk Bar’s popular birthday cake truffles and cookies. Trust us, they’re way better than anything you could whip up from a box and mail yourself.
19. David Donahue Stripe Silk Tie
For the job hunter
Odds are he owns exactly two ties: one splashed with his fraternity logo and the other featuring a naughty Christmas theme. Neither one is likely to impress a potential employer, but this classic blue-patterned one definitely stands a chance.
20. Serene House Astro Electric Aromatherapy Diffuser
For the grad in need of a little relaxation
The transition from leading an independent life on campus to living under mom and dad’s roof (and therefore abiding by their house rules) is not an easy one. An essential oil diffuser (that doubles as a mini humidifier and nightlight) can help make their room feel like a mini oasis, that’s still entirely their own. Pair this gift with some calming essential oils to really hit it out of the park.
21. TheraBox Self-Care Subscription Box
For the grad who’s stressed about the job search process
If she’s graduating without a job offer, she’s probably feeling the pressure to get something lined up ASAP. Remind her to take some time to relax by signing her up for this self-care subscription box. Each month, she’ll get tools for a therapeutic stress-relieving activity, plus six to eight self-care items delivered straight to her door.
22. Bertha Sunglasses Reese Cat Eye Sunglasses
For the trend setter
Give your favorite fashion lover these sophisticated sunnies just in time for summer, and you’re sure to earn some brownie points. Also, you’re required to write that these shades are “for a future so bright” in the card. Sorry, we don’t make the rules.
23. Things They Don’t Teach You in School Game
For the life-long learner
The international economics major might know all the ins and outs of how the stock market works, but do they know why the Mona Lisa doesn’t have eyebrows? This hilarious card game is chock full of facts so random, everyone who plays is bound to learn something new.
24. Cravings: Hungry for More by Chrissy Teigen
For the amateur chef
Cooking for yourself is way more fun if you’ve got a celeb chef (and her recipes) in your corner. Plus, Teigen has been known to regularly comment on fan food pics, meaning they might just get a shout out from the queen of Twitter herself.
25. Latitude Run 5-Piece Picture Frame Set
For the sentimental grad
They’ve made tons of great memories (and taken thousands of pictures) during their college years. So why not give them this set of five frames as a reminder to print some of those photos out and display them? If you want to take it one step further, you can even pull some photos straight from their Instagram and frame them yourself. Then, all they’ll have to worry about is hanging them up.
26. Oak & Luna Personalized Necklace
For the grad with the ever-growing jewelry collection
Design a piece embossed with her initials, birthday or graduation date. Or opt for a sweet message that will make her smile every time she wears it. No matter how many necklaces she already has, this minimalist one is sure to become a staple in her wardrobe.
27. Apple Watch Series 6
For the techie
It used to be that a quality watch was the go-to graduation gifts. Now, a smartwatch is the way to go. The Apple Watch Series 6 is the newest model (it just came out this past September), so your grad is sure to geek out over it and show it off to all their friends. To be fair, it’s pretty similar to previous versions, but has a new blood oxygen levels sensor and works up to 20 percent faster than the Series 5.
28. Native Union Dock Marquetry Wireless Charger
For the grad who’s constantly glued to their phone
A constantly dead phone battery wasn’t fun to deal with in college, but it’s a major no-no once they enter the real world and need to let their boss (or their mama) know if they’re running late. This sleek wireless charger doubles as decor, meaning they can leave it on their nightstand 24/7.
29. Drunk Elephant The Littles Set
For the skincare fanatic
She knows Drunk Elephant skincare is the best of the best, but it hasn’t exactly been within her budget over the past four years. Treat her to this set, so she can sample eight travel sizes of the brand’s most popular products and decide what’s actually worth splurging on when she gets her first adult paycheck.
30. Modern Picnic The Luncher
For the grad who’ll be going into the office
The last time they carried a lunch box it had Thomas the Tank Engine on the front. We’d say it’s time for an office-appropriate upgrade. This lunch box doubles as a chic purse, so they can impress their coworkers from day one.
31. Rent the Runway Subscription
For the grad in need of a new wardrobe
They’re entering into a whole new phase of life, one where the sorority semi-formal dress collection may no longer be appropriate. On the other hand, they’re unlikely to have a ton of spare cash for new suits and impressive workwear. Enter Rent the Runway. It’s eco-friendly, easy to use and gives them the tools to always look the part.
32. WellTold College Town Tumbler
For the coffee lover
So they can reminisce about their old morning walk across campus while sipping coffee on their new morning commute. There are also wine, whiskey and beer glasses, if they prefer to imbibe while being nostalgic.
33. Aaptiv One Year Membership
For the fitness fanatic
So long, free campus gym. If you’ve got a fitness lover on your hands, sign them up for a year-long membership to Aaptiv. They’ll get unlimited access to thousands of workouts all led by certified personal trainers that they can do right in their living room.
34. Philips SmartSleep Sleep and Wake Up Light Therapy Lamp
For the early riser
Waking up to start their day is much easier and also much more pleasant with this alarm clock that mimics sunrise. The light gradually intensifies to gently rouse them from sleep rather than jolting them out of REM with loud beeping.
35. The Solo Travel Handbook by Lonely Planet
For the adventurer
We’re willing to bet your recent grad is itching to go traveling right about now. Even if they have to wait a few months ‘til they’re vaccinated and can travel safely, this book will be super useful. It’s an excellent guide to making the most out of both the planning process and the trip itself.
36. Ramona & Ruth Daily Overview Notepad
For the planner
Whether their days ahead will consist of working in an office, bouncing between odd jobs or crafting cover letters, this notepad is just what they need to ensure that all their daily to-dos actually get done. “This notepad is EVERYTHING! I love to write down everything I have going on throughout the day but never find that planners have enough space,” writes one reviewer.
37. Equal Parts Essential Pan
For the grad who doesn’t own cookware yet
Sure. all they know how to cook is scrambled eggs, but at least now those eggs will slide right off the pan and can be cleaned without any scrubbing. (Just be sure to warn them never to put a non-stick pan in the dishwasher!)
38. A Bouquet of Flowers
For the hard-to-shop-for grad
When in doubt, go with a gorgeous vase of blooms. This particular bouquet features alstroemeria, solidago and aster, plus a succulent that she can plant once the flowers have seen better days.
39. Homesick Candle
For the grad who’s moving across the country
After living on campus for four years, college probably feels more like home than their hometown at this point. If they’re moving hundreds of miles away after graduation, get them a Homesick Candle inspired by the state they’re leaving. It might seem a little cheesy at first, but in a few weeks they’ll definitely send you a photo of it burning in their new bedroom.
40. Becoming by Michelle Obama
For the avid reader
The former first lady’s autobiography has been a source of inspiration for women from all stages of life, but for college grads specifically it can provide some much-needed guidance on how to begin their careers and start building a life they’re excited about.
41. Audio-Technica Stereo Turntable
For the old-school music lover
Give his vintage vinyl collection a modern upgrade with this impressive stereo system that sounds every bit as good as it looks. Over 400 five-star reviewers say it’s easy to set up, high quality and sounds amazing.
42. Bloomscape Monstera
For the green thumb
Whether they’re moving into their own place or camping out in their childhood bedroom for a few months while they figure out their next move, any plant lover will appreciate a new addition to their collection. We recommend this Monstera, since it can thrive in a variety of different settings.
43. The New Wine Rules: A Genuinely Helpful Guide to Everything You Need to Know by Jon Bonne
For the aspiring sommelier
It’s time they learn a little something more about wining and dining. You know, beyond just, “If it’s pink, I’m in.” This guide contains simple advice on how to choose a quality wine (hint: It’s not all about the price).
44. American Greetings Thank You Greeting Cards
For the grad with good manners
Job number one after graduation: writing thank-you notes to everyone who has sent a gift. So you can expect to see one of these cute cards again in the near future. (Psst, if you’re feeling very generous you can also add a book of stamps.)
45. Upper Square Sabine Adjustable Standing Desk
For the WFH newbie
Most jobs are still onboarding their employees remotely, which means there’s a pretty good chance your grad will be starting from their home...at least for a few months. Gift them this adjustable standing desk so they’re set up for success. It functions as a traditional desk, but can be raised later in the day if their back is starting to hurt from all that sitting.
46. Lauren Ralph Lauren Burnished Leather Bifold Wallet
For the grad who needs a new wallet
Don't allow him to go off into the adult world with a wallet made of duct tape. Made from burnished leather and featuring plenty of card slots (because who carries cash anymore?), this design will last him years to come.
47. Jason Markk ‘Essential’ Shoe Cleaning Kit
For the sneakerhead
They don’t necessarily need a new pair of kicks, but their favorite white sneakers could use a touch-up. This easy-to-use cleaning kit is like a gift that keeps on giving.
48. Amazon Gift Card in a Grad Cap Box
For the grad who orders everything on Amazon
They will most definitely use this gift card, whether it’s to stock up on new novels, basic home goods or some office-appropriate shoes. And that adorable gift box is just too cute to pass up. If you can’t attend graduation IRL, just select the gift card amount and have it shipped straight to their doorstep.
49. An Amazon Prime Account
For the grad who doesn’t have Amazon Prime yet
Amazon does offer free Prime accounts for college students, but once that university email account closes, so too does their access to free two-day shipping. But did you know you can have up to four email accounts on one Prime membership? They’re still totally separate accounts (so you don’t have to worry about anyone seeing what’s in your shopping cart), but you pay just $199 for all four instead of $796.
50. Sony PS5
For the gamer
Ever since it launched in November of 2020, the PlayStation 5 has been virtually sold out. Luckily, you can still get your hands on one via StockX. Needless to say, they’ll be totally impressed when they unwrap this after graduation.
For literally any grad
If there is one thing a recent college grad needs, it’s cold hard cash. To pay off student loans, to pay rent on their new apartment, to stock up on groceries and pantry basics, to pay for flights back home for the holidays. Whether it’s 20 bucks or a more generous sum, gifting them with a little nest egg to ease their way into the real world is more helpful than any inspirational poster or picture frame could ever be.