If you’re stressed because you just don’t know what gift would be right for that high school or college graduate on your list, stress no more!
This year my young friend Hannah and I have you covered with gift ideas that are sure to please both you and your favorite graduate!
When I asked Hannah what she and her friends would want for a graduation gift, I expected a quick verbal hint or two. What I didn’t expect was that Hannah would query a respectable sampling of her school’s senior class—complete with survey, research data, and specific results.
And so, for your gift-giving peace of mind and inspired by Hannah’s work, we confidently offer 18 gifts that this year’s graduates really want.
1. Windows Laptop Computer. While the students surveyed did not indicate exactly which laptop computer would meet their needs, I have divided student laptops into two categories, with the first being a Windows-based model like this excellent ASUS ZenBook 13 Ultra-Slim Laptop. It is super well-equipped to take your grad through five years of college, at least. Highly reviewed and priced well at About $750.
2. Chromebook Laptop Computer. The second category laptop for students is a Chromebook, of which there are many options. We believe this Asus Chromebook Flip C302CA while not the cheapest Chromebook out there, is the best for the money. It works as both a laptop and notebook, flipping into either style. Super powerful with 4GB RAM and Intel core processor. Starts up in seconds and lasts all day, up to 10 hours. Weighs just 2.65 pounds. Backlit keyboard and touchscreen. A dream machine! More here. About $450.
3. Earphones. The world of earphones, earbuds, air pods, and every other type of in-ear-monitors has simply exploded. You can spend a buck at the Dollar Store or a thousand for a set that looks pretty much the same! The difference is the level of technology that’s powering that headset. Graduates want earphones for all kinds of applications from blocking annoying noises around them to listening to music while on a run; to gaming and listening to videos and podcasts. Panasonic Wired Earphones are amazing and will deliver in all of those needs. They come in a variety of colors and get high reviews. And how much you ask? Wait for it … About $10.
4. Apple Watch. It’s not cheap, folks. And it’s a luxury item, for sure. But in keeping with our philosophy that it’s good to be cheap with ourselves but generous with others, a beautiful Apple Watch sits here proudly. That we have chosen this new Series 1 model demonstrates we haven’t completely lost our zeal for frugality. About $200.
5. Apple iPad Air. This 16GB Wi-Fi model iPad Air holds 10-hour battery life, 16 gigs flash memory and so lightweight it will tuck into that front pocket of your student’s backpack. Brand new. About $315.
6. Smart Speaker with Alexa. It’s the latest and greatest (2nd generation)—a hands-free speaker your grad controls with his or her voice. Smart Speaker with Alexa connects to Voice Service to play music, ask questions, make calls, send and receive messages provide information, news, sports scores, weather and more—instantly. About $100
7. Commuter Bike. This one surprised me but made me happy. Grads want bikes! And this Critical Cycle Urban Commuter Bike is just the ticket for getting around campus, around town or even back home for the weekend. This commuter bike is fixed-gear/single speed and super well-made. Choice of color and style. About $200.
8. Amazon Gift Card. For today’s young person, it’s hard to go wrong with an Amazon Gift Card. Wait! It’s hard to go wrong for any person, to be truthful. Easy to purchase, easy to deliver and super easy to use.
9. Luggage. I take the fact that luggage ranked quite high with these bright young people to mean that they intend to come home often. Right? For that, they want luggage. And this American Tourister Luggage Fieldbrook II 3 Piece Set is just the ticket. Rugged inline skate wheels with ball bearings make these pieces roll smoothly. Really well-constructed. Several color options. About $60.
10. Bluetooth Speaker. This Anker Soundcore 2 portable cordless speaker is just a sweetheart. Shhh … don’t tell the kids, but I use this speaker all the time in my garden, and am continuously amazed how it can be 60 feet from my computer or phone but remain connected with no crackling or distortion—producing beautiful, glorious sound. And the battery life? Wow. Just goes on and on. Everyone needs a good bluetooth speaker. About $40.
11. Piled Higher and Deeper. OK, so this did not show up on Hannah’s list. Not even close. It’s on my list as the perfect gift for any PhD grad student—whether finished with the degree or not. Piled Higher and Deeper: A Graduate Student Comic Strip Collection is just hilarious, capturing everything it means to be in (or done with!) graduate school. About $12.
12. Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock. This sunrise and sunset simulation alarm clock gradually lights up from 0% to 100% in 30 minutes before the alarm rings. Could there be a better gift for a young person heading off into the workforce or to college? My son tells me it’s the best gift I’ve ever given him, which makes me go, Huh, really?, but I’ll take it. Light can be changed to different colors, includes FM radio and sleek touchscreen. It is as useful as it is cool to look at. About $35.
13. Travel Coffee Mug. If someone on your gift list runs on dark, hot liquids, this Zojirushi stainless steel coffee mug is the answer. It’s sleek, it’s beautiful and keeps hot coffee hot for a very long time. It has a non-stick coated interior and flip-open lid. The entire thing disassembles for thorough cleaning. Accommodates full-size ice cubes for cold drinks, too. The 16-ounce capacity is just right, too. About $30.
14. Action Camera. This Campark ACT76 Action Cam WI-FI Sports Camera is really great. Shoots video (stills too) in 4K Ultra HD at 30 frames per second and captures images at 16 megapixels. Take it diving to 100 ft. depth. Super long battery life and comes with accessory kit. Truly remarkable at this price. About $60.
15. Laptop Backpack. This really good-looking Ambor Laptop Backpack is loaded with features: Anti-theft, USB charging port and headphone interface; fits up to 17-inch laptop plus rugged construction. Choice of black or gray. About $25.
16. Mini Fridge. Yes, today’s sharp, enthusiastic graduates want it known that a mini-fridge would delight them no end. And this Midea WHS-65LB1 Compact Single Reversible Door Refrigerator is our choice for utility and functionality. Just the right size for all those healthy snacks! About $115.
17. Food Gift Cards. There is little to say here except YES grads want Gift Cards for Fast Food, Slow Food, Hot Food, Cold Food and in any denomination. Starbucks is food, right?
18. Smart Water Bottle. For the student who is into health and fitness, this is the decadent treat—a smart water bottle that hooks to a smartphone to track, monitor and remind one of his or her water intake at any given moment. Yes, it’s true that such a thing exists. It is very cool and you’ll wow that young graduate with your tech savvy when you present this Hidrate Spark 2.0 Smart Water Bottle. About (better sit down) $55.