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5 Great Gift Ideas for the High School Grad

Graduation is an exciting milestone that should be celebrated with a special gift. But choosing the appropriate present can be challenging. Whether you’re looking for something on the practical side or want a more meaningful keepsake, we’ve got you covered.

1. Cash

hands holding cash

You can never go wrong with a gift of cash. Here are some creative ways to package your gift:

  • Put the money in a new wallet.
  • Clip the money to a money clip engraved with the grad’s initials.
  • Enclose the money in a nice envelope and place it in a book on finances.

For additional creative ways to give a cash gift, visit Good Housekeeping‘s website.

2. A Book

Places You'll Go book

Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss is one of the most popular books to give graduates of any age, and for good reason. You never outgrow Dr. Seuss. Everyone can use a little “Seussian” perspective!

“You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
Any direction you choose.” –Dr. Seuss

Don’t forget to include a personal inscription with your own words of wisdom and congratulations.

3. Jewelry

Watch in gift box

A graduation is the perfect occasion to give a classic piece of jewelry such as pearl earrings, a birthstone necklace, or a nice wristwatch. It’s also a great time to pass down a family heirloom (like a grandfather’s pocket watch or a grandmother’s ring) that the grad will wear and cherish for a lifetime.

4. A Tote or Backpack

Backpack with travel map and camera

Whether your grad is heading for college or a career, a tote or backpack is a terrific practical gift on its own or filled with things your grad may need.

For the traveler: A power adapter; passport holder; a nice camera; and compact items, such as a small umbrella, that can be useful back home as well.

For the apartment or dorm dweller: Laundry soap, dryer sheets, a roll of quarters, and directions how to separate laundry—or a nice set of monogrammed towels.

For the university-bound student: Gear from the college they’ll be attending and any of those often needed items that freshmen may forget to pack.

 5. A Photo Book or Calendar

Photo album

There’s nothing like leafing through a personalized photo book to help a grad walk down memory lane, whether it’s a year’s worth of memories or a lifetime’s.

And for those grads who are leaving home, a photo calendar is the perfect way to remind them of home and that you’re thinking of them.

Another great option is Shutterfly’s photo story app for iPad or any other photo site that lets you create a digital photo book that’s shareable and printable.

For more graduation gift ideas, check out this list. You can also explore our ideas for Father’s Day gifts, gifts that give something back, gifts for toddlers, alternative gift giving, and educational gifts.

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Anne Vogel

Anne Vogel

Anne Vogel is a senior writer for K12. With a degree in communications from Virginia Tech, and a master’s degree in linguistics and TESOL Certification from George Mason University, her passion for language and writing is clear. Her varied career includes six years teaching English as a Second Language at California State University–Long Beach, after which Anne returned to her native Virginia and taught at her alma mater, Fairfax High School. For the past ten years, she’s worked as a writer and editor for nonprofit and corporate organizations in the education and government contracting sectors. With friends across the globe—thanks to her teaching days—she loves to travel. But the destination she enjoys most is Marietta, Georgia, where her favorite nephew lives.

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