Shopping·15 min read

25 Smart Gifts for the Recent Grad

21 Smart Gifts For the Recent Grad in Your Life
Amazon, Leatherology, Fujifilm
April 21, 2023

This post was originally published in April 2022 and has been updated.

Products you buy through our links may earn us a commission. Oh, and if something's out of stock, oops, it was there (and all prices were accurate) at time of publication.

Recent college grads deserve something extra special, especially after navigating the last few years. So we rounded up some sentimental graduation gifts to help the ones in your orbit kick off their adult lives — from things that’ll build up their first apartment to essentials for their first post-grad job. These will scream, "I’m so proud of you for graduating’ and ‘congrats on no longer sharing a hallway bathroom." Cheers to that (sans Solo Cup, of course).

Stuff that’ll set their home office up for success

Desk pad

A desk pad that’ll protect all their stuff from spills…

If they’ll be working from home at a desk or studying on a desk that doubles as a lunch counter, messes are inevitable. This waterproof pad will keep counters and tables from unwanted spills, spills, scratches, stains, and dust. It’s got a non-slip pad and a dual-sided surface that’s easy to wipe down. Plus it comes in a variety of colors and sizes. Win-win-win. ($9.99+ Amazon)

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graduation gift

A drool-worthy tech addition to get their creativity flowing…

Snagging a top-of-the-line Apple product doesn't necessarily have to break the bank. This 10-inch iPad will help your giftee transition into the real world. It’s a great tool for time management, scheduling, planning, and more — especially when paired with the Apple Pencil. They’ll be crushing interviews and scheduling lunch dates like a pro. ($279+, Amazon)

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New job candle

A fitting candle to zhuzh up their WFH space…

New job, who dis? This non-toxic soy wax candle is a thoughtful way to celebrate their first post-grad gig. And it’ll look great in the background of any Zoom meeting. It has notes of leather, cinnamon, cedarwood, and vanilla, and should burn for 60-80 hours. Smells like adulting. ($30.40, Amazon)

Buy it at AmazonBuy it at Homesick
Noise-cancelling headphones

Noise-canceling headphones to block out all their roommates’ phone calls…

These will help them filter out unwanted background sounds (think: sirens, loud roomies, etc.) as they’re trying to work or study. The headphones have indoor, outdoor, and transportation-noise modes. And they can last for 40-60 hours on a single charge (plus a five-minute charge provides four hours of listening). Hear that? It’s the sound of intense focus coming their way. ($85.99+, Amazon

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Leather notebook

A leather notebook to keep track of all their new responsibilities…

Whether it’s for grocery lists, doodles, or work to-dos, this notebook will be their new BFF. The leather cover is removable, so once they use up all the paper inside, they can easily swap it out for use over and over again. Plus it’s monogrammable so you can make it extra special for them. Chic and practical? Yes and yes. ($75+, Leatherology

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The gifts that keep on giving 

Home bundle graduation gift
Uncommon Goods

A bundle full of essentials for unwinding…

Help them put the party days behind them with this bundle theSkimm created in partnership with Uncommon Goods. It includes a few of our favorite items for enjoying a quiet night in: a bedside pocket that’ll keep all their must-haves handy, a lavender and chamomile candle, a rechargeable electric lighter, and a journal to keep ’em present. Because the joy of missing out is real. ($75, Uncommon Goods)

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Graduation gifts
Birthdate Co.

A personalized reading of their astrological birth chart…

This made-to-order astrology book features 70+ pages of custom horoscope readings and interpretations based on their birth chart. They can learn about their sun and moon signs as well as which celebs share a similar reading. You’ll just need to find a way to get their astrological deets without spoiling the surprise. We guarantee they’ll want to keep it out on display on their coffee table or nightstand. ($95, Birthdate Co.)

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MasterClass subscription

A MasterClass subscription so they can keep on learning…

An annual membership to MasterClass offers insightful video lessons and tips from icons across tons of fields. Think: Annie Leibovitz on photography, Shonda Rhimes on writing for TV, Kelly Wearstler on interior design, and so much more. They’ve got classes on just about anything you can imagine, from cooking to sports. Hop to it. ($180 per year, MasterClass)

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Hot sauce subscription

A quarterly hot sauce subscription to spice up all their meals…

Post-grad life = cooking a lot of rice, eggs, and low-maintenance dishes. Which, for the unskilled home chef, can get...a little boring. Give ‘em this quarterly subscription that’ll add some kick to their meals. These quality-craft, small-batch sauces come from all over the world. And each box has three 5-ounce bottles. Plus the first welcome box also has a tasting notebook and some samples to taste too. It’s about to get hot in here. ($130, Food52

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Yoga membership

A yoga membership to inspire some at-home workouts…

Gift this annual membership to Alo Moves to give them an array of yoga, meditation, and fitness classes at their fingertips. The on-demand classes work on the web, Apple TV, and phones and tablets. All they need now is a cute mat. ($199 annually, Alo)

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Things that scream, "I’m not living in a dorm anymore"

Byredo hand soap
Violet Grey

Chic hand soap, since they no longer have to share a bathroom with a million people…

You know you’re an adult when fancy hand soap provides you with unbridled joy. This one by Byredo comes in three elegant fragrances and lends a nourishing feeling to all their hand washing. It’s made to cleanse the skin without drying it out. Happy graduation to them. ($68, Violet Grey)

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Silk pillowcase

A silk pillowcase because they’re no longer sleeping in extra-long twin beds anymore…

This super-soft 100% silk pillowcase is the perfect upgrade for a recent grad. They not only look good on any bed but can also benefit hair and skin. The silk can help minimize split ends and dryness and works to keep all those natural oils intact. Plus it’s available in over a dozen colors and several sizes. Hair for it. ($21.99+, Amazon)

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record player

A portable record player to blast all their fave music…

For when they no longer have to keep the tunes down for their RA. This three-speed turntable lives in a vintage-looking suitcase that makes it easy to transport. It has built-in Bluetooth speakers and doesn’t require additional equipment. So they’ll be able to play their fave records easily once they get it all set up. Music to their ears. ($45.99+, Amazon)

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Items that'll help build up their kitchen

Graduation Gifts
Made In

A professional-grade cast-iron Dutch oven that’ll help ‘em in the kitchen…

Even beginner home cooks will be able to make something gasp-worthy in this one. It has stellar heat retention, so getting fall-off-the-bone braises is basically guaranteed. Plus the nonstick enamel allows for quick sears and easy cleanup, and the lid has pea-sized dimples to help retain steam and trapsin moisture. Snag ’em this Dutch oven cookbook with more than 70 easy recipes too, and get ready for your next dinner party invite. ($199, Made In)

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Wineglasses so they can toss out all those Solo Cups…

This pair of shatter-proof, copper-coated stemmed wineglasses are the full package. They’re made of stainless steel, so they’re durable and probably less likely to break. Plus they keep drinks nice and cool. Annnnd they’re easy on the eyes. It’s 5 pm somewhere, right? Check out more of our favorite wineglasses here. ($25.99, Amazon)

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Always pan
Our Place

A nonstick pan that can work magic in the kitchen...

Every home cook — from beginner to expert — needs that one pan they always rely on. Enter: this multipurpose, internet-famous cooking essential that can do it all. We’re talking fry, saute, steam, braise, sear, and boil. Whoa. Plus it includes a beechwood spatula that nests right on top of the handle. And a steamer basket and colander. We see it, we like it, we want it, we’re...also getting one for ourselves. ($150, Our Place)

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Bamboo cutting board

A bamboo cutting board they’ll have forever...

Not to be dramatic, but this double-sided cutting board is a kitchen miracle worker. It comes in five different sizes, or as two sets for the serious cook. Its sturdy construction makes chopping, slicing, and carving easy-breezy. We love that it’s eco-friendly, antimicrobial, and water-resistant. Plus it’s got a juice groove, pour spout, phone slot, and a pretty generous surface area to cut on. Chop chop. ($19.99+, Food52

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French press

A French press that’ll make their morning brew so much better...

True fact: one of the worst parts about graduating is not having your beloved campus coffee shop open to you at all times. Enter: this French press that’ll make the ultimate cup of joe. It comes in a bunch of colors, styles, and sizes. And if your grad isn’t an expert barista — no stress. The press is easy to use and will whip up their drink in just four minutes. Plus it has a BPA-free plastic handle and is easy to clean. ($31.99+, Amazon)

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Spice set

An essential spice kit for any home chef…

Outfit their new pantry with this 18-piece set of spices. It’s great for a seasoned chef (see what we did there) or any newbie in the kitchen. The spices come in mini tin cans. And it’s got all the basics — like cumin, chili powder, granulated garlic and onion, crushed red pepper, and more. All they have to do now is invite you over for dinner. ($84.99, Spicewalla

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Gifts for when they can finally take that post-grad trip

Gray Malin book

A coffee table book that’ll serve as travel inspo...

For the grad with unrelenting wanderlust. This art book by Gray Malin is filled with the popular photog’s shots of Positano and Palm Springs, and some never-before-seen images. It’s a great piece to build a first adult book collection around, and the perfect gift for a travel lover. ($47.31, Amazon

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Instant camera and film

An instant camera and film to make those memories last a lifetime…

The Insta grid may be where most significant moments live these days, but there’s just something special about an IRL photo you can hold. Pics from this lightweight camera will print immediately, and they’re small enough to stash in a wallet, purse, or mini photo frame. Long days and early nights may come and go, but vacation pics are forever. ($73.94+, Amazon)

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Postcard set
Uncommon Goods

And a time-capsule kit so they won’t forget all their stories…

Post-grad life can be the best of times...and the worst of times. So why not give them a way to remember it all? This kit lets them write letters to their future self and postmark it to read later. Each one has an interesting prompt that’ll encourage some major reflection. It’s small enough to throw in a bag so they can do it on-the-go and keep allllll the wild memories for later. Awww. ($14.95, Uncommon Goods)

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Duffle bag

A weekender bag to replace the one they ruined during their semester abroad…

This lightweight, TSA-approved duffel works for small getaways, road trips, and all the travel in between. It’s made of canvas and upcycled plastic water bottles. And has a silicone coating that’ll prevent stains. The removable woven shoulder strap, interior pockets, and two-way lockable zipper make it a breeze to use and lug around. Plus it has a leather trim that looks good for the gram photo dump too. Psst…take a look at more of our favorite weekenders for every budget here. ($285+, Paravel)

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Personalized passport holder graduation gift
Mark and Graham

A personalized passport holder for the grad who loves their initials on everything…

This passport holder is made with a buttery-soft vegan leather and comes with an accompanying luggage tag. Choose from four neutral tones or one bright poppy color, and for an extra fee, add their initials in the font of your choice. Next stop, sandy beaches. ($79+, Mark and Graham

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Leather cord organizer graduation gifts

A leather cord organizer to keep all their tech accessories in line … 

It comes with four slots designed to hold thinner charging cables, an open pocket for larger portable items like their headphones, and a zipped compartment for any valuables. This lightweight, compact roll will make packing easy and organized. Oh, and you can even personalize it with their initials for an extra-special touch. ($90+, Leatherology)

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