Gift Ideas for High School Graduation

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Suggestions for HS graduation gifts from friends

Oct 2011

In today's world where every kid has everything I would appreciate ideas for high school graduation gifts not for your own child but for other students. (Yes -- I'm trying to think ahead!) My son is graduating in June along with a number of his friends who we have known since they were in k'garten. Ideas for anything from small tokens to gifts in the $20 - $30 range would be great. Thanks. questioning mom

I've gone on Yelp to find the best pizza place near the college the senior is going to attend and then I get a gift certificate for them. You have to do this ahead of time but it's a nice thing to give a freshperson who can then invite out new dorm buddies. if they're not going to college, then something useful, related to what they'll be doing next. Gifts are good

I am the parent of a college freshman - I gave a number of my daughters' friends a graduation card that indicated they would receive a care package at college of home baked cookies. I've just sent them off this week with hope that they will enjoy the sweet taste of success. Janna

High school graduation gift idea for my daughter

April 2011

My daughter graduates from high school soon and I always thought I would think of the 'perfect' gift for her. One that is meaningful. appropriate. special. not too expensive since I am facing college bills starting in August. Any advice? anon

The best high school graduation gift my parents gave me was paying for 100% of my college expenses, so I could start life without debt upon college graduation. Priceless. If you want to give her something physical to mark the transition from high school to college, make it something that's small and significant to you - a copy of your favorite book, a charm bracelet commemorating things you've done together, a small scrapbook with photos of family and friends. But keep in mind her style/personality (I wouldn't have valued something sentimental from my mom at 17), and that she'll have to be carting her possessions from dorm to apartment to wherever for the next few years. The graduation gift I got the most use out of was a set of nice towels - really. The one thing I *wished* someone had gotten me that no one did was a little survival kit with a guidebook to the college/town I was moving to, local grocery store gift card, mending kit, etc. JP

A CAR!!!! Just kidding. I suggest some sort of keepsake jewelry, such as a gold locket or small diamond or pearl earring studs that she can keep forever (and be the start of her ''adult'' jewelry collection). Another option (but a lot of work) is a scrapbook or photo album of her life, concluding with some blank pages for her to put in high school graduation photos and maybe even blank pages for college life (include a letter/foreward from mom to daughter entering adulthood). Anyway, the main point is something that is a keepsake/memory. Karen H.

What about a trip to Napa? Time is the best gift you can give your daughter. If you can't afford a night or weekend at Napa, maybe a day at the spa. Something she can remember and take with her into adulthood. Spend your time with her talking only about her - what high school was like for her. What she wishes she'd done differently or the same. What she looks forward to in College. What she hopes to achieve or take away from the experience. What she's learned about from relationships. These types of introspective questions that she can verbalize to you, may be the first time she's really given thought to them. It also feels nice to have someone take an interest in listening to you, without judgment. Best of luck (let us know what you decide!). ; ) Time Is Best

When I graduated from high school my grandmother gave me a ring of hers that I had always admired. There were many sentimental attachments for both of us, but it also showed that she trusted me to take care of a family piece. Perhaps there is a piece of jewelry your daughter has always admired that you could pass down to her? Maybe not the most expensive (as it is off to college she goes), but something she could wear from time to time. Still sentimental

This may be too corny, but for my 18th birthday (same time as graduation), my mom gave me a necklace with a charm that had ''love, Mom'' engraved on the back. It became my talisman for my whole first year of college away from home: I didn't take it off for the whole year. --

I didn't do anything ''big'' for my daughter, just a few little things: I bought the typical ''Congratulations Graduate'' helium balloon, teddy bear with her school logo, flowers and a card with maybe $100 in it (money means a lot to teens!). I also hosted a family dinner although she left early to hang out with her friends.

I think the ''experience'' you provide her can last a long time so maybe a special celebratory meal with family to show your pride in her achievement.

Also note that she isn't one to collect jewelry so that wasn't even an option. Once she was in college, I noticed that did carefully guard any heirloom jewelry that I gave her (ring my grandmother gave me, etc). G.

When I graduated from high school, my mom got me an antique necklace with semi-precious stones and very elegant worksmanship. Nearly 25 years later, I still wear it for special occasions and as a good luck talisman for job interviews etc. Maybe there's some family piece that you could pass along? Alternately, is there some trip you could take together? Making memories is one of the best gifts anyone can give. Jennifer

Special graduation gift ideas for daughter

May 2010

Need graduation gift ideas (something special for a daughter) anon

My son had written several books during his years at school, so I took the best ones and self-published at and -- not expensive at all, but he really liked it in a nostalgic way. You could also use shutterfly to make a photo book to take to school. Or of course you buy him/her a BMW... Wendy

Jewelry is nice-small diamond earrings, or a pearl necklace, something special. you can get nice things for less than $100 anon

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High School graduation gift for family friend

May 2007

I'm one of those people who stresses out over what gift to buy, especially graduation and wedding gifts. Old family friends have a daughter graduating from high school this June. We only see them a few times a year, but we've watched the daughter grow up. I'd like to get her something meaningful. Have you ever given or received a grad gift that was especially creative, meaningful, or thoughtful? Any suggestions greatly appreciated. barbara

I have bought a number of high school graduation gifts for girls in the past. One of my favorites, as a gift for a 16 year old or as a graduation gift, is a Tiffany Key Chain. They come in hearts and circles and have an ''if lost return to Tiffany's'' on it. It comes in a Tiffanys box and is the most inexpensive of all the items they sell. Another gift idea is a Pearl on a Pendant with or without matching studs. There are a number of jewlery stores in the area with sales going on right now and you can get a very nice gift for a reasonable price.

How thoughtful of you! The best graduation (from college) gift that I got, that was useful as well as meaningful was a Bosco leather date-book, engraved with my intitials. That made me feel so grown-up. And to this day, 18 years later, it is still useful. I love that my aunt took the time to have it personalized for me to commemorate a special occasion. Tamar

High school graduation gift for my cousin

May 2003

It's that time of year and for the first time since my siblings finished high school 10 years ago, I find myself invited to a graduation. My yound cousin is college bound, probably a UC in SoCal. What do I give as a modest gift? I'd rather not give cash. The best gift I got at graduation was a hot-pot, but then I needed it to supplement the dorm food which I detested. What was the best gift you got? gave? Although I need ideas for a young man, I'm sure many others here will be shopping for both male and female graduates. Thanks! Cynthia

We have two high school graduates among our friends, and they're the first of a large ''crop''. I checked with parents and then got gift cards for national stores--Bed, Bath & Beyond (figuring they'll need linens, etc. to set up the home-away-from-home) and the Gap (clothing for a new climate). Hope this helps. :-) Karen

Try getting a gift certificate to the bookstore at the university he plans to attend. You can find number on line and order over the phone. It sounds like he has yet to decide, so you can give him a gift certificate good for a gift certificate. anon

Though it was years ago, I still remember the best gradation gift I received - a really good thesaurus. How do I remember this? Because it served me well all through college and still sits on my bookshelf. For the record, it is ''The Synonym Finder'' (J.I. Rodale, pub Warner Books). I like its format better than a traditional thesaurus, but just head to your neighborhood bookshop and choose any one that you like. Sarah

A great gift for a college bound student who will be living in the dorms is one of those 4 cup coffeemakers. Even if they don't drink coffee, they use it for hot water for hot chocolate, cup-a- soup, instant oatmeal,etc. I usually also give a large bowl size coffee cup and silverware and a selection of tea, hot chocolate, oatmeal packets. If you know they drink coffee, a packet of filters is also good. These work great as many of the dorms will not allow small microwaves and there are so many ''add hot water'' items that the kids live on. Hallie

Many college freshmen have this perhaps, but the best gift I received was a huge, comprehensive Websters Dictionary when I graduated. And just recently I purchased 2 contemporary CD's for a neighbor's daughter who was graduating from college-I figure they're almost all poor, but most appreciate good music! J. R.

My dad gives toolboxes (filled with basic tools -- hammer, screwdrivers, tape measure, etc.). I used mine to hang pictures on my dorm walls, and now, 20 years later, I still use it all the time. robin

Try a Swiss Army knife or one of the Leatherman knives (the Juice line is great). I've had one since high school and it has traveled with me everywhere! Got lots of use out of the wine and bottle opener in college I recall...

How about a Roth IRA contribution? When I was a child, I got a lot of gifts. Many were very cool like cars, toys or books. I had an uncle give me a very wierd and very uncool gift of savings bonds. Ewww! Then I got to college and man did those bonds come in handy. When I graduated from college, the same uncle gave me some very uncool things like stock and a retirement account contribution. I really wanted a trip to Europe. Well, those toys lasted about 3 months when I was a kid and now I am glad I have a sizable chunk for retirement (all from a little seed planted years ago). If you are looking for a gift that will last a LOOONG time, give them something uncool like a financial future. There is nothing like time to let investments grow. Talk to a professional to see what investment is best for your situation. Vincent