26 best gifts for grads (that they'll totally use in the real world) 🎓

From a water bottle that can keep liquid cold for 24 hours (and hot for six!) to a completely waterproof and party-proof Bluetooth speaker, these are the prezzies grads will love.

26 best gifts for grads (that they'll totally use in the real world) 🎓

It's that time of year, friends. We're opening up our windows to let in that sweet spring air, we're buying ALL the strawberries at the grocery store and we're being invited to another graduation party. Every. Single. Weekend. And we're guessing you are, too.

Sure, it seems like just yesterday we were all graduating, but it's actually been a minute since you were walking across the stage to accept your diploma. And the definition of a "good gift" has totally changed.

Feel like you have zero idea what to give your little sister or the neighbor's son? From a water bottle that can keep liquid cold for 24 hours (and hot for six!) to a completely waterproof and party-proof Bluetooth speaker, these are the prezzies grads will love.

Shop our picks below, and if you're headed to a graduation party this weekend, be sure to party like its 1999, mmk?

1. The Suitcase

Away's Bigger Carry-On

A gift with meaning! You're setting your grad up for success as they embark on new adventures, and giving them the spiffiest possible piece of luggage to get them there. We love Away— 360-degree spin wheels, its battery that charges your phone, and oh yeah, that super durable polycarbonae shell that is pretty much indestructable... which is just what a 20-something-year-old needs at this point in their life. We recommend Away's Bigger Carry-On, which still fits in overhead compartments but gives you that teensy extra bit of packing space we all crave.


2. The Journal

Lisa Congdon Journal

Don't we all wish we had kept a journal in the days, weeks, months and years following our graduations? What a treat it would be go through those entries today—which is exactly you need to encourage your grad to do so. This peppy journal from illustrator Lisa Congdon in collaboration with Emily McDowell would motivate anyone to put to paper to pen day in and day out.


3. The Water Bottle

Part of "adulting" means having life basics covered. And one of the most important basics of all is staying hydrated! Everyone needs a decent water bottle as they head out the door, and Hydro Flask is one of the best you can buy. We recommend the durable, BPA-free 21-ounce Standard Mouth bottle, which keeps cold drinks cold for 24 hours, and hot drinks hot for six hours.


4. The Speaker

best portable speaker

Recent grads are armed with a degree and unbridled ambition... but they can still be, well, pretty clumsy. So why invest in a fancy portable speaker that *might* get dropped in a pool, or *might* get doused in beer, when instead you can get them Kicker's Bullfrog BF100 Bluetooth speaker? Fully waterproof, your grad can literally bring it with them in the shower or the ocean, and at just two pounds, it's super portable, too.


5. The Gift Card

Amazon Gift Card

Whether they're buying socks or shampoo, tell them their necessities are on you!


6. The Thoughtful Photo Collage

Minted Years Frame

This sweet photo collage hits all the points on graduation gift check list. Thoughtful? Check. Nostalgic? Check. Artwork for their very, very empty walls? Check!


7. The luxe bag

Holly & Tanager Professorial

Give her the gift of a bag that is equal parts luxurious and practical. The Professional from Holly & Tanager converts from a backpack to a cross body to a tote via removable straps and it's soft, sumptuous leather and gold hardware make it a head-turner. With five interior pockets, one bottom zip pocket (perfect for shoes) and a travel sleeve to slip your suitcase handle through, this is about to be their most favorite and most versatile bag. Yes, it's price is a bit steep, but split it with a few friends or relatives and the cost can easily be justified!


8. The Mattress

Bear Mattress

A mattress might seem like an odd gift to ship to your new grad, but consider the fact that you'd actually giving them the gift of better, higher-quality sleep! We love both of Bear's offerings—both the original and the hybrid mattress—which both come in a box. Designed for someone with an active lifestyle, the Bear mattresses provide a supportive sleep for your young friend... trust us, they'll be thanking you for the next decade.


9. The Cheeseboard

Swivel Cheese Board

Nothing says, "I don't live with my parents anymore" like a cheeseboard. Set them up for entertaining success with this bamboo beauty, which folds back up into a triangular wedge when not in use. We love that it comes with serving knives that store themselves in a tidy drawer within the board.


10. The Bracelet

Bead Intentions Bracelet

Send them on their way with the best of intentions, literally! This beautiful Wishbeads Intention bracelet is also incredibly thoughtful—jot down well-wishes for your grad on a snippet of included paper, and tuck it inside the bracelet, so they'll literally carry your words of wisdom with them day in and out.


11. The Beauty & Grooming Box Subscription

Let's face it: Your grad likely doesn't have disposable income to splurge on beauty supplies. Solve that by gifting them a Birchbox subscription, and they will receive a monthly shipment of sample-sized products, ranging from skin care to haircare to makeup. But your grad is a dude? No worries, they have boxes for him, too. This is truly the gift that keeps on giving and giving and giving.


12. The Prime

Amazon Prime

If you're grad isn't a Prime member, well, then you now have the gift to give them. While Amazon Prime may be a mainstay in your own life (it certainly is in ours!) never underestimate how useful membership could be to others who don't have it. Beyond free two-day shipping, the subscription also includes access to thousands of TV shows and movies with Prime Video (including shows like Red Oaks and Mozart in the Jungle!) and the ability to stream millions of songs (ad-free!). Sounds like a pretty sweet gift to us.


13. Stitch Fix

Stitch Fix

Pretty young things are many things—Exuberant! Ambitious! Determined!—but independently wealthy isn't usually on that list. So, help your grad out with a wardrobe boost. Available for both men and women, Stitch Fix is an online styling service that will fix them up with spiffy new duds so they can look as great as they feel.


14. The Food

Hello Fresh Delivery Box

After a long day of studying or working, it's REALLY easy to whip out your phone and have food delivered to your house lickety split. But get your grad on the right path to a healthier diet (and instill in them joy of cooking!) by giving the gift of a Hello Fresh meal delivery kits. One box includes three meals for two people, along with each meal's ingredients and step-by-step instructions on how they should be prepared. When your grad opens a restaurant in five years, they'll have you to thanks!


15. The Tailored Sweatpants

Kids these days, they always want to be in their sweats! And we can't blame 'em... but considering they could meet their future boss at Starbucks or on their way to the movies, let's make sure they're sweatpants are of the sophisticated sort, mmk? Public Rec's solution is the All Day Every Day pant, which the brand brilliantly describes as being a more stylish alternative to sweatpants, a more comfortable alternative to jeans.


16. The Candle

Homesick Candles

They might be on their way to adulthood, but that doesn't mean they're not going to miss home sweet home every now and again. Splurge on one of these hand-pour soy wax candles, each of which are formulated with input from state locals to create aromas that match each state's familiar scent.


17. The Framed Photo // Framebridge

Have a favorite photo of your grad when they were just a wee babe? Or maybe you've been holding on to their genius artwork from Kindergarten? Frame it! Framebridge makes the process of custom framing incredibly easy—simply your frame, upload or mail in your imagery, pick your size and voila, you've got your gift!


18. The Kitchen Appliance

Instant Pot

This is the perfect cooking tool for young people who are used to instant gratification, because Instant Pot creates amazing dishes in the blink of an eye! Literally everyone on the planet needs an Instant Pot, and this one is compact but mighty. In addition to being able to make hard boiled eggs in minutes, the Lux Mini can also prepare soups and stews, steam and sauté vegetables and much more in just minutes.


19. The Bicycle

Priority Bikes

Because a car would be way too extravagant, lol. Seriously though, every grad in the world would love a set of (two) wheels as a gift and Priority Bicycles is one of the best you can buy right now. Weighing less than a few bag of groceries at 25 pounds, Priority Classic Plus features a grease- and rust-free belt drive… meaning no grease on the pants on the commute to work! The bike comes with a kickstand, water bottle cage and tire pump. Available in a black matte, glossy white and glossy blue hues, this 3-speed bike just might make your grad cry with happiness.


20. The Steamer

Hilife Steamer

We can't have our grads showing up to an interview look all schlumpy, can we? But, alas, we also can't expect them to pull out an ironing board and iron to get their clothes wrinkle-free. Enter: This portable steamer never spits water and it has more than 135,000 reviews on Amazon!


21. The Paperweight

Shattered Glass Paper Weight

It's 2019—and yet it's still difficult to be a woman. On the hardest days (because she will have them!) remind your girl grad that she can and will shatter the glass ceiling with this elegant shattered glass paper weight.


22. The Instant Coffee Maker


Listen, they're going to want a daily Starbucks—or even fancier coffee!—fix, but let's save them the $5 a day cost and supply them with the best of the best at-home brew. Nespresso's smallest machine (it's only 4-inches wide!) can serve up two programmable cup sizes using the brand's famously delicious coffee pods. Bonus: Nespresso is said to be releasing Starbucks coffee pods later this year. Woot woot!


23. The Cozy Throw

Cozy Throw

A cozy, furry throw blanket is never a bad idea and this one gets the job done. Like something out of a Game of Thrones scene, Mellanni's faux fur throw looks way more expensive than it is and will certainly be a welcome accoutrement to your grad's couch.


24. The Linens

Brooklinen Linen Sheets

Get them adult sheets for their adult digs! These linen beauties from Brooklinen are chemical-free and soft as can be. The core set includes one fitted sheet, one flat sheet and two pillowcases, and we're definitely digging the charcoal chambray pinstripe!


25. The Backpack

MZ Wallace Metro Backpack

Sure, tote bags and fanny packs are all well and good, but there's no better way of transporting your stuff safely and comfortable than a good ol' back. And we're obsessed with the unisex Metro style from MZ Wallace. Ultra lightweight, the backpack comes in 14 colors and is roomy enough for a laptop, gym sneakers, a water bottle, headphones and more. The best part? The quilted nylon's super slick appearance!


26. The Stationary

Bignet Stationery

For all those memos, reminders and love notes they'll be handing out over the next year, gift your grad they're very own personalized stationary. Because nothing says, "I mean business!" quite like thick card stock emblazoned with your very own name.


Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.

And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


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