Marking A Milestone

Do you need gift ideas for your high school grad? High school graduation is a huge milestone in a teen's life, marking the end of one journey and the start of another. With just the right gift, you can help your favorite grad commemorate the big event. Check out our pick of the top 5 mementos to help mark this special achievement.

If you follow human interest stories on TV or online, you may think there’s a new trend in graduation gifts. There are reports of 18-year-olds receiving European vacations, BMWs and plastic surgery to mark the momentous occasion. How can you compete with that?

Fortunately, such excessive gifting trends are the exception, not the norm. Traditional graduation presents are still the way to go. They are just as – if not more – meaningful to the recipient than any elaborate gesture. Here are just a few gift suggestions that are appropriate for the high school graduate on your list.


Great things come in small packages. Jewelry is a traditional gift its recipient can enjoy for a lifetime. A beautiful locket, bracelet, charm or frame makes a lovely gift for a girl, while guys may prefer a handsome watch, money clip, cuff links, keychain or pen. You don’t have to break the bank with a Rolex or an expensive necklace from Tiffany’s, in fact personalizing the jewelry will make it special and is an affordable service provided by places like Things Remembered. An inspirational engraving will make your gift the ideal keepsake for the grad.


Many new graduates are already well established in the technology department, but they may appreciate a novelty to add to their collection. It seems a new gadget hits the market every day. Check out the new pen scanners, or smart pens. These amazing devices record audio and link it to notes which can easily be downloaded to a computer. Pen scanners save the user a ton of typing time and are available with a variety of bells and whistles – from music composition to foreign language translation.

If you don’t feel comfortable delving into the realm of the latest devices, consider some sort of accessory, such as a personalized laptop case. And every electronic junkie needs an attractive charging valet. These clever little stations come in a variety of styles and enable the user to charge a number of gadgets all at once.

Memory makers

Graduation is also called commencement because it’s the beginning of the rest of the graduate’s life. Help the gift recipient record this once-in-a-lifetime journey with memory-making items. Digital cameras and flip cams are a great way to go. If that’s too steep for your budget, put together a slew of scrapbooking materials, including some photos and memorabilia from high school. Add a creative storage box in which to keep the items so the busy graduate will have everything in place when the time comes to put the scrapbook together.


After 13 or so years in the classroom, most graduates are comfortable with the concept of following instructions from a book. That’s why books like, How to Win Friends and Influence People and The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People are so incredibly successfully. These life guides offer advice and direction to readers as they make their way in this complicated grown-up world. Bookstores are filled with self-help books on subjects ranging from business to relationships. Biographies on everyone from Abraham Lincoln to Shaquille O’Neal are another source of motivation for readers. Consider giving your special grad a copy of a book that inspired you, and add a notation inside sharing why the book is meaningful to you.


A gift of cash gift may seem impersonal, but for the graduate, it’s highly practical. Whether the grad plans to enter college or the workforce, money may be in short supply. College expenses reach way beyond tuition and board – there are books, computer supplies, transportation, groceries and so much more. If cold hard cash just seems too cold and hard, opt for a gift card to the graduate’s favorite shopping spot. Or purchase and frame one stock from a successful, well-known corporation.

There is much truth in the old adage, “It’s the thought that counts.” Any gift you present with love and good wishes will be appreciated by your dear graduate.

Tell us: Share your high school graduation gift idea! Comment below!

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Comments on "High school graduation gift ideas"

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Pam June 14, 2011 | 6:04 PM

Great ideas! For my daughter's graduation I bought her everything that she needs for her dorm room from http://www.dormco/?Click=18851 ! This site is fantastic and the quality is great and the flat rate shipping of $2.95. If you want a practical option for your graduate this is the way to go plus you won't have to run around all summer trying to pull it all together!

John April 13, 2010 | 12:20 PM

You only get one high school graduation so what ever you give, you have to make it a good gift. I am a fan of the idea of giving a photo book from http://www.smilebooks . Professional photo books make nice sentimental gifts that help the own remember the old times. For a high school graduation you can fill the whole photo book up with pictures going back to the person's first day of school. Who wouldn't want something like this.

Kathy May 13, 2009 | 11:32 AM

All great ideas! High School graduation is definitely a big milestone in a teenager’s life. A great way to mark this milestone is with a nice piece of jewelry - something that can act as a symbol of how far they've come and how proud you are of their accomplishment. I think jewelry holds a lifetime of memories and is something to be treasured forever. A great place to find jewelry gift ideas is the Jewelry Information Center. JIC is the web source for everything and anything jewelry related and there's no doubt in my mind that you wouldn't be able to get some great ideas off of there. They have great tips on the latest trends, great shopping tips and lists of reputable jewelers in your area. Start there - I can guarantee that you'll have some great luck with it and end up getting something truly stunning for this graduation gift!

Addison May 07, 2009 | 2:48 PM

You could also have a couple of family members go in on a "big ticket" gift item that they will need for college, such as a computer.

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