Graduation gifts they’ll actually use

Jun 6, 2011 at 7:30 p.m. ET

Graduation season is here, and thousands of young people are graduating from high school and college and looking to enter the next phase of life. But picking the right graduation gift can sometimes present a challenge. As with any gift-giving, you're hoping to give a gift the recipient will like and will actually use. Here are some suggestions for gifts that the new graduates can use in the next phase of their lives.

Gifts for graduation

1iPod alarm Clock

An iPod alarm clock is a great gift both for the high school graduate who is headed off to a dorm room and the college graduate who will be starting a career. With this gift you're helping to make sure they make it to class or work on time, and it doesn't hurt that they will be waking up to one of their favorite tunes.

2Laundry basket

Many new college students find themselves doing laundry for the first time, so why not write up some directions on how to do laundry and put it in a laundry basket filled with laundry items? Include a personalized laundry bag, detergent, dryer sheets, color-safe bleach, a stain-removing stick and a drying rack. Some will need to feed coins to the washer and dryer to do laundry, so if this is the case, you could throw a couple of rolls of quarters into the basket as well.

3Resume success

For the new graduate who's looking for a job, give them a little helping hand. Fill a nice tote bag with some resume paper, personalized thank-you notes and a gift certificate to a resume service like Resumes Planet that will help them go over their resume and cover letters and help them land that first interview!

4Gym gear bag

Help fight the "freshmen 15" by filling a gym bag with some workout clothes and a couple of fitness magazines. You could also toss in a pair of new workout shoes and a couple exercise DVDs. A sporting goods store like Dick's has a good variety of gym bags and the gear to fill it up.

5Paper shredder

A finance professor once told me the best thing you could get for graduation was a paper shredder, so with the increase in identity theft, a paper shredder could prove invaluable. Paper shredders come in various sizes, but they all can shred documents to safeguard the new graduate's identity. A good shredder with a reasonable price tag is the Fellowes Powershred W-11C.


For graduates who will be moving into their own place, a cookbook and set of pots and pans can be a good start to their kitchen, and also a good way to get yourself an invite to dinner. You can go to the store and buy a cookbook from a favorite chef or you could compile a personal cookbook with some of your best dishes.

More ideas for graduates

High school graduation gift ideas
Top 12 graduation gifts for college-bound students
Top 10 Graduation Gifts