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How to Pick the Perfect Graduation Gift For Your College Friends

picture of a group of college friends in their graduation caps and gowns

Through the long nights of studying, navigating dorm life, and the fun nights out, your college friends have been with you through it all. As your long study hours come to a close and your degrees and commencement ceremonies are in sight, it’s time to pay tribute to the people who helped you get this far.

Finding the perfect graduation gift to express your gratitude or celebrate your great memories can seem like an impossible feat, but worry not college grads. There are three key categories that will help you come up with the ideal gift for each and every member of your college crew:

  1. Search for something sentimental
  2. Opt for a present that’s useful or inspiring
  3. Go for a gift that’s just as goofy as the recipient

Still not sure which route to go with your graduation gifts? Check out these examples to help you find the perfect gifts for graduation!

Sentimental gifts

If you want to express your gratitude to your college roommate, your best friend, or your fellow classmate, a sentimental gift may be the way to go. Here are a few ideas to get you inspired:

  • A framed photo of your first and favorite memory
  • Book a photoshoot with a local photographer to take photos on campus in your caps and gowns
  • A gift box with their favorite things from your college town (a mug from their go-to coffee shop, merch from the campus store, a state magnet)
  • College sports team apparel so they can continue rooting for their squad
  • Put together a video from your friend group congratulating them on their graduation day
  • Something handmade (a knit beanie, a ceramic vase, a painting)
  • Contribute to a trip or experience you two wanted to do together following your graduation
  • A custom map of their college town to remind them of special places and memories
  • Ask their family and friends to each write a letter containing their best advice, then gift it to them in a cute scrapbook

Useful presents

While sentimental presents make thoughtful gifts that the college grad will appreciate, useful presents are also a great choice! Plus, you can be sure that your college graduation gift won’t end up gently shoved away in storage! Here are some of the most useful gifts you can find to give a shout out to your recently graduated friends:

  • A meal prep subscription to help ease their transition into the workforce
  • An instant coffee maker (for the same reason)
  • Gift cards to their favorite grocery store or online marketplace
  • Say “cheers” with their preferred celebratory libations—wine, beer, champagne
  • Noise-canceling headphones to help alleviate open office woes
  • Inspiring books to help them navigate post-grad life
  • A planning journal to make sure they’re on track with their personal and professional goals
  • A fitness tracker or fitness membership to support their healthy habits
  • Custom business card holders to boost their networking efforts
  • A stylish work tote or laptop case to safely store their stuff to and from work
  • A gift card for a store that sells professional clothing
  • A monogrammed passport holder to inspire them to take some time to explore new places
  • Household essentials to start building their first non-dorm apartment
  • Candles to encourage them to relax even when job applications become stressful
  • A subscription to their favorite magazine or newspaper to remind them to never stop learning
  • An Amazon gift card so they can order whatever they need when they need it
  • Flight miles to inspire them to travel and experience the world
  • Pay for a professional networking membership to support their job search efforts

Goofy gifts

If the sentimental and useful gifts aren’t representative of you and your friend’s goofy friendship, you might consider one of these silly presents:

  • A sarcastic or silly mug
  • The card game that puts the “fun” in “funemployment”
  • A photo montage of your favorite funny moments
  • A gift card for Postmates when they just “can’t even adult right now”
  • A money tree to help them visualize their future

Final notes

No matter where your college friends’ passions lie, there’s certainly a gift that’s worth giving them to celebrate their big accomplishment! From silly mugs to brighten their day at the office to useful goodies that will help them get by during tough times, we hope this gift guide gave you some gifting inspiration to help you offer the grad your most heartfelt well-wishes.

For more great college tips, check out the other blogs on College Basics.