Gifts for Grads They’ll Actually Use for College and Beyond

Since teenagers have been a complete mystery to adults since pretty much the dawn of humankind, this task can be pretty daunting. But as moms, we’re nothing if not prepared. So we’ve got a few ideas for you on what to get those new grads and some tips on how to get them prepared for college life.


  • Think useful. Sure, the teddy bear wearing a cap and gown with the graduate’s year on it is cute, but that won’t help them study or get their laundry done. Think sturdy laundry bags for visits home or trips to the laundromat. Or a couple of sets of plush bath towels or bed sheets for their dorm room. A cozy robe or plush blanket can be a great gift for when a little homesickness kicks in, too. A pair of rubber sandals for those gross bathrooms might not be a bad idea, either.


  • Tech is always a hit. With a wide range of options, you can go big or stick to a budget-friendly option. A good pair of noise-canceling headphones will be indispensable for all those study sessions. Portable Bluetooth speakers, AirPods, Amazon Alexa or Apple’s HomePod Mini, and rechargeable power banks will all be high on most graduates’ wish lists this year. 
  • Gifts for travelers. For many kids, this is their first time really being on their own, and they’re ready to see what the world has to offer. Travel-related gifts like luggage, especially carry-on-sized wheeled suitcases, like this rugged one from Away, would make a much-appreciated gift your grad will use for years. Other gifts would be laptop sleeves, passport holders, toiletries bags, backpacks, or laptop bags.
  • For the grad moving into an apartment. Most of these items won’t be allowed (or needed) in a dorm room, but if your grad is moving into their own apartment, a few things to make it feel more like home sweet home are great gift ideas. An InstantPot makes a great gift for a reason; they’re pressure cookers, slow cookers, and about seven more functions all in one machine—practically magic. An electric kettle, a set of nice knives and a cutting board, or a beginner set of pots and pans are all great starters for that new pad. And a basic toolset is handy for any grad, no matter where they live after high school.
  • Just for fun. Sure, you could go the useful route and get them something that will be super helpful for those late-night study sessions or help them save some extra space like these packing cubes, or you could get them the LED strip lights that are in practically every TikTok video (these can even be controlled with their phone!), or these cool mirrored stars that are peel-and-stick for easy dorm room decorating. The Instax Mini 9 Camera is on every hot list and is retro fun for printing pictures like an old Polaroid. 


No matter what you choose, your grad will appreciate the gesture and your thoughtfulness. And if you’re truly stumped? Cash always works for all those collegiate expenses.