What Grads Really Need: 10 Gift Ideas

When you’re searching for the perfect present for a special college or high school grad, I suggest selecting a gift that’s either everyday useful or once-in-a-lifetime extravagant. Each time—or the one time—your grad uses the gift, she’ll remember how proud you are of her accomplishment.


Here are 10 ideas:

1. Luxurious comforter: Whether it’s down or high-quality polyester, a top-of-the-line comforter will protect your grad from the cold world—at least at bedtime. Stick with a simple plain comforter that can be thrown on a bed for a clean, white look or be dressed up with a duvet cover. (approximately $80 and up)

2. Blender: This must-have kitchen gift is great for the smoothies and power shakes that may cost an arm and a leg on campus. A nice blender will earn a place in kitchens throughout your grad’s life. (approximately $100 and up)

3. Joy of Cooking: It’s still the go-to cooking primer that should be on every kitchen shelf. Buy the hardcover version, so you can inscribe it. Each time he makes a pesto sauce, he’ll think of you. (approximately $50)

Instead of writing a big check in June, send a smaller monthly stipend.

4. Joy of cash: What grad can’t use some extra cash? Instead of writing a big check in June, give them a smaller monthly or weekly stipend—and if you send it virtually, there’s no need for them to visit the campus post office to collect their checks. For example, the Popmoney® personal payment service allows you to send money to virtually anyone’s U.S. bank account easily with your phone, directly from your bank account, using the Citi Mobile® App.

5. Travel: Maybe it’s a ticket home for the holidays. Or maybe it’s an airline or rail gift card that gives your grad a well-deserved vacation. Amtrak offers USA Rail Passes from 15 days with 8 stops ($449) to 45 days with 18 stops ($879). It’s an extravagant gift so perhaps invite other friends and relatives to chip in, too.

6. Vacuum robot: This may be the only way your grad’s new digs will stay clean. Most vacuuming robots have a scheduling feature that tells them when to clean, so you don’t even have to remember to push a button. (approximately $160 and up)

7. Single-serve espresso maker: Think of the money she’ll save when she makes her own cappuccino or latte each morning. For about $1 a day, she can drop in a coffee capsule, press a button, and have her morning coffee exactly how she wants it. (approximately $200 and up)

8. Stuffed wallet: You never know what your grad will need during his first year in the real world. So buy him a great leather wallet (he won’t have the cash to splurge on that for a while), and stuff it with gift cards that will treat him to movies, music, clothes, and a great restaurant meal. (approximately $50 and up, plus the cost of gift cards)

9. Tool kit: Every new household (no matter how temporary) should contain a basic tool kit—hammer, pliers, screwdriver, wrench—to fix a running toilet, secure a cabinet door, or stop a faucet leak. (approximately $40)

10. Single shares of stock: Buy just one share of stock and let your grad watch it grow (we hope) throughout her life. Select a company that produces something she actually uses, like computers or cross trainers. Or pick one that pays dividends that she can reinvest or use for extra pocket money.

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