17 Great Graduation Gifts New Grads Will Use Again and Again


This story is part of Gift Guide, our year-round collection of the best gift ideas.

Graduation season is here again, and that means it’s time to start shopping for the grad in your life. Whether they’re graduating from high school or college, graduation is a huge milestone. You’ll naturally want to celebrate their success with a thoughtful gift that will help usher them into their new journey. 

A recent high school grad might soon be moving into a freshman dorm room. A college grad may be heading into the real world and getting their first apartment. Regardless of what their next phase is, we’ve rounded up a batch of gifts — ranging from practical to traditional to trendy — that most grads will appreciate. Take a look.

Land’s End

They might be off on their own, but that doesn’t mean they can’t come and visit every now and then. This sturdy Land’s End duffel is the perfect size for weekend trips. It usually costs $105, but you can get it on sale now for $84. And if you want to personalize it by having their initials embroidered on the front, it costs an extra $8. 

The Sony WH-1000X4 are arguably the best all-around noise-canceling headphones. While they list for $350, they frequently sell for closer to $275. That’s still expensive for a set of headphones, but compared to the AirPods Max at $549 this graduation gift seems like a bargain.

Read our Sony WH-1000XM4 review.



Whether they’re moving into a dorm or their first apartment, every new grad needs a fresh set of towels. These 100% Turkish cotton towels are fluffy, soft and super-absorbent. Choose from 16 colors, from neutral white and taupe to bold turquoise or yellow.

David Carnoy/CNET

Available in white or black for $179, the Roam is currently Sonos’ smallest and most affordable speaker, though it’s fairly expensive for a mini wireless speaker. This model, like Sonos’ earlier, but more expensive, Move portable speaker, is equipped with both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi and can tap into an existing Sonos multiroom audio system and link with other Series 2-compatible Sonos speakers. This gift idea makes for a good starter speaker for those new to the Sonos world. Read our Sonos Roam review.

David Carnoy/CNET

Here’s a grad gift that’s sure to please: a massage gun. There are many to choose from, but the Theragun Mini is nice, compact and surprisingly powerful (and pretty quiet). Available in a few color options, it retails for less than $200. 

Perfect for beginner cooks or college students, this microwavable pasta pot lets you cook up noodles within minutes — no stovetop or stirring required and no big cleanup afterward. It’s a life-saver for grads who don’t have a stove in their new dwelling.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Roku is our favorite platform for a live TV streaming service like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video, and it’s even better baked into the TV. This TCL 4-Series can’t beat the more expensive models on image quality — its 4K resolution and HDR compatibility don’t do anything to help the picture — but it’s perfectly fine for most people, especially for the price. It comes in sizes from 43 to 75 inches; the price below is for 65 inches, more than enough for most grads.

Read our TCL 4-series Roku TV (2021) review.


Paige Thies/CNET

Chances are wherever your new grad is going, they might not have access to great-tasting tap water. This filtered water bottle is our top pick for making tap water taste crisp and pure. Dorm dwellers can stash it in a mini-fridge and easily take it with them on the go. Not only will it save them from having to shell out for bottled water, but it’s easier on the planet too.  


If your grad drives a car, the Mophie PowerStation Go Rugged is a versatile charger to have around. Not only does it house a 15,000-mAh battery for charging multiple devices but it has a built-in air compressor, as well as detachable cables for jump-starting a car.

Along with car tires, the air compressor can be used to pump up bike tires, inflatable boats and balls. Adapters and needles for the air compressor are included. Also worth noting: The battery has an AC outlet so you can power small devices that require a power cord and don’t have a USB charging option. 


One harsh reality that accompanies graduation is that food doesn’t magically appear. Whether your grad has been back home enjoying meals prepared by Mom and Dad or leaning on the campus cafeteria for sustenance, one thing is clear: It’s high time they learned to cook. 

One of the easiest ways to do that is with a subscription to one of the many great meal kit services in 2022. Sunbasket is my favorite overall meal kit of the 10 or so I’ve tried, with loads of interesting recipes that aren’t terribly complicated to execute — even for a beginner. There are also some excellent budget-friendly meal kits as well as those aimed at healthy eating and even a slew of fully prepared meal delivery services for the truly kitchen-phobic.

Sunbasket allows you to send a gift in any amount for your grad to use on making healthy meal kits, instead of on a bar bill.


Not every grad wants or needs new items for their next adventure, and there’s definitely nothing wrong with that! If the grad in your life isn’t sure what they want or is hard to please, an Amazon gift card is a good way to go, and this one has a personal touch since it comes in a nifty grad cap gift box.

Sarah Tew/CNET

If your graduate doesn’t already have these, they probably want them. The ultracompact, lightweight AirPods Pro feature a noise-isolating design that fits most ears securely and delivers top-notch performance for making calls, truly perfect for high school graduation gifts or college graduation gifts. (If your grad has an Android, check out the Beats Fit Pro instead.)

Black & Decker

It can take years to acquire all of the tools needed for a household. This 60-piece kit is the perfect gift for this major milestone and will give your graduate a leg up by equipping them with everything they’ll need. You get an 8-volt drill, a hammer, a level, a tape measure and a bunch of wrenches and screwdrivers — all neatly packed into a handy carrying case, making it a perfect present for any new grad.

Angela Lang/CNET

The Apple Watch puts a modern spin on a traditional graduation gift. This is stylish and more practical than a simple bracelet. The Series 7, which can usually be found starting at under $400 for the smaller 41mm size, features an always-on display, blazing-fast speed and a host of health and wellness features.

Most young adults need plenty of rest. (Don’t we all?) Heavier than a regular blanket, this weighted blanket provides a calming effect that will help them get a better night’s rest. And bonus points: The fuzzy texture makes it extra-snuggly. This blanket normally retails for $46, but right now, you can get it on sale for $41 when you apply a coupon at checkout.

David Carnoy/CNET

If you don’t want to shell out around $200 for the Apple’s AirPods Pro, Anker’s Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro, the company’s first earbuds to feature active noise canceling, are a good alternative for significantly less money. Like the AirPods Pro, they have an IPX4 water-resistance rating (splashproof). 

While I had an issue with the included ear tips and had to use some other tips (it’s crucial to get a tight seal or both noise canceling and sound quality will suffer), they should fit most people comfortably. Sound quality is better than Anker’s earlier Liberty Air 2 and the noise canceling is effective. These also work well as a headset for making calls and are available in multiple color options. Read our Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro review.

If you can’t afford a new TV for your grad, you can still beef up their home entertainment options. Roku’s excellent video streamers can turn any HDMI-equipped TV into a gateway to online entertainment bliss, featuring Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, YouTube, HBO Max and literally hundreds of other streaming channels. The Express 4K Plus is cheaper than the company’s Streaming Stick 4K+ and other 4K HDR streaming devices, and it’s our top pick for best streaming device overall.

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