Finishing school during the pandemic is an accomplishment on a whole other level. Even with the introduction of vaccines and boosters last year, the pandemic has made life hard for all of us, particularly students. Not only have they had to deal with the challenges of remote learning and exams, but they’ve had to cope with an unprecedented level of social isolation, instability, and uncertainty. Yet, despite all of this, they finished. That’s why, this year, graduates deserve something even more special to honor that fact.
Here, we’ve compiled a list of practical and fun products that celebrate this impressive accomplishment while helping high school and college graduates transition more easily into the next phase of their lives. Our picks range from classic Carhartt beanies ($16.99) and excellent laptops like the HP Spectre x360 14 ($1,099.99) to true wireless earbuds like Apple’s third-gen AirPods ($169) and Sony’s WF-1000XM4 ($248). We also have picks to help your grad cook, clean, and have some fun — that is, when they’re not busy with work or their next stage in school.
Feel free to pursue our list of recommendations below, whether you’re looking to pick a gift up today or merely glean some inspiration for a later date.
$20 to $50
$50 to $150
$150 to $400
Carhartt Knit Cuffed Beanie
Carhartt’s acrylic beanies will make for a welcome present if your giftee is moving somewhere cooler for school or work or if they’re simply looking to add a touch of flair to their wardrobe. The cuffed skullcaps come in nearly 30 colors and pair well with pretty much everything, which is probably why everyone from Jake Gyllenhaal to Frank Ocean has been seen donning them in the wild.
Anker 313 Power Bank
A portable charger like the Anker 313 Power Bank will ensure your graduate never runs out of battery while commuting, in class, or at work. The 1,000mAh battery pack is about the same size as a smartphone and comes with enough power to recharge most phones and tablets at least once. However, you may want to buy a USB-C or Lightning cable to go with it, as the battery pack only comes with a Micro USB cable.
Instant Pot Duo
The ubiquitous Instant Pot is a kitchen appliance that graduates will surely appreciate when it comes time to make dinner, whether it’s just a batch of jasmine rice or tender, melt-in-your-mouth short ribs. The versatile appliance can do everything from steam to sauté, making it easy to cook broccoli, broth, and other meals without leaving too much of a mess to clean up after.
The third-gen AirPods, Apple’s latest set of true wireless earbuds, are a great choice for those already deeply embedded within the Apple ecosystem. The iconic earbuds pair seamlessly with iOS and offer solid sound quality, IPX4 water resistance, and shorter stems that are more reminiscent of the AirPod Pros.
HP Spectre x360 14
The HP Spectre x360 14 is an impressive 2-in-1 that offers the best of both worlds by serving as a great tablet and a phenomenal Windows laptop. The convertible offers excellent performance and lengthy battery life, not to mention a 3:2 OLED display and a stylus designed to attach magnetically to the side of the chassis. Price: $1,519.99
Kindle Paperwhite (2021)
Amazon’s latest Kindle Paperwhite makes it easy to read multiple books for school or pleasure without needing to lug them to and from campus (or anywhere else). The simple, 8GB e-reader comes with monthslong battery life, too, along with a 6.8-inch screen that’s larger than its predecessor and — finally — support for USB-C. Toting around War and Peace has never been easier.
Amazon Echo Show 8 (second-gen)
An Alexa-enabled smart display like Amazon’s second-gen Echo Show 8 is always a welcome gift. Not only will your giftee be able to use it to stream shows and make Zoom calls with the help of a 13MP camera, but they can use the wedge-shaped device as an extension of their planner, allowing them to create to-do lists and set reminders for that upcoming application deadline they’re likely to miss otherwise. Price: $129.99
Philips Hue Smart Lightstrip Plus Base Kit
Graduates will enjoy decorating their home with Philips Hue’s Lightstrip Plus Base Kit. The vibrant starter kit comes with a six-foot, Bluetooth-enabled LED lightstrip and a compatible plug, so they can easily add a touch of color around their desk, a monitor, or anywhere else they want to pop. Price: $99.99
Acer Chromebook Spin 713
Acer’s Chromebook Spin 713 is our favorite Chromebook, one that boasts a spacious 3:2 screen and a powerful processor capable of handling a ton of tabs without an issue. We also were fans of its excellent keyboard and the fact it comes with an HDMI port, which thinner Chromebooks typically don’t offer.
Price: $579 to $699
Tile Mate (2022)
You can help your giftee keep track of their most valuable possessions with the latest Tile Mate. The small, waterproof Bluetooth tracker makes it easy to keep tabs on items within 200 feet or further away with the help of Tile’s out-of-range network. It also features a replaceable battery and, unlike AirTags, is compatible with both iOS and Android devices.
Addalock Portable Door Lock
Addalock’s door lock is perfect for high school graduates moving into a dorm room that lacks a deadbolt or those who simply want an extra layer of protection at home. The portable door lock ensures your giftee a bit of privacy and safety without too much effort, as they can easily install it within seconds without tools. It also works with most doors that are on a hinge and swing inward.
Spotify Premium subscription
Whether they use music while studying, to motivate themselves on a run, or to kick out the latest Harry Styles track at a party, a Spotify Premium subscription is a welcome gift that will help them do it all. Membership start at $10 a month — or $5 a month, if your giftee is still a student — and come without ads, so they can listen and download millions of songs and podcasts without interruption.
A pair of noise-canceling earbuds will come in handy when your giftee is studying or if they’re working remote, allowing them to drown out the world around them and focus on the task at hand. Sony’s WF-1000XM4 are some of the best true wireless earbuds available, with outstanding sound quality, best-in-class battery life, and IPX4 water and sweat resistance.
For the graduate who’s moving away, there’s Homesick’s line of natural candles. Each uses a blend of soy wax and various oils and takes a cue from a different country or city, thus evoking memories associated with each. It’s a nice, sentimental present your giftee will treasure during those moments when they miss home.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 11
Instant cameras like Fujifilm’s Instax Mini 11 are popular presents graduates of all ages will enjoy using to capture memories as they happen. In addition to being able to immediately print small, wallet-sized photos, the Mini 11 comes in an array of colors and offers fun features like a selfie mode, which allows you to capture a photo of yourself using the camera’s onboard mirror and pull-out lens.
Logitech G502 Lightspeed gaming mouse
If your graduate is a gamer or just someone could use a solid mouse for everyday use, it’s hard to argue with the Logitech G502 Lightspeed. The excellent, wireless gaming mouse is fast, accurate, and comfortable, with a long-lasting battery and an excellent selection, as well as arrangement, of customizable buttons. It even has RGB lighting for an added splash color.
Chromecast with Google TV
The Chromecast with Google TV is arguably the best streaming device on the market. The oval-shaped dongle supports 4K content, as well as Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision, and makes it easy for your giftee to stream shows they love thanks to software that curates recommendations based on content from Netflix, Sling TV, and just about every other streaming app.
The 2021 iPad is a versatile gift a graduate can use to take notes, stream movies, and make video calls to friends and family back home, especially given the front-facing camera on Apple’s latest iPad supports Apple’s Center Stage feature. That means it can automatically follow your giftee in the frame during video calls, which can come in handy while on the move. Price: $309 to 329
Bonavita 8-Cup Coffee Maker
You can’t go wrong gifting a dependable coffee maker like Bonavita’s apt-titled brewer. It allows you to easily fill an eight-cup, double-walled carafe with a press of button, and gaduates can easily brew their ideal coffee thanks to its precise temperature controls and a pre-infusion mode that gives coffee grounds time to bloom. Price: $189.99
MacBook Air (late 2020)
Whether your graduate is heading off to college or starting their career, the M1-powered MacBook Air is a great gift they’ll find useful regardless of what stage of life they’re in. It’s the best laptop for most users, with excellent battery life, a great keyboard, and a lightning-fast processor that’s capable of handling all but the most intense workloads.
Price: $950 to $999.99
Ninja Express Chop
Ninja’s straightforward chopper is a helpful gift that will save your graduate time in the kitchen, allowing them to evenly — and quickly — chop whatever ingredients they need for making soups, toppings, dips, sauces, and the like. The included splash guard also doubles as a lid, so they can easily store their concoction once they’ve finished mincing.
Roborock E4 robot vacuum
Your giftee will appreciate how much easier it is to clean up with a robot vacuum like the Roborock E4, which is our favorite budget-friendly robot vacuum. It’s relatively quiet, which housemates will like, and features solid battery life and support for Google Home and Amazon Alexa, so they can start, stop, or pause the vacuum using only their voice.
Price: $200 to $299
Timbuk2 Custom Division Laptop backpack
A nice laptop bag is a welcome present for any graduate, regardless of their age or occupation. Timbuk2’s Custom Division Laptop backpack is a reliable option, complete with an internal organizer, a water bottle pocket, extra compression straps for expanding the bag, and a host of other niceties. You can also customize the features and color of the bag, just in case you want it to match the colors of their alma mater. Price: $150
Bullet Journal Edition 2
Developed by product designer and author Ryder Carroll, Bullet Journaling is a popular list-based method for organization and time management that will help your giftee stay on top of things regardless of whether they’re entering the workforce or college. Leuchtturm1917’s Bullet Journal offers everything you need to get started, including an explanation guide that’s as handy for newcomers as it is experts.
Lamy Safari Fountain Pen
Fountain pens like Lamy’s are always popular graduation gifts as they not only look nice and write well, but they also last a long time. Whether they’re heading off to college or starting their first job, it’s a classic gift that will always come in handy.
Zendure SuperTank Pro charger
A portable power bank that can charge your phones, tablet, and even your laptop while on the go will come in handy when your giftee needs to study or work away from an outlet. Zendure’s SuperTank Pro is an excellent choice thanks to its 26,800mAh battery, useful OLED display, and hodgepodge of ports, which includes two USB-C ports that support a full 100W input / output charge rate. Price: $229.99
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking
Samin Nosrat’s bestselling book is ideal for graduates leaving home for the first time who may not be accustomed to cooking for themselves. The excellent book simplifies the process, guiding readers through what she considers to be the four basic elements of cooking to create something delicious. The delightful illustations are just a plus.
Fitbit Versa 3
Gifting the Fitbit Versa 3 will help your giftee keep track their fitness goals even when they’re too busy to go to the gym. The terrific Apple Watch doppelganger features all the sensors you come to expect in a modern fitness tracker — heart rate monitoring, SpO2 sensors, etc. — along with some you don’t, including a built-in GPS and speaker. It even offers support for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, as well as NFC payments.
Price: $175 to $229.95
The Sonos Roam is a small speaker that’s easy to take wherever your giftee might venture, whether that’s to an off-campus party, the quad, or just the shower. The rugged smart speaker also comes with 10 hours of battery life and support for hands-free voice commands, Apple’s AirPlay 2, and wireless charging when paired with any Qi-compatible pad it’ll fit on.
Therm-a-Rest LuxuryMap Sleeping Pad
Whether your grad is a fan of camping or slumber parties, Therm-a-Rest’s LuxuryMap Sleeping Pad is a useful present at any age. The three-inch pad is both warm and incredibly comfortable, with pressure-mapping technology that provides plenty of support and a self-inflating design that lets you easily throw it in a stuff sack when you’re done.
The Verge Wordmark Hoodie
If your grad is a devoted reader of The Verge, this zip-up hoodie emblazoned with our name is a unique present for fans that’ll keep them warm and comfortable throughout the year.