We found a wide range of gifts that’ll help graduates as they embark upon their next adventure, whether that’s college or a career.
I’m not going to lie: I don’t envy the class of 2023. Can you imagine having to start high school or college during some of the most unprecedented times in modern history? As if the pandemic didn’t make life hard enough, this year’s grads had to submit college and job applications while facing a string of “once in a lifetime” events, including a major financial crisis. Yet despite grappling with a mind-boggling level of uncertainty, the class of 2023 still somehow pushed through. I think it’s safe to say these students deserve some sort of medal — or at least a really nice gift.
That’s why, this year, we’ve put together a list of extra special gifts for grads. They range from hot-ticket items like LG’s C2 OLED ($900) to unique gifts like Ikea’s Symfonisk picture frame speaker ($170) and a beautiful flower bouquet ($60) that’ll never die. We’ve also curated some more practical gifts that will help them with cooking and studying, including a portable coffee maker ($40) and a fun, beginner-friendly guide to baking ($21). Take a look at the handful of Verge-approved presents below, even if it’s only for inspiration.
Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plug Slim (three-pack)
Nothing feels more like heaven than crawling into bed after a long day of work — that is, until you realize you forgot to turn off the lights. Thankfully, Kasa’s smart plugs will help ensure your giftee won’t have to get out of bed just to hit the lights. The connected plugs can add smarts to any outlet in your home, giving you a cheap way to control lamps and other devices with just your voice.
AeroPress Original Coffee and Espresso Maker
I’d like to think it was my hard work that got me through college, but I know better: it was an absurd amount of coffee. An AeroPress is a classic gift for grads and other caffeine fiends, one that can make up to three cups of grit-free coffee at a time so they, like me, can power through the next stage of their lives with minimal sleep. It’s just part of academia.
Lego Wildflower Bouquet
The problem with gifting flowers is that they’ll inevitably die after a few weeks, regardless of your so-called “green thumb.” For something more permanent, why not gift Lego’s 939-piece Wildflower Bouquet? The colorful “bouquet” is a far more creative piece of home decor, one your giftee can assemble in a couple of hours and then display in a more traditional vase.
Ikea Symfonisk picture frame speaker
At first glance, Ikea’s Symfonisk looks like an overpriced picture frame, but don’t let its appearance deceive you: it’s actually a Sonos-connected smart speaker. The quirky device delivers terrific sound without taking up desk space, while serving as an attractive piece of home decor — one that is surely a step up from the Bob Marley poster your grad was going to throw on their dorm room wall.
Apple MacBook Air (M2 model)
Your graduate needs a computer, regardless of whether they’re stepping into the workforce or onto a college campus. Thankfully, Apple’s latest MacBook Air is a great jack-of-all-trades pick for pretty much everyone, one that offers great performance, a solid 1080p webcam, and outstanding battery life. It can even handle the occasional video edit and some light gaming — after they hit the books, of course.
When loud roommates or co-workers make it hard to focus, Sony’s WF-1000XM4 will feel like a godsend. The wireless earbuds offer great sound and noise cancellation, letting your grad work in peace and hit any deadlines they may have looming. They also boast IPX4 water and sweat resistance, meaning they don’t have to worry about ruining them with a quick trip to the gym between classes.
Apple iPad (ninth-gen)
An iPad is a gift any grad will find useful, whether they intend to use it as a productivity machine or purely as an entertainment device. Not only can they use Apple’s entry-level tablet to read digital textbooks and take notes but also they can use the 10.2-inch slate to make video calls and stream their favorite shows. And although the 2021 model is a bit dated, it can still run the same software as Apple’s newer iPads.
Bananagrams Signature Edition
A word game like Bananagrams offers a great way to break the ice with new roommates — or destroy the friendships you already have. The Signature Edition is a lot like the base anagram game in that you’re still working to build crossword grids, but it also comes with a new color scheme, better packaging, and some added gameplay tweaks that make for a refreshing twist on what has become a classic.
Google Pixel Watch
Traditional watches are classic milestone gifts, but they’re also missing the features so many tech enthusiasts love. Google’s first-gen Pixel Watch is a gorgeous alternative, one that offers Fitbit integration and supports Google Assistant. The sleek wearable doesn’t offer any features that are exclusive to Pixel phones, either, making it a great pick for all Android users.
Nanoleaf Lines 90 Degrees Smarter Kit
Nanoleaf Lines are a unique piece of wall decor that’ll help your giftee personalize their space with a splash of color. They can use the smart 90-degree light bars to create various designs, all of which support voice commands via both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. They can sync with their music, too, just in case they want to turn their room into an impromptu dance floor set to Bad Bunny.
Belkin BoostCharge Wireless Charging Stand
A smartphone charger like Belkin’s BoostCharge Wireless Charging Stand is a useful gift any grad will appreciate. The no-frills charging cradle can deliver up to 10 watts of power to any Qi-enabled device, which means it’s suitable for both iOS and Android devices. It can also prop up your phone in landscape or portrait orientation, letting your giftee read messages at a more comfortable angle.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 12
Fujifilm’s Instax Mini 12 is a great gift for grads of all ages. With just a click of a button, the instant camera allows you to instantly capture and print wallet-size photos — the kind that are perfect for your desk or wall. The latest model comes with some extra features, too, including a built-in mirror on the front that will let you quickly snap selfies with friends.
Instant Pot Duo (six-quart)
Don’t you wish cooking were as easy as tossing a few ingredients in a pot and setting a timer? Well, with an Instant Pot, it is. That’s why the Duo is a handy gift for busy graduates, especially those who are still struggling in the kitchen. The spacious stainless-steel device makes it quick and easy to prepare a variety of foods, ranging from rice and ribs to yogurt and assorted soups.
Grogu Funko Pop
Few creatures are cuter than The Mandalorian’s Grogu — especially when he’s looking up at you wide-eyed eating cookies. Funko Pop’s small figurine measures nearly four inches tall and makes for a ridiculously adorable piece of desk decor, the kind that might even calm a stressed grad who is frantically trying to hit a deadline.
Brother HL-L2305W printer
Let’s be real: printers aren’t the most exciting gadgets to gift. However, when your grad needs to print out that research paper on the economic fallout of the Balkan Wars at 3AM and the library is closed, they’ll thank you for it. The Brother HL-L2305W is a basic laser printer that connects to Wi-Fi that’s reliable and will last for ages, making it a good investment they can use for years to come.
Ultimate Ears Boom 3
If you’re going to gift a Bluetooth speaker, it’s not a bad idea to buy one that won’t take up much space in case your grad plans on living with roommates. The UE Boom 3 is an excellent choice, namely because it dishes out great sound for its size. It boasts an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance as well, meaning they can take the rugged speaker to the quad or wherever they might wander.
LG C2 OLED (42-inch)
With its notable contrast and black levels, LG’s C2 OLED makes for a great gift for gamers and movie buffs alike. The 4K TV features a number of impressive specs, including a speedy 120Hz refresh rate and four HDMI ports capable of 120Hz 4K gaming, not to mention low input lag and every incarnation of VRR you could want. Few TVs offer better picture quality for the price, even if it is still quite pricey.
Blue Carbon Steel Frying Pan
Made in Cookware’s carbon steel pan might be pricey, but it’s worth the initial investment. The 10-inch piece of kitchenware can help you prepare delicate foods such as eggs, yet it can also handle the high-heat searing necessary for cooking steaks and seafood. We obviously can’t guarantee it will help your grad become a better cook in time for Family Weekend, but at least they’ll have the right tools for the job.
Jarvis Bamboo Standing Desk
No matter what, your giftee is going to spend a lot of time working from a desk. All that sitting can take a toll on one’s posture and back, however, which is why an adjustable model like the bamboo-topped standing desk from Jarvis is incredibly useful. It’s one of our favorites here at The Verge and makes it easy to switch between sitting and standing, helping you stay alert while working.
2021 Kindle Paperwhite
Gifting a noted bookworm the latest Kindle Paperwhite is a no-brainer, but even grads who prefer a trip to the dentist over reading could do with one. Amazon’s lightweight, waterproof e-reader will allow your grad to carry around an entire library of reading material, thus saving their back and giving them a 6.8-inch display on which to churn through literary classics and newer titles they actually want to read.
LapGear Home Office Lap Desk
Sitting at a desk all day can get uncomfortable, which is why a portable workstation makes for a nice gift. LapGear’s cushy offering will allow your grad to work from the comfort of their couch and even comes with a built-in mouse pad and a cradle for their phone. That way, they can keep tabs on their text thread with mom — or the latest TikTok trends — while they work.
Dessert Person by Claire Saffitz
Dessert Person is a fun introduction to the world of baking, one chock-full of photos and recipes that’ll make your mouth water. The bestseller is packed with a ton of foundational know-how, not to mention straightforward directions for whipping up everything from chocolate buttermilk cake to Babkallah. It’s a book foodies will love, sure, but also a delicious read for grads who don’t know the difference between baking soda and baking powder.
Echo Dot (fifth-gen) with Eero Mesh Wi-Fi router
With Amazon’s Alexa-equipped Echo Dot, your grad can play music, set alarms, and even schedule deadline reminders. What’s more, Amazon’s latest smart speaker now doubles as a Wi-Fi extender when used with an Eero Mesh Wi-Fi system, a convenient trick that lets your giftee boost their Wi-Fi coverage at home.
Satechi Water-Resistant Laptop Carrying Case with Pockets
You can help your grad transition into the world of work with this minimalist, professional-looking laptop bag from Satechi. The simple case can accommodate laptops up to 15 inches in size and features inner and outer pockets for stowing your phone, keys, headphones, and other small essentials. It also touts a water-resistant exterior, so they can keep their gadgets safe rain or shine.
Apple AirPods (second-gen)
Apple’s second-gen AirPods may be a bit older and lack noise cancellation, but they remain a terrific pair of wireless earbuds nonetheless. The wireless earbuds sport great battery life and terrific ease of use, in addition to good sound quality. They also pair well with iOS, which makes them particularly great for those already embedded in Apple’s ecosystem.
A Box of Friendship “Read Me When” fill-in-the-blank letters
Want to gift something that’s a bit more personal and heartfelt than your standard gadget? This cute box is filled with eight fill-in-the-blank letters that are intended to only be read at certain times, such as when your grad is feeling nostalgic or in dire need of a pep talk. It’s a unique, thoughtful gift they’ll especially treasure when they’re missing home.