The Grad in Your Life Just Wants You to Gift Them Money

Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photos: Retailers

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When it comes to the best graduation gifts, there is one thing that tops the list: money. We asked our friends and Instagram followers what they wished they were gifted, and the common answer was mostly some extra cash. And we get it. Entering the workforce in this climate is quite daunting and uncertain, so some (or any) monetary help is always more than welcome.

However, while the postgrad or college hopeful would love a nice stack of hundreds, an apartment, and no student-loan debt, which frankly we’d like too, you most likely can’t wrap up that one-bedroom or studio.

If you’re feeling generous, though, and you want to gift something other than the above, we have the next best things. We’ve put together some graduation gift ideas that they’ll actually find useful — including gift cards that are as good as cash and don’t deserve such a bad rap.

Best Graduation Lifestyle Gifts

Nothing says “congrats” like a getaway. Let the recent grad de-stress from final exams and papers with a flight of their choosing. With over 300 destinations to choose from, they can jet off to a sandy beach somewhere or, hopefully, visit you.

From $50

Like we said, you can’t wrap up an apartment, but you can gift them a stay at the Airbnb of their choosing so they can spring for a vacation or a more low-key staycation.

Because we can not all afford to gift all-inclusive trips to places far away, this coffee-table book is close. Featuring dreamy photos and illustrations of the Amalfi Coast, this will have them planning or at the very least manifesting a trip there some day.

For their new apartment, nothing is more fitting than this pretty all-in-one pan. Available in a few pastel shades, the Always Pan is made for everything from frying and steaming to searing and sautéing. It’s also very pretty and makes for TikTok-worthy videos.

From $10

Target carries almost everything they could possibly need. From snacks and essential groceries to bedding and décor, give them this gift card and let them handle the rest.

Fancy sheets will make even the tiniest apartment or dorm feel like home. These best-selling sheets are soft and made from thermo-regulating linen.

Allow them to graduate from their Bath and Body Works candle, too. This luxury candle from Diptyque can double as a pencil or makeup holder after they’ve burnt through the sweet and fruity scent.

Best Graduation Tech Gifts

Noisy roommates are a thing long after college; these wireless headphones keep the noise out and the music loud. They also offer up to 20 hours of battery life so you don’t have to worry about charging between classes, work, or commuting.

MacBook Pro
From $1,299
From $1,299

Gifting them a laptop is a given. Between work, classes, and watching Netflix, they’re going to need a machine that handles it all. The pro can take on all the additional programs they may need for editing and working and provide 20 hours of battery life.

Let them capture all their summer memories and beyond on this very cool point-and-shoot film camera with zoom. Gift the camera along with film for pictures that will look cooler than any filter.


Nothing will motivate them to get their life together quite like an iPad.

The key to a good party is good music, so give your grad a great portable speaker they can travel and entertain with.

Whether it’s gifted alongside a new phone or alone, a custom phone case from Casetify is sure to please any recent grad. With so many color, fonts, and style options, you can create a one-of-a-kind accessory for their phone that will look good in any mirror photo.

Best Fashion & Beauty Gifts

The medium tote holds a surprising amount of stuff; if you don’t believe us, take a look at the hashtag on TikTok. This durable leather bag comfortably fits a 13-inch laptop, tablet, books, and maybe even a water bottle for running between meetings.

For the grad who dreams of Paris, these French-girl-inspired hoops are almost as good as a trip to the city (if the line outside of their SoHo store is any indication). Made of gold vermeil, these are perfect for everyday wear and pair well with the rest of the brand’s croissant-dome collection.

From $25

Catbird offers delicate jewelry at every price point and pretty home and beauty gifts your grad will love. We suggest they put the gift card toward a permanent Forever Bracelet in one of the NYC or L.A. stores.

A subtle and chic way to tell them to arrive on time.

Everything old is new again, and this 2000s necklace is right on trend. The sterling silver features the classic “Return to Tiffany” heart tag, and as a bonus, you can engrave it for your favorite grad.

There’s nothing like the real thing, so gift this splurge-worthy perfume to the grad that’s been searching and saving every dupe they’ve seen on TikTok. The viral fragrance features notes of jasmine, saffron, and sandalwood for a scent that’s more sophisticated than their body sprays.

Somebody DM’d us they wish they were gifted a Dior Saddle bag. We respect that wish. Hear us out: This will not fit their laptop and books, but the beloved bag will look good with all their outfits, and isn’t that worth the splurge? Consider this iconic bag an investment. You can even score one at a secondhand retailer like the Real Real or Rebag.

The present that no one wants to buy for themselves. This hair dryer is truly everywhere, and the reviews are amazing.

The Grad in Your Life Just Wants You to Gift Them Money