We have gathered a list of high school graduation gifts that look forward and backward. Presents like a quilt made of T-shirted memories, a special photo display of family and high school friends, or uniquely personal jewelry recall so much of what our teens are leaving behind. But other gifts on our list include some of the true college essentials that any high school senior will need as they prepare to leave home for the next phase of their life.
All of these are under $100.
Note: We receive compensation from purchases made through some of the links on this post, but the opinions are our own.
Best high school graduation gifts 2022
Ordering a quilt from Project Repat is one of our favorite grad gifts as there is nothing that’s more personal than a blanket stitched from memories. Take all the shirts from camps, class days, family trips and ship them to Project Repat — they do the rest.
(Hint: Sign up for Project Repat’s email list to take advantage of special savings.)
Noise-canceling earphones like these, the highly-rated Anker Soundcore Q20, can be a lifesaver. Even the quietest roommate makes noise; your grad will appreciate these once it’s time to hit the books despite the music being blasted inside that tiny dorm room.
The Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2 is the highest-rated portable Bluetooth speaker and a gift your son or daughter would love to have in their new dorm room. With excellent audio, it is also portable, dustproof, waterproof, and floatable. Available in four colors.
Author Harlan Cohen has been in the college advice business for decades, having started as a student himself answering in the college newspapers. Now out in a 7th edition, The Naked Roommate is a comprehensive guide to college life.
Enter our “The Naked Roommate Has You Covered” giveaway before 5/27/22 for your chance to win a FREE copy!
String lights are a very popular way to dress up a drab dorm wall and add lighting at the same time. Your teen can bring photos from home and, over time, add pics of their new friends. This set is dimmable, has eight lighting modes, and is operated by remote control.
Alexa is Amazon’s voice-controlled virtual assistant and your student can ask her to play music, set an alarm for morning classes, hear the weather forecast, or the latest score from their favorite team. They can also listen to an audiobook, summons an Uber or Domino’s pizza, and much, much more. This compact device is a great tech choice for a student.
We love the idea of giving a gift of jewelry to the special young woman in your life and Kendra Scott has so many beautiful pieces that it might be hard to choose just one piece. One idea is to customize a necklace, earrings, or bracelet with the color stone of her new college.
8. Do Your Laundry or You’ll Die Alone: Advice Your Mom Would Give if She Thought You Were Listening
Now out in a second edition, this slender book includes every word of loving advice you want to remember to say to your daughter before she leaves home.
We admit it, this is simply a toy but what a great ice-breaker in a college dorm this makes. Our soccer-playing sons thought it was fantastic.
10. YETI mug
Give your son or daughter a legendary YETI mug and add their monogram and/or college logo. They keep hot beverages hot or cold drinks cold for hours on end and are available in a range of colors and sizes. A durable YETI mug would be the perfect gift for your teen.
This idea is something that any high school grad needs — note cards to write to the many people who have helped them reach this milestone. We’ve used Minted for our holiday cards and personalized stationery and think their one-of-a-kind designs are gorgeous. They also offer free custom envelopes and recipient addressing.
This is a smartphone printer that is small enough to fit in a pocket. It turns photos or screenshots into high-quality 2×3″ prints and would be a fun gift for your grad to capture moments with friends at graduation parties.
This passport holder from Leatherology is perfect for a high school graduate who loves to travel or is hoping to study abroad. Can be monogrammed.
14. Towel Set
Having basic bedding and bath items for a dorm room or apartment are essential for college students and this set of organic cotton, quick-dry towels would be a practical gift for your teen. In six colors, this set includes a bath towel, hand towel, face cloth, and bath mat (can be used bedside if your teen is in a dorm with a communal bathroom.)
Let’s face it. Laundry unfortunately must be done. Why not have some fun with it? This bag is a cute reminder of when it’s time for the trip to the laundry room.
There is never enough storage in a dorm room which makes these lightweight, collapsible storage ottomans a unique solution. They are available in four sizes and three colors and each one holds up to 220 pounds, making them a practical option for extra seating, too.
We love Ugg slippers and these could easily become your teen’s favorite shoes to wear around the college dorm, especially if they’ll be attending school in cold winters. Ours keep our feet toasty warm on even the most frigid winter mornings. Available in multiple colors.
18. Personal Safe
This safe is handy for keeping valuables such as cash, prescription meds, a passport, or jewelry in a dorm room.
This packing set is useful for staying organized while moving into the dorm and helping students keep things orderly in their new space. Eagle Creek gets top reviews and has a lifetime warranty.
Write your high school grad a message and your handwriting will be made into a bracelet. This would be a very personal gift for your daughter to remind her of your love and support.
21. Plush Robe
This robe is perfect for walking to or from the showers or relaxing in the dorm after showering. With two roomy pockets, this robe might be all your teen needs to carry toiletries to the communal bathroom in the dorm. It’s soft, machine-washable, and available in five colors.
22. IKEA Frakta Bag
This bag has achieved legendary status in our Grown and Flown community and is a must-have for any grad. Perfect for moving into dorms, storage, and moving out, IKEA bags are lightweight, incredibly durable, and fold flat when not in use.
23. Compass Bracelet
This compass bracelet is cute for any girl who loves to travel.
There is NEVER enough seating in a dorm room when friends come to visit and this folding chair can be stored flat if not needed. It’s a comfy spot for studying, reading, or just chatting with friends.
This cookbook has super easy and healthy recipes and is great for teens who don’t have much experience cooking.
More Grad Gift Ideas