21 Best Ideas for College Graduation Gifts for 2021 Grads

College graduation is one of life’s happiest and most exciting milestones, but possibly one of the hardest to find an appropriate gift. The gifts we get our young adults and their friends will vary according to the kids themselves, but rest assured here are things that everyone would be thrilled to receive.

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Great College Graduation Gifts

1. Apple AirPod Pros

If you are looking for a tech gift that your son or daughter will use (and thank you for) EVERY DAY, this is it. Apple AirPod Pros are wildly popular and have amazing functionality. These AirPods come with a wireless charging case that gives them 24 hours of battery life.

AirPods Pro

2. Essential Knife Set 

Having a good set of knives for cooking can be expensive for new grads. Direct to consumer cookware brand, Misen, solves the problem by offering the three knives that all cooks need. NOW, take an extra 20% with code GROWNANDFLOWN (expires October 31, 2021.)

3. Framebridge Frame

They have worked incredibly hard for that college diploma.  Give them a simple way to frame it before it gets lost as they move into a new apartment and their new post-grad life. Framebridge takes the agony out of custom framing with a 3 step process. Pick out a frame style online, mail in the diploma (Framebridge provides FREE shipping materials to keep the document from getting damaged) and hang your finished frame. See examples of the elegant diploma frames here.

Framebridge frame

4. Keurig Coffee Maker Mini

This is the perfect gift for your college grad and this single-serve coffee maker is the perfect size for a first apartment. It doesn’t take up much room and they can make themselves the perfect cup of Joe to get their day started. Available in four colors.

keurig coffee maker

5. Tile

Seriously, we have yet to meet a teen or young adult who doesn’t need this. This Bluetooth tracker, durable, water-resistant and loud, will help them keep track of all their things. Can’t find your phone or keys? Well, as long as you have your Tile, you’re golden.

tile tracking device

6. Echo Dot 4th Gen

How did anyone live before Alexa? She is a voice-controlled smart speaker and she is everything. Just ask Alexa the weather, the time, the score, the spelling of a word, who was President in 1936…she knows it all. Just trust us, your grad needs this, actually so do you.

Echo Dot 4th gen

7. Thank you cards

We are big fans of San Francisco-based Minted and think their elegant selection of note cards are among the loveliest selection available. Minted is our go-to source when we order holiday cards or replenish our own stock of note cards. They can be a not-so-subtle reminder to your grad that they have many people to thank in their lives–for gifts, for help along and way, and let’s not forget, 4 years of college tuition!

note cards

8. Panda Planner

Are you always trying to suggest novel ways for your young adult to be better organized or to set goals? If you are, this is the gift idea for you. It’s a daily planner with 6 months. It has a nifty daily view, which would allow them to organize their life on the daily. There is an end of the day review that helps them focus on everything they have accomplished that day. This is for the planners among us or the would-be planners and is the top pick for “goal planning” by the New York Times Wirecutter.


9. TAKEYA Cold Brew Coffee Maker

Is your soon-to-be grad a cold-brewed coffee lover? This reusable, at-home cold brew maker has a 4-cup capacity and produces smooth, well-balanced, concentrated coffee. Save money and the environment and enjoy delicious coffee. Sounds like a win-win to us.

cold brew coffee

10. Meet 100 People by Pat Hedley

Young adults can learn the art of meeting people to expand their network of professional contacts, a skill that which will enhance their professional development and job prospects throughout their careers.  Pat Hedley has written THE book on the topic and she is offering a 15% discount with the coupon code Grown2021 

Meet 100 people

Watch Pet Hedley’s TED Talk here:

11. The Defining Decade by Dr. Meg Jay

In this riveting book, Dr. Jay explains that the twenties are the most defining years of adulthood. They should not be squandered because this is the decade to get things done; the things not accomplished will have far-reaching consequences. Your twenty-something NEEDS to read this. NEW, updated and revised. (March 2021)

Defining Decade

Watch Dr. Jay’s Ted wildly-popular TED Talk here:

12. GMorning, GNight: Little Pep Talks for You & Me by Lin-Manuel Miranda

There may be no one in the universe who inspires more admiration than Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of the amazing musical, Hamilton. But before he created that mega-masterpiece, he was creating daily tweets to inspire his followers.  This book is a collection of his very best and is already a New York Times Bestseller.

Best books for college students

13. The Last Lecture By Dr. Randy Pausch

In one of the most famous lectures ever given, Dr. Pausch imparts wisdom, humor, and inspiration, all reprinted in this slim volume that belongs on every new grad’s bookshelf. Facing a terminal diagnosis, computer science professor Randy Pausch gave his students (and all of us) a true gift when he shared his advice for really living, all while he was dying. This is a must-own title that young adults will reach for again and again when coming face to face with the real world.

Best books for college students

14. MVMT watch

MVMT watches are everywhere these days because they are a fashionable, luxury watch at a reasonable price. Handsome watch with a leather straps, or a metal bracelet, and a minimalist face. Perfect for young men or women.

15. Timex

If you’re looking for an iconic watch, one that will never go out of style, consider Timex, too. They have a wide range of styles for men and women and are available at many price points. Look for ones that can be engraved that will create a gift that your grad will always remember and hold dear.

timex watch

16. Instant Pot 3 Qtr

For the college graduate, this is the thing. Learning to cook can be challenging, but learning to cook with the InstaPot, not so much. Our young adults will be out of the house most of the day, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have a healthy, warm meal at night and it gets expensive to eat out every night. Get them this InstaPot-it’s miraculous.

instant pot

17. Icon backpack (Incase brand)

Your grad will LOVE this backpack that will carry and protect their MacBook and essentials. There are multiple compartments, padded shoulder straps and a cable port for access to portable power. The best high-tech laptop backpack, according to the New York Times Wirecutter listing.

backpace Incase

18. Everlane Gifts

We are big fans of Everlane and think that just about ANYTHING you find your grad on their site will be a welcome and stylish gift. While you are browsing, take a look at the Everlane backpacks and other great bags.

Everlane backpack

19. Bose Noise-Cancelling Headphones

It was not just the dorm or college apartment that was noisy for your grad.  Open office floor plans or work from home with roommates(!) are all distracting and loud. These wireless headphones are excellent and would be a very welcome gift.

Bose 700

20. Away Bags

We have fallen in love with the Away line of roller bags and now comes the “Weekender,” a handy duffel with all the room your grad will need for a weekend trip to the beach or to visit the parents!


21. Casper Mattress

One of the most expensive things about being a young grad is having to buy everything for a new apartment, especially if your son or daughter has lived in a dorm for four years. Our recently graduated young adults bought Casper mattresses and loved the convenience of receiving them in a box just like any other delivery. (Yes, they expand when released from the box.)

NEW! Take $100 off a Casper Mattress and $200 off a Wave Mattress with code GROWNFLOWN. Valid on Foam and Hybrid collections; not valid on the Essential. Terms apply.


Still Looking for More Grad Gift Ideas:

Grad Gifts for Your Off-to-Work Kids 

Graduation Gifts for Your Teen’s Friends 

About Grown and Flown

Mary Dell Harrington and Lisa (Endlich) Heffernan are the co-founders of Grown and Flown the #1 site for parents of teens, college students and young adults, reaching millions of parents every month. They are writers (Lisa is a New York Times bestselling author), moms, wives and friends. They started the Grown and Flown Parents Facebook Group and are co-authors of Grown and Flown: How to Support Your Teen, Stay Close as a Family, and Raise Independent Adults (Flatiron Books) now in paperback.

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