Graduation gifts are some of the most burdensome gifts to pick out, especially when you’re buying for your teen’s friends who have become almost as dear to us as our sons and daughters. We asked our seasoned parents what they love to give their kids’ friends, and here are some of their answers.
Some of these gifts can be bought in bulk, making giving to a large number more affordable.
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Best graduation gifts for your teen’s friends
The big blue bags (available to order on Amazon) are the most amazing bags we have ever used for packing and moving. College-bound grads will have loads of stuff to take to school, and giving them one of these lightweight and durable bags will be a huge help.
This is THE bag that every Grown and Flown parent has gotten for their teen — their friends (and parents) will love this when they move in.
We have fallen in love with Lokai and cannot believe all the gorgeous and well-priced bracelets they offer, especially this collegiate line. This is a charming idea for a gift for your teen’s friend group. While you are on the Lokai site, check out the collections for Disney, Marvel, Star Wars, professional sports teams, and much more.
Take 20% off at checkout with code GFFamilyandFriends as we are ambassadors.
Shop Fanatics for the largest selections of official NCAA merchandise for over 500 colleges and pro teams, too. College students LOVE wearing hats, t-shirts — anything — from their new schools.
4. Laundry Bag
All students needs some sort of laundry bag or hamper and this one is one of the cutest we have seen. Add some laundry detergent or pods, Shout “color catching” sheets, mesh lingerie bags, and a stain remover stick and they will be good to go when it is “Time to do laundry.”
Teens are expected to leave home with a foundation in financial literacy, but few already have answers to all the money questions they will face once they live on their own.
See why the one reviewer at the New York Times calls Napkin Finance “one of the best financial aid primers I have read in years.”
6. Eno Hammock
Hammocks are not just for camping, as you will see when you tour college campuses. Eno makes top-rated lightweight and colorful hammocks that your teen’s friends can enjoy at school or if they go camping with new friends. Available in dozens of great colors.
Teens need new socks to go off to college, and our favorite sock brand is Notes to Self. College students can start their day with positivity when they reach for a pair of these incredibly comfortable and durable socks from you.
This is a gift they will use for years to come. With 39 pieces, it is a very complete and well-priced set.
This lightweight and practical collegiate drawstring bag are perfect for a gym bag. If you can’t find one with a college logo, look for colors that match the school.
Choosing one of these tumblers from the Tervis Tumbler Collegiate Collection for your teen’s friends is a thoughtful way to celebrate where each is heading off in the fall. They can be personalized, come with a lifetime guarantee, and are affordable.
Send your teen (and their friends) off with a slender book of love and life lessons with The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse. Written and illustrated by beloved British artist Charlie Mackesy, this is a 2019 bestselling (New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and more) fable with gorgeous illustrations throughout.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” asked the mole.
“Kind,” said the boy.
Your daughter and her friends will never forget a unique piece of jewelry from Kendra Scott, especially if the stones are personalized with the colors of the college each girl is attending. There are dozens of stones to pick from to create unique necklaces, earrings, and bracelets.
This is one of the most popular and memorable gifts for your teen’s friends, and adding a monogram means they are much more likely to keep up with it at college and beyond.
Designed by a college professor and mom, these planners will help your teen and their friends develop good time management systems at college. With an innovative video interface to learn about college success tips, the Centered Student Planner offers much more than just a place to record classes, assignment due dates and extracurriculars. Available in five gorgeous colors.
Another popular type of laundry bag is a backpack laundry bag. This one has adjustable shoulder straps, a mesh exterior pocket, and a zippered interior pocket. It can also be used as a handing hamper in the dorm room. Available in nine colors.
For the young women on your list, add one of our favorite grad books, Do Your Laundry, or You’ll Die Alone, by author/illustrator and mom of two daughters, Becky Blades. You’ll be giving your grad what she wants but doesn’t know she needs: her mother’s loving counsel.
Another excellent book idea for boy or girl grads is The Naked Roommate. In its 7th Edition, this book includes everything any young man or woman might encounter as a college student.
Enter our “The Naked Roommate Has You Covered” giveaway before 5/27/22 for your chance to win a FREE copy!
A new water bottle is a convenient graduation gift, and these Hydro Flask come in many different colors, sizes, and price points. They are one of the most popular brands on campus and will help keep your teen from needing to buy water in expensive and wasteful plastic bottles.
Personalized gifts are some of the nicest to give grads. We love all the choices you will find at Leatherology. These slim card cases are available in 17 different options and would be a memorable gift for any soon-to-be college guy or young woman.
Making copies of a favorite friend group and placing them in frames is a sentimental and inexpensive gift. An acrylic photo frame like this one would be a good choice, and these are available in packs of multiple frames.
21. YETI Mug
This YETI Rambler Stainless Steel Rambler is virtually indestructible, and it will keep your teen’s drink cold (or hot) for hours. They are available in a wide range of sizes and styles; choose between nine colors, including the gorgeous limited edition Bimini Pink and Offshore Blue (below.) Personalize with college logos or monograms.
It’s a disaster and safety risk to run out of battery life on a cell phone, so keep college students covered with this small, light, high-speed phone charger by Anker.
23. Monogrammed Robe
This super soft and warm robe is a gift your teen and friends will use every day on trips to and from the communal bathroom in the dorm. Available in four colors, add a monogram or name and choose from many pretty yarn colors to make this a very thoughtful gift.
24. Folding Chair
There are never enough places to sit in a dorm room, and these excellent folding chairs with college logos are the ultimate guest chair. Also, your college student can take it outside if they want to find somewhere to study or hang out outside.
College kids will be so glad they packed along with an umbrella the first morning they have to walk to class in a downpour. They can all use a Travel Umbrella that folds into a backpack. This one by Repel gets the highest ratings from the New York Times, but they also make many different umbrellas in pretty colors.
26. Thank You Cards
Our final idea is that all grads need Thank You cards to write to the many people who have helped them reach this milestone. We have used Minted for our holiday cards and personalized stationery and think their one-of-a-kind designs are gorgeous.
You will find something for your son or daughter, niece or nephew, or any family friend. FREE custom envelopes and recipient addressing.
Enjoy a 15% discount off grad cards + gifts at Minted with code CLASSOF2022 until 5/9/22.
Admiral William H. McRaven (Ret) wrote one of the most memorable college graduation speeches of all time, and this bestselling book is the written version. His words are direct and inspirational, in equal parts, making this a perfect send-off for any teen.
We are long-time fans of Smathers & Branson and have purchased many of their fantastic needlepoint gifts through the years. We think the collegiate key fobs would be a big hit with any grads you are shopping for.
Cash and gift cards:
Teens appreciate and need money, and there are many clever ways to “dress it up.”
- Fill a mason jar with dollars and add decorative touches in the colors of each college.
- If you are genuinely creative, consider making a dollar wreath like the one below.
- And if you are not particularly crafty, write a check made out for $20.22 and place it in a card or a favorite grad book.
30. Gift Cards
- College book store for books, supplies, and more
- Bed, Bath & Beyond, The Container Store, Pottery Barn Teen, Amazon, or Target for dorm shopping
- Uber for when they need to come back to the dorms late at night
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