Welcome to Adulthood: College Graduation Gift Ideas for the Class of 2021
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Believe it or not, another batch of college graduates are making their way into the real world! It’s an exciting and nerve-wracking time for college graduates everywhere, as they wrap up their university careers while simultaneously mentally preparing to enter the adulting world. So, as they dress up in their gowns and caps, you can make this transition to adulthood a little easier with a cool (but useful) graduation gift.
For inspiration, browse our college grad gift guide to celebrate the exciting transition of the young adults in your life. Our thoughtfully crafted selection offers a diverse range of gift recommendations that varies in functionality and pricing, which means there’s something for everyone. Plus, we sprinkled great deals and savings throughout!
College Grad Gifts Under $50
Price: $22.78 at Walmart
A no-fuss coffee maker is the ultimate utilitarian gift for someone with little time and space. A college graduate just starting out their new job wouldn’t want to (or shouldn’t) spend money on a cup of Starbucks coffee every morning. Enter this single-serve machine with an easy-to-clean permanent filter (yay for the environment!) to use with ground coffee or soft pods and a 16-ounce travel mug. It’s not fancy, though, so don’t expect multiple functions and brew options. But, it does have an auto-off function and it’ll fit in even the most compact kitchens!
Price: $14.88 at Walmart
The jury is still out on the health benefits of aromatherapy, but it’s an effective way to manage stress and promote relaxation when used safely. In the daily hustle of life, self-care may take a backseat, so this plugable diffuser may help set the tone and mood for more of it. The water capacity of this diffuser is 100 milliliters and it also works as a small humidifier. Plus, it has mood lighting! The diffuser lasts up to six hours and automatically shuts off when water level is low. Note that essential oils by GuruNanda are sold separately.
Price: $29.99 $25.49 at Kirkland’s
Instead of a bouquet of flowers that will eventually die, you can brighten up their home or work space with a live plant. For beginners, it’s best to get a plant that’s hard to kill and requires minimum care. A recent college grad might not have the time to consistently water and prune high-maintenance plants, so we’re suggesting this live snake zeylancia that needs very little water and thrives in low light. The leaves are deep green and the pot is made of plastic with a copper finish — a striking fixture in any room.
Price: $13.95 at Walmart
Books are thoughtful no matter the occasion; you just need to find the right one! Thankfully for someone who’s just stepping into the workforce, you have stacks of books to find for your college grad. Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, Michelle Obama’s Becoming, and Tara Westover’s Educated rank high on our list. If the purpose of this gift is to equip them with tools to do well at work, then Ask A Manager is a great place to start.
Alison Green is the columnist of a popular work advice blog, Ask A Manager. In this book, Green guides professionals on how to have difficult conversations at work, how to deal with a manager who micromanages, how to work with a colleague who dumps all their work on you, and what to do after you get drunk at an office party. This book is especially great for those who are just entering the workforce. Write a personal note in one of the blank pages and make the book something they’ll always keep on their bookshelf for years to come.
College Grad Gifts Under $100
Price: $119.99 $99.99 at Best Buy
One of the things your college grad will appreciate (and inevitably miss) is the value of a home-cooked meal. After all, there are only so many days they can have fast food or takeout! Currently sold at Best Buy for a discounted price, this electric pressure cooker can be an introduction to cooking. It has 13 different cooking functions, and it can slow cook, pressure cook, saute, steam, and even make yogurt! Meal preps can be done easily with this pressure cooker, which takes up a little space on the counter and washes easily. If your college grad is completely new to the idea of cooking, then this guide by NYT Cooking on how to use an Instant Pot will provide inspiration and step-by-step guidance.
Price: $71.49 at Office Depot
Beautiful planners and journals are scattered all over the internet, but we’ve picked this discbound notebook from Office Depot for two reasons: it charges the phone (wireless and with a USB cable) and lets you add or remove pages! It’s also refillable, has a business card holder, and comes with 60 sheets. Note that this is not for vegans because the cover is leather.
Price: $59.99 at Best Buy
Amazon Echo Dot is more than a speaker; it’s a smart accessory that can assist with daily tasks, adjust temperature, turn on/off lights, and keep you company. The 4th generation model is a nice spherical shape that displays the time and even lets you snooze off alarms by tapping on its head, making it a useful bedside accessory for a college grad.
Price: $134.99 $79.99 at Belk
With increasing skyrocketed popularity, this Nutribullet model has over 8,000 reviews on Belk! The Nutribullet Pro is simple to use, easy to clean, and perfect for single serves. It’s definitely worth gifting if on-the-go breakfasts of quick smoothies with fruits, veggies, and nuts are your college grad’s staple.
This Nutribullet is a nine-piece set which includes a power base, colossal cup, tall cup, handled ring, lip ring, flip-top ring, extractor blade, instruction guide, and a recipe book.
College Grad Gifts Under $200
Price: $480 $191.99 at Macy’s
A quality suitcase can last a long time, and this Samsonite is no exception! It comes with a 10-year warranty, so you know it’s built to last. The spinner is easy to maneuver with its four wheels and has a combination lock. Reviewers mentioned that it’s lightweight and comes in bright colors. This suitcase is useful to a college grad who’s relocating or has to travel for work. Different sizes are available, too!
Price: $120 $72 at Macy’s
How about a cozy bathrobe that feels right out of a luxury hotel? It’s 100% cotton, unisex, and machine washable. Plus, reviewers say it’s lightweight and absorbent. For a grown-up present, your college grad can use it fresh out of the bath or lounge on the weekends. The catch: it comes in one size and might not fit everyone.
College Grad Gifts Under $300
Price: $228 at Lilly Pulitzer
It’s time for your college grad to ditch the sweatshirts and sweatpants for an outfit more suitable for adulthood. Made with eyelet fabric, this pretty white dress has a boat neckline and v-back, but it’s the tie detail at the waist that elevates the look. It’s a great summer dress, perfect for brunches and power lunches.
Price: $249.99 $224.99 at Best Buy
A big part of adulting is going to be cleaning. Make it easier (and fun) for your college grad to keep their new space clean with this iRobot vacuum that does a neat job on hard floors and carpets. It’ll reach under the furniture and navigate around the rooms thanks to its sensors. It runs up to 90 minutes on full charge and returns to the docking station once it’s done. An upgrade to this vacuum comes with Wi-Fi connectivity and scheduled cleaning through the mobile app.
If you have someone who is obsessed with cleanliness, check out our guide to the best high-tech cleaning appliances for more gift inspo.
College Grad Gifts Under $600
Price: $395 at Belk
Tumi is a trusted travel accessory brand. This backpack comes at a high price, but it’s a good look for a working professional. It’s baggy and versatile with a laptop compartment (perfect for a 16-inch Macbook), a shoe compartment, and internal and external pockets. The bottle pocket with water-resistant lining is also a nice touch. Your college grad can use it for daily commutes from work to the gym, or take it along on work trips. It’s also made of nylon, but uses leather on the top handle.
Price: $549 at Best Buy
Speaking of daily commutes, what’s a better companion than a headset that cancels out the noise of the world while you’re on the bus or train? Apple has recently added AirPods Max to its repertoire of products and, of course, it’s making waves.
Yes, it costs more than other brands but here’s why it might be worth looking at: it feels premium-made with its metal headbang and comfortable fabric ear cushioning. On-head detection is quick and you can easily switch between devices. The noise cancellation is excellent and it also lets sound in with just a tap with its Transparency mode. It comes with a case and the battery lasts for 20 hours. But most importantly, the sound quality is matchless and they’re a fantastic gift!