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Graduation Gift Ideas

Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,

My sister's kids are graduating - my niece from high school and my nephew from college. I asked my sister what her kids would like and she said her daughter wants a car, and her son is going on a trip to Europe, and suggested that I contribute cash towards those. I didn't want to give cash, but a gift from myself that they could use and think of me. Should I do as my sister asks and contribute cash or give them a separate gift? What gifts are good for graduates?


Grad gift dilemma

Dear Grad gift dilemma,

If you prefer to give a separate gift rather than contributing toward the car or trip, then that is fine. Gifts are a privilege to receive, not a right.

There are many graduation gift ideas depending on how much you wish to spend, whether the graduate will be living at home or on their own, or if you wish to give something practical. Cash gifts are always popular, but other graduation gift ideas are below.


1. Gift certificate to favorite store or lessons (i.e. surfing, scuba)

2. Watch or jewelry

3. Radio alarm clock

4. Fleece throw personalized

5. Digital camera

6. Fine pen

7. Leather portfolio or briefcase

8. MP3 player

9. CD player

10. Cordless phone with answering machine

11. Cell Phone

12. Microwave

13. Appliances for small apartment

14. Printer/Scanner/Copier

15. Luggage

16. Book (rare book related to special interest, inspirational book, or fun reading)

17. Framed art

18. Laptop, Netbook, Tablet PC

19. Small TV

20. Stock account

21. Gift basket filled with favorite snack foods or practical items for dorm or apartment (i.e. stationary, envelopes, stamps, electric pencil sharpener, sticky notes, stapler, band-aids, vitamins, notebooks, toothpaste, toilet paper, tissues)