35 Gifts Grads Need More Than Cash

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Happy graduate hugging his parents
Photo credit: vadimguzhva/istockphoto

Sure, you can easily hand your high school or college graduate a wad of cash and a card, but they'll probably spend it on pizza and beer. Instead, give them a gift that they'll actually use, and one that can make their lives easier. Take a look at our selection of fun, useful gifts for grads that will earn you some major cool points.

Prices and availability of items are subject to change.

Microsoft Surface Pro
Photo credit: Courtesy of bestbuy.com

Price: $700 | Buy it at Best Buy
Combing the versatility of a tablet with the functionality of laptop, the Surface Pro is an ideal laptop for school work as well as professional business. Its slim design is lightweight and easy to take on the go, plus the crystal-clear display supports touch and the Surface Pen.

Cap-Sleeve Sheath Dress
Photo credit: Courtesy of macys.com

Price: $40 | Buy it at Macy's
It's important to make a good first impression, whether interviewing for a job or attending college functions. She's sure to impress with this sleek and sophisticated black dress. Add a bright cardigan for a pop of color, or a fitted blazer for a professional look.

Schwinn Road Bike
Photo credit: Courtesy of academy.com

Price: $234 | Buy it at Target 
A quality bike for commuting to school or work is a smart gift that will get a lot of use. Although there are many options out there – mountain bikes, fixed-gear bikes, cruisers –sethis 21-speed road bike from Schwinn is an affordable, lightweight, and sturdy option. Reviewers love the automatic shifters to change gears and the effortless ride.

nespresso esenza mini black bundle
Photo credit: courtesy of Target

Price: $200 | Buy it at Target
Late nights and early mornings mean your grad will need a strong cup of coffee. Get that morning jolt with this sleek, compact espresso machine, which has a 19-bar pressure pump for that coffee-bar taste at home. The single-use Nespresso capsules are recyclable, and this bundle comes with an included milk frother, too.

Bose SoundLink AEII Headphones
Photo credit: Courtesy of walmart.com

Price: $280 | Buy them at Best Buy
Although on the pricier side, your grad will surely appreciate the investment. These are some of the most top-rated headphones out there. With a comfortable padded fit and significant noise reduction, these are perfect for cranking out papers in the library or a noisy bus ride to the office.

In Conclusion, Don't Worry About It
Photo credit: Courtesy of amazon.com

Price: $9 | Buy it on Amazon
For the Gilmore Girl-loving graduate, this inspirational book from Lauren Graham (Lorelai) is an expansion of her 2017 commencement speech. It reminds young adults to remain curious, compassionate, and to find real joy in life. The perfect pick-me-up no matter what stage of life you're in.

Men's Suit Jacket
Photo credit: Courtesy of jcpenney.com

Price: $190 | Buy it at J.C. Penney
Whether it's for job fairs or interviews, your graduate will need a sleek and stylish suit to impress those future employers. This slim-fit jacket is modern and versatile. Pair with the matching flat-front slacks for a complete look.

JanSport Backpack
Photo credit: Courtesy of jansport.com

Price: $55 | Buy it at JanSport
The name says it all, right? Every college-bound high school graduate needs a newly improved backpack, and this one has everything he or she will need: extra large capacity, water bottle pockets, laptop sleeve, fully padded back panel, ergonomic shoulder straps, and a super cool design.

Tool Kit
Photo credit: Courtesy of amazon.com

Price: $80 | Buy it on Amazon
There are plenty of kitschy tool sets out there in various shades of pink with random gizmos you'd never use. Skip the gimmicks and gift your grad a useful kit with quality tools. This Black+Decker portable option comes neatly packed in a carrying case, making it ideal for small spaces. It comes with 68 accessories, including a powerful drill, drill bits, a hammer, and more.

Bubble Umbrella
Photo credit: Courtesy of walmart.com

Price: $14 | Buy it at Walmart
The bubble umbrella is the answer to so many rainy day prayers. The unique design allows you to see clearly while you walk without having to hold your head down. It prevents windy rain from spraying into your face, and also won't flip up on itself like cheap collapsible umbrellas. It's a practical gift that will be a real lifesaver.

Diploma Frame
Photo credit: Courtesy of bedbathandbeyond.com

Price: $30 | Buy it at Bed Bath & Beyond
Every graduate deserves to put his or her hard work on display. This frame holds both a diploma and the tassel for a unique, nostalgic piece for the home.

Hello Fresh Meal Kit
Photo credit: Courtesy of hellofresh.com

Price: $9.99 per serving | Buy it on Hello fresh
Graduating from college means also graduating from instant ramen, frozen pizza, and $1 fast food menu items. Whether your graduate is new to the world of cooking, or is training to be a chef, meal delivery kits can be useful, educational, and fun. The "Classic Plan" for two people with three recipes a week comes out to about $60 with free shipping, which is more than enough for a single person.

Cotton sheets
Photo credit: Courtesy of wayfair.com

Price: $45 | Buy it on Wayfair
Chosen as one of our top best sheets, these 100 percent cotton jersey sheets are soft, cozy, and can stand up to many washes. They come in many sizes so are a great option for dorm beds too.

Luggage Set
Photo credit: Courtesy of bedbathandbeyond.com

Price: $60 | Buy it at Bed Bath & Beyond
Luggage is one of those items young adults probably don't think about purchasing. This affordable set comes with an expandable upright spinner, a carry-on, a travel tote, and a travel kit. It's the perfect way to say "Hey, come and visit more often!"

Bicycle pizza cutter
Photo credit: Courtesy of amazon.com

Price: $15 | Buy it on Amazon
Whether they're headed to college or braving the real world, grads everywhere can find solace in a nice slice of pizza. This item may seem a little gimmicky, but users say it's actually functional. Plus friends everywhere will get a good laugh.

Hydro Flask water bottle
Photo credit: Courtesy of amazon.com

Price: $45 | Buy it on Amazon
Staying hydrated is key to keeping that youthful glow of a young graduate. The Hydro Flask water bottle is a top rated choice, and perfect for all day hydration at school, home, or work.

Field Notes
Photo credit: Courtesy of amazon.com

Price: $10 | Buy it on Amazon
These made-in-America journals are great for jotting down notes, making lists, or pondering the world. Their pocket-sized shape makes them easy to carry anywhere, too.

Hanes Sweatpants
Photo credit: Courtesy of walmart.com

Price: $8 | Buy them at Walmart
There's nothing better than coming home from a long day of school or work and throwing on sweat pants. Stock up on many pairs for just $8, and pair with a comfortable fleece hoodie for the ultimate outfit of relaxation. Great for guys or girls.

Amazon Echo Dot
Photo credit: Courtesy of amazon.com

Price: $50 | Buy it on Amazon
Give your youngster the gift of hands-free convenience with the Amazon Echo Dot, which uses Alexa voice-recognition technology for a host of purposes. You can tell Alexa to play music, read the news, control connected smart-home gadgets, call a friend – even order a pizza.

Instant Pot
Photo credit: Courtesy of kohls.com

Price: $130 | Buy it at Kohl's
Cooking may not be your grad's forte, but luckily the Instant Pot is the answer to everyone's kitchen prayers. This machine is seven appliances in one – pressure cooker, rice cooker, slow cooker, steamer, sauté pan, warmer, and even a yogurt maker. It has 14 smart programs and a timer. It's just as convenient as takeout, but much healthier and cost-effective.

Fitbit Versa
Photo credit: Courtesy of walmart.com

Price: $200 | Buy it at Walmart

The 'Freshman 15' can carry over well into the years following college graduation. Keep your grad's health in check with a fitness routine they actually enjoy. The Fitbit Versa helps keep your goals with activity tracking and heart rate and sleep monitoring. It's also water resistant to 50 meters.

Knife Block Set
Photo credit: Courtesy of amazon.com

Price: $140 | Buy it on Amazon
A knife block set is a practical, long-lasting gift for anyone moving into a new place, leaving the nest, or setting up a first home.

Ninja Master Prep
Photo credit: Courtesy of amazon.com

Price: $40 | Buy it on Amazon
The Ninja Master Prep blends, chops, purées, and dices. It comes with two jars (one holding up to 48 ounces and the other up to 16 ounces), two storage lids, four- and six-blade attachments, and a power pod that fits in the palm of a hand. It's perfect for whipping up quick smoothies in the morning. 

Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse
Photo credit: Courtesy of walmart.com

Price: $80 | Buy it at Best Buy
Utilizing BlueTrack technology, this extremely slim mouse can function on any surface from wood to carpet. It has Bluetooth wireless connectivity, and a comfortable, ergonomic shape. A definite upgrade from a laptop's touchpad. 

Presto Poplite Hot Air Corn Popper
Photo credit: Courtesy of Walmart

Price: $21 | Buy it at Walmart
There's no better study snack than a big bowl of popcorn. Instead of spending money on those questionable microwave bags, pop up a batch of your own with this air popper. It's healthier, and you'll save by buying the corn kernels in bulk.

Fabric Cube
Photo credit: Courtesy of target.com

Price: $5 | Buy it at Target
Whether your grad is moving into a tiny dorm or sprucing up their apartment, storage is always much needed and appreciated. These fabric cubes are cheap and come in a variety of colors.

Rapid Beard Grooming Kit
Photo credit: Courtesy of amazon.com

Price: $30 | Buy it on Amazon
Beards are in – which means your young man is probably sporting one. And if left unkempt, he'll be looking more like a vagabond than a graduate. This luxury collection from Rapid Beard will get him excited about hygiene with the high-quality oil, conditioner, brush, and more.

Herringbone weave bathrobe
Photo credit: Courtesy of target.com

Price: $100 | Buy it at Target
When you're strapped for cash, a trip to the spa is out of the question. Give your grad the same relaxing feel with this luxurious cotton bathrobe. It's great for lounging as well as that walk back from the communal dorm showers.

Assorted stackable mugs
Photo credit: Courtesy of urbanoutfitters.com

Price: $5 | Buy them at Urban Outfitters

Dorm or apartment living is all about saving space. These stackable mugs are a bright welcome to the morning and are convenient for any living situation.

Striped Athletic Slip-On Sandals
Photo credit: Courtesy of target.com

Price: $25 | Buy them at Target
Although labeled for men, these slide sandals would work great for women too. They're perfect for slipping on to head to class, to the dorm showers, or for running errands.

Price: $7.99/month | Buy it on Netflix

If your grad is still bumming off of the family's Netflix account, it's time they get their own. A subscription for the basic plan is only $7.99 a month, but you can upgrade for just a few bucks more.

Social Sabotage Game
Photo credit: Courtesy of walmart.com

Price: $25 | Buy it at Walmart
If Cards Against Humanity has worn out its welcome with the cool crowd, give your grad the latest in adult party games. Social Sabotage challenges you to be "bold" on social media. Just be ready to see the consequences...

Leatherman Wingman Multitool
Photo credit: Courtesy of amazon.com

Price: $50 | Buy it on Amazon
A multitool is handy to have for any quick-fix situation, and it will take up next to no space in a car, purse, or drawer. This one has 14 tools, including a knife, pliers, a screwdriver, and a wire cutter.

Rachael Ray Nonstick Cookware
Photo credit: Courtesy of walmart.com

Price: $92 | Buy it from Walmart
It's probably time your graduate upgrades from that one dented pan they've been using for four years. This 15-piece, hard-enamel cookware set, which is made from aluminum and is oven-safe up to 350 degrees, comes in three colors. It's a great basic start to an adult kitchen.

Prismacolor Adult Coloring Book Kit
Photo credit: Courtesy of walmart.com

Price: $25 | Buy it at Walmart
A challenging yet therapeutic activity, adult coloring books can provide healthy stress relief after a long day. This kit comes with a set of high-quality Prismacolor pencils and many pages of intricate designs that will keep you occupied for hours. 

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