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25 High School Graduation Gifts to Prepare Them for Life on Campus

All of the essentials that your erudite undergrad could need.

teenagers using polaroid camera
Getty Images; Courtesy

So, someone you know (or you) made it through 4 years of high school. It’s time to celebrate! We have you covered with 20 of the best high school graduation gifts that not only celebrate this huge accomplishment properly, but will also prepare them for their college years — and just regular adult life, period.

This is a huge transition time for young adults. Celebrating this momentous occasion is absolutely necessary, but doing it with an eye toward what they need and what they will use is almost as important as the celebration itself. These are adults who, just a moment ago, had everything in their life planned for them — now, they have to do it on their own. Some of these gifts reflect the sentiment of the milestone, and some of them help these new adults with a little nudge. We've chose these gifts to span a range of budgets and interests — from tech gurus, to beauty mavens, to wannabe chefs. We promise there really is something for everyone on this list.

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The Do-It-All Backpack
Fjallraven, Kanken Classic Backpack for Everyday

This is a backpack that would work if they're entering the workforce or if they're going to college. It's as good for backpacking across campus as it is going across Europe on the rail. It takes an absolute beating and looks good in the process. 

More: 100 Dorm-Life Must-Haves for Every College-Bound Student

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To Make Their Dorm the Hangout Spot
VANKYO Leisure 3 Mini Projector
VANKYO walmart.com

Freshman dorms may be too small to display a TV, but this mini projector is a great solution for streaming all of your grad's favorite shows from any open wall. It can project up to 170 inches across, and features two powerful built-in speakers for a thrilling theater-like viewing experience. 

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For Making Their Bed a Workspace
LapGear Home Office Lap Desk
LapGear amazon.com

They’ll definitely have a desk in their new dorm, but let’s be honest — the best place to do homework is in bed. This lap desk has some cushions on the bottom and holders for their phone, laptop, and wireless mouse.

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To Encourage Hydrating
Hydro Flask Wide Mouth Water Bottle
Hydro Flask amazon.com

For the adventurer, whether they're an athlete or a study-abroad candidate, a Hydro Flask is the perfect gift. This double-wall, vacuum-insulated, nontoxic, BPA-free, reusable water bottle will last them a long time. 

The bottle will keep drinks icy cold for up to 24 hours, and hot for up to 6 hours. The powder coating will give them a solid grip and zero condensation, and they come in other fun colors and sizes, too.

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The Most Coveted Gift
2020 Apple MacBook Air with Apple M1 Chip

Big occasions call for big gifts. There is no gift that is more useful or more wanted for graduation than this Macbook Air. It's lightweight and powerful, and every high school grad is clamoring to get their hands on a model with the new M1 chip for speedy processing and better overall performance. 

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To Decorate Their Dorm
LED Indoor String Lights
LIANGZAI amazon.com

These smart string lights worth with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, and they can be controlled through an app on your phone. For when your grad wants to have friends over, they can sync the lights to their favorite song for a fun (but appropriate) party.

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The On-The-Go Gift
Lululemon Easy Access Crossbody
Lululemon lululemon.com

We love the fun color of this crossbody bag. It features an adjustable strap, an interior and exterior pocket, and a water-repellent fabric that makes it useful no matter what's happening outside.

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If They're Nervous About Leaving Home
Casper Weighted Blanket
Casper casper.com

Leaving the comforts of home can be scary for anyone, especially an 18-year-old. Give them the gift of security with a weighted blanket. This pick from Casper features slim rectangular quilting that the brand says is inspired by performance outerwear, and is meant to keep the microbead filling more evenly distributed. The blanket comes in dark blue.

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The Sneaker That Has It All
Allbirds Men's Wool Runner Mizzles
Allbirds allbirds.com

Any new grad will appreciate a pair of Allbirds. This pick features the classic wool fabric, but it also has a water-repellent shield that makes them perfect for rainy weather, too. After all, eventually they're going to be trudging to class in a storm. 

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Best Personalized Grad Gift
Personalized Jewelry Box
RefinedByElegance etsy.com

A personalized jewelry box is the perfect high school graduation gift for someone who wants to keep a few things safe and secure. This pick comes in three different leather colors, and personalization options range from various colors to different fonts and styles. Inside the case, you'll find spots for earrings, rings, necklaces, bracelets, and more.

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To Commemorate Their Next Phase
Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Instant Camera
Fujifilm amazon.com

This retro-cool graduation gift will allow them to capture amazing moments and share them with friends IRL. The Instax Mini 9 Camera is tricked-out with a selfie mirror, LED-lit flash, and an automatic exposure measurement, so even nighttime shots won’t come out too dark.

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A Practical, Personalized Pick
Personalized Laundry Basket
TheBlueRaspberryShop etsy.com

A dorm essential that'll make your college-bound grad slightly more excited about having to do their own laundry, this personalized hamper makes for a practical gift. Embroidering their initials with a custom monogram will make it easy to tell their basket apart from all the others in the laundry room!

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So They'll Actually Want to Sleep
Classic Core Sheet Set
Brooklinen brooklinen.com

College dorms can often be a cold, and sort of lonely place. Make their bed their cozy refuge by getting them some genuinely wonderful sheets. (That just so happen to be super durable if they say, forget to wash them for a few weeks.) Brooklinen's core set is the perfect gift for your new grad in need of their own haven.

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For Movie Nights
Husband Pillow
Husband Pillow amazon.com

Whether their lounging in bed or on the floor for movie night, this cozy husband pillow will keep them comfortable. It supports the entire upper body and is filled with shredded memory foam that forms to your body. Plus, it comes in tons of fun colors.

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For the Grad Always Wearing Headphones
Cuyana Leather AirPods Case
Cuyana cuyana.com

You could gift a new grad any old AirPods case, but we think this pick from Cuyana is a little more luxurious. It comes in light pink and black and can be monogrammed, too, for an extra special touch. Note that it's only made for the original AirPods, not the Pro version.

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For Their Caffeine Fix
Keurig K900 K-Slim Brewer
Keurig amazon.com

Make sure they aren’t spending their entire first-semester meal plan on coffee when it couldn’t be simpler to brew in their dorm. 

This Keurig has a small footprint and won't take up too much space. Gift them a reusable coffee pod and some coffee beans for a full coffee-themed gift.

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For Tackling the Communal Bathroom
Fjällräven Toiletry Dopp Kit
FJALLRAVEN nordstrom.com

We love the sleek look of this dopp kit, making it a great graduation gift for high schoolers. It has a front zip pocket, a top zipper closure, a side handle, and our favorite part — a hidden hook on the inside to easily hang in the shower or on a towel rack.

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When They Need to Block Out Their Roommate
Soundcore by Anker Life Q30 Hybrid Active Noise Cancelling Headphones
Soundcore amazon.com

You never forget your first college roommate — especially if their musical tastes were horrendous. Allow the incoming freshman to get their studying done in peace by gifting them these top-rated noise-canceling headphones. They're comfortable enough to be worn for extended periods of time without numbing their ears.

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For Shower Podcast Listening
JBL Clip 3 Portable Bluetooth Speaker with Carabiner
JBL amazon.com

Everyone needs studying tunes! A portable Bluetooth speaker is an absolute must-have item for college students. We love this compact yet rich-sounding speaker from JBL that comes with a handy carabiner to strap securely to their bike or desk.

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A Stylish, Practical Gift
Away Bigger Carry-On
Away awaytravel.com

They've most likely been using hand-me-down luggage from a parent's old set. Use their high school graduation to get them one that's all their own. This sleek rolling suitcase from Away has a lot of interior room, while still being able to fit in the overhead bin of major airlines. It even has an ejectable phone charger. 

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To Keep Their Room Fresh
URPOWER Essential Oil Diffuser
URPOWER amazon.com

Candles are usually a no-go when it comes to on-campus living, which is why we’re recommending this gorgeous oil diffuser from URPOWER for the scent-obsessed. It’ll run for up to 6 hours and can change between seven colors of lights. Either set it on a pre-programmed cycle or just keep it going until the water runs out.

For the incoming freshman in need of some extra comfort in their new digs, we also recommend this set from Lagunamoon, so they can diffuse a blend of relaxing scents as they wind down for the night.

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For Fun Nights With Friends
What Do You Meme? Card Game
What Do You Meme? amazon.com

Who needs awkward icebreakers when you have this card game on hand? This game is comprised of two different decks: a photo deck and a caption deck. With each turn, everyone picks a caption card from their hand to match the photo card drawn by the judge. The judge determines which meme is the funniest, and the game continues rotating judges as long as everybody wants.

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The Gift to Keep Them Active
Fitbit Inspire Fitness Tracker
Fitbit amazon.com
$60.01 (14% off)

There's a lot of walking involved when it comes to life on campus. With the Fitbit Inspire, they'll be able to track their steps, distance, hourly activity, and calories burned. They’ll even be able to track their sleep and set silent alarms to buzz them awake in the morning. Plus, the battery will last them 5 days so they won't need to charge it nightly.  

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In Case They're Forgetful
Tile Mate
Tile amazon.com

Worried about sending your recent grad — who tends to lose things — off to college? Rest assured. They can track down any misplaced items with the Tile Mate, which has a ring they can attach to items like keys or wallets. You can also double-press the Tile button and find your phone, even when it’s on silent.  

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For Everything Else
Amazon eGift Card
Amazon amazon.com

If you can't make the ceremony, but you still want the grad to know how proud you are, have them treat themselves to whatever they've been dying to get from Amazon on your dime with a gift card.

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