Take it from a soon-to-be college graduate like myself, post-grad life can be pretty weird. I know there's a bunch of things I need to survive in a real adult world, but I can't necessarily get them all at once. What do I actually need right now? What's going to help me navigate my post-college life the most? 

Luckily, this is where wiser family and friends can step in. Cash is always great and welcome, but you might want to put a little more thought into it than that. 

Here are some gift ideas for a college graduate that might help them out while still adding a more personal touch from you. 

A more professional outfit 

Trust me, this one is probably desperately needed, especially if the graduate is about to go work in an office setting or is on the job hunt. Ask their friend or parent where they might like to shop, or reach out to them yourself if you'd like to give a gift card. It’ll be like giving cash, but with a thoughtful purpose. Or make a day of it and take them shopping yourself for an even more personal touch. 

Office supplies

Let’s not kid ourselves. Shopping for tape and scissors is super boring and no one wants to do it. Give your graduate an office survival kit of the less-than-fun items they’ll need. Throw in a cute plant or some really nice notebooks, and you’ll have a thoughtful gift basket ready to go.

Monogrammed padfolio

For a grad on the job hunt, help them make a good first impression with a monogrammed padfolio for resumes, work samples and other documents, as well as note taking. It's something they're probably not thinking about, but might give them a boost of confidence as they walk into an interview. Leatherology offers a gift set for under $200 with a leather padfolio, business card holder and pen. 

Subscription box 

The gift that keeps on giving — a subscription box. There's Ipsy or Birchbox for makeup and beauty, Barkbox for their furry friends, the very popular Dollar Shave Club, Graze for snacks, and Blue Apron or Hello Fresh for the home cook. Basically, anything they're into, there's probably a subscription box for it. They'll think of you every time it comes in the mail. 

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A good carry-on suitcase

Gone are the days of an old duffel being suitable. If your grad is one who travels a lot, a good carry-on suitcase can be a lifesaver. Away is well-known for its minimalist design, plus the carry-on option comes in two sizes and has a removable battery for on the go charging. 


For the commute if they take public transportation or for the office, a good pair of comfortable headphones is always appreciated. Sennheiser, Audio Technica and AKG make good ones at multiple price points and designs. 

French press and travel mug 

It’s likely that they’ve been drinking a lot of coffee the past four years, usually bought from a shop on or near campus. While you might not be able to replace their favorite latte, a good French press can offer a nice home brew, helping them save a few bucks to get their caffeine. Throw in a travel mug for busy mornings — Zojirushi makes my personal favorite vacuum-sealed mug. 


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