The 17 Best College Graduation Gifts for 2018


“College is learning all the techniques and theories on how to dive. Graduation is stepping up to the edge and taking the plunge. The rest of your life is spent learning how to swim.” – 101 Secrets For Your Twenties

Can you believe it’s college graduation season again?

What are the top college graduation gifts for 2018 that can actually be a valuable resource for college graduates?

Instead of a college graduation gift that they open, faintly smile at, then “accidentally” forget in their dorm room when they move out?

As an author of three books for college graduates and as a college speaker, I love helping college graduates transition well into full-blown, successful, adulthood.

Last week, I spoke to seniors at Central Washington University and Seattle Pacific University, and I could feel the mix of excitement and angst as these college students prepare to step out into their unknown future.

As you help the college graduates in your life, what are some college graduation gift ideas that will actually help these students make this huge life transition?

If you’re looking for more bigger picture tips and strategies on helping your college graduates succeed, check out this article on the 7 Best Ways to Support Your Grown-Up Kids. 

Now, here are what I believe to be the top 17 college graduation gifts for 2018.


Photo Credit: University of Denver Flickr via Compfight cc

Top 17 college graduation gift ideas for 2018


1. A Really, Really Good Book101 Secrets For Your Twenties

I’m an author specifically focused on helping college grads and 20somethings thrive after college graduation, so of course a really good book (or five) is going to be my top college graduation gift idea!

I’ve been honored that students and parents alike are raving about my new book 101 Questions You 101-questions-You-Need-to-Ask-in-Your-Twenties---Need to Ask in Your Twenties. And that my book 101 Secrets For Your Twenties has been one of the top college graduation books on Amazon for the past five years.

I have too many other college graduation book recommendations to list here, so I’ll point you to my top 27 books for 20-somethings to give you ideas on the best books to give a college graduate.

Mint Logo2. Mint Budgeting Tool

Not the sexiest of college graduation gifts. And I’m not sure the best way to gift an app, but for my money, and the college graduates, definitely getting them on board with a good budgeting tool like Mint is a must. Plus, it’s free!

satchel-bag3. Laptop Bag

The age of the stuffy briefcase is over! There’s so many different laptop, business bags out there now that will help your college grad land that dream job. This backpack/business laptop bag has good reviews on Amazon and has a good mix of professionalism meets 2018 technology. Or you could snag a good-looking canvas messenger bag like this  one.

Or this satchel bag that’s part leather, part canvas and rated 4.8 out of 5 on Amazon would be a great college graduation gift for either a male or female. Who isn’t a sucker for a good satchel!

4. 39-Piece Cooking Utensil Set cooking-utensils

If they’re a college graduate like I was then they probably won’t own any cooking utensils. Start them off with the cookings basics galore with this complete 39 piece utensil set. Ladles! Peelers! Spatulas! Oh my!

5. Landscape Kitchen Knife Setknife set

Getting 20-somethings excited about cooking is a gift that will never stop giving. So let’s stay in the cooking vein with this knife set that is pretty dang cool! Definitely not as practical as the 39 piece utensil set above, but it’s part art, part let me cook some stuff up. If I had knives this cool in the kitchen, I’d probably be cooking a lot more.

6. Pots and Pans kitchen-utensils-set

My mom gave me a pots and pans set for a college graduation gift that I’m still using! And this pots and pans set is 15 pieces, highly rated, and only $42.99 on Amazon. Holy cannoli. If your college grad makes spaghetti just one night a week instead of eating out, they will save enough money to pay for this set in a few weeks!

7. Voice Bible Translationvoice bible image

Let’s move to some food for the soul with the Voice Bible Translation. No, it’s not a Bible translation done by Adam Levine and Blake Shelton (that would be a thing to behold).

The Voice Bible translation is written more in today’s language that really makes verses come alive. A college graduate is going to need as many timeless truths as they can get. Why not give them a Bible? It’s the all-time best-selling book for a reason.

8. The Space and Grace to Help College Grads Fail Well 


One of the best gifts you can give a college graduate is your support when they go through the highs and lows of their 2os.

Remind them that in your 20s you will fail. A lot. That’s ok. Fail, but don’t call yourself a failure. This inspirational wood art pallet might be the needed reminder they need.

9. A Really, Really Good Movie Top-35-Movies-for-Twentysomethings

Watching a movie is one thing. Watching a movie that will actually teach you something or inspire you, is a whole other experience. Again, I have too many movie graduation gift recommendations so I’ll point you to the top 35 movies for 20-somethings.

10. Amazon Prime

In 2018, a college graduation gift like Amazon Prime is money well spent. They get free shipping from Amazon and access to all the Prime movies and music. That’s a lot of use from one gift.

11. Luggage Set butterfly-suitcase

In my first full-time job out of college, I was traveling a ton. Help your college graduate prepare for some days and nights on the road with a durable and fashionable luggage set. If you want to get creative, for her samsonite-luggageyou can go snow leopard luggage or butterfly print suitcases.

Or for him you can go Kenneth Cole Reverb luggage set or sleek
Samsonite hard shell

12. Amazon Kindle Unlimited or Audible Subscription

If you can’t decide what book to give your college grad, why not give them a subscription so they can access all the kindle books or audio books they want. Help your college grad stay a hungry, humble learner because the most important thing you can know when you leave college is how much you don’t.

13. Old-school College Grad Mixed Tape 

mixed tapes. I Love the 90's image

Why not? You can’t beat an old-school mixed tape. Need some song ideas to throw on there? Here’s a list of the top 14 college graduation songs over the last 40 years.

14. The EchoEcho

Want to go new-school? Try the Echo. What exactly does the Echo do? Well, what does it not do? Control your music, lights, alarms, and even read those Audible books.

15. New Macbook Pro macbook-pro

Want to completely win college graduation? Want to put all the other college graduation gifts to shame? Want to instantly become the favorite aunt, uncle, or parent — forever? Go big time with the new Macbook Pro. I live on my Macbook Pro and have loved the update to the newest version. Nowadays work can be done everywhere. Give your college graduate a leg up with one of the best work tools of the 21st century.

16. Helping Your Grad Ask the Right Questions

I’m becoming more and more convinced that success in your 20s is not about having the answers, but about asking the right questions.

Help the 20-something in your life navigate the big life questions that happen on the other side of college graduation. Need some help on what to ask? Check out the top 11 questions every 20-something needs to ask or 9 questions every 20-something needs to ask about their career.

17. Sharing Your Story – Struggles and Failures Included

Think back to your story. To the fears, anxieties, excitements, and questions you had in your 20s. Be willing to share your story with your college grad. But not just the successful parts.

We don’t connect over our pretend perfection. We connect over our shared struggle.

Be willing to be vulnerable and let the 20-something in your life know that they’re not alone. That’s a gift that will never stop giving.

Your 20s are tough. They’re supposed to be. Success in your 20s is more about setting the table than enjoying the feast. Help your college grad set the table well.

Any other ideas as to what should be a best graduation gifts for 2018? I’d love to hear your ideas within the comments on this article. 

Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. So if you purchase these college graduation gifts through the links above, you’re also supporting the work here at All Groan Up. Thank you!


  1. College Direction

    You have provided a unique list of graduation gifts. I usually like to give a more personalized gift that will make a dorm room or first apartment more comfortable and home like. I have given monogrammed towels, pillows, bedding and duvets in all colors from Southern Linens. They are affordable and treasured forever.

  2. Tina Nelson

    How about the LAWSUIT! board game for the attorney wannabe, or the grad who enjoys playing board games with family and friends?


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