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Last-minute gifts for college grads

Set your college graduate up for success with these last-minute gifts


College graduations worldwide are kicking off the start of summer, even if the weather isn’t on board just yet. After working day and night toward this accomplishment, the soon-to-be-graduate in your life deserves more than a pat on the back. 

While this moment may have been marked on the calendar for years, sometimes these events sneak up on you, leaving you scrambling to pick the perfect present. Instead of handing over an impersonal envelope, there are many thoughtful and useful last-minute gifts for college grads that will still arrive on time.

Types of college graduation gifts

  • Professional: Most college graduates are leaving their universities and stepping right into the professional workforce. To celebrate both milestones, consider a valuable gift to help them successfully make the transition. A few gift ideas include a laptop backpack to protect their equipment, a lunch box to keep them from eating out every day, a planner to organize their schedule or a coffee mug to keep them fueled.
  • Tech: In this day and age, technology is not only helpful but also necessary. Whether it’s a smartwatch or wireless earbuds, most items help you communicate, make your life simpler or help you relax. You can also take their future plans into account before deciding on the perfect tech gift.
  • Travel: If the soon-to-be-grad plans to embark on a new adventure far away, a gift that helps make traveling easier will be thoughtful and useful. For instance, a suitcase will protect their belongings, an instant camera lets them capture every memory, and a Kindle is perfect for reading on the go.
  • Housewarming: Is your college graduate moving out of the dorms and into their own apartment or house? If so, they’ll likely need a few housewarming gifts to help them get settled. Consider an espresso machine to make delicious beverages at home, a tool set to fix minor issues around the house or a sheet set for their new bed. 
  • Sentimental: If you’ve been friends forever or want the future graduate to remember you as they fly across the country, you may opt for a sentimental gift with personal ties. For example, you can create a scrapbook of your favorite memories, give them a board game you always play together or upload pictures to a digital photo frame.
  • Cash and gift cards: There’s nothing wrong with giving cash or gift cards, even if it seems impersonal. Some may even ask exclusively for money to help them get a head start on student loans or their first month’s rent.
  • Subscriptions: From wine to shaving, almost everything is available as a subscription. It’s also perfect for new grads because it’s the gift that keeps on giving. You can opt for a beauty subscription box, a food subscription box or a subscription box to spoil their furry friend.

Best last-minute gifts for college grads

Nespresso VertuoPlus Coffee and Espresso Machine

Help the soon-to-be-graduate stay fueled all day or night with this countertop-size coffee and espresso machine. From dark and intense to mild and smooth, it creates popular drinks at home, eliminating the need to spend money on overpriced beverages.

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Black and Decker Home Tool Kit

Whether the graduate needs to hang curtains at a new apartment or fix a drawer at their fixer-upper house, a tool kit will make any project effortless. This 68-piece tool kit comes with a cordless drill, hammer, adjustable wrench, three screwdrivers and more in a convenient carrying bag.

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Apple Watch Series 8

New graduates have a ton of uses for a smartwatch, including paying for items while traveling, staying connected with family if they move across the country and keeping an eye on their health. This model is designed with increased durability, making it crack-resistant, dust-resistant and swim-proof.

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Vaschy Leather Laptop Backpack

With a padded compartment and secure leather straps, this backpack will not only protect a laptop from bumps but also keep it safe while commuting to work. Plus, it comes with several pockets and compartments to fit a water bottle, phone, iPad, planner, camera and other necessities.

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Rachael Ray Cucina Nonstick Cookware Pots and Pans Set

Graduates moving to a new apartment or house will probably need help with all the essentials, including a long-lasting set of pots and pans. This 12-piece set is nonstick for effortless food release and features aluminum and hard enamel porcelain for durability.

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Samsonite Omni PC Hardside Expandable Luggage

Send the new graduate off on an adventure of a lifetime with durable, long-lasting luggage that will last as long as the memories. It’s designed with four multi-directional spinning wheels to quickly make it through an airport and a scratch-resistant micro-diamond polycarbonate texture on the exterior.

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Bentgo Classic All-In-One Stackable Lunch Box

Not only is eating out expensive, but it can also wreak havoc on your health. With this stackable lunch box, packing lunch for work has never been easier. It comes with two dishwasher-safe stackable containers, a built-in utensil set and a strap to keep food secure.

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Beats Studio Buds

Since they are designed with active noise cancellation and transparency mode, these earbuds are ideal for all situations. In addition, the battery and compact charging case offers up to 24 hours of listening time. Plus, it also comes with three ear tip sizes to fit everyone comfortably.

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Papercode Daily Planner

In addition to organizing your soon-to-be-graduates’ thoughts, days and work schedule, this motivational planner also helps to set goals and offer encouragement. The calendar is undated, so you can use it for any dates, and it comes with a set of stickers for customization.

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Worth checking out 

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Bre Richey writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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