Family Life

10 Graduation Gifts That Aren’t Gift Cards

Is your mailbox filling up with announcements and invitations to graduations? This is the forgotten season of gift-giving, and for high-school seniors it can be like Christmas in May. It can also be difficult to come up with gift ideas that are practical and useful for a college kid that isn’t a gift card. (Which is not to say that gift cards aren’t awesome, and the special graduate in your life will certainly love any extra money in their lives.)

But, if you want to avoid giving a gift card, here are some ideas for what you can give a high school graduate as they move on to the next phase of their life:

  1. A stylish bag. Whether they need a bag to get books to class, a bag to throw all their make-up in for a get ready party, or a good bag to pack for a weekend home, college kids are always on the move and basically live out of luggage for four years.
  2. A year of Netflix, Hulu, or HBO. It’s not all about studying and exams, right? There can be a lot of down time in college, and a college bound kid will love having the ability to access favorite shows when they probably don’t have cable.
  3. Ink pens– the good kind. So this might seem silly, but you can go through a LOT of ink pens in a semester as a college student. You loan them out, you lose them, your professor is a talker who tests from lectures so you run out of ink before the hour is even up… And good pens can be kind of expensive! This also applies to other office supplies: printer ink, notebooks, post-it tabs for reading. A gift basket with school supplies might not seem exciting right now, but when it’s 3am and a college freshmen needs to finish an assignment, having them at the ready can be priceless.
  4. Dorm fridge with freezer. This is a bigger ticket item, but if you can do it for a graduate, it will be well loved. The bonus? If a college student has a fridge in his or her room, they also have a place to store healthy snacks like fruit and hummus that require refrigeration. I mean, a kid can survive on goldfish and ramen noodles, but having a cool place to store snacks can help a college student make a healthier choice.
  5. Noise cancelling headphones. This is a no brainier. College. Is. Loud. The dorms are loud, the sidewalks are loud, the hallways are loud, and even the libraries can be loud if someone is trying to “quietly” run a group study session.
  6. Essential oil diffuser. Yeah, so college can also be stinky. Whether it’s trying to mask the scent of reheated asian food from down the hall or just to cover up the general musky scent that comes with most dorm rooms, an essential oil diffuser is a great way to make a room smell good that doesn’t involve a flame (which aren’t allowed in dorm buildings). Don’t forget some oils to go with it! There are even mental focus and stress relief blends that would serve a college kid well.
  7. A reusable water bottle. There really is no good place to store flats of bottled water in a dorm room… Having a water bottle or reusable cup is a lifesaver for the college kid on the go. Make sure it is easy to wash because most college freshmen won’t have dishwashers.
  8. Back-up battery. A back-up battery for their cell phone, because searching for a single in the basement of a Biology building will drain a cell phone battery faster than you can say, “Please, no more powerpoint.”
  9. Cables. Extra long charging cables. Extension cords with multi-plugs. Jumper cables for their car. Having these cables can make or break a college kid’s day.
  10. And if you still think a gift card is the best option… Get them a Visa gift card. That way, they really have autonomy over where they get to spend their money and aren’t trying to figure out how to use another $25 at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.

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