6 Gifts High School Graduates Will Actually Appreciate

by Laurie Ulster
Originally Published: 

Before we get into the gifts, I’m going to admit that I don’t remember getting a graduation gift, or having my friends get them, or even thinking about them. Is this a thing now? My kids aren’t old enough for this to hit yet, but all the hoopla around fifth grade graduation last year was a little crazy and FELT like a high school graduation, so I can see that by the time they do get there, we’ll be expected to throw them a grand ball.

But in a sea of over-the-top promposals and extravagant birthday parties for kids, this list of high school graduation gifts actually looks pretty reasonable, and kind of nice. There are some good ideas in here.

1. A Netflix Account

It’s not crazy expensive, not lavish or extravagant, and not even bad for the environment. Whether they’re going to college, getting a job, or taking some time off, it’s always there for them, like a warm TV hug. I love me some Netflix…and Hulu…and Amazon Prime. Really, any of those will work, but I think at this point the Netflix catalog is the standout.

2. A Large Bowl of Candy

Why not? We spend years trying to curb the candy habit, but it’s time to accept that we can’t control these things anymore, and haven’t been able to for quite some time. If your kid is going to college, they’ll make a lot of friends if they come armed with M&Ms.

3. Electric Kettle / Coffee Maker

Whether they’re heading to college or to work, caffeine is universal, and heading out the door before having any is unacceptable. Paying $2-3 a pop for it? Same. It’s another reasonable, practical, loving, adult sort of gift. But please, can I suggest you stay away from the “pod” coffee machine? In addition to being an environmental hazard, it’s really just glorified instant, to this coffee snob. Get them a coffee maker and some beans to start them off on the right coffee path, or a nice kettle for the tea lover. Classic.

(And yes, I get that they’re not going to clean out that coffee maker regularly. How about a French press? Keeps ’em classy.)

4. Public Transportation Tickets/Cards/Whatever Is Locally Appropriate

Also helpful for college OR work. And one less thing to stress about, and a reminder to them that you are 100% in favor of their independence and exploration. A gift with a message.

5. Concert Tickets in Their New City

You know, I’m not sure about this one. Maybe you’re completely in touch with your kid’s musical taste, but maybe you just think you are, so this has some risk to it. You might have last year’s favorite band in your head by accident, or have bought the tickets for a day when your kid already has plans. This feels a bit like a trying-too-hard scenario, if you ask me.

6. Small Speaker System.

Smart one! Affordable. Useful. Everyone’s carrying all their music around on a device that fits in their pocket now, so making music a group event instead of a solitary one is a great idea. I still remember arriving at my college dorm room with a 3-component stereo (plus large speakers) and multiple boxes of … I’m going to say it … you can’t stop me….RECORDS! Records and tapes. And now even CDs are outdated. No matter what your device is, one of the best ways to make your new location into a home is to start playing music in it.

Confession: I want this too. I graduated from high school! I know it was a while ago, but I already pointed out that I didn’t get a present, and this would be a nice one.

And now that I think about it, my whole high school graduation experience was pretty atypical. I waited until my final year of high school to let my inner rebel come out, and I went from being an A student to … not an A student. They had a teachers’ meeting at the end of the year and had to vote me a pass. If it helps, I graduated from college with honors. Can I have my speakers now?

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