21 Graduation Gifts to Get Them Ready for Their Next Adventure

21 Graduation Gifts to Get Them Ready for Their Next Adventure

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Everything a recent high school or college grad needs to celebrate the journey ahead.


Desiree DeNunzio is the gift guide editor for CNET’s Commerce team. When she’s not writing and editing, she’s either hiking through the redwoods or curled up with a good book and a lazy dog.

Expertise Desiree has been a writer and editor for the past two decades, covering everything from top-selling Amazon deals to apparel, pets and home goods. Credentials

  • Desiree’s previous work has appeared in various print and online publications including Search Engine Land, PCWorld, Wired magazine and PBS MediaShift.


David Carnoy Executive Editor / Reviews

Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET’s Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He’s also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Nook e-books and audiobooks.

Expertise Mobile accessories and portable audio, including headphones, earbuds and speakers Credentials

  • Maggie Award for Best Regularly Featured Web Column/Consumer

$40 at Amazon


American Soft Linen, 6-Piece Towel Set

For their new abode

It’s hard to believe it, but graduation season is already here, and that means it’s time to find just the right gift for the Class of 2023 graduate in your life. Whether they’re graduating from high school or college, graduation is a momentous occasion. So, naturally you want to recognize this major milestone with a thoughtful gift that’ll help usher them into the next phase of their life. 

A high school grad might be starting a new job soon or moving into a freshman dorm room in the fall. A college grad might be heading into the real world and getting their first apartment. Regardless of what their next phase is, we’ve rounded up a batch of graduation gift ideas most grads will appreciate. Some of these graduation gifts are practical, like a jump-starter for their car or a duffle bag for weekend visits home. Others are just for fun and will help them make the most of summer, like a lush beach towel and a trendy outdoor game. Take a look.


Uncommon Goods

If your grad will be heading out of state, give them a thoughtful reminder of home. This stylish pillow is available for all 50 states, and adds a nice decorative touch to a dorm bed or an apartment couch. Every time they see it, it’ll bring on the nostalgic memories and remind them of their hometown.



Get your grad’s summer started the right way with this Insta-worthy beach towel. This colorful towel rolls up easily into a tidy pouch, making it perfect for toting to the beach or pool. It’s soft, lightweight and surprisingly absorbent. And the best part is that it’s designed to be sand-resistant — no more tracking in a mess when your grad gets back from the beach.

Land's End duffel bag

Land’s End

They might be off on their own, but that doesn’t mean they can’t come and visit every now and then. This sturdy Land’s End duffel is the perfect size for weekend trips. It usually costs $110, but you can get it on sale now for $66. And if you want a more personalized graduation gift, you can have their initials embroidered on the front for an extra $8. 


A pair of white Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones against a blue background

David Carnoy/CNET

Battery Life Rated up to 30 hoursNoise Canceling YesMultipoint YesHeadphone Type Over-ear wireless headphonesWater-Resistant No IP rating

The Sony WH-1000X5 are arguably the best all-around noise-canceling headphones. While they list for $400, they frequently sell for less. That’s still expensive for a set of headphones, but compared with the AirPods Max at $549, this graduation gift seems like a relative bargain.

Read our Sony WH-1000XM4 review.



Whether they’re moving into a dorm or their first apartment, every new grad needs a fresh set of towels. These 100% Turkish cotton towels are fluffy, soft and super-absorbent. Choose from 16 colors, from neutral white and taupe to bold turquoise or yellow.


David Carnoy/CNET

Available in white or black for $179, the Roam is currently Sonos’ smallest and most affordable speaker, though it’s fairly expensive for a mini wireless speaker. This model, like Sonos’ earlier, but more expensive, Move portable speaker, is equipped with both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi and can tap into an existing Sonos multiroom audio system and link with other Series 2-compatible Sonos speakers. This gift idea makes for a good starter speaker for those new to the Sonos world. Read our Sonos Roam review.

Theragun Mini

David Carnoy/CNET

Here’s a grad gift that’s sure to please: a massage gun. There are many to choose from, but the Theragun Mini is nice, compact and surprisingly powerful (and pretty quiet). Available in a few color options, it retails for less than $200. 



If your new grad will be living away from home for the first time, they’ll probably find themselves navigating new territory. A personal safety alarm can help them feel more independent and better prepare them for dangerous situations. The She’s Birdie personal safety alarm is small, loud and has a flashing strobe light. It’s easy to attach to your car keys or slip into a back pocket.


Lillia & Charles

Down comforters are great but I find them to be a bit oppressive, especially in seasons that aren’t winter. A sturdy linen quilt or comforter has a lot of the weight and warmth of a down or down alternative but also breathes better as linen always does. This is a great year-round blanket round but your new grad will appreciate it even more during those warmer months. 

Lillia & Charles’ excellent quilt is made from 100% linen, machine washable and clocks in at a reasonable $187 for a queen. It can be purchased in one of four colors. 

Perfect for beginner cooks or college students, this microwavable pasta pot lets you cook up noodles within minutes — no stovetop or stirring required and no big cleanup afterward. It’s a life-saver for grads who don’t have a stove in their new dwelling.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Sizes 43-, 50-, 55-, 65-, 75-, 85-inchTV Technology LEDSmart TV Yes (Roku TV)Resolution 4KHDMI Ports 3

Roku is our favorite platform for a live TV streaming service like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video, and it’s even better baked into the TV. This TCL 4-Series can’t beat the more expensive models on image quality — its 4K resolution and HDR compatibility don’t do anything to help the picture — but it’s perfectly fine for most people, especially for the price. It comes in sizes from 43 to 75 inches; the price listed here is for 50 inches, more than enough for most grads.



Wherever your new grad is going, they might not have access to great-tasting tap water. ZeroWater is our top pick for the best water filter pitcher for making tap water taste crisp and pure. Dorm dwellers can stash it in a minifridge for a refillable supply of cool water. Not only will it save them from having to shell out for bottled water, but it’s easier on the planet too.  

DeWalt Digital Portable Power Station DXAEJ14


If your grad drives a car, the DeWalt Digital Portable Power Station is a versatile jump starter to have around. At 700 cranking amps, it’s rated among the most powerful portables on the market, and it has a built-in air compressor that you can use to pump up your tires. It’s also got two USB ports for powering up small electronics like your phone or tablet.

person in kitchen removing ingredients from sunbasket box


One harsh reality that accompanies graduation is that food doesn’t magically appear. Whether your grad has been back home enjoying meals prepared by Mom and Dad or leaning on the campus cafeteria for sustenance, one thing is clear: It’s high time they learned to cook. 

One of the easiest ways to do that is with a subscription to one of the many great meal kit services in 2023. Sunbasket is my favorite overall meal kit of the 10 or so I’ve tried, with loads of interesting recipes that aren’t terribly complicated to execute — even for a beginner. There are also some excellent budget-friendly meal kits as well as those aimed at healthy eating and even a slew of fully prepared meal delivery services for the truly kitchen-phobic.

Sunbasket allows you to send a gift in any amount for your grad to use on making healthy meal kits, instead of on a bar bill.



Not every grad wants or needs new items for their next adventure, and there’s definitely nothing wrong with that! If the grad in your life isn’t sure what they want or is hard to please, an Amazon gift card is a good way to go, and this one has a personal touch since it comes in a nifty grad cap gift box.


Sarah Tew/CNET

If your graduate doesn’t already have these, they probably want them. The ultracompact, lightweight AirPods Pro feature a noise-isolating design that fits most ears securely and delivers top-notch performance for making calls, truly perfect for high school graduation gifts or college graduation gifts. (If your grad has an Android, check out the Beats Fit Pro instead.)


Black & Decker

It can take years to acquire all of the tools needed for a household. This 60-piece kit is the perfect gift for this major milestone and will give your graduate a leg up by equipping them with everything they’ll need. You get an 8-volt drill, a hammer, a level, a tape measure and a bunch of wrenches and screwdrivers — all neatly packed into a handy carrying case, making it a perfect present for any new grad.

The Apple Watch puts a modern spin on a traditional graduation gift. This is stylish and more practical than a simple bracelet. The Apple Watch SE is a nice budget smartwatch that’s responsive and has great fitness features too. So your grad can track their health and still tackle basic social needs too.

Read our Apple Watch SE review.

Most young adults need plenty of rest. (Don’t we all?) Heavier than a regular blanket, this weighted blanket provides a calming effect that will help them get a better night’s rest. And bonus points: The fuzzy texture makes it extra-snuggly. This blanket normally retails for $50, but right now, you can get it on sale for $45 when you apply a coupon at checkout.

The Earfun Pro 3 include a wireless charging case

Screenshot by David Carnoy/CNET

If you don’t want to shell out $249 for Apple’s AirPods Pro, Earfun’s  Air Pro 3 wireless earbuds are a great value. Lightweight and comfortable to wear — these earbuds deliver strong performance for their modest price, with robust bass, good clarity and a relatively wide soundstage. They also pack in a lot of features, including a wireless charging case and “multidevice” connectivity. 

Read our Earfun Air Pro 3 review.

If you can’t afford a new TV for your grad, you can still beef up their home entertainment options. Roku’s excellent video streamers can turn any HDMI-equipped TV into a gateway to online entertainment bliss, featuring Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, YouTube, HBO Max and literally hundreds of other streaming channels. The Express 4K Plus is cheaper than the company’s Streaming Stick 4K+ and other 4K HDR streaming devices, and it’s our top pick for best streaming device overall.

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