I’m a shopping writer and recent grad and these are the best college graduation gifts - ever

After browsing thousands of college graduate gift ideas, I can confirm these 16 ideas are the best of the best

Three of the best college graduation gifts on a collage background.
(Image credit: Future)

The best college graduation gifts are things your graduate will love using as they embark on this new chapter of life called adulthood.

If your college days are far behind you, you might be struggling to come up with creative and thoughtful ideas to celebrate your college graduate. Luckily, as a shopping writer and a recent college graduate, I've not only spent hours browsing through the best gifts you can surprise your loved one with on their special day, but I've also received some of the best college graduation gifts myself. So when I say these gift ideas are the best of the best, I mean it.

Whether you want to surprise them with a paid-for trip to one of the best places to travel in 2023 or useful gifts that'll come in handy months and years after their ceremony, these are the best college graduation gifts to give to the class of 2023.

Where to find the best college graduation gifts

Our pick of the best graduation gifts for 2023

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1. Pandora Blue 2023 Graduation Heart & Bag Charm Holder Set

No giftee will turn away jewelry, especially when it's a Pandora charm. This beautiful 2023 heart-shaped charm symbolizes their perseverance and the constant dedication it took to become a 2023 graduate. It's a sweet gift they can add to their charm bracelet or dainty necklace.


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2. Amazon gift card

Gift cards might not be the most unique, but it's a useful and considerate present every recent grad will thank you for.  Whether their transitioning into grad school and need supplies or moving into their first apartment and could use a coffee machine, they'll be able to buy whatever their heart desires on your dime. Plus, with Amazon's e-gift card, you'll be able to text them their gift on the way to their graduation.


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3. Airbnb Gift Card

A paid-for graduation trip to my favorite city was by far the best college graduation gift I received. It's something your giftee won't see coming, and it shows how much you listen and pay attention to the things they like and want to experience. You can load the Airbnb gift card with funds and allow them to pick their favorite house or apartment.


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4. Custom College Hoodie

College memorabilia was a specific graduation gift I asked my parents for and it's something I'll hold on to forever as a keepsake. Your recent grad will be proud and excited to wear their school as an alumni. And they'll love receiving a  cute new custom hoodie they can throw on and lounge around the house in. 


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5. "Sip Sip Hooray" Wine Gift Box

Graduation gift boxes are great because they bundle together a range of treats inside a gorgeous box, so there are no wrapping or piecing gifts together on your end. This Harry & David celebratory box features delicious treats they can snack on on graduation night and days after, such as a bottle of wine to celebrate, brownie bites, raspberry galettes, and a dried fruit mix. 


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6. Estelle Colored Glass Stemmed Wine Glasses

It's not every day you receive a fancy set of colored wine glasses handblown in Poland. These impressive and super cute stemmed wine glasses are a personal favorite mainly for their gorgeous pink jewel color and quality. I got these glasses after college and was so excited to add them to my kitchenware, so I'm confident you're giftee will be too.


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7. Marc Jacobs The Leather Medium Tote

If they already have a job lined up post-graduation or need a new handbag, consider surprising them with one of the best tote bags. This Marc Jacobs leather tote can be their first "adult" purse. They can use it as a work bag, purse, or carry-on bag for their graduation trip. Plus, they'll love receiving such a trendy tote.


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8. Brooklinen Classic Core Sheet Set

They can't bring their dorm sheets to their new place, so gifting them a luxurious sheet set will be a great college graduation gift (and one of the best housewarming gifts). They'll be excited to snuggle under these breathable, soft cotton sheets the first night in their new place. 


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9. Bartesian Duet Cocktail Machine

It wasn't until after college that I started to enjoy making delicious at-home cocktails, especially after a long day at work. The Bartesian Duet Cocktail Machine is the Keurig for cocktails. They'll be able to fill the two bottles with their spirit of choice and insert a cocktail capsule, and within minutes have a tasty alcoholic beverage. The machine doesn't come with capsules, but there are many options you can surprise them with, such as tequila sunrise, margarita flavors, long island iced tea, and more.

It's a fun, unique gift they'll love using, especially when hosting.


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10. We Take The Cake Fresh Strawberry 4-Layer Cake

What better way to surprise a recent grad than with a graduation gift they can indulge in with family and friends? 

Goldbelly is an online marketplace allowing customers to order food from restaurants and bakeries nationwide and have it delivered to their front door. We Take The Cake makes delicious cakes from scratch right in Florida. This four-layer, cream cheese strawberry cake comes delivered frozen in a gorgeous gift box.


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11. The Defining Decade by Meg Jay

Help your recent graduate navigate their 20s with this book filled with stories from 20-something year old students and clients of author Meg Jay. They'll get insight into finding jobs, encountering love, friendships, and how to make the most out of their twenties. It's a cheap yet useful gift every grad in their 20s will appreciate, especially if they're a bookworm.


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12. 1-800 Flowers Congratulations Assorted Roses

I received so many beautiful bouquets after my graduation ceremony. They made me not only feel special and loved but I could take them home and enjoy them for weeks to come. 1-800 Flowers is one of the best flower delivery services for its wide variety of bouquets. This assortment features 12 to 24 fresh rose stems and a small congratulations balloon. At an extra cost, you can also have them delivered in a clear glass vase.


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13. Papier Undated Daily Planner

From juggling work assignments, keeping track of dates with friends, scheduling appointments, and making time for yourself, tackling adulthood isn't easy. So, to help them make a smooth transition into this new chapter of life, snag one of the best productivity planners

This Papier daily planner gives you the space to jot down your to-do list, tasks, goals, and habits on undated pages. So even if they start using it three months from now, no pages will be wasted or unmarked.


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14. Kendra Scott Elisa Gold Pendant Necklace

Spoil your giftee with a lovely Kendra Scott pendant necklace that'll quickly become her favorite accessory. Attached to the 14k yellow gold metallic chain is a gorgeous stone that comes in many colors, but if you still can't find one in your grad's favorite color or one that best suits them, you can turn this into the best personalized jewelry gift and customize the metal and stone color.


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15. The Sill Parlor Palm Plant

If plants are more their thing than flowers, they'll be super ecstatic to receive a new plant they can take home and nurture for months, or if they're a plant mom like me, they'll have this parlor palm for years to come. It's a gift that keeps on giving. I loved the extra greenery this added to my post-college room. 


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16. Apple MacBook Pro 13.3 Laptop

As a recent graduate myself, I can personally tell you receiving a new MacBook will bring tears to their eyes. I truly can't think of a more generous and useful gift. After years of studying, their existing machine will have been put through the wringer, what with all the downloaded documents, missed software updates, dwindling storage, and maybe a few coffee spills. I can assure you they're in need of a new laptop and this one is the best of the best. The MacBook Pro is sleek, portable, fast-working, and has many cool features. 

Kenedee Fowler
Shopping Writer

Kenedee Fowler is a shopping writer based in the United States. She joined woman&home in September 2022, and ever since has been sharing her expertise with the brand to help readers source gifts for any occasion and on any budget, reviews products so you don’t have to, and scout out the best deals and products to give you the best value for your money. Before joining woman&home, Kenedee was a home editorial fellow for Insider Reviews, where she wrote in-depth reviews and articles across the home vertical. Kenedee is a recent graduate from the number one journalism school in the US, the University of Missouri - Columbia, where she gained hands-on experience as a multimedia journalist at mid-Missouri’s local news station.