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The 12 Best High School Graduation Gifts

Choosing a gift for a graduating senior can be daunting, but we've put together a list of perfect options.
keurig k mini coffee maker

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It’s spring, and that means high schools everywhere are launching seniors out into the world, diploma in hand, ready for the next big adventure. Well, maybe after they take a summer off to recuperate.

Millions of seniors will walk across a stage and get a diploma handed to them, and they might be the first class to do so in two years, thanks to the pandemic. These kids have been through a lot, between virtual learning and masking in class, and now they are finally able to celebrate their achievements in front of friends and family.

Just over half of them -- around 60% -- will go on to a four-year college this fall. If you have high school graduates in your life, choosing an appropriate gift for a graduating senior can be daunting, but we’ve put together a list to help them navigate a new life at university.

Best Gifts to Help Them Sleep

Adjusting to life in a busy dorm room can be tough. It’s noisy and busy, with lots of new people around. These gifts can help block out the noise and help them get good sleep, and also wake them up in time for that dreaded eight o’clock class.

JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock ($33.98, originally $39.98; amazon.com)

It doesn’t matter if they’re heavy sleepers or light sleepers, this alarm clock is perfect for everyone. The white noise settings -- seven of them -- will help grads fall asleep and block out ambient noise, especially when paired with the sunset simulation light, which triggers their natural circadian rhythms and helps them fall asleep. The seven different alarm sounds will help them wake up for their early morning classes.

Uttermara Sherpa Weighted Blanket ($64.99; amazon.com)

Weighted blankets use deep pressure stimulation to ease anxiety and relax our nervous system because they simulate the experience of being held or hugged. Since you can’t be there to hug them yourself, the gift of a weighted blanket can offer that anxiety-reducing experience to your favorite grad and help them ease into slumber.

Mavogel Cotton Sleep Eye Mask ($9.98, originally $19.99; amazon.com)

This super comfortable eye mask blocks out light, letting grads sleep undisturbed by roommates turning on lights at all hours (even if it’s noon). The nose piece is adjustable giving it a custom fit, and the cotton makes it lightweight and breathable.

Best Books for High School Graduates

Sure, they’ll have quite a few books to read for class, but these books make great reading before they get to college to help prepare them for their new lives on their own.

Laundry Love: Finding Joy in a Common Chore by Patric Richardson ($19.46; amazon.com)

OK, so we don’t expect grads to fall in love with laundry, but if anyone can get them to at least like it, it’s Patric Richardson. A laundry expert who has taught thousands of people how to separate lights and darks. Richardson can teach grads how to get out stains of all kinds, how to choose the right wash cycle, and so much more. His advice is delivered with a gentle tone and a wry sense of humor. Maybe laundry can be fun! Quarters not included.

This is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life by David Foster Wallace ($8.69; amazon.com)

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TheStreet Recommends

In 2005, reclusive writer David Foster Wallace gave the commencement address at Kenyon College. This is that speech, and Wallace’s advice on how to function as a compassionate person in today’s society resonates just as well today as it did when first delivered. Both wise and funny, grads will enjoy reading this short but powerful book.

The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into in College by Harlan Cohen ($10.19; amazon.com)

Lots of crazy things happen in dorm living, and sometimes you run into inadequately clothed people in the hall. Harlan Cohen’s book helps students navigate the brave new world of sharing space with others, making new friends, dating, studying, and so much more. Delivered with a good dose of humor, this is advice that grads might actually listen to and follow.

Best Gifts to Make Dorm Life Easier

Life in a dorm room can lack certain amenities, and the cafeterias aren’t always open 24 hours a day, so these gifts can help ease the suffering of early mornings and fuel their late night study sessions.

Keurig K-Mini Coffee Maker ($69.99, originally $79.99; amazon.com)

At less than five inches wide, this mini Keurig brews one cup at a time, delivering a delicious cup of coffee without taking up a lot of space, making it ideal for dorm rooms. The removable drip tray means they can brew coffee straight into a tall travel mug and take it on the road to class.

Ascot Electric Kettle ($65.99; amazon.com)

This super sleek electric kettle comes in eight colors to match any dorm room decor. It boils water quickly, making enough for tea or instant ramen noodles, whatever your graduate needs. The base plugs in, so the kettle itself is cordless, and the auto shut-off and boil dry protection mean it’s safer for dorm rooms.

COMFEE Retro Mini Fridge ($159; amazon.com)

It’s tiny, adorable, and perfect for storing fruits, vegetables, and drinks without taking up too much precious space. At 1.6-cubic feet, it’s small enough to keep on a counter, and has adjustable legs to increase the height. The retro look makes it look as cool as it keeps your beverages.

Best Personalized Gifts

We all know things can walk away from dorm rooms or laundry rooms. Personalized gifts can keep their belongings where they belong -- with them -- and show a little bit of extra thought went into the gift.

Mongrammed Bath & Hand Towel Set ($37.99; amazon.com)

When you share a bathroom with multiple people in a dorm, personalized towels come in handy. Some of us may still have our monogrammed towels given as a high school graduation present oh so many years ago -- that’s how great a present these are.

Personalized Embroidered Custom Laundry Bag ($21.99; amazon.com)

On the off chance they do their laundry on campus and not back home, this personalized laundry bag will keep all their belongings in one place. The 100% cotton canvas bag is sturdy enough to be lugged around campus (or in the back of the car), and large enough to hold quite a bit of laundry.

Custom Canvas Duffle Bag ($49.99; amazon.com)

Your favorite grad can throw everything they need for a weekend away in this well-made, monogrammed tote bag. It’s a quality bag with adjustable straps and padded handles for easy carrying. 

Prices are accurate and items in stock at time of publishing.