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s spring time approaches, so does graduation season, which unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your knack for gift-giving) means giving recent grads gifts to congratulate them on their recent accomplishments.

Buying a graduation gift can be difficult--while giving money or gift cards are easy and effective, but it doesn’t always feel personalized. This is further challenged when buying a graduation gift for an adult--someone who, unlike younger grads, has evolved past their days of figuring things out and might not need a fruit ninja for their new post-college apartment. 

When buying a college graduation gift for an adult, you’ll likely be looking for something mature and practical that also shows how well you know the recipient. Whether you’re looking to go all out or to skimp down on your spending, here are some versatile gifts that will be great to give any adult who just graduated college. 

Accessories for a workplace outfit

This is an easy go-to gift for any college grad, regardless of their gender or the field they will be going into. Think earrings, ties, cufflinks, and bracelets. There’s room here to explore different styles depending on what you know about the person you’re buying for. Do they prefer big bling or do they like to keep it lowkey and casual? Do they prefer patterned ties or skinny ties? What colors look good with their skin tone? You can pick out a work outfit accessory with a lot of attention and detail, or, if you don’t know the person that well, you can buy something generic but aesthetically pleasing. Either way, they’ll be sure to love it.

These nifty graduation socks

A gray pair of socks with graduation hats and diplomas on them.
Festive graduation socks make a perfect give to give any adult who recently graduated college. Image courtesy of HOTSOX.

You can’t go wrong with socks. Ever. Everyone needs them, everyone wears them, and no one can ever have too many (except for your uncle in West Palm Beach who only wears Birkenstocks). These socks are not only practical--wearing a fun pair of socks to work can change someone’s entire outlook on the day--they can be a fun gift that highlights a recent college graduate’s big accomplishment. Made in sizes for men and women, this college graduation gift is perfect for any adult regardless of their age. 

College Town Drinkware

A pint glass with a a map of Pittsbugh on it filled with beer.
Graduating college means it’s time to celebrate with a drink, and there’s no better glass to drink out of than one that has your college map imprinted on it. Image courtesy of Well Told.

Graduating from college--especially for adults who balanced other jobs or taking care of their family while completing their degree--means that it’s finally time to sit down with a drink and relax. Drinkware is a great and versatile gift you can give to just about anyone regardless of their personality or taste. Find a fitting mug for a coffee lover, or a pint glass for a beer drinker. 

Consider getting a college grad a glass for their preferred type of drink that has a map of their college town on it. Well Told has every type of drinkware from wine glasses to mason jars, all of which can be customized to have your recent college grad’s campus map imprinted on them. For adults who went to college, got their degree, but don’t have any strong ties to the campus, the company also offers glasses with other maps--perhaps one of the city where they work or one that maps out the stars in the night sky will fit their vibe a little better. 

Briefcase

Buying a college graduate a briefcase is not only a great way to recognize their accomplishment, but also a genuine way to show your support of any adult’s future career goals, especially if they plan on entering a field requiring them to look sharp at all times. 

Prices vary significantly when buying a briefcase--a really nice leather one will likely cost a couple hundred dollars, although there are faux leather and other material options that can keep you under 100 dollars. If this idea interests you, be sure to check out Briefcase.com for a vast assortment of different styles and options. If you’re going to dish out a fair amount of money to buy someone a briefcase, you’re going to want to spend a good amount of time making sure they’ll like it--after all, you want them to show it off to all of their new work colleagues. 

Luggage

Is the recent grad in your life moving somewhere new? Will they have to travel a lot for a job? Consider buying them some luggage as a way to congratulate them on completing their degree. Luggage, depending on the style and quantity, can be fairly pricey, so it might not be for every college grad in your life. With that being said, if you’re trying to show an adult graduate how proud of them you are, it’s a thoughtful gift that you can spice up by choosing colors and styles you think they will like. 

Personalized Padfolio 

The inside of a brown padfolio filled with paper, pens and technology devices.
If you want to get a recent college grad something they can use in the office, a personalized padfolio is a great option. Image courtesy of Amazon.

Nothing says “it’s time to get down to business” more than a padfolio. While technology has become increasingly relied upon in the workplace, padfolios can be a great gift for people who will be spending a significant amount of time taking notes in meetings or who just prefer paper over other digital options. 

Buying a personalized padfolio, can make this gift extra special, but can get a little pricey if you’re buying one that is made of all leather. If you like this idea but are looking for something a little cheaper, consider checking this personalized canvas and leather portfolio sold on Etsy. 

Office plant

No one ever forgets the office they worked in for their very first job, and no one forgets the first plant they kept in that office to keep them company during that job. Whether the adult you’re buying for is stepping into the office for the first time or already has a cubicle decorated with years worth of photos, a plant will help make the space feel a little more like home. Succulents are perfect office plants, as they require very little maintenance and can easily incorporate nature vibes into any space, regardless of how corporate it feels. If you don’t think someone will want to take care of any plant, consider buying them a bouquet of flowers--something a little smaller that shows you’re thinking about them that you can pair really well with another gift. 

A (fancy) box of chocolates

An open box of chocolates decorated with blue ribbon.
Chocolates are a delicious gift that any college grad will appreciate, especially since they likely won’t get it from anyone else. to Image courtesy of Mariette Chocolates.

Very few people have an aversion to chocolate, which makes it a perfect gift to show someone that you care about them. Plus, it will give the college grad a break from other more formal and mundane gifts, like watches and paper weights. This gift also gives you some options about how much you want to spend--if you’re on a budget you can pick something up from the drug store. Or, if you’re feeling very gracious, indulge the recipient with some high end chocolates from Godiva. 

An edible arrangement

A basket of fruit sorted into an arrangement resembling a bouquet of flowers.
Even if the recipient doesn’t like fruit, they are bound to love the gorgeous way it is displayed in an Edible Arrangement fruit basket. Image courtesy of Edible.

The healthier cousin to the box of chocolates, Edible Arrangements are designed to be the perfect gift for any occasion. These colorful and elaborate fruit baskets are always exciting to look at, but even more enjoyable to eat. If you’re not sure how to congratulate an adult who graduated college, consider the types of fruits they like and pick out a basket you think they would enjoy. 

For people who like something a little sweeter than fruit, Edible Arrangements also offers chocolate-covered fruit options. This gift is also perfect for someone you want to congratulate but won’t be seeing in person, as you can order a basket online and have it shipped to their house. Even if fruit isn’t someone’s go-to snack, they’re bound to be impressed with the way it can be arranged in a basket. 

A bottle of wine

Nothing marks a celebration more than an open bottle of wine. Depending on how much of a wine connoisseur your recent grad is (and how much you know about buying wine), the appropriate bottle to buy based on taste and expectations may differ. But, if you’re going to be celebrating an adult’s recent college graduation, you definitely don’t want to walk into the event empty handed. Whether you know the grad well or not, you can’t go wrong with a bottle of wine, it’s classy and reassures the recipient that their graduation is certainly something worth celebrating.

Graduating college is a huge accomplishment that deserves recognition. Typical college graduation gifts for students in their early 20s may not appeal as much to adults college grads, but there are plenty of great options that will fit their tastes and recognize their achievement. 

Posted 
Mar 19, 2021
 in 
College
 category