20 Practical Graduation Gifts That High Schoolers Will Actually Use #IRL

Because cash may be easy, but a well-chosen gift is so much better.

It’s that time of year when thousands of young men and women around the country walk across a stage and receive their diplomas—a rite of passage that is accompanied by a mix of emotions for both students and their families. Do you remember your high school graduation? I do. At the time, I truly believed I knew everything I needed to know to be an adult. Now I’m able to understand just how clueless I was!

Chances are you know someone who will be graduating this summer—a family member, neighbor, friend. I used to only give cash as a gift to graduates. It’s the easy, DIY option. But in recent years, as I’ve reflected on my graduation and my “cluelessness,” I’ve started to put in more effort to select gifts that I know the graduate may not even realize they need—and that maybe they’ll use and appreciate for years to come. So for the Class of 2017, we’ve rounded up 20 great ideas, from the latest tech to a timeless blanket.

OontZ Angle 3 Plus

This is one of the company’s newest speakers, and it delivers more bass and has an extended battery that can play up to 30 hours on a full charge. It’s big enough to provide strong stereo sound but small enough to go in a backpack. Connect quickly via Bluetooth to smartphones and computers, or use the included cable to connect to non-Bluetooth devices. It’s also water resistant (handy for those shower singers!).

BUY FROM: Amazon, $35

Yeti Rambler 20

Keep beverages ice cold or piping hot all day with Yeti’s newest stainless-steel, double-wall insulated tumblers. The “No Sweat” design means fingers stay dry, and the new DuraCoat exterior provides additional grip and comes in four beautiful colors. The tumblers come with a shatter-resistant, non-closeable lid, or add the new Magslider Lid that uses magnets for smooth opening and closing. In addition to the 20-ounce size, the Ramblers are available in Colster (a can holster), Lowball (10-ounce), and 30-ounce.

BUY FROM: Amazon, $29

Rowenta X-Cel Steamer

Wrinkles be gone with this powerful handheld steamer. In less than a minute, the indicator light will tell you it’s ready to use and then it provides 10 minutes of steaming, plenty to freshen up a full outfit. Comes with a fabric brush and lint pad too—ensuring our just-rolled-out-of-bed grads look spiffy on that interview or meeting with professor.

BUY FROM: Bed, Bath & Beyond, $69.99

Anker PowerCore 20100

A portable battery pack can be a lifesaver and this packs a ton of power into a compact, pocket-sized device. The PowerIQ system identifies connected devices so they can be charged at the highest speed possible, and can simultaneously charge two devices. The battery fully recharges in 10 hours.

BUY FROM: Amazon, $33.99+

One Line a Day: A Five-Year Memory Book

Especially at a time of transition such as graduation, many people have intentions to keep a journal or diary, but few do because it can feel like a daunting task. This book makes it so easy—just write one line day. Each of the 365-pages has one date and five lines, so you get to see what you were doing in previous years on that exact date as you write the current entry.

BUY FROM: Amazon, $13.65

Westinghouse Smoothie Blender and Travel Cup

Help them stay healthy with this compact smoothie makers. Two speeds optional pulse action make it easy to whip up smoothies, shakes, and more. Comes with two 25.4-ounce blending cups and travel lids for consumption on-the-go!

BUY FROM: Amazon, $27.07

AKG N60 Noise Canceling Headphones

Shut out distractions from roommates (and that beer pong party next door) with these noise canceling headphones. They can be used for up to 30 hours on one charge and fold for storage in the included pouch.

BUY FROM: Newegg, $249.95

Procter Silex 32-Ounce Hot Pot

Hot pots have stood the test of time as a simple, but very useful appliance for dorm dwellers. This one boils water faster than a microwave. Use it to make soup, noodles, instant oatmeal, and more. The nonstick interior makes it a cinch to clean.

BUY FROM: Bed, Bath & Beyond, $14.99

Bedside Essentials Pocket

An ingenious item to keep essentials like a phone or eyeglasses within arm’s reach—even when your bed may be a bunk that’s eight-feet up in the air! Just slide the flap underneath a mattress and the gray felt pocket is open and ready for storage. Comes in two sizes, standard and large, and the large has additional pockets inside.

BUY FROM: Uncommon Goods, $20+

How To Cook Everything The Basics

Here are the answers to all of the most fundamental cooking questions! The book includes 185 recipes for burgers, pasta, soup, salads, desserts, and more. Clear illustrations and photos accompany every technique and recipe, including instruction on “Cracking an Egg,” “Using Pasta Water,” and “Recognizing Doneness,” and “5 Rules for Buying and Storing Seafood.”

BUY FROM: Amazon, $20.70

Seagate Expansion 1TB Portable External Hard Drive

This is one of those gifts that may not be fully appreciated until the (unfortunate) moment that it’s needed. Compact and portable, this backup drive offers enough storage for 1,000 hours of digital video, 250 two-hour DVD films, 320,000 photos and 16,660 hours of music. Just plug it in and forget about it (we hope!).

BUY FROM: Amazon, $54.99

Hamilton Beach Breakfast Sandwich Maker

Mornings can be a hectic time for a college student, so help them get out the door with a nutritious breakfast with this super handy sandwich maker. Just put bread, such as English muffins or bagels, into the top and bottom compartments, then put the inside ingredients in between—eggs, cheese, ham, and more. In a matter of minutes, they’ll have a hot breakfast sandwich ready to eat! And for ideas there are easy recipes included!

Quick and easy recipes included

BUY FROM: Amazon, $20.29

Westinghouse Microwave

Popcorn, frozen dinners, leftovers—these staples of a dorm diet require a reliable microwave. This Westinghouse version has all the features they’ll need—including six “quick cook” settings”—in an easy-to-use, compact design.

BUY FROM: Home Depot, $60.10

North Face Borealis Backpack

This backpack has been a best-seller for years, and it’s easy to see why. A padded compartment protects your laptop, two mesh pockets hold water bottles, the bungee on the front is great for stashing a jacket, and an external fleece-lined pocket is perfect for holding a phone or sunglasses. Add to that a padded back panel, molded shoulder straps, and a sternum strap so it’s not just comfortable to carry—it can improve posture too!

BUY FROM: Amazon, $58.09+

HDX Homeowners Tool Kit

Even for those who don’t yet own a home, this kit will be very useful! It has all the basic tools like pliers, screwdrivers, and a hammer plus some great add-ons like a bubble level, box cutter, and 22 hex keys. And it all stores neatly in a hard case.

BUY FROM: Home Depot, $19.97

Portable Table Tennis Set

When they need a study break, this portable ping pong set provides the perfect outlet. And when the game is finished, the retractable net, paddles, and two balls store in the included drawstring pouch.

BUY FROM: Uncommon Goods, $39.95

Kindle Paperwhite

An e-reader is a great gift for students since assigned reading is often available in a digital version. And of course they can also use it for leisurely reading of books, magazines, newspapers and more. The Paperwhite provides super crisp text and adjustable brightness so it’s easy to read in any light.

BUY FROM: Amazon, $99.99

Time Management Magic

Even the smartest grads may help with time management. During his time at Walt Disney World Resort, Lee Cockerell led a team of 40,000 people and operated 20 hotels, four theme parks, two water parks, and the ESPN Sports Complex. In this quick read, he shares clear, clear, easy-to-implement tips to make the most of every hour.

BUY FROM: Amazon, $15.97+

Verilux Tazza Natural Spectrum Desk Lamp

This lamp does double-duty offering: the flexible goose neck provides clear light wherever you need it and the on-base USB port and electric outlet keep devices charged.

BUY FROM: Amazon, $33.95

Berkshire Blanket Serasoft Supreme Throw

This cozy, oversized blanket comes in eight great colors, from neutral browns and grey to deep red and purple. And it’s machine washable!

BUY FROM: Bed, Bath & Beyond, $29.00

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