Thoughtful High School Graduation Gift Ideas for 2019

thoughtful high school graduation gift ideas

Graduating from high school is an exciting, thrilling, and daunting experience for most. Embarking on new and great adventures is part of growing up and becoming acquainted with the outside world after high school. When you have a high schooler who is graduating or a family member getting ready to move on to bigger and better things, sending them off properly with the right gift is essential. Rather than giving a traditional gift card or cash, consider thoughtful high school graduation gifts that are sure to remain as a source of comfort as your high schooler steps into the real world independently for the first time.


Useful Items for an Upcoming Graduation Trip

graduation gift ideas

If you know a high schooler who plans to travel outside of the country or explore new parts of the world after graduation, consider giving useful items that are sure to come in handy. A colorful and creative passport cover is ideal for those who enjoy traveling around the globe or high schoolers who have plans to study abroad. Give cultural books about the destinations they are most interested in visiting and sightseeing through. Provide power adapters that are useful around the world, including European countries which often require different power adapters than traditional universal adapters available in the US.

Create a backpack with all of the items your high schooler is likely to need after graduation whether they plan to backpack through Europe or explore new cities in South America. Consider the destinations they have in mind when you begin shopping for them to find items that are most likely to come in handy once they are out of the country.



thoughtful graduation gifts

Reflecting and documenting memories help provide great stories and reminders of journeys. Even if you are looking for more inexpensive graduation gifts, journals are a great gift option. Give a customized journal to the high schooler you know who enjoys writing about their experiences and keeping them stored away each year. Journals are great to reflect on the past while sharing new memories and learning experiences as high schoolers begin their journey into adulthood.


Digital Slideshow of Memories

thoughtful gifts for graduates

Sharing a digital slideshow with your high schooler is another way to provide a thoughtful and memorable gift after graduation. Create a slideshow with images, artwork, and even video media with your high schooler to show the devotion you have for your relationship. Add music and songs that remind you of the high schooler you are gifting for a special touch.


Homemade Collage or Scrapbook

gifts high school graduates will love

Scrapbooks and collages are creative gifts that last for a lifetime. Get creative when making your homemade collage or scrapbook using relevant stickers, sayings, and even inside jokes you have had with the high schooler you plan to gift. Include photos of family gatherings or silly moments to highlight different eras your high schooler has already lived through prior to graduation. Leave blank pages and space available so your high schooler has the ability to add more photos and items to the scrapbook as they venture out into the world of college and travel.


Cookbook/Personal Recipe Book

best graduation gifts

If you know a high schooler who loves to cook or has fond memories of cooking with relatives, consider creating a personal cookbook or recipe book. Include favorite recipes of your high schooler while also asking friends and family members to add their own preferred dishes and appetizers. A customized cookbook is a great way to help the high schooler in your life get off to a great start once they begin living on their own, attending college, or moving out of the house for the first time.

Consider the type of lifestyle your high schooler leads and prefers to live when developing a homemade cookbook. Offer up cheap and healthy meals that do not require an extensive amount of effort if your high schooler is often busy, working, or socializing.


Wall Art for Their New Room or Office Space

best high school graduation gifts

Once your high schooler graduates, they may have plans to move into a new apartment or they may be thinking of heading off to college. Give personalized new wall art to your high schooler to help with making their new home or dorm cozy and comfortable. Inspiration wall art with relevant and unique sayings are ideal for the high schooler who is creative and enjoys positive motivation. Consider a creative wall calendar or hanging tapestry for high schoolers who enjoy decorating their living space and for those who are keen on sticking to plans and maintaining a set routine.


Public Transportation Passes

gifts for recent graduates

If your high schooler has already solidified plans to move to another city or state, consider purchasing public transportation passes for their first year. Public transportation passes are ideal in cities such as Portland, Oregon or New York City. Once your high schooler arrives at their destination, they can quickly travel throughout the city without worrying about the cost of public transportation as they get settled into their new home—whether they're a college student or landing their first job in the big city.

Taking the time to get creative and provide a thoughtful high school graduation gift is a way to stand out while sharing positive encouragement to any high schooler in your life. Offering a thoughtful give shows that you truly care for the high schooler in your life, even if they are still growing and learning about the world around them as they go.


Consider Their Personality

best gifts for recent graduates

Your gift should be personalized to the student's personality. If you have a real music fan, you might look into getting a gift card good for 1,000 song downloads for their mp3 player, or get them credits they can use for iTunes. They'll love being able to select their own songs, and your graduation gifts will go a long way as tunes are relatively cheap-usually 99 cents each. Wrap it all up with a new iPod and you're a hero.


The Gift of Money

high school graduation gifts 2019

Another gift that is always welcome at graduation is cash, as they can use the money for any of the needs they have as they transition to their new life outside of college. You can make the gift more interesting by adding unique packaging, like making a money tree for a more special presentation.


Look to Their Future

best high school graduation gifts 2019

The way to make a graduation gift unique and special is to think about what the recipient will need as they move on to the next stage of their lives. It could be that they are backpacking through Europe before college and could use a pair of hiking boots. You could give a gift certificate that allows him or her to choose the pair they want. 

Perhaps they could use a great personalized leather bag for traveling. Make a special purchase at a great leather goods store and select something you know they can't help but fall in love with. If they're college-bound, give them dorm room decorations that are catered to their interests.


Make It Special

great gifts for graduates

Graduation gifts need not be overly expensive, but they should be very thoughtful. Include a card with a special graduation day quote in it or a photo of the student when they were younger. Any special touches you can add to make the day extra special and memorable for your graduate will be remembered.

Think of how you know the graduate and any special memories you've shared. Then build a gift around something that relates to those special moments. Your gift will be really heartfelt and received with much graciousness.


Throwing a Grad Party

great high school graduation gifts

If you're the lucky parent or guardian who is hosting the graduation party, props to you! You recognize that this is a special time in their life and it calls for a celebration!

Planning a big party like this, however, can be stressful because it's a lot of work! But as long as you are organized and prepared, the process will be an easy puzzle to complete.

Here are some helpful tips on what to keep on your planner:

  • Consider the timing of the party—should it be immediately after the graduation ceremony, in the evening, or fall on a different day?
  • Send graduation invitations at least 4-6 weeks before the party.
  • Have a plan for food, whether you are cooking or catering in.
  • Don't forget the graduation favors or even graduation cookie favors for your guests.
  • Do you have enough tables and chairs?
  • Your guests will appreciate games or activities for the kids.
  • Do you have a restroom prepared?
  • Prepare an area to celebrate the graduate. Photos, proud moments, trophies, etc.


Do you have a memorable grad gift idea that you've used for a high schooler in the past? Have favorites DIY graduation gift ideas you'd like others to know about? Share your thoughts and ideas with us below!

About Lexie Banks 13 Articles
Lexie has spend nearly a decade in retail, writing for corporate gifting companies, baby toys and kids. Gifting can be complicated, with lots of complicated details. She loves helping folks think about that certain detail that makes gifts special.


  1. My sister is graduating this year and I want to make sure that I give her something that she will cherish for years to come. Thanks for the ideas, I think I'll work on making her a scrapbook with some of our favorite memories.

  2. I know it seems far away, but the graduations of 2019 are coming up so fast and I'm going to have lots of gifts to give. I'll keep these suggestions in mind for sure! Thanks for the great article!

  3. Oooh! I'll have to find some good artwork that my 2019 grad can put up in their new dorm room. Do you have any suggestions of what kinds of artwork to get for her?

  4. GO for a gift that's super colorful. Most walls are super bland and a colorful piece will help it stand out. Stay away from movie posters! I recommend an art poster.

  5. A scrapbook is a great way to pull together fun memories for a high school graduation gift. Another idea is to laminate a picture or two that she can put on her wall (stick it)

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