16 Graduation Gifts They’ll Actually Want (and Use!)

Stuck on what to get a college grad? We have you covered.

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Multiple items representing gift ideas for grads Illustration: Consumer Reports, Getty Images

Graduation season is in full swing, and if you find yourself stuck on what to get the grad in your life, don’t fret—there’s still time to shop.

And before you spring for that limited edition copy of “Oh, the Places You’ll Go,” why not take a break from tradition? Regardless of what the alum has lined up post-school (be it a job, a break, or even more school), we have you covered with an array of gift ideas that are poised to please.

(Also see these money-smart gifts for college grads.)

Foodie Favorites

AeroGarden Harvest 360 - Countertop Garden

For the grad who’s ready to get their hands a little dirty, a countertop garden is just the gift. The circular AeroGarden Harvest 360 comes with six ports for seed pods and a starter kit for various lettuces. It’s easy to set up, use, and maintain, and has the ability to grow over 70 varieties of herbs, greens, flowers, and vegetables, like mini cherry tomatoes and peppers.

For more options: Best Countertop Indoor Gardens

The heavily hyped nonstick Always Pan is famously known for its claim that it can replace a frying pan, sauté pan, steamer, skillet, and saucepan. So when it comes to a novice cook—who has yet to amass their personal collection of pots and pans—this versatile cookware could be the ideal fit. The 10-inch pan is made of cast aluminum and comes in 10 bright colors that are perfect for personalization.

For more options: Best Nonstick Frying Pans

Huskee 6 oz. Cup

Give the java enthusiast a better vessel for their brew. According to Bernie Deitrick, a CR test engineer, compact mugs with multiple small servings (rather than one big pour) can optimize the flavor and retain the heat of coffee. These Huskee cups are up to the task—according to Yeekai Lim, founder of Cognoscenti Coffee Roasters, a chain of coffee shops in the Los Angeles area—and a set of four means there’ll be plenty of coffee to go around. 

For more options: Best Coffee Mugs for Keeping a Brew Warm

Great Jones’ cookware line puts a vibrant spin on culinary staples, turning the utilitarianism of stocking a kitchen into a (dare we say) fun experience. For the grad who has locked down their first apartment, this sheet pan is a great start—it earns a Very Good rating for cooking evenness in our tests, plus it heats up quickly and cleans up nicely. Pair it with all the necessary ingredients for chocolate chip cookies or a sheet pan dinner and you’ll be golden.

For more options: Best Sheet Pans

SodaStream Fizzi One Touch

Whether they’re trying to break their LaCroix routine or simply can’t get enough of bubbles, a soda maker is a gift that keeps on giving. The SodaStream Fizzi One Touch has three preset levels of carbonation, each with its own control button that you lightly touch to activate. It earns the highest marks in every one of our tests, including ease of use, thanks to its electric-powered One Touch functionality that doesn’t require you to hold down a button or lever.

For more options: Best Soda Makers

The Classics

Bouqs I Heart You Bouquet

Sometimes, flowers say it best—and when you can’t be there to give them out in person, ordering an arrangement from an online delivery service will certainly do. This vibrant bunch from Bouqs features a mix of daisies, roses, and mini carnations, and can be customized with a variety of vases as well as by bouquet size.

For more options: What $50 (or So) Gets You From Six Popular Flower Delivery Services

Stick With Me 6-Piece Bonbon Box

Aesthetically pleasing packaging is just one reason to love these sweet confections, which come in a book-shaped box that opens to reveal six glossy, colorful domes of chocolates. The unique flavors are a bonus—including a “wild strawberry” that’s reminiscent of strawberry shortcake ice cream bars, and a black and white bonbon, modeled after the iconic cookie that’s widely found in New York City bakeries.

For more options: The Best Boxed Chocolates

Bloomscape Heartleaf Philodendron

Consider this a two-in-one deal: a graduation gift and a housewarming present for whenever the grad decides to strike it out on their own. A great plant for beginners, the heartleaf philodendron can handle many different environmental conditions and still thrive. Plus, it’s also a low-maintenance plant (other options available at Amazon, $10 for a pair, or Walmart).

For more options: 7 Low-Maintenance Indoor Plants

Travel Staples

Away The Everywhere Bag

For the grad who has a summer chock-full of plans, a great weekender they can cart from bus to plane to car will be much appreciated. This leather bag from Away errs on the smaller side, serving more so as an overnight-style duffle or even a work-to-gym bag (points for versatility!). That said, it’s well-organized and comfortable to carry, thanks to its padded crossbody strap, says Angela Lashbrook, the CR editor who evaluated a series of popular weekenders to find the best one. The bag also comes with an interior laptop sleeve, a key leash, and a zippered pocket that’s prime for stashing a passport or tablet.

For more options: Best Weekender Bags

Jade Yoga Travel Mat

Whether it’s a session at the gym or an at-home class, a great yoga mat is essential to any routine and always appreciated. This versatile version is prime for travel and can easily be toted from work to workout. Featuring a fair amount of cushioning, this mat dries quickly and has an excellent grip on the floor. 

For more options: The Best Yoga Mats

Ello Campy Vacuum Insulated Stainless Travel Mug

Impressive performance coupled with an enamel splatterware-inspired design makes for an insulated mug that’s functional and good-looking to boot. In our labs, the Ello Campy mug kept water hot for 5 hours in a temperature-retention test, earning a Very Good rating. It also has a top that’s exceptionally easy to clean, with few crevices. The mug has two gaskets, both of which are easy to remove and replace. The spring-loaded sipping mechanism is easy to slide open with a single hand.

For more options: Best Insulated Mugs

Cool Tech

Set them up for an optimal streaming experience with the new Apple TV—it’s a much-awaited update to the older model and comes with new notable features, including a redesigned Siri remote with a clickpad rather than the love-it-or-hate-it touchpad. The device also has a new processor for improved graphics and video, including support for high-frame-rate (60 frames per second) Dolby Vision HDR (high dynamic range). 

For more options: Best 4K Streaming Media Devices

DJI OM 5 Smartphone Gimbal

For the influencer in the making or the one who has made a hobby of replicating viral TikTok moments, a smartphone gimbal is essentially a no-brainer. The handheld device is made to steady your smartphone as you shoot, ensuring velvety smooth footage, and the DJI OM 5 gimbal is at the top of our list. Compact, lightweight, and easy to use, this is an ideal choice for pros and amateur shooters alike.

For more options: Best Smartphone Gimbals

R&R Essentials

UGG Fluff Yeah Slides

It’s hard to go wrong with a pair of cozy slippers, especially one as soft as these. The Ugg Fluff Yeah Slides were a hit in our at-home evaluations of seven popular slippers. CR editors dubbed these the “indisputably coolest slippers of the bunch” noting that the real sheepskin composition made them almost comically fluffy and as if they felt “like wearing clouds on my feet.” 

For more options: We Tried Ugg Fluff Yeahs and 7 Other Popular Slippers—Here’s What We Loved (and Loathed)

Four years of sleeping on the same bedding means it’s high time for them to graduate to a more mature option. These sheets are a great place to start. They earn a Very Good rating for both fit and shrinkage, in our labs, which means though they do tend to get smaller during washes, they don’t deform all that much over time. They’re also noted as being on the softer side, based on our sensory test, and at under $200, it’s pretty hard to resist. 

For more options: 9 Products That Help Us Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Headshot of CRO shopping editor Anna Kocharian

Anna Kocharian

Based in New York City, I'm a shopping editor for Consumer Reports, writing about home, tech, and everything in between. Previously, I covered interior design and market trends as the digital editor of Domino, which shaped my multidisciplinary background in lifestyle journalism. When I'm not seeking out the everyday essentials worth investing in, you may find me perusing my favorite bookstores, cooking, or wandering around the city.