10 Gift Ideas for Today’s College Graduate

It’s no secret that today’s graduates are facing a tough economy and a stiff unemployment rate. Rather than rehashing those inspiring facts with them, give them a graduation gift that will help prepare them for the world they’re about to enter.

Tablet or Smartphone

Motorola Atrix

Tablets and smartphones are among the most desired items by recent graduates. With access to thousands of apps and unending ways to find, store, and organise information, these gadgets help get the job done.

For the best all-around tablet with the greatest number of apps, add-ons, and resources, spring for the Apple iPad2. Though it may be more difficult than you’d like to get your hands on one, your grad will certainly thank you for giving them one of CNET’s Top-10 must-have gadgets.

Mobile phones have officially entered the smart technology era. Even if your grad already has a smartphone, upgrade their App World and overall experience with a newer model. Motorola Atrix from AT&T is 4G-enabled, powerful, loaded with features and well-reviewed by CNET.


Giving an eReader is a great way to share something more than a few heartfelt words with a new graduate. Whether you gift it with a few books preloaded or paired with a gift card and a list of recommended titles, eReaders offer more flexibility than the traditional book. Amazon’s latest version of the Kindle has built-in Wi-Fi with optional 3G, ensuring that your grad can access those titles anytime, anywhere. Barnes & Noble also just announced a new touch-enabled Nook, which is expected to start shipping June 10.

Digital Camera

Panasonic LX 5

Though it may not be the most obvious choice, a new digital camera is a great gift for new grads. For a basic point-and-shoot option, try a model like Canon’s PowerShot SD1300 IS. For more serious photographers still seeking a compact camera, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 offers excellent picture and video quality with full manual controls. For graduates that have outgrown their compact cameras, we recommend a dSLR like the Canon EOS Rebel T3i, which is considered to be the best digital SLR for beginners. Capturing memories of the past and collecting inspiration for the future is essential on the road to success.

iPod/iPhone Speaker Dock

Speaker docks keep grads motivated with their favourite music during the day, and help them stay on schedule with built-in alarm functions. The Sony ICFCS10iP Speaker dock is a versatile option because it allows for two different programmable times. Whether it’s weekdays or weekends, early hours or later in the morning, your grad is sure to get started on time.

Laptop Bag

Laptop bags come in a variety of sizes and styles, so be sure to find out what size your graduate’s laptop is and if they have a style preference.

One option is a detachable wheeled bag which gives the ease-of use of a roller and the convenience of a shoulder bag. Great detachable options include the McKlein Willowbrook for women or McKlein Franklin for men. For an expandable shoulder bag, the Filbert T-Pass organiser by Tumi is hard to beat, especially since it is TSA-compliant and doesn’t require that the laptop be removed for scanning at airports. If your grad is more interested in a casual messenger bag, the Timbuk2 Commute 2.0 Laptop Messenger Bag is also TSA-compliant and comes in six colours.

New Watch

Women’s watches come in a wide range of styles, but for a classic choice you can’t beat a watch with a bracelet band. The Skagen Stainless Steel Ball Bracelet watch offers simple elegance for $145, Coach delivers a modern option with the Mini Whitney Signature Etched Bracelet for $358, and Movado’s Women’s Bela 0605855 for $995 shows high-end elegance.

Men often revere their watches as a symbol of style and class. For a graduation gift, go for a classically styled watch with a leather band. Lacoste’s Men’s Chamonix Black Leather Strap watch shows sophisticated style and costs only $150. For an upgraded version with a similar style, try either ESQ by Movado’s Chronicle Black Teju Lizard Embossed Watch for $395 or Tissot’s Automatic Couturier Black Leather Strap watch for $1,495.

Classic Pen

Engraved pens are an item any new grad will take pride in using whether it’s taking notes, jotting down coffee orders or signing big deals. Consider a multi-purpose option like the 2GB Gunmental USB Pen from Things Remembered or a stylish pen like the Tiffany Executive T-clip Ballpoint Pen.

Single Cup Coffee Maker

New grads are bound to need a caffeine kick every so often, so save them time and money by giving them a single cup coffee maker. The Keurig B60 Special Edition is programmable, features a user-friendly LCD screen and brews a perfect cup of coffee or tea in less than a minute. It even pleases hot beverage connoisseurs with a wide variety of flavours from the signature K-cups.

personalised Jewelry/Cufflinks

Cuff Links

Classic accessories are a great way to give a polished finish to any look. For young women, engraved necklaces or pendants like the Monogrammed Diamond Disc by Ross-Simmons are a great choice. Pandora charm bracelets are another great option and can be paired with charms in her school’s colours or a bead with an uplifting name like Journey or Forget Me Knot.

Cufflinks are a classic men’s accessory. They come in a range of styles, so there is a set for every young man. personalised cufflinks like the Silver and Black Hand Painted Cuff Links by Brooks Brothers or engraved cuff links like the Classic Round Cuff Links from Things Remembered make an impressive gift. For less formal options, check out the quirky cufflinks offered at UncommonGoods.com.

Blu-ray Player or Gaming Console

Sony PS3

There are plenty of gifts you can give to help prepare a new grad for college or the “real world”, but there is usually one element that overlooked – entertainment. A Blu-ray player like the Panasonic DMP-BDT210, selected as one of the best Blu-ray players, is quick, easy-to-use, affordable, and delivers an outstanding Blu-ray viewing experience for a great way to unwind at the end of a long day.

Another venue to explore is video game consoles. Gaming systems have come far in recent years, and are no longer single-purpose devices that have no other use than to play video games for hours on end. All modern consoles offer internet connectivity for social networking or viewing online content. First, there is Microsoft’s Xbox 360 which can be combined with Kinect for entirely controller-free play. The Nintendo Wii is still a viable option despite the competition closing in, thanks to the smooth controls and a library of truly fun-to-play games. However, Sony’s Playstation 3 steals the show due to its 3D Blu-ray compatibility, built-in Wi-Fi, various multimedia-related abilities, and an arsenal of highly rated games backed up by the award-winning PlayStation Move suite.