39 College Graduation Gift Ideas for the Class of 2020

editor@purewow.com (PureWow)

You might have a reputation among friends and family for being an excellent gift giver but coming up with college graduation gift ideas for the class of 2020 poses a unique challenge. Most colleges and universities won’t be holding a regular graduation ceremony, which means missing out on guest speakers, a happy family celebration and seeing thousands of grads in caps and gowns all over campus. So, what do you get the grad who is entering adult life at such an uncertain time? Maybe try one of these 39 presents they’re sure to appreciate, regardless of what life looks like this summer.

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1. Bose QuietComfort 35 II Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Whether she ends up using them to drown out strangers on a walk or her younger siblings battling over the remote downstairs, these headphones will definitely come in handy.

Buy it ($300)

2. Tory Burch Perry Leather Tote

A color-block backpack may have been sufficient for hopping across campus from class to class, but a sleek leather tote is much more appropriate for the working world.

Buy it ($348)

3. Tumi Devoe Meadow Backpack

Or, if they’re truly dedicated to carrying a backpack, consider gifting them a sleek leather one that will work for mid-week commuting and weekend getaways.

Buy it ($395)

4. Parachute Percale Venice Set

Good-bye, twin XL mattress! It’s time for a major bedding upgrade and this luxe cotton set is an excellent place to start.

Buy it (starting at $239)

5. Slip Silk Pillowcase

Don’t want to spring for an entirely new bed set? A dreamy silk pillowcase (that does great things for their hair and skin) will also be a cheerful treat.

Buy it ($89)

6. Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat

This popular cookbook won’t just show them the necessary steps to bake a loaf of bread, it also explains why those steps are necessary and what exactly they’re meant to do. This way they can learn to become not just a good home cook, but a smart one, too.

$21 at Amazon

7. MICHAEL Michael Kors Open Stitch Inset Dress

Maybe she’s interviewing over Zoom, maybe she’s headed to the office IRL. Either way, she can’t go wrong with a seasonless, professional-looking LBD. It will also come in handy for networking events, cocktail parties, date nights, engagement parties…basically all the adult events she has to look forward to in the next few years.

Buy it ($98; $74), sizes XXS to XL

Buy it ($110; $83), sizes 1X to 3X

8. NORDSTROM MEN'S SHOP Antico Micro Silk Tie

Odds are he owns exactly two ties: one splashed with his fraternity logo and the other featuring a naughty Christmas theme. Neither one is likely to impress a potential employer, but this classic blue-patterned one definitely stands a chance.

Buy it ($50; $20)

9. Serene House Astro Electric Aromatherapy Diffuser

The transition from leading an independent life on campus to living under mom and dad’s roof (and therefore abiding by their house rules) is not an easy one. An essential oil diffuser (that doubles as a mini humidifier and nightlight) can help make their room feel like a mini oasis, that’s still entirely their own.

Buy it ($60)

10. Global Chef's Knife

They'll have a much better chance at successfully learning how to cook for themselves if you get them started with the right tools. This includes at least one great, all-purpose chef's knife.

Buy it (starting at $84)

11. Ray-Ban Erika Classic 54mm Sunglasses

They’re going to need a grown-up looking pair to replace those neon shades they picked up for free during Spring Fling. Also, you’re required to write that these shades are “for a future so bright” in the card. Sorry, we don’t make the rules.

Buy it ($117)

12. Things They Don’t Teach You in School Game

The international economics major might know all the ins and outs of how the stock market works, but do they know why the Mona Lisa doesn’t have eyebrows? This hilarious card game is chock full of facts so random, everyone who plays is bound to learn something new.

Buy it ($20)

13. Cravings: Hungry for More by Chrissy Teigen

Cooking for yourself is way more fun if you’ve got a celeb chef in your corner. Plus, Teigen has been known to regularly comment on fan food pics, meaning they might just get a shout out from the queen of Twitter herself.

$18 at Amazon

14. Nice Picture Frames

Graduating college is no small feat. Give them a gorgeous frame to proudly decorate their first apartment with pictures from all four years.

Buy it ($63)

15. Oak & Luna Personalized Necklace

Design a piece embossed with her initials, birthday or graduation date. Or opt for a sweet message that will make her smile every time she wears it.

Buy it (starting at $95)

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16. Nixon 'Time Teller' Bracelet Watch, 37mm

It used to be that a quality watch was the go-to graduation gifts. Turns out, a gorgeous (but affordable) timepiece that goes with everything in their closet is still a wonderful thing to give and receive.

Buy it ($100)

17. Native Union Dock Marquetry Wireless Charger

A constantly dead phone battery wasn’t fun to deal with in college, but it’s a major no-no once they enter the real world and need to let their boss (or their mama) know if they’re running late.

Buy it ($120)

18. Drunk Elephant The Littles Set

Gone are the days when they can flop into bed after a party with mascara and a full smoky eye and wake up feeling good. (Honestly, they shouldn’t have been doing that anyway, but what is college for if not getting an education making mistakes?) Help a gal out with an adult skincare set that’s also super Instagrammable.

Buy it ($90)

19. Modern Picnic The Luncher

The last time they carried a lunch box it had Thomas the Tank Engine on the front. We’d say it’s time for an office-appropriate upgrade.

Buy it ($149)

20. A Clothing Rental Subscription

They’re entering into a whole new phase of life, one where the sorority semi-formal dress collection may no longer be appropriate. On the other hand, they’re unlikely to have a ton of spare cash for new suits and impressive workwear. Enter Rent the Runway. It’s eco-friendly, easy to use and gives them the tools to always look the part.

Buy it (prices vary)

21. College Town Tumbler

So they can reminisce about their old morning commute while sipping coffee on their new morning commute. There are also wine, whiskey and beer glasses, if they prefer to imbibe while being nostalgic.

Buy it ($35)

22. ClassPass Gift Card

So long, free campus gym. ClassPass gives them access to a host of different workout classes so they can decide exactly which yoga or cycling studio is right for them, before investing in a membership or class pack on their own.

Buy it

23. Lexon Miami Sunrise Alarm Clock

Waking up to start their day is much easier and also much more pleasant with this alarm clock that mimics sunrise. The light gradually intensifies to gently rouse them from sleep rather than jolting them out of REM with loud beeping.

Buy it ($80)

24. The Solo Travel Handbook by Lonely Planet

We’re willing to bet your recent grad is itching to go traveling right about now. Even if they end up going with family, friends or by themselves, this book is an excellent guide to making the most out of both the planning process and the trip itself.

$14 at Amazon

25. Ramona & Ruth Daily Overview Notepad

Whether their days ahead will consist of working in an office, bouncing between odd jobs or crafting cover letters, this handy notepad will help keep them organized and on track.

Buy it ($18)


Sure. all they know how to cook is scrambled eggs, but at least now those eggs will slide right off the pan and can be cleaned without any scrubbing. (Just be sure to warn them never to put a non-stick pan in the dishwasher!)

Buy it ($225; $130)

27. A Bouquet of Flowers

Don’t over think it. Everyone loves a gorgeous vase of blooms. They can even dry a few to hold onto for years to come.

Buy it (starting at $54)

28. Mikimoto Akoya Pearl Stud Earrings

She’ll cherish (and wear) these delicate pearls for the rest of her life and think of you each time she does.

Buy it ($300)

29. Becoming by Michelle Obama

The former first lady’s autobiography has been a source of inspiration for women from all stages of life, but for college grads specifically it can provide some much-needed guidance on how to begin their careers and start building a life they’re excited about.

$12 at Amazon

30. Audio-Technica Stereo Turntable

Give his vintage vinyl collection a modern upgrade with this impressive stereo system that sounds every bit as good as it looks.

Buy it ($100)

31. Campus Map Art

Swap their The Big Lebowski and The Who posters for something more grown-up but no less nostalgic—a minimalist map of campus in their school colors.

Buy it (starting at $49)

32. The New Wine Rules: A Genuinely Helpful Guide to Everything You Need to Know by Jon Bonne

It’s time they learn a little something more about wining and dining. You know, beyond just, “If it’s pink, I’m in.”

$14 at Amazon

33. Clare V. for Anthropologie Merci Stationery Set

Job number one after graduation: writing thank-you notes to everyone who has sent a gift. So you can expect to see one of these cute cards again in the near future. (Psst, if you’re feeling very generous you can also add a book of stamps.)

Buy it ($20)

34. Claire Desjardins Kaleidoscope Glass Candle

Calming candles can also make a small room feel homey and help them find some Zen and relaxation after a stressful day.

Buy it ($28)

35. Fossil Ingram RFID Bifold with Flip ID

Don't allow him to go off into the adult world with a wallet made of duct tape. He will thank you for that later, we're sure.

Buy it ($54)

36. Jason Markk ‘Essential’ Shoe Cleaning Kit

They don’t necessarily need a new pair of kicks, but their favorite white sneakers could use a touch-up. This easy-to-use cleaning kit is like a gift that keeps on giving.

Buy it ($25)

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37. Amazon Gift Card in a Grad Cap Box

They will most definitely use this handy gift card, whether it’s to stock up on new novels, basic home goods or some office-appropriate shoes. And that adorable gift box is just too cute to pass up.

Starting at $25 at Amazon

38. An Amazon Prime Account

Amazon does offer free Prime accounts for college students, but once that university email account closes, so too does their access to free 2-day shipping. But did you know you can have up to four email accounts on one Prime membership? They’re still totally separate accounts (so you don’t have to worry about anyone seeing what’s in your shopping cart), but you pay just $199 for all four instead of $796.

Learn more

39. Money

If there is one thing a recent college grad needs, it’s cold hard cash. To pay off student loans, to pay rent on their new apartment, to stock up on groceries and pantry basics, to pay for flights back home for the holidays. Whether it’s 20 bucks or a more generous sum, gifting them with a little nest egg to ease their way into the real world is more helpful than any inspirational poster or picture frame could ever be.

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PureWow may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was created independently from PureWow's editorial and sales departments.

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