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Now that vaccine rollouts are well underway and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has given the go-ahead for vaccinated individuals to gather in small groups, many high school graduates are preparing to celebrate with family and friends in person. But even if you aren’t able to gather this year, you can help any high school graduate celebrate with a gift. Compact kitchen appliances can help expand their cooking knowledge and tech can help them focus in the years ahead. Other gift options include everything from accessories and bedding to streaming devices and footwear. Below, you’ll find some of the best high school graduation gifts to give this year at various price points.
Best tech graduation gifts 2021
1. Roku Ultra
The Roku Ultra is one of the best streaming devices. It includes an intuitive menu and has useful features that help you find what you’re looking for without hassle. With the Roku Ultra, you can search across all channels with your voice and subscribe to your favorite shows. This graduation gift also comes with a pair of JBL headphones.
The Belkin WeMo Mini Smart Plug, one of the best smart home devices, is a great option for any high school graduate who’s heading off to college to live on their own. It’s a helpful addition to any home or apartment — you can manage your lights and appliances with the WeMo app or your voice.
The HoMedics UV-Clean Phone Sanitizer is one of the best UV light sanitizers to shopsince it’s designed to disinfect both sides of a device in just one minute. It can fit multiple phone sizes, including the larger iPhone 8 Plus and the Google Pixel 3, but it’s compact for travel. This is a good graduation gift for any high school grad who wants to keep their phone germ-free in the dorms.
The Apple AirPods Pro are the newest version of Apple’s popular earbuds. The best earbuds for Apple users, they include active noise-cancelling capabilities, interchangeable silicone tips and an adaptive EQ that automatically tunes music to the shape of your ear. Thanks to the compact charging case, the AirPods Pro are helpful for anyone who has an active lifestyle.
Sanitizing your devices and tech with UV light can be a good way of reducing bacteria and germs on things you regularly touch. This popular water bottle from LARQ features a bottle cap that’s equipped with UV-C LED lights designed to purify up to 99.99 percent of bacteria and viruses in your water. The bottle is set to self-clean every two hours, so your grad will be able to move through the day knowing their water bottle is clean.
For grads heading into noisy college dorm rooms, a white noise machine may be a good option to block out distractions. This LectroFan White Noise Sound Machine offers ten white, pink and brown sounds, ten fan sounds and two ocean sounds — "calm" and "surf" — all of which are non-looping. “It includes a connector for headphones or a portable speaker and has an optional timer,” Amanda Stein, an editor at Tool Digest, previously told us in our guide to the best white noise machines. “Since it can be powered by AC or USB, you can also easily use it anywhere,” she added.
Amazon recently announced the second generation of its Echo Show smart displays. Both the Echo Show 8 and Echo Show 5 — which are available for preorder and ship in early June — have audio and video capabilities so you can video chat with friends and family, set alarms, play music, stream shows and more. With Alexa-compatible devices like the aforementioned Wemo Smart Plug, you can fully automate your apartment or dorm room with voice control.
Best travel and accessory graduation gifts 2021
This trendy and functional backpack from Fjallraven, crafted from water-resistant nylon, has a two-way zip-around closure and a rain flap. The bag also has a main compartment that can hold most 13-inch laptops plus handles for easy carrying.
The Nomad Goods Phone Case is the top wallet phone case in our best phone case guide due to its durability and multi-use functions. It’s made with natural, horween leather that develops a sleek sheen over time, and it includes three card slots and one cash slot to double as a wallet for those who want to save pocket space. This case is made for the iPhone 11 models, but Nomad Goods also makes one for the iPhone X, iPhone XS, iPhone 12 and more.
The Vincero Chrono S Watch is crafted with Italian leather, stainless steel and a scratch-resistant band. The sapphire-coated crystal face and sleek design make it a timeless and useful accessory for any grad. Vincero is also certified by Climate Neutral, which certifies brands committed to reducing carbon emissions.
Allbirds makes one of the most comfortable eco-friendly shoes. The Tree Dashers are crafted with a eucalyptus tree-derived upper and a liner made with soft merino wool, according to the brand. Allbirds claims that the sole is made with carbon negative green EVA, which provides a firm foundation for anyone who likes to run or walk outside.
The Samsonite Ziplite is a great gift for any grad wanting to travel — it has a scratch-resistant, lightweight design and includes two interior pockets for easy packing. A bestseller at Kohl’s, this luggage comes in Rose Gold and Lagoon.
A travel mug might be what they need to stay caffeinated during a long class or an even longer commute. This stainless steel travel mug is one of the best according to Consumer Reports, which tested 10 insulated travel mugs and gave Zojirishi’s top marks for how long it keeps liquids hot — 13.5 hours, 6 hours longer than the next best competitor. It comes in colors like Emerald and Champagne Gold.
Your high school graduate can sport this stylish pendant necklace made from 18-karat gold vermeil by itself or layered with their other favorite chains. As one of the best jewelry brands for women, Mejuri is a popular company that claims it does not mark up the product’s final cost.
A laptop is a college essential, and your favorite high school graduate can safely tuck away their current (or future) tech in this vegan leather laptop sleeve. The 15-inch-wide sleeve is available in two colors — Camel and Navy — and for an additional $12, you can personalize it with the grad’s initials.
Best home and kitchen graduation gifts 2021
16. Homesick Candles
If your grad is traveling away from their hometown after graduation, the Homesick candle can be a great memento of all the memories they’re leaving behind. The 13.75-ounce soy wax candles come in city, state, country and memory styles and the average burn time per candle is 60-80 hours, according to the brand.
Great for recent high school grads with a smaller kitchen space, the original Nutribullet comes with a 600-watt motor base, an extractor blade, a 24-ounce cup and an 18-ounce cup. By using the mobile app, they can gain access to multiple recipes for quick, on-the-go meals or snacks.
Most soon-to-be college students will appreciate a coffee maker. Jessica Easto, author of “Craft Coffee: A Manual,” previously recommended the OXO 9-cup Coffee Maker as one of the best coffee makers. She explained that the double-wall carafe keeps coffee hotter for longer and ensures that it doesn’t lose flavor on a hot plate.
The Layla weighted blanket — one of the best weighted blankets and comforters — stands out because it’s washable and works as a throw blanket. It includes glass beads that are evenly distributed throughout the blanket.
Your high school grad is going to need snacks to help them get through all-nighters. This subscription box is filled with 11 to 15 new snack brands each month. When ordering, you can choose the classic option, the vegan option or the gluten-free variety.
This SAIJI laptop tray can help the high school graduate in your life to do schoolwork or watch movies from the comfort of their room in college. It’s easily adjustable and comes with five heights and four angles so you can use it on the floor, in bed or on the couch. Additionally, it features a large tray table that can hold a laptop, mouse, tablet and more. It also includes a detachable foldable book stand and storage drawer. When you’re finished, you can fold it flat for easy storing.
22. Ember Gen 2 Mug
The Ember heated coffee mug allows you to set an exact drinking temperature of your coffee, cocoa or latte with the use of the Ember app. According to the brand, it can keep your drink warm for 1.5 hours and comes with a charging coaster. This smart mug can come in handy for those late nights when they’re studying for midterms and finals.
If your high school graduate is heading off to college in the fall, you may want to consider this personal fan for their desk to help keep them stay cool in the sweltering dorms. At 4 pounds, this compact fan is lightweight to move around and ideal for a desk. It comes equipped with a remote control and five different fan speeds. The fan oscillates and has six vertical tilt settings so you can direct the airflow in whatever direction you would like. It also has an automatic shut off that you can set for one, two or four hours to conserve energy.