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Every spring, high school seniors all across the country enter a new phase of their lives with a firm focus on the future, whether they’re enrolling in college, joining the military or taking some time off to figure out their next move. Graduating from high school is a big milestone for many, and it’s often equally memorable for those celebrating alongside the new grad, whether you’re a parent, a close relative or a good friend.
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.
The best gifts for high school grads
Below, we highlighted a variety of gifts for high school graduates that include products we’ve previously recommended and others we think you should know about.
Tech gifts for high school graduates
The Roku Ultra is one of the best streaming devices — tech expert Whitson Gordon said it provides “all the bells and whistles” at a reasonable price point. With the Roku Ultra, you can search across all channels with your voice and subscribe to your favorite shows. Gordon also pointed out that this streaming device is compatible with HD, 4K and HDR content.
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.
Audio equipment company Bose, which makes some of our favorite over ear headphones, smart speakers and more, recently released the new SoundLink Flex Bluetooth Speaker. The speaker has an IP67 rating, which means it’s 100 percent protected against dust and can be submerged for up to half an hour in water up to about 3 feet deep. According to the brand, the speaker’s powder coat is also rust- and UV-resistant, and it uses PositionIQ technology to adjust the sound depending on how it’s situated.
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.
Experts have told us that 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, according to the brand. The bottle is set to self-clean every two hours, and the double-wall vacuum insulated bottle is designed to keep liquids cold for up to 24 hours or hot for up to 12 hours, LARQ says.
The Amazon Echo Show 15, Amazon’s latest Echo Show device, is the first model that can be mounted to the wall. According to Amazon, it has a 5-megapixel camera to use for photos and video calls, and it can support video and music streaming, photo display and more. This is a great gift for both them and you — they can use it as an entertainment hub, and you can use it to call and check in on them every once in a while.
Whether they’re traveling or studying at the library, a portable charger can come in handy. This one from Goal Zero has a 94.7Wh — or watt-hours — capacity, which is just about the highest rating you can bring on a plane. The charger has a wireless charging pad as well as two 2.4A USB ports and a 60W USB-C port.
Travel and accessory gifts for high school graduates
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, according to the brand.
This phone case from Smartish has a built-in wallet pocket that can hold up to three cards plus cash, according to the brand. Select editor Justin Krajeski uses this Smartish case and said it’s a “soft and comfortable” case that “simplifies my scurrying.” If they don’t have an iPhone 13, the case is available for other iPhone and Galaxy models.
The Vincero Chrono S Watch is crafted with Italian leather, stainless steel and a scratch-resistant band. It has a sapphire-coated crystal face and can be engraved for an additional fee.. Vincero is also certified by Climate Neutral, which certifies brands committed to reducing carbon emissions.
Allbirds makes some of our favorite eco-friendly shoes. The Tree Dasher 2 — an updated version of the popular Tree Dasher — are crafted with a eucalyptus tree-derived upper and a liner made with soft merino wool, according to the brand. Compared to the Tree Dashers, Allbirds says the Tree Dasher 2 features a more flexible and cushioned midsole and a more padded heel collar so your ankle doesn’t move while you walk or run.
Monos’ Carry-On Pro Plus is a great gift for any gift wanting to travel. This carry-on bag has a water-resistant polycarbonate hard shell and three easily accessible interior pockets that can hold things like magazines, tablets and a laptop up to 15 inches, according to the brand. For added security, the bag also has a built-in TSA-approved combination lock. Select editor Morgan Greenwald bought this carry-on for her husband who travels every week for work and he said it’s made his essentials more accessible at the airport.
A travel mug might be what they need to stay caffeinated during a long class or an even longer commute, and this stainless steel travel mug from Zojirushi is one of the best ones, according to Consumer Reports. The nonprofit 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. Mejuri — a jewelry brand that says it designs jewelry to help uplift women — makes many other giftable pieces, including Greenwald’s favorite pair of gold hoops.
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 with a magnetic snap closure. The 15-inch-wide sleeve is available in two colors — Camel and Navy — and for an additional $13, you can personalize it with the grad’s initials.
The trendy teen in your life might be eyeing a new fanny pack for summer strolls, concerts and beyond. Stoney Clover Lane’s Classic Fanny Pack can be adjusted from 20 to 38 inches in most colors and the zippered pouch is easily accessible at the top of the bag, according to the brand. The bag is available in more than a dozen colors, including Peach, Sky and Grape.
Home and kitchen gifts for high school graduates
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.
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, an 18-ounce cup and a to-go lid. By using the mobile app, you 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. This coffee maker also has a single-serve function in case they’re only brewing for one.
The Gravity Blanket — one of the best weighted blankets, according to Consumer Reports’ testing — can help them start off their next chapter with a clear head — experts previously told us that weighted blankets can reduce anxiety and relieve stress, among other things. The Gravity Blanket in particular comes in three sizes — 15, 20 and 35 pounds — and has a machine-washable, micro-plush cover.
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 snacks each month. When ordering, you can choose the classic option, the vegan option or the gluten-free option (SnackSack also offers a vegan/gluten-free combo).
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.
This smart mug can come in handy for those late nights when they’re studying for midterms and finals. The Ember heated coffee mug allows you to set the exact drinking temperature of your coffee, cocoa or latte up to 145 degrees Fahrenheit with the use of the Ember app. According to the brand, it can keep your drink warm for 1.5 hours or all day with the included charging coaster. Select writer Mili Godio received the Ember Mug as a Christmas gift and said it’s “been a blessing during cold winters working from home.”
A good cookware set is a functional gift for any high school grad moving into their own apartment for the first time. This one from Caraway comes with four cookware essentials — a 10.5-inch fry pan, a 3-quart sauce pan, a 4.5-quart saute pan and a 6.5-quart Dutch oven — that are made of non-stick ceramic with an aluminum core and are oven-safe up to 550 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the brand. The set also comes with a magnetic pan rack and a canvas lid holder, making it easier to store and organize your cookware and lids.