Congrats are in order: that special teen in your life has finally graduated from high school. Getting through all four years of high school is cause for celebration, and there's no better way to show you care than with a gift that's fun and clever, and can prepare them for whatever life throws their way next.
Whether they're off to college in the fall or headed straight into the workforce, recent high school grads are in for some big changes. The right gifts can help them succeed no matter what's in store, from job interviews to traveling abroad and everything in between.
Unsure what to buy and don't just want to hand over a card filled with cash? Here are the best high school graduation gifts of 2019 that teens will actually love, according to Reviewed.
1. For the grad who needs a new laptop: Our favorite option for students
If you’re shopping for a recent grad who needs a new laptop, the Asus Chromebook Flip C302CA is under $500 and is the best laptop for students. Powerful yet slim and built with a convertible hinge design so it can be used like a tablet, this laptop is a great selection for grads, especially those going back to school in the fall.
2. For the grad who’s traveling abroad: The best hard-sided suitcase
Are they planning a summer in Europe or a trip to an exotic tropical locale to celebrate the end of high school? No matter where the recent grad you love is headed, they’re going to need some luggage. The Large Away Suitcase is huge on Instagram and it’s the best hard-sided suitcase we’ve ever tested. It comes with enough room to pack two weeks’ worth of clothes, plus a hidden laundry bag, which helps make traveling a breeze.
3. For the grad who’s all about beauty: A monthly subscription box packed with goodies
For a hand-picked collection of the most popular beauty and grooming products made today, subscription boxes like Birchbox are where it’s at. Each curated box comes with five sample-sized products monthly, and you can shop for men or women. It’s definitely one of the best beauty subscription boxes we’ve ever used, and it’s also easy to gift a membership (or cancel after), which makes it especially awesome if you’ve been stumped on what to get that recent grad.
4. For the grad headed to college: A backpack that’ll really hold up
That old backpack that got your grad through high school isn’t going to cut it anymore. For an everyday option that’s durable, comfortable to wear, and big enough to store everything so they won’t have to keep running back to the dorms between classes, the L.L.Bean Quad Pack is a must-have. We named it the best school backpack, since it comes with tons of pockets and pouches, adjustable straps, and has a sporty look that hearkens back to L.L.Bean's rugged, outdoor legacy.
5. For the grad who loves staying active: Our favorite fitness tracker
Summer is the perfect time to make all those fitness goals a reality, and that’s especially true for recent grads who suddenly have a lot more time and freedom on their hands, possibly for the last time in their newly adult lives. The best fitness tracker we’ve ever used, the Fitbit Charge 3, can help them stay focused and is incredibly useful for monitoring activity, sleep, heart rate, and more. Did we mention it has a 7-day battery life too. That's perfect for forgetful teens.
6. For the grad who’s always plugged in: The best wireless earbuds
We’ve tested virtually every set of headphones out there, but we still rank Apple’s Airpods as one of our all-time favorites, and they’re the best true wireless earbuds we've ever tested. For grads that love Apple products already, these good—albeit pricey—earbuds are a treat, and can make a perfect present for such a momentous life event.
7. For the grad who needs to stay hydrated: A really good water bottle
There’s a lot that goes into finding the best water bottle. For starters, it needs to make staying hydrated something to look forward to. When it comes to keeping beverages cool and insulated for long periods of time, the Yeti Rambler is the best we've ever tried. Yeti has a great reputation for rugged durability, and the Rambler has a larger than usual capacity and comes with a leakproof, three-finger cap, so taking it along for hikes and camping trips is easy, too.
8. For the grad who wants to take their music everywhere: The best portable speakers under $100
Tracking down a portable speaker that’s built to last is like trying to find a needle in a haystack—with thousands of options to choose from, it can seem impossible to narrow the field down and figure out which ones are actually good. The JBL Flip 4 is our top pick for best portable Bluetooth speakers under $100 because it offers solid battery life and high sound quality for the price point, and it's almost completely waterproof. It’s also sure to impress that recent grad you know, especially if they’ve been dropping hints about wanting a better way to listen to music when they're out with friends.
9. For the grad with tons of interviews coming up: A new watch
Watches make a statement. They convey sophistication, style, and well, obviously the time, too. To give that recent grad some extra polish (especially before an upcoming job or internship interview), MVMT watches are the best. Trendy but not too overstated, they pair well with formal ensembles but can also compliment a more dressed-down look, and they'll help your loved one show up on time, if not early.
10. For the grad who’s always low on battery power: The best portable charger
I get it—a portable charger might seem like the least exciting, most boring gift you could give a recent grad. But the truth is, a portable charger is really the gift that keeps on giving, and it's probably the MVP of this list. The best battery pack is this portable charger from RavPower, since it comes with two USB ports and has enough power to charge a smartphone multiple times. Another perk? It’s slim enough to fit in a backpack, so they can take it with them on trips, too.
Get the RAVPower USB C Battery Pack 20100 Portable Charger on Amazon for $45.99
11. For the future lit major: A brand-new Kindle
Kindles make it easy to manage a whole library of books, but they especially come in handy for recent grads who don’t want to lug their entire collections around once they leave home. The easy-to-use baseline Kindle is perfect for e-reader newbies, since it comes with front-facing LED lights at long last. The Kindle Paperwhite is just $20 more (and our pick for the best Kindle you can buy now), and can be a great gift if you feel like really treating someone. For the Kindle with the highest resolution and storage capacity, the Kindle Oasis is a good option as well, albeit the most expensive at $250.
12. For the grad moving into their first apartment: These gadgets that make it easier to cook
Recent grads moving into their first apartments are going to need to start cooking their own meals. But between juggling new jobs and managing a social life, it may be easier said than done. An Instant Pot can make everything from cooking rice to managing more complex meals a lot easier, and this is easily the most popular model, though the Ultra was the top performer in our tests. This unique rotating oven can also make it simple to prepare frozen dishes like pizza with much greater ease, especially if the regular oven is obeing used by a roommate.
13. For the grad who’s living on campus: These dorm room essentials
Adjusting to living in a dorm room is no easy feat, but you can make it easier for grads who are headed to college in the fall by sending them off with a few items that can make it more comfortable. Designed to hold up to 15 pounds, the BedShelfie offers added space and clamps right onto a bed frame, while a reading pillow like this one from Linenspa can make staying up to read and study a less stressful experience.
14. For the grad who just needs to unwind: A weighted blanket
After a stressful day, there’s nothing more relaxing than snuggling up with a weighted blanket. It applies gentle pressure and can simulate the feeling of being hugged or held, so it may provide a calming effect, and can make an especially great gift for recent grads with anxiety. While the best weighted blankets get pretty expensive, this YnM weighted blanket is affordable for most budgets and can be a great option for anyone looking to relax.
15. For the film school hopeful: The best streaming device we’ve ever used
Even if your recent grad is using a hand-me-down TV, the Roku Ultra offers a very stress-free way to watch shows on Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and any other streaming platform. It’s the best streaming device we’ve ever used and can put almost any TV show or film at a recent grad’s fingertips.
16. For the grad who needs a little extra storage space: One of the best mini fridges we’ve ever tested
A mini-fridge is a requirement for most recent grads if they’re headed to college, and this Igloo mini-fridge is an all-around great choice since it comes with slide-out shelves, an adjustable thermostat, and can dispenser on the door. Incidentally, we named it one of the best beer fridges, but obviously the grad you know isn’t going to be partaking in anything like that for many years to come. Obviously.
17. For the grad who's a total shutterbug: An instant camera
From graduation to vacation, recent grads will have plenty of moments they’ll want to capture and treasure over this summer. An instant camera like this one is a great buy, not only because it’s cute and lightweight, but because it takes Polaroids that they’ll really want to hold onto. While they won’t need any special skills to use this instant camera, it can be a fun investment for would-be photogs too.
18. For the vlogger: Our favorite budget camera
Know a recent grad that’s passionate about video blogging? The GoPro Hero 7 Black can help them maintain or kickstart a video blog all their own, and it just happens to be the best affordable vlogging camera. Small but able to capture 4K video, this camera makes it simple to shoot and capture footage and photos anywhere the wind takes them.
19. For the grad who gets homesick: A way to remind them of home
Whether they’re traveling, moving into their first apartment, or going off to college (or all three), most new grads will be starting new adventures soon—and that means leaving home, possibly for the first time ever. Homesickness is a totally normal feeling to have, even for those who are excited for this part of their lives. Products like these lovely scented Homesick Candles or this set of lamps that glow gently whenever someone on the other side taps them can be sweet reminders of home and help that recent grad feel loved and supported, no matter where they are.
20. For the grad who’s just really picky: A year-long subscription to Amazon Prime
Okay, it’s true: some grads really are just impossible to shop for. If you’re still feeling really unsure about what to buy—but you don’t want to just throw in the towel and hand them a wad of cash—you can give the gift of Amazon Prime instead. With a year-long membership to Prime, grads can get free two-day shipping for everything they need, including textbooks and even cleaning supplies, plus they can stream shows with included Prime Video and get access to tons of great deals. Prime can go a long way, and what’s even better is that they won’t have to use Mom and Dad’s, so they can keep those late-night purchases all to themselves.
Prices are accurate at the time this article was published, but may change over time.