It's an unusual year — one that 2020 graduates won't soon forget. While most of them won't be walking in their graduation ceremonies, we can still celebrate their milestone achievements with gifts as original and delightful as they are. Read on for a roundup of 29 graduation presents that will surprise your favorite grads this spring and remain useful for years to come.
For the super stylish
Air-Filled Gold Hooray Letter Balloon Kit ($11.99; partycity.com)
If you can't be there to say it in person, send this set of six inflatable 13-inch letters that spell "hooray." Choose from five metallic shades. It comes with a matching ribbon to string the letters on and a straw to help blow it up, no helium required. Then, it can be taped to a wall — or wherever — to remind them that they have something to celebrate. It makes a great virtual graduation party backdrop as well.
2020 Dumpster Fire Enamel Pin ($10; etsy.com)
OK, we admit that 2020 is not the best year for someone to graduate. If your grad has a sense of humor about it, this pin might provide a chuckle. It's a funny gift to give to friends with the same dark sense of humor, too.
Walk On 47mm Polarized Sunglasses ($65; nordstrom.com)
These cool sunglasses from Quay Australia will add an extra layer of confidence to their swagger when out and about, whether running errands or chilling in the backyard.
Packable Mesa Straw Hat ($34.50, originally $39.50; madewell.com)
With warmer weather arriving, grads are going to need some fun sun protection in the form of a bestselling, packable hat, like this one from Madewell.
Tom Ford Noir Extreme All Over Body Spray ($49; nordstrom.com)
Up their olfactory first impression. This high-fashion scented body spray will be their gateway to the good life — or at least out of the drugstore body spray aisle.
Selfie Ring Light ($22.99; amazon.com)
Even if they didn't live online before the pandemic, chances are they do now. Help them look their best in their Zoom chats, Instagram stories and still photos with this simple clip-on ring light.
Anastasia Beverly Hills Better Together Brow Kit ($24; sephora.com)
Teach a new grad to perfect those Kardashian-Jenner brows, and you're giving a beauty skill for life.
Dr. Martens Jadon 8-Eye Boot ($179.95; zappos.com)
Delight them with an unexpected pair of old-school Docs that literally never go out of style.
Round Solitaire Studs ($229; verlas.com)
Their first diamond solitaires are a perfect splurge gift for this milestone moment.
For hanging out
Airbrushed Personalized Regulation Custom Basketball Display Trophy ($34.99; etsy.com)
We just sort of want to get one of these for everyone we know. Customize it with their name, the year, and their two favorite colors for a gift that's as one-of-a-kind as they are.
Permasteel 80 Qt. Patio Cooler ($163.56; homedepot.com)
Their home will be outdoor gathering central — once that's a thing again — with this cheery-hued mobile cooler.
L.L.Bean Bocce ($109; llbean.com)
This adorable traveling bocce set can be monogrammed with their name or initials. Let the games begin!
Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Instant Camera with Mini Film Twin Pack ($75.99; amazon.com)
Let every day be Throwback Thursday with this superfun instant camera that comes in a rainbow of colors — we like the Arcadia Green best. The set comes with 20 sheets of film to get them started, too.
CLASS OF 2020 Customizable Reusable and Washable Face Mask ($14.99; etsy.com)
If they're going to head out to run an errand or go for a walk, they might as well flaunt their recent grad status with a custom washable face mask. Choose from 11 print colors — including dazzling silver, gold and fluorescent yellow — and five fonts to make one that's just right for them.
For the plugged-in
Wood Design Record Player Turntable ($58.99; amazon.com)
With vinyl record sales going up, it seems that LPs are making a comeback among the cool kids. They'll entertain friends and themselves with the vinyl they'll spin on this high-rated vintage-inspired record player.
Nintendo Switch Lite Game Console ($319.99; amazon.com)
Nintendo Switch is the gaming console du jour for kids and lots of grown folks, too. This one comes with a 5.5-inch LCD touchscreen display, built-in Plus Control Pad, speakers, audio jack and Bluetooth 4.1. It's bundled with a Ptech 128GB Micro SD Card to make playing their favorite games, like Animal Crossing, a breeze.
LifeFuels Smart Bottle Water and Healthy Beverage Infuser with Tracking App ($149; amazon.com)
For the grad who's serious about hydration and performance, this water bottle comes with electrolyte and antioxidant-packed pods to create their own smart waters — and tracks hydration with the accompanying smartphone app.
Lupct Green Camera Airpods-Compatible Case ($10.99; amazon.com)
This adorable vintage-camera-looking AirPods case is a great little gift for, say, your grad's friends.
For the kitchen-curious
'How to Feed Yourself When You Don't Know What You're Doing' ($14.99; amazon.com)
This cookbook is for the person who wants cooking and eating to be as easy as possible. With recipes like "Empty Peanut Butter Jar Noodles," it doesn't get much simpler — or tastier — than this.
Atlas Coffee Club (starting at $9/month; atlascoffeeclub.com)
Keep their coffee makers full of high-quality coffee while keeping them out of the socially distanced line at the local Starbucks. Atlas Coffee Club delivers selections from around the world each month, customized based on individual taste. Choose from whole or ground beans depending on their preference. In fact, if you go for the whole beans, check out our recent story on the best coffee grinders for additional inspiration.
Zelancio Marble and Acacia Wooden Serving Cheese Board, 6 Piece Set ($69.99; amazon.com)
They'll feel fancy every time they pull out this serving paddle made of smooth white marble and sustainable acacia wood. The platter comes complete with a set of stainless steel cheese knives.
Takeya 32 oz. Cold Brew Coffee Maker in Black ($23.58; amazon.com)
This cold brew maker is a smart size for one person, and the plastic carafe is less fragile than a glass option. Plus, it will save them tons on their coffee budget. Pair it with a coffee subscription and they're caffeinated in style.
NutriBullet 1200-Watt Blender Combo with Single Serve Cups ($139.99; amazon.com)
Healthy smoothies, juices and frozen drinks can be their new way of life with a cult-favorite NutriBullet. This model comes with reusable single-serving to-go cups that make it even more practical.
Lodge Chef Collection Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet ($24.99, originally $34.99; kohls.com)
Cast iron is the best and easiest way to cook on the stove top, say many pros. Gift your grad a skillet they'll use for years to come. Just make sure that they know how to care for it properly.
'Joy of Cooking' 2019 Edition Fully Revised and Updated ($19.79; amazon.com)
This classic tome is packed with a good, basic recipe for almost anything, from birthday cake to roast chicken to eggs Benedict. Our editors swear by this book as a standby that every home kitchen should have on its shelf.
Son of a Barista via Cratejoy ($89 for three-month subscription; cratejoy.com)
Feed your grad's espresso habit with this three-month subscription (that they can continue on their own) of espresso pods. Each month, a box of 30 pods is delivered, and the first box comes with a starter machine!
Le Creuset 4.5 Qt. Marble Appliqué Round Dutch Oven ($350; bloomingdales.com)
Most anyone would love a high-rated, high-quality Dutch oven from iconic cookware brand Le Creuset. This marble-appliqued one, though, is really the piece de resistance of kitchenware. In good time, your grad will be ready to wow a small crowd with this pot while hosting dinner parties.
Nespresso by Breville VertuoLine Coffee and Espresso Maker (starting at $199.99; bedbathandbeyond.com)
This highly rated, easy-to-use model is a great starter espresso machine to help your grad break that expensive daily to-go-cup habit.
Anova Sous Vide Nano Precision Cooker ($99.99; target.com)
Is your grad already a cooking competition show fan and ambitious in the kitchen? This beginner gadget will let them experiment with the superiority of sous vide.
Note: The prices above reflect the retailers' listed prices at the time of publication.