10 Graduation Gifts That Are Better than Cash

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Susanna Hopler)

You know this all too well: Graduating means leaving the safe bubble of college life and getting cast out into the real world. And this real world comes with real responsibilities. You have to pay rent, you have to go to work, and you have to feed yourself — and preferably not a steady diet of frozen pizza and canned wine.

It’s (hopefully) not on you to help the recent college grads in your life pay rent or land a job, but you can help them with that last part. Any of these gifts are practical and long-lasting, which means grads will get tons of use out of them as they make their way through the school of life.

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  1. 16-Piece SNAP Glass Container Set, $60 at OXO: Wasting food should never be an option — especially not in the case of recent grads with limited income. This glass container set will help with meal prep and keep leftovers fresh all week.
  2. Deco Dot Crock with Wooden Utensils, $40 at Kate Spade: Even a not-so-great rental kitchen will look a little cuter with this polka-dot container that comes with wooden utensils (which are kitchen essentials, for sure).
  3. Cast Iron Skillet, $28 at Lodge Cast Iron: Your college grad might end up trading in some of her kitchen stuff by the time she reaches her early 30s, but a cast iron skillet is something she’ll keep forever.
  4. NutriBullet Blender, $100: Whether she’s trying to eat more fruit (smoothie-form still counts!) or keep the party going post-graduation with homemade frozen margaritas, this small-but-powerful blender will be a much-appreciated (and versatile!) gift.
  5. 4-Quart Slow Cooker, $30 at Black + Decker: Life is about to get a million times busier than the good ol’ college days, which means she’ll soon get a new appreciation for the power of the slow cooker. It doesn’t hurt that this one is as sweet as can be.
  6. Primarosa Essentials Knives Box Set, $45 at Opinel: We don’t usually recommend knife sets, but this box of good-looking knives is actually useful. It includes three knives and a peeler — perfect to get the college grad started in the kitchen.
  7. Bodum French Press, from $30 at Crate & Barrel: Most college grads seem to develop an affinity for coffee while in school, but this French press might help them see a whole new (crucial) way to stay caffeinated.
  8. #Goals Coffee Mug, $18 at Prep Obsessed: Pair that French press with a bag of coffee and this mug, which will keep her alert and ambitious as she starts off her career.
  9. Folk Printed Serving Bowls, from $34 at West Elm: These colorful bowls can serve fruit or pasta during her first dinner party in her new apartment (and her 200th dinner party in her third apartment).
  10. Riedel Swirl White Wine Glasses, from $25 for two: That canned wine can now be decanted into some nice wine glasses. The best part? They can go in the dishwasher, should she be lucky enough to have one!