The best graduation gifts, according to a soon-to-be grad

An illustration of a graduation cap wrapped in a bow
(Martina Ibáñez-Baldor / Los Angeles Times; Getty Images )
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Graduation is just around the corner, and as a soon-to-be graduate myself, I know firsthand the time and effort put into earning a professional degree. From the sleepless nights to the endless hours spent on homework, graduation is a time to celebrate hard work and success.

One thing to keep in mind is that post-grad life is different for everyone. Whatever route the soon-to-be graduate in your life decides to take, this gift guide has you covered with gifts to support their individual journey.

Money is a classic that’s actually good

A woman holds dollar bills, 10s and 20s in front of four small stacks of cash.
(Los Angeles Times)

Frankly, school is expensive and time-consuming. Which is why you won’t go wrong with the classic gift of money. As I approach graduation, let me tell you, cash is indeed king. And Venmo or Zelle is fine! Some grads may even prefer it.

Share words of wisdom from women pioneers

The cover of "Collective Wisdom: Lessons, Inspiration, and Advice From Women Over 50"
(Shubhani Sarkar)

Graduation is a nerve-racking time for both high school and college grads. When you don’t have the right words to encourage someone during this momentous time in their life, let author Grace Bonney give you a hand. Her book “Collective Wisdom: Lessons, Inspiration, and Advice From Women Over 50” includes 111 stories from trailblazers like writer Roxane Gay and community leader and activist Miss Major.

🛍️ Available on Amazon or at Book Soup in West Hollywood

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Put a twist on the traditional jewelry gift

A black and a pink Apple Watch

Instead of giving the traditional graduation gift of jewelry, go for a tech-inspired accessory — like the Apple Watch. Stressed-out grads may enjoy the Reflect feature, which encourages wearers to take a break and breathe throughout the day.


🛍️ Available at Apple stores or online

Sleek protection for electronics

A black leather laptop envelope
(The Goods LA)

My laptop was my lifeline during graduate school this year. My worst fear was ruining it with nicks and scratches. Help the grad in your life protect this sacred object with a laptop sleeve. The Goods in L.A. sells leather products that will keep electronics like laptops protected in stylish leather sleeves.

🛍️ Available at The Goods

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Encourage mental health checks with this journal

Madhappy health journal

L.A. streetwear brand Madhappy highlights mental health through its clothing and accessories. The Madhappy Journal encourages you to tune in to your daily emotions. Graduation season is filled with excitement and stress. This journal is a great gift to help ground graduates through the next steps of their lives.


🛍️ Available at Madhappy

You can’t go wrong with a signature fragrance

A bottle of "Squad" by Capsule Parfumerie
(Capsule Parfumerie)

A signature scent can distinguish you in any room. Capsule Parfumerie creates fragrances that are inspired by Los Angeles’ unique culture. Its genderless scents pay “homage to Los Angeles, its artists, the neighborhoods and the communities.” It has a storefront in L.A.’s Chinatown, and its goods are available online.

🛍️ Available at Capsule Parfumerie


A gift for the coffee aficionado

Verve Coffee care package
(Verve Coffee)

If your graduate is a coffee lover, this coffee-inspired gift is for them. Verve, a California-based coffee shop, offers craft coffee makers including French presses, chemex pourovers and aeropress coffee brewers. Make a coffee care package with different roasts from Verve Coffee, and add in a new coffee maker, like the French press. It’s easy to use, and your grad will thank you the next time they’re in need of a caffeine jolt to start their day.


🛍️ Available at Verve coffee shops or online

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Exercise classes can be the gift that keeps on giving

ClassPass Subscription
(Cait Kelly / ClassPass)

Staying active can relieve stress. Los Angeles has a plethora of workout studios to choose from that offer rock climbing, boxing, volleyball and more. But fitness class fees add up, and they may not fit into a new graduate’s tight budget. With a ClassPass subscription, graduates can try different fitness classes throughout L.A. .

💰$15-$199 monthly
🛍️ Available at ClassPass

Cool art prints

A gallery wall of Poster Child prints
(Poster Child Prints)

Poster Child Prints in downtown L.A. sells limited-edition screen prints, art and photography. One of its high-quality prints is sure to make a unique gift for any art-loving grad.


🛍️ Available on Poster Child Prints

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A simple but cozy gift idea

Cantrip Candle in "The Library Scriptorium"
(Cantrip Candles)

Lighting a candle and cuddling up with a good book might be just what a recent grad needs for a comfy night in. L.A. store Cantrip Candles makes natural soy candles with unique scents reminiscent of a library, a walk through the woods and even a stone-moss chapel. Pick up the library-scented candle and share the nostalgic smell of open books with your recent grad.

🛍️ Available at Cantrip Candles