About High School Graduation Gifts


Graduating from high school is an exciting time for teenagers. It's a defining moment that marks the transition from one stage of life to the next. One way to honor and acknowledge this transition and celebrate the completion of the graduate's secondary education is to give a gift. Whether it's moving away from home, attending college, starting a job or traveling to see the world that's in store for the graduate, a gift can be used to help get her on her way.


  • High school graduation gifts are given to celebrate the graduate's accomplishment. In the United States, children complete kindergarten through grade 12, and for kids whose parents opted to enroll them in preschool, they could have been in a formal classroom for longer. Giving a gift acknowledges the successful completion of the graduate's formal education. Graduating high school is often considered a rite of passage, and giving a gift is an acceptable and desirable way to acknowledge this.


  • While there are no rules when it comes to giving high school graduation gifts, common gifts include cash, gift cards and items the graduate may need for her next stage of life. High school graduation gifts can be personalized to have the graduate's name and date engraved or printed. Pens, watches and stationery are common personalized graduation gifts. If the graduate is college-bound, the gift may be an item from the college the graduate will be attending. If the graduate is directly entering a job, the gift may be career-related.


  • Because high school graduates usually don't have much money, graduation gifts often have the function of helping give the graduate a jump-start into their next phase of life. If giving a gift to a college-bound high school graduate who is moving away from home, gifts may be items to prepare him for living on his own. These could include dorm refrigerators, laptop computers, shower tote buckets, kitchenware or bedsheets. If the high school graduate is entering a trade job, such as auto mechanics, gifts may be given to help give him the tools he needs to succeed in the trade, such as tools or a tool chest. Graduation gifts can often serve as mementos from the high school experience. These gifts could include a sweatshirt with the high school name on it or a team sports jersey.


  • High school graduation gifts shouldn't be generic; they should be purchased specifically with the graduate in mind. When giving a high school graduation gift, consider the graduate's plans, her interests and her financial status. While you may be tempted to purchase a gift for the college-bound graduate, a gift card to the bookstore on the campus they'll be attending can be a great alternative. Students will need to purchase their own books and supplies, and a gift card could significantly help with that. If the graduate will be commuting to work or college, a gas card may be another great idea.

Time Frame

  • In the United States, most high school commencement or graduation ceremonies are held in May or June. If you're attending the ceremony, the ideal time to present a gift is immediately afterward. If you're mailing a gift, coordinate it to arrive on the day of or shortly after the ceremony. Many parents of high school graduates throw parties in honor of the graduates. If you get an invitation to a high school graduation party, it is customary to bring a gift. If you receive a formal announcement of a high school graduation you are not obligated to give a graduation gift (see Resources).

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