18 valuable pieces of advice from the best graduation speeches of all time

issa rae
Issa Rae.

“Ditch the dream and be a doer, not a dreamer.” – Shonda Rhimes’ 2014 speech at Dartmouth College

shonda rhimes dartmouth
Shonda Rhimes at Dartmouth College.

The world’s most powerful showrunner told grads to stop dreaming and start doing.

The world has plenty of dreamers, she said. “And while they are busy dreaming, the really happy people, the really successful people, the really interesting, engaged, powerful people, are busy doing.” She pushed grads to be those people.

“Ditch the dream and be a doer, not a dreamer,” she advised — whether or not you know what your “passion” might be. “The truth is, it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to know. You just have to keep moving forward. You just have to keep doing something, seizing the next opportunity, staying open to trying something new. It doesn’t have to fit your vision of the perfect job or the perfect life. Perfect is boring and dreams are not real,” she said.

Read the transcript and watch the video.

“Empathy and kindness are the true signs of emotional intelligence.” – Will Ferrell’s 2017 speech at the University of Southern California

will ferrell usc
Will Ferrell at the University of Southern California.

Comedian Will Ferrell, best known for lead roles in films like “Anchorman,” “Elf,” and “Talledega Nights,” delivered a thoughtful speech to USC’s graduating class of 2018.

“No matter how cliché it may sound, you will never truly be successful until you learn to give beyond yourself,” he said. “Empathy and kindness are the true signs of emotional intelligence, and that’s what Viv and I try to teach our boys. Hey Matthias, get your hands of Axel right now! Stop it. I can see you. Okay? Dr. Ferrell’s watching you.”

He also offered some words of encouragement: “For many of you who maybe don’t have it all figured out, it’s okay. That’s the same chair that I sat in. Enjoy the process of your search without succumbing to the pressure of the result.”

He even finished off with a stirring rendition of the Whitney Houston classic, “I Will Always Love You.” He was, of course, referring to the graduates.

Read the transcript and watch the video.

“As you leave this room don’t forget to ask yourself what you can offer to make the ‘club of life’ go up? How can you make this place better, in spite of your circumstances?” – Issa Rae’s 2021 speech at Stanford University

Insecure HBO Issa Rae
Issa Rae in HBO’s “Insecure.”

In the speech, Rae pulled lyrics from Boosie Badazz, Foxx, and Webbie’s “Wipe Me Down,” which she said she and her friends played on a boombox during the “Wacky Walk” portion of their own 2007 graduation ceremony at Stanford, to illustrate the importance of seeing “every opportunity as a VIP — as someone who belongs and deserves to be here.” 

Rae particularly drew attention to one line from the song that reads, “I pull up at the club, VIP, gas tank on E, but all dranks on me. Wipe me down.”

“To honor the classic song that has guided my own life — as you leave this room, don’t forget to ask yourself what you can offer to make the ‘club of life’ go up. How can you make this place better, in spite of your circumstances?” she said. “And as you figure those things out, don’t forget to step back and wipe yourselves down, wipe each other down and go claim what’s yours like the VIPs that you are.”

Read the transcript and watch the video.

“Not everything that happens to us happens because of us.” – Sheryl Sandberg’s 2016 speech at UC Berkeley

sheryl sandberg
Sheryl Sandberg speaks during a forum in San Francisco.

During the Facebook COO’s deeply personal commencement speech about resilience at UC Berkeley, she spoke on how understanding the three Ps that largely determine our ability to deal with setbacks helped her cope with the loss of her husband, Dave Goldberg.

She outlined the three Ps as:

· Personalization: Whether you believe an event is your fault.
· Pervasiveness: Whether you believe an event will affect all areas of your life.
· Permanence: How long you think the negative feelings will last.

“This is the lesson that not everything that happens to us happens because of us,” Sandberg said about personalization. It took understanding this for Sandberg to accept that she couldn’t have prevented her husband’s death. “His doctors had not identified his coronary artery disease. I was an economics major; how could I have?”

Read the transcript and watch the video.

“If you really learn how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options.” – David Foster Wallace’s 2005 speech at Kenyon College

David Foster Wallace
David Foster Wallace at Kenyon College.

In his now-legendary “This Is Water” speech, the author urged grads to be a little less arrogant and a little less certain about their beliefs.

“This is not a matter of virtue,” Wallace said. “It’s a matter of my choosing to do the work of somehow altering or getting free of my natural, hard-wired default setting, which is to be deeply and literally self-centered and to see and interpret everything through this lens of self.”

Doing that will be hard, he said. “It takes will and effort, and if you are like me, some days you won’t be able to do it, or you just flat won’t want to.”

But breaking free of that lens can allow you to truly experience life, to consider possibilities beyond your default reactions.

“If you’re automatically sure that you know what reality is, and you are operating on your default setting, then you, like me, probably won’t consider possibilities that aren’t annoying and miserable,” he said. “But if you really learn how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars: love, fellowship, the mystical oneness of all things deep down.”

Read the transcript and watch the video.

“Be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” – Nora Ephron’s 1996 speech at Wellesley College

nora ephron
Nora Ephron.

Addressing her fellow alums with trademark wit, Ephron reflected on all the things that had changed since her days at Wellesley — and all the things that hadn’t.

“My class went to college in the era when you got a master’s degrees in teaching because it was ‘something to fall back on’ in the worst case scenario, the worst case scenario being that no one married you and you actually had to go to work,” she said. But while things had changed drastically by 1996, Ephron warned grads not to “delude yourself that the powerful cultural values that wrecked the lives of so many of my classmates have vanished from the earth.” 

“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim,” she said. “Maybe young women don’t wonder whether they can have it all any longer, but in case any of you are wondering, of course you can have it all. What are you going to do? Everything, is my guess. It will be a little messy, but embrace the mess. It will be complicated, but rejoice in the complications.”

Read the transcript and watch the video.

“Our problems are manmade – therefore, they can be solved by man.” – John F. Kennedy’s 1963 speech at American University

john f kennedy speech
John F. Kennedy at American University.

Against the tumult of the early ’60s, Kennedy inspired graduates to strive for what may be the biggest goal of them all: world peace.

“Too many of us think it is impossible,” he said. “Too many think it unreal. But that is a dangerous, defeatist belief. It leads to the conclusion that war is inevitable — that mankind is doomed — that we are gripped by forces we cannot control.”

Our job is not to accept that, he urged. “Our problems are manmade — therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants.” 

Read the transcript and watch the video.

“Err in the direction of kindness.” – George Saunders’ 2013 speech at Syracuse University

George Saunders
George Saunders.

Saunders stressed what turns out to be a deceptively simple idea: the importance of kindness. “What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness,” he said. “Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded … sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly.” 

But kindness is hard, the writer said. It’s not necessarily our default. In part, he explained, kindness comes with age. “It might be a simple matter of attrition: as we get older, we come to see how useless it is to be selfish — how illogical, really.” The challenge he laid out: Don’t wait. “Speed it along,” he urged. “Start right now.”

“There’s a confusion in each of us, a sickness, really: selfishness,” Saunders said. “But there’s also a cure. So be a good and proactive and even somewhat desperate patient on your own behalf — seek out the most efficacious anti-selfishness medicines, energetically, for the rest of your life.”

“Do all the other things, the ambitious things — travel, get rich, get famous, innovate, lead, fall in love, make and lose fortunes, swim naked in wild jungle rivers (after first having it tested for monkey poop) – but as you do, to the extent that you can, err in the direction of kindness.”

Read the transcript and watch the video.

“Life is an improvisation. You have no idea what’s going to happen next and you are mostly just making things up as you go along.” – Stephen Colbert’s 2011 speech at Northwestern University

Stephen colbert
Stephen Colbert.

The comedian and host of the “Late Show” told grads they should never feel like they have it all figured out.

“[W]hatever your dream is right now, if you don’t achieve it, you haven’t failed, and you’re not some loser. But just as importantly — and this is the part I may not get right and you may not listen to — if you do get your dream, you are not a winner,” Colbert said.

It’s a lesson he learned from his improv days. When actors are working together properly, he explained, they’re all serving each other, playing off each other on a common idea. “And life is an improvisation. You have no idea what’s going to happen next and you are mostly just making things up as you go along. And like improv, you cannot win your life,” he said.

Red the transcript and watch the video.

“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.” – Steve Jobs’ 2005 speech at Stanford University

Steve Jobs Commencement HD
Steve Jobs at Stanford University.

In a remarkably personal address, the Apple founder and CEO advised graduates to live each day as if it were their last.

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life,” he said. He’d been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a year earlier.

“Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important,” he continued. “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

Jobs said this mindset will make you understand the importance of your work. “And the only way to do great work is to love what you do,” he said. “If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”

Settling means giving in to someone else’s vision of your life — a temptation Jobs warned against. “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

Read the transcript and watch the video.

“We can learn to live without the sick excitement, without the kick of having scores to settle.” – Kurt Vonnegut’s 1999 speech at Agnes Scott College

Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut at Agnes Scott College.

The famed author became one of the most sought-after commencement speakers in the United States for many years, thanks to his insights on morality and cooperation. At Agnes Scott, he asked graduates to make the world a better place by respecting humanity — and living without hate. Hammurabi lived 4,000 years ago, he pointed out. We can stop living by his code.

“We may never dissuade leaders of our nation or any other nation from responding vengefully, violently, to every insult or injury. In this, the Age of Television, they will continue to find irresistible the temptation to become entertainers, to compete with movies by blowing up bridges and police stations and factories and so on,” he said.

“But in our personal lives, our inner lives, at least, we can learn to live without the sick excitement, without the kick of having scores to settle with this particular person, or that bunch of people, or that particular institution or race or nation. And we can then reasonably ask forgiveness for our trespasses, since we forgive those who trespass against us.”

The result, he said, would be a happier, more peaceful, and more complete existence.

Read the partial transcript and watch the video.

“If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.” – Oprah Winfrey’s 2008 speech at Stanford University

oprah commencement
Oprah Winfrey at Stanford University.

The media mogul told Stanford’s class of 2008 that they can’t sacrifice happiness for money. “When you’re doing the work you’re meant to do, it feels right and every day is a bonus, regardless of what you’re getting paid,” she said.

She said you can feel when you’re doing the right thing in your gut. “What I know now is that feelings are really your GPS system for life. When you’re supposed to do something or not supposed to do something, your emotional guidance system lets you know,” she said.

She explained that doing what your instincts tells you to do will make you more successful because it will drive you to work harder and will save you from debilitating stress.

“If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. That’s the lesson. And that lesson alone will save you, my friends, a lot of grief,” Winfrey said. “Even doubt means don’t. This is what I’ve learned. There are many times when you don’t know what to do. When you don’t know what to do, get still, get very still, until you do know what to do.”

Read the transcript and watch the video.

“The difference between triumph and defeat, you’ll find, isn’t about willingness to take risks – it’s about mastery of rescue.” – Atul Gawande’s 2012 speech at Williams College

Atul Gawande
Atul Gawande.

Pushing beyond the tired “take risks!” commencement cliché, the surgeon, writer, and activist took a more nuanced approach: what matters isn’t just that you take risks; it’s how you take them.

To explain, he turned to medicine.”Scientists have given a new name to the deaths that occur in surgery after something goes wrong — whether it is an infection or some bizarre twist of the stomach,” said Gawande. “They call them a ‘Failure to Rescue.’ More than anything, this is what distinguished the great from the mediocre. They didn’t fail less. They rescued more.”

What matters, he said, isn’t the failure — that’s inevitable — but what happens next. “A failure often does not have to be a failure at all. However, you have to be ready for it. Will you admit when things go wrong? Will you take steps to set them right? — because the difference between triumph and defeat, you’ll find, isn’t about willingness to take risks. It’s about mastery of rescue.”

Read the transcript and watch the video.

“Your job is to create a world that lasts forever.” – Stephen Spielberg’s 2016 speech at Harvard

Steven Spielberg Harvard commencement
Steven Spielberg at Harvard.

“This world is full of monsters,” director Steven Spielberg told Harvard graduates, and it’s the next generation’s job to vanquish them.

“My job is to create a world that lasts two hours. Your job is to create a world that lasts forever,” he said.

These monsters manifest themselves as racism, homophobia, and ethnic, class, political, and religious hatred, he said, noting that there is no difference between them: “It is all one big hate.”

Spielberg said that hate is born of an “us versus them” mentality, and thinking instead about people as “we” requires replacing fear with curiosity.

“‘Us’ and ‘them’ will find the ‘we’ by connecting with each other, and by believing that we’re members of the same tribe, and by feeling empathy for every soul,” he said.

Read the transcript and watch the video. 

“There are few things more liberating in this life than having your worst fear realized.” – Conan O’Brien’s 2011 speech at Dartmouth College

conan o'brien dartmouth
Conan O’Brien at Dartmouth College.

In his hilarious 2011 address to Dartmouth College, the late-night host spoke about his brief run on “The Tonight Show” before being replaced by Jay Leno. O’Brien described the fallout as the lowest point in his life, feeling very publicly humiliated and defeated. But once he got back on his feet and went on a comedy tour across the country, he discovered something important.

“There are few things more liberating in this life than having your worst fear realized,” he said.

He explained that for decades the ultimate goal of every comedian was to host “The Tonight Show,” and like many comedians, he thought achieving that goal would define his success. “But that is not true. No specific job or career goal defines me, and it should not define you,” he said.

He noted that disappointment is a part of life, and the beauty of it is that it can help you gain clarity and conviction.

“It is our failure to become our perceived ideal that ultimately defines us and makes us unique,” O’Brien said. “It’s not easy, but if you accept your misfortune and handle it right, your perceived failure can be a catalyst for profound re-invention.”

 O’Brien said that dreams constantly evolve, and your ideal career path at 22 years old will not necessarily be the same at 32 or 42 years old. 

“I am here to tell you that whatever you think your dream is now, it will probably change. And that’s okay,” he said.

Read the transcript and watch the video.

“You are your own stories.” – Toni Morrison’s 2004 speech at Wellesley College

Toni Morrison Graduation Wellesley
Toni Morrison at Wellesley College.

Instead of the usual commencement platitudes — none of which, Morrison argued, are true anyway — the Nobel Prize-winning writer asked grads to create their own narratives. 

“What is now known is not all what you are capable of knowing,” she said. “You are your own stories and therefore free to imagine and experience what it means to be human without wealth. What it feels like to be human without domination over others, without reckless arrogance, without fear of others unlike you, without rotating, rehearsing and reinventing the hatreds you learned in the sandbox.”

In your own story, you can’t control all the characters, Morrison said. “The theme you choose may change or simply elude you. But being your own story means you can always choose the tone. It also means that you can invent the language to say who you are and what you mean.” Being a storyteller reflects a deep optimism, she said — and as a storyteller herself, “I see your life as already artful, waiting, just waiting and ready for you to make it art.”

Read the transcript and watch the video.

“I wake up in a house that was built by slaves.” – Michelle Obama’s 2016 speech at the City College of New York

michelle obama city college
Michelle Obama at the City College of New York.

In her 23rd and final commencement speech as First Lady, Michelle Obama urged the Class of 2016 to pursue happiness and live out whatever version of the American Dream is right for them.

“It’s the story that I witness every single day when I wake up in a house that was built by slaves,” she said, “and I watch my daughters — two beautiful, black young women — head off to school waving goodbye to their father, the President of the United States, the son of a man from Kenya who came here to America for the same reasons as many of you: To get an education and improve his prospects in life.”

“So, graduates, while I think it’s fair to say that our Founding Fathers never could have imagined this day,” she continued, “all of you are very much the fruits of their vision. Their legacy is very much your legacy and your inheritance. And don’t let anybody tell you differently. You are the living, breathing proof that the American Dream endures in our time. It’s you.”

Read the transcript and watch the video.

“Call upon your grit. Try something.” – Tim Cook’s 2019 speech at Tulane University

Tim cook tulane
Tim Cook at Tulane University.

Apple CEO Tim Cook delivered the 2019 commencement speech for the graduates of Tulane University, offering valuable advice on success.

“We forget sometimes that our preexisting beliefs have their own force of gravity,” Cook said. “Today, certain algorithms pull toward you the things you already know, believe, or like, and they push away everything else. Push back.”

“You may succeed. You may fail. But make it your life’s work to remake the world because there is nothing more beautiful or more worthwhile than working to leave something better for humanity.”

Read the transcript and watch the video.

Read the original article on Business Insider

32 useful graduation gifts under $100 that are Amazon Prime-eligible

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What generation of Kindle do I have
Amazon’s Kindle makes a great gift for grads who love to read.

  • College and high school graduation gifts can have a big impact and help recent grads celebrate.
  • Below are 32 great gifts for graduates, all under $100 and eligible for Amazon Prime 2-day shipping.
  • Need more gift ideas? Check out all of our gift guides here.

The best graduation gifts for high school or college students honor an accomplishment and empower their next stage, whether it’s helping them plan for their future or feel settled once they move away.

And you don’t need to spend much time looking for a thoughtful gift. Whether you’re looking to send your graduate a bouquet of flowers, a useful kitchen gadget, or a wise book, you can find quick, unique options on Amazon. Below, you’ll find a list of 32 quick, thoughtful gifts under $100 that come with Prime shipping.

32 Amazon Prime-eligible gifts your graduate will love – all under $100:

A cookbook that can teach anyone how to cook anything

How to Cook Everything

Gift “How to Cook Everything,” $18.91 

The title says it all. If they’re going to be spending their life’s new chapter with more responsibility and independence, they’ll appreciate this ingeniously organized — and deliciously simple — cookbook. It begins with easy recipes for the basics and, later, offers up more advanced variations, making it especially great for learning.

Tech that helps them find misplaced items

Tile Pro

Gift the Tile Pro, $89.99

Ensure they spend minimal time hunting for essentials such as keys or their wallet. Plus, the new and improved Tile Pro device is louder, has a better battery life, and boasts a longer range. It’s also compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant.

Great, affordable over-ear headphones

Audio-Technica ATH-M20X Professional Studio Monitor Headphones, Black hanging in a row

Gift the headphones, $49

Headphones are a great addition to life no matter what they’re being used for — commutes, studying, travel, or relaxing at home. This pair is the best affordable over-ear headphones option we’ve found yet; They’re comfortable and have excellent sound for the price. You can read more here

A fun board game that’ll last all night

Catan

Gift “The Settlers of Catan”, $41.27

A game they can play with family and friends is a nice way to ensure they’ll always have something enjoyable to do — rain or shine. “The Settlers of Catan” relies upon strategy and sometimes luck to build civilizations — and can last for hours.

The best, one-stop introduction to personal finance we’ve found

I Will Teach You to be Rich by Ramit Sethi

Gift “I Will Teach You to be Rich,” $7.04

This is the book that Insider’s Executive Personal Finance Editor Libby Kane says she recommends (and gifts) the most. According to Kane, it’s “ideal for new grads and younger folks who need a game plan for adulthood,[and] also a straightforward, accessible, no-nonsense checklist for anyone who wants to take more control of their money and their life, no matter where they’re starting.”

A minimalist planner

Amazon graduation gifts 2021 planner

Gift the Lemome Planner, from $15.99

This planner will help keep them motivated and organized by giving them a place to jot down their daily agenda. It’s available in a small and large version, and both sizes come with a sticker pack for added fun.

A book about capitalizing on the huge choices to make in your 20s

Defining Decade

Gift “The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter — And How to Make the Most of Them Now,” $15.50

The decisions you make in your 20s can greatly impact the rest of your life. The best defense is a good offense and your grad should know now, before any life-altering events crop up, how to get the most out of their “defining decade.”

A portable printer

HP Sprocket Portable Photo Printer, $99.95

Gift the HP Sprocket Portable Photo Printer, $77.99

Sprocket uses Bluetooth and the free HP Sprocket app to make printing photos from social media accounts, smartphones, and tablets relatively seamless. This way, grads can decorate easily without needing to figure out where and how they can print on the cheap.

An Amazon gift card so they can buy whatever they need

grad gift box

Gift the Amazon.com Gift Card in a Graduation Cap Box, from $25

If you want to gift cash so your grad can buy whatever he or she wants, but don’t actually want to hand over a stack of bills, an Amazon gift card is a nice way to gift that same freedom and utility. Amazon has virtually everything a new grad could desire, so they’ll be able to buy something they genuinely want — and they know what they need better than anyone else.

A book that focuses on positive psychology

the happiness advantage

Gift “The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work,” $15.14 

Graduates are bound to be excited about classes ending, but continuing education can actually be a great thing when it’s self-directed and at their leisure. Grads might even realize a few months out of school that they’re actually starved for something new to think about.

And for more inspiration, be sure to check out our list of the best books we read in quarantine.

A toolkit for unexpected leaky faucets

cartman tools

Gift the Cartman 148-Piece Tool Set, $26.99

After graduation, the stress of a first apartment usually includes putting together furniture, Googling how to fix leaky faucets when the landlord won’t pick up, and enticing friends to help mount a living room TV in exchange for pizza.

This toolset isn’t the most strictly “fun” gift, but it’s absolutely necessary. Your grad will be thankful for the tools needed to handle whatever life throws at them, and while this isn’t something they’d immediately buy for themselves, they’ll definitely be thankful for it when the time inevitably comes.

A Hydro Flask tumbler to keep drinks hot

Hydro Flask, $22

Gift the Hydro Flask 32 oz. Double Wall Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle, $44.95

If they’re commuting to and from their first job or post-grad internship, a great tumbler like this double-wall, vacuum-insulated one will not only keep hot drinks hot for up to six hours and cold ones cold for up to 24. More importantly: it may also stop them from developing a $7 daily Starbucks latte habit.

An Instant Pot for no-hassle meal prep

Instant Pot

Gift the Instant Pot DUO60 6-Quart 7-in-1 Multi-Use Pressure Cooker, $89

If the idea of tossing raw ingredients into a pot in the morning and coming home (or to a dorm) to a cooked meal appeals to them, the Instant Pot is every recent grad’s best friend. It’s an easy gateway into cooking, and it cuts down on how many dishes they’ll have to wash.

An Echo Dot for an unobtrusive smart gadget

echo dot

Gift the Echo Dot (4th Gen), $49.99

The Amazon Echo Dot is a small, unobtrusive personal assistant that can help set timers while they cook, report weather and traffic, and perform more helpful tasks without taking up much room.

The Dot is also really easy to use and it’s a plus that it’ll work with any Amazon tech purchases they make in the future since they’ll be in the same smart-home ecosystem.

A journal that helps make a 5- or 10-year goal feel realistic

Best Self Co. Journal

Gift the BestSelf Co. The SELF Journal 2019, $31.99

The Best Self Co. Journal helps people map out their five- or 10-year plans in a manageable way. It’s a nice low-pressure way to provide growth and direction after graduation whether they’re on their way to college, their first full-time job, or traveling.

*Note: The BestSelf Co. Journal is currently out of stock.

The best coffee maker you can buy

Graduation gifts unddr $100 on Amazon Cuisinart

Gift the Cuisinart Coffee Plus 12-Cup Programmable Coffeemaker, $99.95

The Cuisinart coffee maker is easy to use, and its built-in hot water system allows for easy access to tea and oatmeal as well. In other words, it combines convenience with great coffee and it’s perfect to use before work or class. We voted this model the best coffee maker you can buy overall in our buying guide.

A cult-favorite book about self-discovery

The Alchemist

Gift “The Alchemist: 25th Anniversary Edition,” $12.99 

There’s a reason “The Alchemist” has become such an undebatable classic and has sold millions of copies around the world. It’s a tale of wonder, self-discovery, and the wisdom needed to accurately evaluate — and build — a meaningful life. It’s transcended generations, but it’s particularly helpful for those facing life’s big questions in their 20s. 

A candle that smells like home

homesick candles

Gift the Homesick Scented Candle, $34

It’s hard to put a finger on just what makes home smell like home, but one whiff of a Homesick candle will help them recall sweeter times. Uniquely specific scents are made to capture the spirit of states, cities, and even memories like road trips, backyard BBQs, and cooking in Grandma’s kitchen. If your grad’s far from home, this affordable candle is a meaningful gesture.

A weighted blanket

ynm weighted blanket

Gift the YnM Weighted Blanket, $69.90

Similar to the comfort created by swaddling babies, weighted blankets utilize deep-touch therapy to help get deeper, more restful sleep while also helping to reduce anxiety and stress. This fan-favorite option from Amazon is relatively affordable and highly popular. Read more in a personal review here.

A media streaming stick

amazon fire tv stick

Gift the Fire TV Stick 4K with Alexa Voice Remote, $49.99

The Fire TV Stick is Alexa-enabled, so grads can lazily leisurely control content like Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, STARZ, SHOWTIME, or CBS All Access by voice. They can also stream  Pluto TV, IMDb Freedive, and others for free. 

A portable waterproof speaker

jbl speaker

Gift the JBL Flip 4 Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker, $79.95

This under-$100 Bluetooth speaker with nearly 5,000 five-star reviews on Amazon is ideal for grads who want great sound quality and durability on a budget. This one is waterproof and can withstand less-than-gentle handling.

A wireless charging pad

Belkin Boost Up Wireless Charging Pad, $30

Gift the Belkin Boost Up Wireless Charging Pad, $33.99

This wireless charging pad from Belkin works with iPhones and Qi-enabled Android devices. It has a little indicator light that lets you know when it’s charging, so you’ll never have to guess if it’s working.

An Alexa-enabled car charger

Amazon graduation gifts ROAV

Gift the ROAV by Anker Alexa-Enabled USB Car Charger, $29.99

Give their car a smart upgrade with the Alexa-enabled Roav Viva. Not only can the device charge their smartphone, but it can also answer questions about the weather or traffic, play music, and even tell them the news without distracting their eyes from the road or hands from the steering wheel.

An easy way to track down their phone or wallet

Tile Mate Essentials pack

Gift the Tile Mate with Replaceable Battery, 2-Pack, $47.58

You can’t go wrong with a tracker for their keys, wallet, or phone. The Tile Mate is compact, thoughtful, and useful for everyone — you might want to pick up a second pack for yourself.

An inexpensive way to make cold brew at home

Takeya Cold Brew Maker

Gift the Takeya Patented Deluxe Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker, from $19.99

The Takeya Cold Brew Maker is an inexpensive, easy way to make cold brew from home and can save them hundreds of dollars a year. Find a full review here.

A fun outdoor game

Spikeball

Gift the Spikeball 3 Ball Kit, $59.95

If they love spending time outdoors or are moving to a new city for college or work, a game like Spikeball is a great way to meet new people and hang out with friends. 

Coasters that remind them of home

map coasters, $25.99

Gift the City Map Coasters, Set of 4, $25.99

These handmade coasters are a nice, subtle way to pay homage to a hometown or college town. They’re made with natural Sapele wood and have elaborate details of their city like Detroit or Tokyo. 

A NutriBullet for easy smoothies

nutribullet

Gift the NutriBullet Pro 13-Piece Set, $79.99

Whether they’re moving in with roommates or finally moving in alone, they need a NutriBullet. It’s convenient, doesn’t require a ton of space, and makes fruit smoothies in under 30 seconds. This is particularly great for anyone who can’t finish fruit or veggies fast enough; if it gets a little too ripe to eat, throw it in a smoothie to avoid waste. 

Fresh flowers to decorate their space

Amazon graduation gifts tulips

Check out Amazon’s selection of fresh flowers

Send your grad beautiful fresh flowers to spruce up their space.

An e-reader

kindle

Gift the Kindle, $64.99

The Kindle holds hundreds of e-books (some of which can be downloaded at a discount), has a glare-free screen, and is able to go weeks without needing to be charged. It’s great for grads who might have long commutes on the train or someone who just loves to read.

An external portable battery

Gifts for coworkers Eleject

Gift the Elecjet External Battery, $49.99

The Elecjet PowerPie can charge their many devices quickly while they’re on the go, and it’s our best overall battery pack of 2021.

Gift cards for their many expenses

Starbucks gift card

At the end of the day, the most helpful present is a gift card that can help get them through what is likely to be an expensive life change. Below are a few options for everything from books to travel. 

Everything: Visa Gift Card / Amazon Gift Card / Gift Amazon Prime Membership

School books: Amazon Gift Card

Coffee: Starbucks Gift Card

Entertainment: Netflix Gift Card / Fandango Gift Card

Transportation: Uber Gift Card

Furniture: Amazon Gift Card

Music: Spotify Gift Card

Groceries and food: Whole Foods Gift Card / Chipotle Gift Card

Tech: Amazon Gift Card

Travel: Southwest Gift Card / Airbnb Gift Card / Amtrak Gift Card

Read the original article on Business Insider

26 thoughtful gifts for graduates under $50, from an instant-print camera to a handy tool kit

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

graduation gifts under $50
  • Whether the grad in your life will be graduating in person or via Zoom, you can celebrate them.
  • You don’t necessarily need a lavish grand gesture to show new grads how proud you are.
  • We found thoughtful and useful gifts for graduates under $50.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Graduation ceremonies are already happening or just around the corner. This year, some ceremonies are back to being in-person affairs, while others will remain virtual. Whether your grad is donning their cap and gown across a stage or via Zoom, you can still celebrate their achievement.

As nervous but excited young adults approach a new chapter of their lives, family and friends inevitably find themselves looking around for great graduation gift ideas – big or small – that show their love for the graduate. Celebratory gifts and gifts to help make post-grad life a little easier are good places to start.

And don’t worry about needing to opt for a lavish grand gesture. A pricey gift isn’t necessary to show the grad in your life how proud you are. There are plenty of thoughtful and affordable graduation gifts to be found whether you’re hoping to supplement the check or bouquet you’re planning to bring to the ceremony, or you just want to say congrats from afar.

Here are 26 of the best graduation gifts under $50

A portable bluetooth speaker

best graduation gifts under 50 portable speaker

Gift the JBL Go 3 Portable Waterproof Speaker, $39.95

New grads can take their tunes anywhere they go with this mini speaker that has great audio for its size. It connects to their devices via Bluetooth and is even waterproof and dustproof for easy listening while poolside, at the park, or even at the beach. Choose from five different color options.

A mini backpack to fit all the essentials

best graduation gifts under 50 mini backpack

Gift the Herschel Supply Co. Classic Mini Canvas Backpack, $35

Whether they plan to head off to more classes or to work, this mini backpack just right for holding all their essentials will surely come in handy. Made of lightweight but durable canvas, the adjustable slim shoulder straps and a front zip pocket ensure it’s comfy and easy to organize.

New sheets for getting a good night’s rest

best graduation gifts under 50 bed sheets

Gift the Target Threshold 400 Thread Count Solid Performance Sheet Set (Queen), $49

Most new grads will be moving into a new place, and that means they’ll need a new set of sheets. Threshold’s sheets are popular among Target shoppers because they’re comfortable, thoughtfully designed, and best of all, affordable. Though, if you want to splurge and upgrade their sheets, check our guide to the best bed sheets.

A digital instant print camera for photo keepsakes

best graduation gifts under 50 mini polaroid camera

Gift the Kodak Printomatic Digital Instant Print Camera, $49.99

Make memories and instantly print photos instead of keeping them all on your phone with this fun camera. The Printomatic is an easy point-and-shoot option that also instantly prints vibrant photos.

 

An Amazon Echo Dot for a convenient smart assistant

Amazon Echo Dot 4th gen

Gift an Echo Dot, $29.99

The Amazon Echo Dot is a small, unobtrusive personal helper that can set timers while you cook, report the weather and traffic to you from the comfort of your bed in the morning, and perform many, many more helpful tasks without taking up much room at all.

The Dot is also really easy to use, and it’s a big plus that it will work with any Amazon tech purchases they make in the future, since they’ll be in the same tech ecosystem.

A cute pouch to hold accessories

best graduations gifts under 50 tie dye pouch

Gift the Stoney Clover Lane Tie Dye Mini Pouch, $48

This small but mighty pouch will help new grads stay organized while on the go by keeping essentials from chapstick to charging cords in one handy place. The tie-dye nylon fabric and gold hardware give it a fun look.

 

A cast iron skillet for to get them started cooking

best graduation gifts under 50 cast iron skillet

Gift the Victoria Cast Iron Round Skillet, $35.71

Get the graduate started cooking on their own or up their kitchen skills with a do-it-all skillet. This our top pick for the best cast iron skillet thanks to its smart design that features curved handles and pour spouts, making it a great pan for cooking just about any dish.

A travel mug that keeps beverages hot for hours

Zojirushi SM SE Travel Mug

Gift the Zojirushi Stainless Steel Insulated Mug, $23.99

Whether they’re starting their first job, heading off to an internship, or will just a lot of coffee to fuel their next chapter in life, this is by far the best travel mug you can buy since it keeps both hot and cold drinks at enjoyable temperatures for hours longer than the competition. 

A plant that’s easy to take care of

best gifts for graduates under 50 succulent trio urbanstems

Gift UrbanStems The Duck Succulent, $45

Whether they’re moving into the dorms or into a new apartment after graduation, this beautiful succulent trio in a ceramic pot can double as a nice housewarming gift. The succulents are easy to care for and you can have this delivered right to their door if you won’t be able to see them in person this year.

A custom map

Grafomap2

Gift a Grafo Map, from $49

Whether you want to help remind them of home, a cherished trip, or of their favorite college town, create a beautiful custom map they can proudly display wherever they’re headed next.

A Book of the Month subscription for new reads

a monthly book subscription

Gift the Book of the Month club, 3 months for $49.99

Graduates are bound to be excited about the end of classes, but learning can actually be pretty great when it’s self-directed and at their leisure. They might realize a few months out of school that they’re actually a little starved for something new to think about. If that’s the case, you may want to pick up an inspirational book like “The Happiness Advantage” ($15.22).

If you want a list to start your thinking, here are 10 books that famous CEOs loved reading. Otherwise, you might like signing them up for three months of the Book of the Month club ($49.99), which is a great tone to set for the summer. 

Three months of Birchbox deliveries

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Gift a Birchbox subscription to your grad, from 3 months for $45

In general, subscriptions are some of the best gifts that you can give. A monthly treat, especially on a tight budget, can be an extremely nice thing to look forward to. Every time it’s delivered, they’ll be reminded of you.

Birchbox is one of the best subscription services available and uniquely well-suited for graduates. It combines monthly deliveries of personalized samples and an e-commerce shop to get around how inconvenient and expensive shopping for and trying new products can be.

The woman’s subscription will likely include products like face primers, conditioners, cleansers, mascaras, etc. and the Birchbox Man box will have four grooming samples (like nice aftershave, body wash, or even cologne), plus a stylish accessory or gadget each time.

You can gift a woman’s subscription for 3 months for $45, 6 months for $84, or a full 12 months for $156.

You can gift a man’s subscription for 3 months for $30, 6 months for $60, or a full 12 months for $110.

A framed memory

Screen Shot 2018 05 08 at 10.59.42 AM

Gift a Framebridge gift card

Framebridge is one of our favorite photo services because they make framing your memories and pictures easier and more affordable than ever. If you want to commemorate the years they’ve spent in school, or, if they’re going far from home for more schooling or a job opportunity — frame a nice picture of their loved ones. It’s thoughtful, sweet, and something they’ll be glad to have for years to come.

A personalized passport cover and luggage tag

Screen Shot 2018 05 08 at 10.36.40 AM

Gift the Leatherology Passport Cover + Luggage Tag, $65

Gift them a passport cover and luggage tag for all the destinations they haven’t yet made it to. You can also get it monogrammed for $20 more. Plus, this company sends all purchases in beautifully luxe boxes with ribbons already attached; no extra wrapping needed. 

A waterproof portable Bluetooth speaker

a waterproof speaker

Gift the JBL Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker, $54.95

Perfect for activities with their friends where they don’t want to worry about sensitive equipment that can’t get wet but still want to listen to their favorite songs. This is one gift that will inevitably see lots of use. 

The Best Self Co. Journal that helps make their 10-year plan tangible

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Gift the Best Self Co. Journal, $27.20

No more classes ushers in a lot of fun and free time, but many recent graduates will find that they miss the clear goals given in their 15 or so years of schooling. The Best Self Co. Journal helps people map out their five- or 10-year plans in a tangible, easily managed way. It’s a nice and low-pressure way to provide growth and direction after graduation.

An Amazon gift card

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Gift an Amazon Gift Card in a Graduation Cap Box

If what you really want to do is just give cash but are looking for a nicer equivalent, an Amazon Gift Card is a subtle way to accomplish the same freedom and utility. Or, if you’ve already gotten them a small gift but it doesn’t quite cover it, a gift card is a nice supplement. 

Amazon has virtually everything a new grad could desire (in this life or the next, really, there is everything), so you know that no matter what they’ll be getting something they genuinely want — which, in a lot of cases, is best since they know what they need better than anyone.

Flowers delivered to their door

Courage.Vase.Deluxe

Gift The Bouqs’ farm fresh flowers, from $36

Flowers — you can really never go wrong with giving them as a gift. Sending a nice bouquet doesn’t have to break the bank, and it’s a nice way to remind your graduate of their accomplishment and how proud you are of them for many days after the event itself. Plus, by ordering online and having them delivered, you won’t have to walk around holding them, and neither will they. 

Six months of language prep

Babbel_OnlineLanguageLearningPlatform

Gift 6 Months of Language Prep, $50.70

Many students have had to take language courses as part of their degree, and many of my peers want to use their upcoming free time to make the most of the building blocks that they have gotten from those courses.

Proficiency in another language is an extremely desirable trait for both employment purposes and for their ability to interact with the world that exists apart from them. Plus, without regular classes, they’re much more susceptible to losing what they’ve learned. If you know they have an interest, this is a nice, no-pressure way to make sure they have the opportunity to grow their skills, should they want to. 

A monogrammed planner to look and feel organized

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Gift a monogrammed planner, from $7.48

Life is busy, and it doesn’t stop being busy after graduation. Having a professional-looking, organized way to start off the year like a monogrammed Moleskine planner is a thoughtful and useful gift. It will also look nice in an internship or office setting.

A wireless keyboard

gifts for graduates under 50 wireless keyboard

Gift the Logitech K380 Multi-Device Bluetooth Keyboard, $29.99

Lightweight and compact so they can bring it with them to new classes or to a job, this wireless keyboard can pair with devices like phones and tablets for a comfortable experience when typing up notes, reminders, and more.

 

A business card holder

5af0ca3c19ee863f008b49bc 640 480

Gift the Leatherology Business Card Holder, from $45

Their company will likely give out business cards, but they’re not likely to already have a business card holder they can feel good about pulling out at work or internship events. This looks polished and high-end, and Leatherology delivers orders in beautiful boxes, which doesn’t hurt for gifting. You can even get the holder monogrammed.

A commemoration of their town

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Gift an artistic print of their college city, from $30

Your graduate might appreciate having a way to commemorate the town they’ve just spent the last few years making memories in. Especially if they’re leaving town post-graduation, this is one thoughtful way to take some of their best four years with them.

A scratch map that tracks where they’ve been and encourages further adventure

Screen Shot 2018 05 08 at 10.49.52 AM

Gift the Uncommon Goods Scratch Map, from $26

This scratch-off-where-you’ve-been map keeps track of past adventures as well as encouraging the new. It’s a fun decorative tool that will hopefully keep them curious about the world at large. 

A toolkit for “real life” moments

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Gift a 65-Piece Tool Kit, $53.34

After graduation, you enter some version of the “real world” and the real world will include putting together furniture, Googling how to fix leaky faucets, and enticing your friends to help you mount your living room TV with pizza. It’s not the most strictly “fun” gift, but it will absolutely be necessary. Your grad will be thankful for the tools needed to handle whatever life throws at them, and this is one gift they may not immediately buy for themselves, but which you really want to have before the very second you need it.

A steamer to keep clothes looking crisp

best graduation gifts under 50 steamer

Gift the Beautural Portable Handheld Steamer, $33.22

Help the graduate enter the next phase of their professional life by always making sure their clothes look fresh and crisp. This is one of the best clothes steamers you can buy for the price since it’s easy to use, portable, and doesn’t take up too much space.

Read the original article on Business Insider

29 thoughtful high school graduation gifts she’ll actually use

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

instax

  • Help her celebrate high school graduation with these 29 thoughtful gifts.
  • Whether she’s headed to college, work, or figuring out her next step, there’s something for her.
  • Some of our favorites include an instant camera, a custom map, and astrology-themed jewelry.

Graduating from high school is a big deal. After 12 years of schooling, finally receiving that diploma is a big moment that merits lots of celebrating.

There are a few ways to go about gifting your new high school grad. She might be heading off to college, in which case you want to give her something functional and useful for the next step of her education. Maybe she’s gearing up for future travel plans and you want to help curb some of the costs. Or perhaps she’s not sure what she’s doing next, but you want to commemorate the journey up until this point and help her chart her next course.

Regardless of your new grad’s post-high school plans, you can show her how proud you are of everything she’s accomplished with the following 29 gifts. A simple card, sweet treats, beauty and style accessories, and tech devices are all thoughtful presents that she’ll love and appreciate as she celebrates with her fellow graduates.

The top 5 best high school graduation gifts for her:

  1. A customizable map to remind her of home, from $49
  2. Dainty jewelry with her astrology sign, from $90
  3. A mini instant camera to document future memories, from $69
  4. A personalized leather portfolio to help her stay organized, from $95
  5. A book that helps her optimize her next life stage, from $11
A Tile Pro tracker to find lost items

Tile Pro (2018)

Tile Pro, $72, available on Amazon

You can’t go wrong with a tracker for their keys, wallet, or phone. The Tile Pro is compact and useful for pretty much everyone, especially if their dorm or apartment charges a fee every time they accidentally lock themselves out. 

A book about making the most of your twenties

The Defining Decade

The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter And How To Make The Most Of Them Now, $10.81, available on Amazon

They will make big, impactful decisions in the years ahead. And the best defense is a good offense. Your high school grad may benefit from knowing now, before any of those decisions crop up, how to get the most out of their “defining decade.”

A planner that guides them through a five- or 10-year plan

SELF Journal by BestSelf

Best Self Co. Journal, $31.99, available on Amazon

The Best Self Co. Journal helps people map out their five- or 10-year plans in a tangible, easily managed way. It’s a nice way to provide growth and direction after graduation, whether they’re on their way to college, a new job, traveling, or anything else.

Convenient, compact sport headphones

Bose SoundSport

Gift the Bose SoundSport Wireless Headphones, $129, available at Walmart 

These are among the best deals we know of on earbuds. Be it for commuting, working out, submitting applications, or just kicking around the house, a nice pair of headphones is a huge upgrade.

SoundSport headphones have six hours of battery life and they don’t take up much space to store, making them convenient for working out or listening on the move. They’re also not so dainty that you run the risk of losing them.

A monogrammed planner

Red Moleskine Notebook

Personalized Notebooks, $14.99, available from Moleskine

Life is busy. A monogrammed Moleskine planner is a thoughtful and useful gift, gifting them with a professional-looking, organized way to start off the year. It will also look nice in a meeting, interview, or internship.

A candle that smells like home

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Homesick candles, from $34, available at Homesick

Read more about our experience with Homesick candles

This candle will make it easy for her to remember home even if she’s far from it. Homesick’s soy wax candles are an ideal going-away-after-graduation gift, available in custom scents from every state as well as select US cities and a multitude of different countries.

An all-purpose canvas tote

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L.L.Bean Large Hunter’s Tote Bag, $39.95 (+ $8 for monogram), available at L.L.Bean

Read more about our experience with the Hunter’s tote

Whether she’s doing laundry, getting groceries, or taking a quick weekend trip home, this sturdy bag will be her new go-to. Its classic design and roomy, waterproof interior make it ideal for bringing along while taking care of errands. Choose the customizable monogram option to make it feel a bit more personal.

A custom college rambler

yeti tumbler

College Logo Custom Rambler, $19.99-$59.99, available at YETI

Yeti offers just over 180 colleges to choose from to start showing collegiate spirit. You can even add a custom monogram for no additional charge to this stainless steel, powerfully insulated mug that she’s sure to carry around with her all day during school.  

A map that reminds her of home

grafomap

Create a custom map poster for $49 at Grafomap here

Read more about how Grafomap works here

Remembering her roots looks cooler than ever with Grafomap’s custom maps. Zoom in to a hyperspecific location and choose from nine different design themes to find one that will represent her neighborhood well. You can also write your own title, subtitle, and tagline. 

A carry-on suitcase

away carry on main

The Carry-On, $225, available at Away

Leather Luggage Stickers, $15, available at Away

When it’s time to travel again, she’ll love having this sleek and popular carry-on suitcase at her side. The durable polycarbonate hardshell is adventure-ready, and there are tons of cheerful colors to choose from. An optional ejectable battery keeps tech devices charged while on the move, too.

Comfortable wool loungers

Allbirds Lounger

Women’s Wool Loungers, $95, available at Allbirds

Deemed “the world’s most comfortable shoes,” Allbirds’ merino wool loungers boast the comfort of a house slipper with the look and versatility of an outdoor shoe. They’re moisture-wicking and machine-washable so maintenance is a breeze. 

A personalized piece of jewelry that doesn’t have her name or initials

mejuri

Zodiac Collection Rings and Necklaces, $90-$375, available at Mejuri

Read more about Mejuri here

Get her a subtle ring or necklace in her zodiac sign. It’s not as obvious as a name or initials, but will still make her feel special when she wears it. The necklaces are available in gold vermeil or sterling silver, while the ring is available in gold vermeil.

A bouquet of flowers

the bouqs co

Shop all flower bouquets starting at $39 at The Bouqs Co.

Fresh and vibrant blooms are sure to set a happy, celebratory mood. From roses and orchids to succulents and tropical flowers, The Bouqs Co. is the place to find arrangements to make her smile.

A stylish backpack that also gives back

1015_essentials_18_lorimer_black_with_gold_zips_a_720_1200x

Lorimer Backpack, $90, available at STATE Bags

Read more about STATE Bags here.

If she’s going back to school, she’ll appreciate a new backpack. While you support her future educational goals, you’ll also support a child in need. STATE Bags donates a backpack filled with school supplies for every bag purchased. 

A mini instant camera

instax

Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Instant Camera, $68.99, available at Amazon

The years are only going to fly by faster after graduation. She can capture and cherish all the most important moments with her loved ones thanks to this must-have accessory. 

A box of new and popular sheet masks

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Gift a FaceTory subscription box starting at $19.90 here

Read more about how FaceTory works here

FaceTory makes it easy and affordable to try out the latest and greatest in the Korean sheet mask world. From luxurious foil masks to royal jelly firming masks, the service is a must-try for skincare enthusiasts. 

An affordable electric toothbrush

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Rose Edition Goby Toothbrush, $65 with subscription or $80 without, available at Goby

Read more about our experience with Goby here

Dental hygiene doesn’t get less important as you grow up. Goby’s brush has a smart design, is surprisingly effective for its price, and takes up minimal countertop space. You can subscribe to receive a fresh brush head every 1-3 months, so she doesn’t even have to think about it changing herself. 

An Echo Spot

echo spot

Echo Spot, $34.08, available at Amazon

Play music, get the news every morning, call family members, and more just by using your voice with the compact Echo Spot. It’s simple to set up and there’s a seemingly endless number of commands to play around with. 

A fun, easily stashable game

bananagrams

Bananagrams, $14.99, available at Amazon and Target

Combine an open door policy and a game everyone loves to create a foolproof way to make new friends during the first few months of college. This classic game is a great addition to any collection, and convenient to carry around, too. 

A stylish watch

mvmt watch

Beverly 38mm Watch, $115, available at MVMT

Read more about MVMT here

A real “grown-up” watch (that’s not terribly expensive) makes a great gift for a fresh-faced grad. Rose gold hands and markers pair with gray 100% genuine leather for an elegant look that matches well with everything. 

An iPad and Apple Pencil

ipad and apple pencil

iPad (32 GB), $329, available at Apple

Apple Pencil, $99, available at Apple

It was recently announced that the Apple Pencil now works with the regular iPad, letting you easily add diagrams and annotations to your documents without having to import them from separate paid apps. Instead of lugging around a laptop from class to class, she can use the much lighter iPad to take notes and access important files. 

A rapid ramen cooker

rapid ramen cooker

Rapid Ramen Cooker (Pack of 2), $65.37, available at Amazon

What’s college without a few packets of ramen? Prepare her for the inevitable with this funny gift which will at least cook the noodles for her more quickly. The block of ramen fits perfectly in the bowl and there’s no need for measuring since the water line is marked.

A charming, handmade card

etsy card

A Toast to Your Graduation Card, $5.75, available at Etsy

Send a cute food pun card to congratulate your graduate. You can even customize the cap colors to fit the specific school colors. 

A pair of sunglasses

raen

RAEN Norie Sunglasses in Brindle Tortoise, $134.95, available at Backcountry

These flattering, slightly oversized cat-eye glasses from celeb-favorite brand RAEN will always be in her bag as she enjoys a hopefully relaxing summer after graduation. They’re lightweight and polarized for 100% UVA/UVB protection. 

A photo box frame

artifact uprising

Brass & Wood Display Box, $55, available at Artifact Uprising

Square Print Set, from $9, available at Artifact Uprising

Display and store up to 50 5″x 5″ prints in this beautifully crafted photo box made of brass and real hardwood. Just slide in your preferred image into the frame, and switch it out whenever you want a change. 

A personalized leather portfolio

mothers day gifts from startup founders 28

Organizer Portfolio, $95 (+$10 monogram or +$40 hand paint), available at Leatherology

First impressions are a big deal at internship interviews and job fairs. This well-organized portfolio is made from full-grain leather and available in a variety of gorgeous colors starts her off on the right foot. 

A lamp that lets her know you’re thinking of her, and vice versa

long distance lamps

Two Filimin Long-Distance Touch Lamps, $170, available at Uncommon Goods

Read more about our experience with the Long-Distance Touch Lamps here

If she’s moving away, you can stay connected to her with a simple touch of this cool lamp. The corresponding lamp lights up whether she’s an hour’s drive away or across the country.

An efficient breakfast sandwich maker

sandwich maker

Hamilton Beach Breakfast Sandwich Maker, $24.99, available at Amazon

Read more about our experience with the sandwich maker here

Mornings don’t magically become easy once you become an adult. But they’re at least a little more pleasant with the help of a kitchen appliance that lets your grad make a full breakfast sandwich in just five minutes. 

Gift cards, gift cards, gift cards

Starbucks gift card

At the end of the day, the most helpful present is a gift card that can help get them through what is likely to be an expensive life change. Below are a few options for everything from books to travel.

Read the original article on Business Insider

21 gift ideas for graduates under $50 that are still thoughtful and useful

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

Best graduation gifts under $50
Graduates gather during 2014 commencement ceremonies at Howard University in Washington May 10, 2014.

With May quickly approaching, graduation ceremonies are just around the corner. This year, some graduation ceremonies are back to being in-person affairs, while others will remain virtual. Whether your grad is donning their cap and gown across a stage or via Zoom, you can still celebrate their achievement.

As nervous but excited young adults approach a new chapter of their lives, family and friends inevitably find themselves looking around for great graduation gift ideas – big or small – that show their love for the graduate. Celebratory gifts and gifts to help make post-grad life a little easier are good places to start.

And don’t worry about big displays like a car with a bow. While that’s certainly an incredible gesture, a lavish gift isn’t necessary to show the grad in your life how proud you are. There are plenty of thoughtful and affordable graduation gifts to be found whether you’re hoping to supplement the check or bouquet you’re planning to bring to the ceremony, or you just want to say congrats from afar.

Here are 21 of the best graduation gifts under $50

An Amazon Echo Dot for a convenient smart assistant

Amazon Echo Dot 4th gen

Gift an Echo Dot, $49.99

The Amazon Echo Dot is a small, unobtrusive personal helper that can set timers while you cook, report the weather and traffic to you from the comfort of your bed in the morning, and perform many, many more helpful tasks without taking up much room at all.

The Dot is also really easy to use, and it’s a big plus that it will work with any Amazon tech purchases they make in the future, since they’ll be in the same tech ecosystem.

A cast iron skillet for to get them started cooking

best graduation gifts under 50 cast iron skillet

Gift the Victoria Cast Iron Round Skillet, $24.36

Get the graduate started cooking on their own or up their kitchen skills with a do-it-all skillet. This our top pick for the best cast iron skillet thanks to its smart design that features curved handles and pour spouts, making it a great pan for cooking just about any dish.

A travel mug that keeps beverages hot for hours

Zojirushi SM SE Travel Mug

Gift the Zojirushi Stainless Steel Insulated Mug, $23.99

Whether they’re starting their first job, heading off to an internship, or will just a lot of coffee to fuel their next chapter in life, this is by far the best travel mug you can buy since it keeps both hot and cold drinks at enjoyable temperatures for hours longer than the competition. 

A plant that’s easy to take care of

best gifts for graduates under 50 succulent trio urbanstems

Gift UrbanStems The Duck Succulent, $45

Whether they’re moving into the dorms or into a new apartment after graduation, this beautiful succulent trio in a ceramic pot can double as a nice housewarming gift. The succulents are easy to care for and you can have this delivered right to their door if you won’t be able to see them in person this year.

 

A custom map

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Gift a Grafo Map, from $49

Whether you want to help remind them of home, a cherished trip, or of their favorite college town, create a beautiful custom map they can proudly display wherever they’re headed next.

A Book of the Month subscription for new reads

a monthly book subscription

Gift the Book of the Month club, 3 months for $49.99

Graduates are bound to be excited about the end of classes, but learning can actually be pretty great when it’s self-directed and at their leisure. They might realize a few months out of school that they’re actually a little starved for something new to think about. If that’s the case, you may want to pick up an inspirational book like “The Happiness Advantage” ($15.22).

If you want a list to start your thinking, here are 10 books that famous CEOs loved reading. Otherwise, you might like signing them up for three months of the Book of the Month club ($49.99), which is a great tone to set for the summer. 

Three months of Birchbox deliveries

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Gift a Birchbox subscription to your grad, from 3 months for $45

In general, subscriptions are some of the best gifts that you can give. A monthly treat, especially on a tight budget, can be an extremely nice thing to look forward to. Every time it’s delivered, they’ll be reminded of you.

Birchbox is one of the best subscription services available and uniquely well-suited for graduates. It combines monthly deliveries of personalized samples and an e-commerce shop to get around how inconvenient and expensive shopping for and trying new products can be.

The woman’s subscription will likely include products like face primers, conditioners, cleansers, mascaras, etc. and the Birchbox Man box will have four grooming samples (like nice aftershave, body wash, or even cologne), plus a stylish accessory or gadget each time.

You can gift a woman’s subscription for 3 months for $45, 6 months for $84, or a full 12 months for $156.

You can gift a man’s subscription for 3 months for $30, 6 months for $60, or a full 12 months for $110.

A framed memory

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Gift a Framebridge gift card

Framebridge is one of our favorite photo services because they make framing your memories and pictures easier and more affordable than ever. If you want to commemorate the years they’ve spent in school, or, if they’re going far from home for more schooling or a job opportunity — frame a nice picture of their loved ones. It’s thoughtful, sweet, and something they’ll be glad to have for years to come.

A personalized passport cover and luggage tag

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Gift the Leatherology Passport Cover + Luggage Tag, from $40

Gift them a passport cover and luggage tag for all the destinations they haven’t yet made it to. You can also get it monogrammed for $20 more. Plus, this company sends all purchases in beautifully luxe boxes with ribbons already attached; no extra wrapping needed. 

A waterproof portable Bluetooth speaker

a waterproof speaker

Gift the JBL Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker, 39.95

Perfect for activities with their friends where they don’t want to worry about sensitive equipment that can’t get wet but still want to listen to their favorite songs. This is one gift that will inevitably see lots of use. 

The Best Self Co. Journal that helps make their 10-year plan tangible

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Gift the Best Self Co. Journal, $31.99

No more classes ushers in a lot of fun and free time, but many recent graduates will find that they miss the clear goals given in their 15 or so years of schooling. The Best Self Co. Journal helps people map out their five- or 10-year plans in a tangible, easily managed way. It’s a nice and low-pressure way to provide growth and direction after graduation.

An Amazon gift card

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Gift an Amazon Gift Card in a Graduation Cap Box

If what you really want to do is just give cash but are looking for a nicer equivalent, an Amazon Gift Card is a subtle way to accomplish the same freedom and utility. Or, if you’ve already gotten them a small gift but it doesn’t quite cover it, a gift card is a nice supplement. 

Amazon has virtually everything a new grad could desire (in this life or the next, really, there is everything), so you know that no matter what they’ll be getting something they genuinely want — which, in a lot of cases, is best since they know what they need better than anyone.

Flowers delivered to their door

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Gift The Bouqs’ farm fresh flowers, from $36

Flowers — you can really never go wrong with giving them as a gift. Sending a nice bouquet doesn’t have to break the bank, and it’s a nice way to remind your graduate of their accomplishment and how proud you are of them for many days after the event itself. Plus, by ordering online and having them delivered, you won’t have to walk around holding them, and neither will they. 

Six months of language prep

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Gift 6 Months of Language Prep, $50.70

Many students have had to take language courses as part of their degree, and many of my peers want to use their upcoming free time to make the most of the building blocks that they have gotten from those courses.

Proficiency in another language is an extremely desirable trait for both employment purposes and for their ability to interact with the world that exists apart from them. Plus, without regular classes, they’re much more susceptible to losing what they’ve learned. If you know they have an interest, this is a nice, no-pressure way to make sure they have the opportunity to grow their skills, should they want to. 

A monogrammed planner to look and feel organized

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Gift a monogrammed planner, from $7.48

Life is busy, and it doesn’t stop being busy after graduation. Having a professional-looking, organized way to start off the year like a monogrammed Moleskine planner is a thoughtful and useful gift. It will also look nice in an internship or office setting.

A wireless keyboard

gifts for graduates under 50 wireless keyboard

Gift the Logitech K380 Multi-Device Bluetooth Keyboard, $29.99

Lightweight and compact so they can bring it with them to new classes or to a job, this wireless keyboard can pair with devices like phones and tablets for a comfortable experience when typing up notes, reminders, and more.

 

 

A business card holder

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Gift the Leatherology Business Card Holder, from $45

Their company will likely give out business cards, but they’re not likely to already have a business card holder they can feel good about pulling out at work or internship events. This looks polished and high-end, and Leatherology delivers orders in beautiful boxes, which doesn’t hurt for gifting. You can even get the holder monogrammed.

A commemoration of their town

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Gift an artistic print of their college city, from $30

Your graduate might appreciate having a way to commemorate the town they’ve just spent the last few years making memories in. Especially if they’re leaving town post-graduation, this is one thoughtful way to take some of their best four years with them.

A scratch map that tracks where they’ve been and encourages further adventure

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Gift the Uncommon Goods Scratch Map, from $26

This scratch-off-where-you’ve-been map keeps track of past adventures as well as encouraging the new. It’s a fun decorative tool that will hopefully keep them curious about the world at large. 

 

A toolkit for “real life” moments

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Gift a 65-Piece Tool Kit, $53.34

After graduation, you enter some version of the “real world” and the real world will include putting together furniture, Googling how to fix leaky faucets, and enticing your friends to help you mount your living room TV with pizza. It’s not the most strictly “fun” gift, but it will absolutely be necessary. Your grad will be thankful for the tools needed to handle whatever life throws at them, and this is one gift they may not immediately buy for themselves, but which you really want to have before the very second you need it.

A steamer to keep clothes looking crisp

best graduation gifts under 50 steamer

Gift the Beautural Portable Handheld Steamer, $25.47

Help the graduate enter the next phase of their professional life by always making sure their clothes look fresh and crisp. This is one of the best clothes steamers you can buy for the price since it’s easy to use, portable, and doesn’t take up too much space.

Read the original article on Business Insider