Creative Gift Ideas for High School Graduates

Eight awesome alternatives to the green stuff that still clearly say “Congrats!”



As a mom of two fairly recent high school grads, I don’t kid myself—nothing beats cold, hard cash as the go-to, one-size-fits-all graduation present. But if you want to show your favorite high school grad that, yes, that tassel really was worth the hassle, consider gifting him or her with one of these instead.

Life’s a Trip
My librarian pal pairs a copy of Dr. Seuss’s classic Oh, the Places You’ll Go! ($17.99) with a personalized passport cover. The Graphic Image leather, metallic, and croc-patterned cases come in a host of trendy colors; the case is $60 and can be monogrammed for an additional $10.
Book at The Voracious Reader in Larchmont (914) 630-4581; passport cover at Paper Tree in Scarsdale, (914) 874-5380

Way Beyond the Backpack
Whether trekking across the globe or just to class across campus, these sturdy yet lightweight Eagle Creek duffels should come in handy. Made of durable nylon ballistic material and offered in clay, blue, green, and black, this versatile carryall with an adjustable shoulder strap comes in small ($70), medium ($80), large ($90), and extra-large ($100) sizes.
At Parker’s in Rye (914) 921-6400

In Hot Water
For a quick cup of tea or hot cocoa, the cordless Bodum Water Kettle teakettle is so easy to read—it has a see-through water level indicator—that even the most pampered grad could learn how to use it. In tangerine ($39.95), and lime green, cherry red, and black ($44.95).
At Sur La Table in Yonkers (914) 652-9643

Absorbing Possibilities
Your student will never lose her towel in the communal bathroom or campus laundry service again with these personalized oversized striped terry bath sheets. Available in red/white, pink/white, navy/white, cream/white, chocolate brown/white; the $55 price includes a monogrammed last name or three initials.
At Wish in Rye (914) 967-2910

That Old School Spirit
The Pieced Palette’s customized pillows are the brainchild of Chappaqua resident Jane Seinfeld. In our favorite design, one side features the student’s name, high school logo, and graduation year and the other side the college logo and expected graduation date. Designs, production time, and prices vary.
For more info: thepiecedpalette.com


Handy Home Improvement
No, it doesn’t come with Tim Allen, but a thoughtfully assembled tool kit may become a favorite gift. Just take a clear plastic lidded Rubbermaid rectangular box and fill it with all those easy-to-overlook essentials needed to set up a college lair, like a measuring tape and a combo screwdriver/hammer, adhesive hooks, power strips, a roll of duct tape, batteries, etc. Price varies.
Components at Family Discount Center/Ace Hardware in Rye Brook (914) 939-4321

Haute Hang Out Couture
This super-soft and comfy but still cool-enough-for-school bathrobe by Pine Cone Hill is perfect for lounge pizza parties and treks to the shower. Made of fluffy machine-washable fleece—it can function as a kind of sophisticated stuffed animal substitute in a pinch—it comes in a rainbow of colors like coralq, peony, and daffodil, and the $85 price tag includes first name or initials monogramming.
At Wish in Rye (914) 967-2910

Designer ID Idea
Right-sized for either late-night clubbing or—now here’s a thought—early-morning chem class, Coach’s Sutton Signature Mini Skinny holds the basics—ID, cash, and keys—in sophisticated style. Trimmed in leather and featuring a zip-top closure, it comes in silver, khaki, or black for $38.
At Coach in White Plains (914) 644-8244