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The 12 best gifts for graduates: It's like a reward

What is the best graduation gift? ZDNet's top pick is the Apple Watch Series 7. Here is our roundup of the top gadgets, devices, and services that the graduate in your life will love, no matter their next chapter.

Celebrating important events such as birthdays or graduations is more important than ever after the past few years. Students may not have had the most "normal" educational experience in recent times, but their hard work persevered even in the midst of virtual classes and online study groups. Now, it's time for them to move on to the next step in their lives, whatever that may be. 

With this in mind, we have compiled a list of gifts, including gadgets and services, that might make their lives a little easier and more enjoyable in the coming months. 

Features: 368x448 pixels OLED display | 18-hour battery life | Customized bands 

Our pick for the best gift for graduates is the Apple Watch Series 7 since it is can help graduates stay connected whether they are entering the professional workforce or going to more school. 

The Apple Watch Series 7 has stand-out features like Apple Fitness+, sleep tracking, Apple Pay, Siri, take or make calls/texts, listen to music, and more. It's the perfect all-in-one gadget for the graduate in your life. 


  • Beautiful and refined hardware 
  • Excellent third-party application support 


  • Less than two-day battery life

The best gifts for graduates entering the professional world

It's an interesting time to enter the workforce right now—with most companies still virtual or offering hybrid-remote options, your graduate will most likely find themselves working from home or interviewing virtually at some point. Here are the best gifts to help them make the transition. 

Features: Privacy shutter | Five-element HD lens | Autofocus

Webcams have become hot property as so many of us are now working from home. While some laptops and PCs have webcams that are 'good enough,' a decent, external camera can make all the difference. This year, graduates may appreciate an update to their existing setup -- especially for virtual Zoom interviews for positions they apply to.

An option to consider is the Logitech C920S HD Pro, a $59.99 model that provides Full HD 1080p video on videoconferencing apps, including Skype and FaceTime and alternative video conferencing software, two built-in mics, and automatic low-light correction on Windows and Mac machines. 


  • Works for both desktops and laptops 
  • Automatic light correction


  • No adjustable field of view 

Features: Add magnification or an RX prescription | 100% UVA/UVB protection | Double-sided anti-glare coating

Your graduate is probably going to spend a lot of time staring at their computer screen, whether it's applying for jobs or starting their new 9-5 position. Gift them a stylish, yet helpful gift with Felix Gray blue light blocking glasses. 

Felix Gray allows you to choose from plenty of frame styles, colors and sizes to fit all types of face shapes. These glasses are designed to block the highest energy blue light wavelengths (in the 380-440nm range). Felix Gray claims that its glasses filter over 50% of the entire range and almost 90% of the most harmful wavelengths.


  • Choose from amber or clear blue-light tints
  • So many different styles and colors to choose from


  • On the expensive side 

Also: Best blue light blocking glasses

Features: 3-level lighting | USB connection | Clips onto gadgets

A budget-friendly gift for graduates to improve their remote video sessions/interviews is the QIAYA light ring, a $12.99 bolt-on for laptops or mobile phones that can give lighting a boost. 

The gadget can certainly be used to perfect a selfie, but outside of Instagram posts, the light ring offers four lighting settings that can be also used to improve how you look in video conferences, networking sessions, or those important job interviews. QIAYA's light is rechargeable via USB.  


  • Lightweight and portable 
  • Different lighting settings 


  • Battery life is not great—best to keep light plugged in

Features: 14 hours of talk time | Wireless Qi charging | 30-foot Bluetooth range

The Zone Wireless is a Bluetooth headset by Logitech designed with remote workers in mind as well as those in busy, noisy workplaces where call quality is crucial.

Users can connect their headset to PCs and mobile devices simultaneously within a 30-foot range. The Bluetooth headphones are customizable via the accompanying Logi Tune app and are compatible with Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business, Google Assistant, Zoom, and other applications. Buttons can be used to control active noise cancellation, starting or ending calls, playing music, and Bluetooth 5.0 pairing. The microphone's boom can be flipped for muting and unmuting.

Zone Wireless has an estimated battery life of 14 hours of talk time, supports wireless Qi charging, and is both lightweight and comes with leatherette ear pads for comfort. The included microphone utilizes isolation technology to separate your voice from background noise, and sidetone controls can be used to modulate your voice to the desired level.

The Logitech Zone Wireless headset is available in three options: the standard wireless headset ($229), the Wireless Plus, which comes with a USB receiver able to connect up to six Logitech Unifying peripherals -- including mice and keyboards up to 10 meters away -- and the MSFT Teams Zone Wireless, built specifically with the Microsoft Teams in mind.


  • Great for canceling out noise during work calls/meetings
  • Separates your voice from background noise


  • Not super comfortable to wear over long periods

Also: Best noise-canceling headphones

The best gifts for graduates continuing school

Whether they are going to college for the first time, or are looking to add another degree to their portfolio, students will need certain things to keep their sanity while in school. 

Features: Access to exclusive Amazon deals | One-day and same-day shipping | Amazon Prime Video

Amazon is no longer just an e-commerce platform for products. In recent years, Amazon has attempted to capitalize on the move toward streaming services and has opened up Amazon Music, Amazon Prime Video, an e-book and audiobook platform, and more. 

The Amazon Prime subscription covers these services on a limited basis, as well as offering both free and improved delivery times for a range of products. Same-day delivery is also available in some areas, so your student can get whatever they need delivered to them fast. 

You can gift someone an Amazon Prime subscription for $45 for three months, or $139 for one year. 


  • Includes Prime Video and free Kindle e-books 
  • Fast, free, and same-day delivery options 


  • Gift receiver will have to renew subscription themselves 

Features: 9 color options | 42 pages | 7 different page styles

For that one friend or family member that is always making lists and carries a notebook with them everywhere, the Rocketbook Fusion Smart Notebook is the perfect gift as they continue their education. The notebook's synthetic paper allows you to write the included Pilot FriXion pen, then wipe the page clean with a damp cloth to reuse again and again. You can save your pages to the Rocketbook app's cloud to make it easy to find later. 


  • Transfers notes from book to app 
  • Useful for to-do lists, calendars, goal-setting, sketching, and more


  • Not hardcover

Features: Full-size snacks | 3 different box options | Included travel guide 

Students and graduates alike might like a monthly subscription box of goodies -- especially if they are adventurous in what they are willing to try. MunchPak sends subscribers a selection of snacks, candy, and drinks from different countries so that their apartment/dorm is always stocked. A travel guide is also included with each delivery.

There are three sizes of boxes to choose from: MunchPak Mini, MunchPak (standard), and FamilyPak, depending on whether you want 5+, 10+, or 20+ snacks. Prices begin at $9.95 per delivery.  


  • All snacks are full size 
  • Both sweet and savory snacks


  • Cannot create your own box

Features: 5 coffees from around the world | Weekly Zoom tastings | Informational coffee cards included 

For something a little different and likely to delight any students or graduates you know that are coffee fiends, Driftaway Coffee offers a monthly subscription including coffees from small coffee farmers. Subscription holders begin with a tasting pack of whole bean or ground coffee. After you have rated your coffee, this creates a flavor profile that can be used to match new coffees available for delivery to your tastes. 

Subscription process vary depending on whether deliveries are made every two weeks or every month, how long the duration, and the size of coffee samples. For example, 8oz over three months, with one monthly delivery, will cost $54 when purchased as a gift.


  • Cold brew option 
  • Coffee is based on your taste profile 


  • Pricing can get expensive depending on what you choose

The best gifts for graduates moving into an apartment/dorm

It could be your graduate is living on their own for the first time or is moving into their first apartment—either way, they will need some essentials to make their home life easier. 

Features: Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant | Different color options | Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections

Another gift option for students and graduates is a smart home device, such as the Amazon Echo Dot or Google Nest Mini. These devices are relatively budget-friendly tech gifts, at $60 and $50 respectively, and offer a range of services and support for streaming services. 

The Amazon Echo Dot is a smart speaker with the Alexa voice assistant built-in and available in a variety of colors. Users can access the news, traffic reports, control IoT devices, ask general queries as well as connect to streaming services including Amazon Music, Apple Music, and Spotify. 

Alternatively, the Google Nest Mini, complete with the Google voice assistant, has similar IoT control and query functions and can also stream from sources including YouTube Music and Netflix. 


  • Third-party app support 
  • Smart home routines 


  • Voice recognition technology isn't always perfect

Features: 8-inch screen size | USB or SD flash connection | 4:3 aspect ratio

The Aluratek Digital Photo Frame since it makes a personalized and sentimental gift for the ones you love. Simply insert a USB or an SD card into the frame's back slide slots, and photos will cycle through the frame. Photos are displayed on the frame's true digital LCD panels for clear and vibrant colors and definition. 


  • Easily view your favorite photos 
  • Automatic slideshow 


  • No built-in memory

Features: 6 quart | Stainless steel | 23.9 pounds

Your graduate is going to need to do some cooking in their new dorm/apartment, so this Instant Pot makes a great gift that they can cook anything with. This Instant Pot's 11 functionalities include pressure cooking, steaming, slow cooking, sautéing, air frying, baking, broiling, roasting, and warming. You can also sous vide with this Instant Pot.

With its 15 built-in smart programs, this Instant Pot allows you to simply press a button -- and it cooks your food at precisely the right temperature for the right amount of time. 


  • Cooks meals up to 70% faster 
  • 11 different functionalities for all types of food/recipes 


  • Relatively large and heavy

Also: Best Instant Pots

What is the best graduation gift overall?

We recommend the Apple Watch Series 7 for any type of graduate since it's a great all-in-one device to keep them connected through more schooling or through their new professional career.

How did we choose these graduation gifts?

While compiling our guide, ZDNet considered not only devices and accessories that students and graduates would appreciate at home, but also services and technology that could serve a purpose in a climate where many of us are either forced to stay at home or adhere to social distancing guidelines.

Products to enhance virtual conferences or catch-ups with others, to make graduates appear their best in front of a camera, and smartwatches to maintain contact are only part of the story -- it is important that wellbeing is considered, too, whether this is taking time out to stream a movie, play a game, or enjoy a new flavor of coffee from the other side of the world. 

What is the best gift for college graduates specifically?

A great option to gift a college graduate is the Away Carry-On, since they will have more time to travel now that school is over and they can explore the world. 

What is the best graduation gift for a friend?

If your friend is the one graduating, you probably have loads of photos with memories of your times together. Make sure they print these photos to keep forever, rather than them just living on your friend's phone, with the HP Sprocket Photo Printer. 

Are there alternative graduation gifts to consider?

Here are a few other options to look into:

Editorial standards


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