Best graduation gifts for him: Great gear for college, high school, and eighth-grade grads

As the young men in your life prepare to enter a new era, this gift guide will help you say “Congrats!” with something other than cash.

So your son, brother, grandson, or male bestie is about to graduate and move on to a new chapter in life. Shopping for the best graduation gifts for him can be a bit tricky. It was easier when the lad was 7 or 8, but at this stage of life, it’s no longer as easy as buying a sports ball and calling it a score. 

You can narrow the search a bit by first asking yourself a few things: Do you want to give him something useful that sets him up for his next stage, or something purely fun and escapist that can take his mind off his goals for a while? Of course, you’ll also want to consider his personality. A sports fanatic, a gaming nut, and a science nerd may have wildly different sensibilities. One gift won’t necessarily fit all.

Don’t be daunted by all the variables, however. He’s done the hard part and we’ve done the heavy lifting with this selection of some of the best graduation gifts for him.

College grads need new, grown-up tech for remote work

By the time they get through college, most students have put their laptops through the ringer—and covered them with work-inappropriate stickers. Do your grad a solid and help him get rid of his janky school laptop with some sleek and reliable gear that’s perfect for remote work. 

Best college graduation gifts: Apple MacBook Air with Apple M1 Chip

Speed Machine

The central processing unit is the brand’s quickest yet, 3.5 times faster than the previous generation.
Apple

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It’s super-sleek and super-thin, with a quiet finless operation. This model has 18 GB of unified memory, and, perhaps most important for a new worker on the move, the battery can keep going for up to 18 hours.

Best college graduation gifts, runner up: Apple AirPods Pro

Superior Sonics

Along with its noise-canceling properties, the custom driver, amplifier, and H1 chip work in tandem to deliver off-the-charts sound.
Apple

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You get noise cancelling and excellent audio in a sweat- and water-resistant package. Plus, the wireless charging case can give you up to a day’s worth of battery life.

High school grads need homey gear to set up shop

Whether your newly minted adult is about to set up his own dorm room, shared apartment, or basement lair in the family home, help him make his space his own with some grow-up homegoods. 

Best high school graduation gifts: OontZ Angle 3 Bluetooth Portable Speaker

Unique Design

The triangular shape and a downward-facing passive radiator make for a more impressive audio experience.
Cambridge Soundworks

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This goes louder than you’d expect from such a small gadget and with no distortion. It’s also water-resistant, so you can bring it into the shower with you, and stay in there for up to 14 hours without worrying about running out of battery power (though we can’t say the same about hot water).

Best high school graduation gifts, runner up: Mellanni Bed Sheet Set

Comfort and Class

Grown-up, comfy sheets that come in a wide selection of colors, patterns, and sizes. Mellanni

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These won’t fade, shrink, stain or wrinkle, and the 100 percent polyester fabric is breathable, moisture-wicking and hypoallergenic.

8th-grade graduation gifts that even the grumpiest teen will like

School and studying can be a drag, and they can leave a guy feeling sort of depleted even after the bell rings for the last time. Beat those post-graduation blues and help turn your soon-to-be high-schooler’s frown into a cheeky grin. 

Best 8th grade graduation gifts: CraveBox 45-Count Care Package

Party Pack

This box is full of individually wrapped and sealed snacks, so he won’t have to worry about eating up all the goodies before they spoil.
CRAVEBOX

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Sure, school may be out for summer, so there may not be tons of studying in your graduate’s near future, but it’s never too late to give the gift of junk food. After all, he’ll need plenty of fuel for the fun, long summer ahead. This 45-item care package includes a mix of sweet, savory, and healthy snacks, and since there’s so much here to enjoy, he’ll be fully snack-stocked for months after his big day. It’s like a portable vending machine, so he won’t have to go digging for change or run to the corner store every time he’s looking for a quick energy boost.

Best 8th grade graduation gifts, runner up: Trendsmax Initial Pendant Necklace

Fashion Forward

The gold-plated chain is nickel-free, and the pendant is made of environmentally friendly copper.
Trendsmax

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As boys move from middle school to high school, personal style becomes more important, so a great gift idea for guys graduating from eighth grade is a little bling when he’s trying to stand out (but not too much) as an underclassman. This personalized gem is something he might not want to take off, and it will still be stylish in his senior year and beyond. The shiny mirror finish looks classy and expensive, and it’s designed not to irritate the skin. If your graduation boy is a bit on the shorter side, the 22-inch-long chain might hang a little lowish for now, but it will give him room to grow into it. By the time he’s a senior, the pendant will probably land on a sweet spot just under the neck.

You don’t have to spend a ton to celebrate your favorite graduate

Graduation and wedding season can be hard on your wallet—so we poked around for some thoughtful, fun, but cheap ways to say congratulations.

Best cheap graduation gift for him: Gamer’s Graphic Novelty Sarcastic Funny T Shirt

Comfy And Casual

These T-shirts come in big and tall sizes to fit a variety of bodies.
Feelin Good Tees

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Every boy loves a great T-shirt, especially a sarcastic one, and since this one isn’t blatantly graduation-related (though you could wear it, accurately, at graduation), it will still be current at any time. Reading “I Paused My Game To Be Here,” it comes in 16 different colors and you can get a perfect fit for video game-loving graduating boys of all ages, even adult ones. The cotton/polyester blend tees are preshrunk, and they can be comfortably worn while hanging out with friends, lounging around at home, while gaming (obviously), and even when going to bed. To ensure a longer life, be sure he washes it inside out with cold water.

Best cheap graduation gift for him, runner up: 2 Pack Bottle Opener Keychain

Fashionable and Functional

It’s made of zinc alloy that is anti-rust and anti-scratch.
Mtlee

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When the teenage boy in your life completes 8th or 12th grade and is ready to accept his diploma, it’s hard to think of a more appropriate graduation gift for him than a keyring, even if it doesn’t come with keys to a brand new set of wheels. If he’ll be going away to college, he’ll need somewhere to put his first set of keys to his own place, and this hi-techy keychain is not only a functional gift idea for him, but it looks hip and cool. This pair is designed with two extra holes so he can store more than one ring’s worth of keys, and a built-in clip will allow him to attach it to a belt or backpack so he won’t have to add any excess bulk to his pockets. And although you can rest assured he won’t be attending any wild parties in high school or college (wink wink), an attached bottle opener means he won’t have to look for one to flip the cap off his next bottled root beer.

Truly unique graduation gifts for the guy who has everything

If your grad is already topped up on tech, housewares, and snacks, consider one of these ideas that are a little more out-of-the-box.

Best unique graduation gifts: LUMI Keys 

Musically Innovative

This product is a game-changer in the music world—offering an incredibly engaging learning experience.
LUMI

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Shockingly intuitive in design, the LUMI Keys hardware plus lesson-rich app have you follow along with different lights and colors that pop up on the appropriate chords, helping you comprehend how to play the keyboard (apt for both electric or piano) with its unique combination of light, color, and ultra-modern technology. Each key is about seven-eighth the width of the average finger, slightly smaller than a regular piano keyboard and more aligned to a natural fit. And—since it’s lightweight, compact, and wireless—it’s ideal to stow away or travel with. A preorder for late April (at time of publication), the LUMI launch bundle should arrive in time for 2021 graduates to help him wind down after some pomp and circumstance.

Best unique graduation gifts, runner up: AeroGarden Black Harvest Indoor Hydroponic Garden

Green Oasis

The seeds in this indoor garden grow five times faster than ones in soil, taking only days to sprout and weeks to harvest.
AeroGarden

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This compact hydroponic garden package includes six types of seed (including basil, dill, parsley, thyme, and mint), a three-ounce bottle of natural plant nutrients and a grow light to reproduce the sunny effect of the great outdoors. At 11 inches by 8 inches by 15 inches, the garden container won’t take up to much counter space. The pods grow in water, so no soil is needed, and up to six plants can reach a height of up to 12 inches tall. Even if graduation day is in the dead of winter, green-thumb graduates can start planting today and grow fresh herbs and veggies all year long.

The final word on getting the best graduation gifts for him

For some, graduation day comes once, while others will have it come several times in a lifetime. Either way, the best graduation gifts for him will ensure that any (and every) milestone is memorable. There are plenty of graduation gift ideas for him out there, but every graduate deserves unique graduation gifts specifically suited to his personal taste and interests. If money is no option, feel free to go overboard, but even for a reasonable price, the best graduation gifts for him can give memories that will last, if not for a lifetime, at least until that next occasion.

Here’s another gift guide, in case you also need help finding the best graduation gifts for her.

PopSci is here to help you find the most useful and expert shopping recommendations for the best gift ideas. Searching for more unique gifts? Check out more gift guides here: Best Gifts for Gamers, Space-Themed Gift Ideas, Practical Tech Gifts.