Adulting Graduation Gift Guide

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As a parent with two children learning to adult, I’ve bought many graduation gifts for them and their friends. The best graduation gifts are ones that help these young adults, well, adult. From college graduation gifts to help with living on their own—to high school graduation gifts that help them prepare for college—I’ve found the best to get your new grad.

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1. Security system

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When my youngest graduated high school, she moved into her own apartment. As you can imagine, I was terrified for her safety.

So, one of her high school graduation gifts was a security system. Figuring out the best security systems is pretty much my job, so I had this one on lock. 

I personally like SimpliSafe for new grads and young adults because there’s no contract.  And parents—you can finance the equipment if you’re short on cash around graduation time.

Check out all of my top home security system picks for more ideas.

2. What Color Is Your Parachute? 2021

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Everyone wants their graduate to end up in a job they love. Sometimes, they need a little help. That’s why What Color Is Your Parachute? 2021 by Richard N. Bolles is a great graduation gift idea.

I read this sucker when I was in college 20 years ago and loved it. The classic has been updated for today’s new graduates with tips on finding jobs, figuring out what you have to offer the world, and more.

3. Personal safe

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AmazonBasics safe

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One thing I learned as an adult is to keep your photos and important documents safe in case of a fire or burglary. A small home safe is an ideal way to keep everything secure, even from the prying eyes of a roommate.

Check out our top safe recommendations to fit your gift-giving budget.

4. Personal defense device

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vipertek stun gun flashlight

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Part of being an adult is being alone in scary places, like parking garages or a grocery store parking lot at night. Having a personal safety device is smart.

I gave my oldest pepper spray, but there are lots of other options. Check out these top personal safety devices.

5. Cartman toolkit

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Why a toolkit for a graduation present? Because you’ll get tired of lending your new adult your tools and never getting them back. Trust me.

This Cartman 39-Piece Tool Set has everything a budding adult needs to hang pictures and make small repairs. Even better, it comes in five colors, so this is a customizable gift too.

6. Winix 5300-2 air purifier

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Winix 5500-2 air purifier
Winix 5300-2

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With all of the pollution, giving your grad the gift of clean air can put your mind at ease. After considering 370 air purifiers, we found the Winix 5300-2 air purifier to be the perfect one for a graduation gift.

It takes care of smoke, dust, and pollen, includes a washable pre-filter, and comes at an affordable price. 

Don’t miss our picks for best air monitors too.

7. Baseus car vacuum

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Okay, so most adults don’t keep their cars as clean as they should. But wouldn't it be easier to keep things tidy with this tiny vacuum cleaner?

The Baseus Car Vacuum is about the size of a water bottle, but it can suck up crumbs from their latest drive-through excursion or sand from a day at the beach. It’s the perfect size for tucking in the console so it’s always handy.

8. Tile Mate Essentials 4-Pack

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As an adult there are a lot of things to keep up with: keys, remotes, a phone, the dog’s leash. Tile Mate attaches to those things and when they’re lost you can use an app to find the location of the missing item.

This four-pack is perfect for a graduation gift because it comes with different-sized Tiles to fit different needs.

9. iRobot Roomba 694

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If you’ve got a bigger budget for a graduation gift, an iRobot Roomba 694 is a present your grad will love. This little robot vacuum cleaner takes one chore off of their plate by keeping the floors tidy.

No matter if your grad is getting a dorm room, apartment, or buying their own place, this gift will be highly appreciated.

10. Leatherman

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Think of a Leatherman as the Swiss army knife’s cooler sibling. It has everything from a tiny pair of scissors to a screwdriver.

This little dynamo is a staple at my house for home repairs and repairs on the go. It’s ideal to have one in your purse, pocket, or car to be prepared for every situation, from a hangnail to a loose screw.

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Alina Bradford
Written by
Alina Bradford
Alina is a safety and security expert that has contributed her insights to CNET, CBS, Digital Trends, MTV, Top Ten Reviews, and many others. Her goal is to make safety and security gadgets less mystifying one article at a time. In the early 2000s, Alina worked as a volunteer firefighter, earning her first responder certification and paving the way to her current career. Her activities aren’t nearly as dangerous today. Her hobbies include fixing up her 100-year-old house, doing artsy stuff, and going to the lake with her family.

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