Graduation Party Decorations

Graduation Season is upon us – and if you haven’t planned ahead, or if you receive a last-minute invite to a graduation party, don’t stress. These last-minute graduation gift ideas are perfect for any high school, college, or higher education grad starting the next phase of their life.

Gift Cards

Whether the graduate is heading off to college or to a new job, gift cards are a simple graduation gift idea. They’re easily packed (or emailed!) and can be used at any time. You can buy catch-all gift cards like a Visa gift card or an Amazon gift card, or get a few from the local coffee shop, restaurants, and bookstores.

Framed Photos

No one prints photos anymore, which makes this last-minute gift extra-special. If you know the graduate well and have a few photos of them you can pick your favorite and have it printed at most drug stores, or online at sites like Keepsake or Shutterfly. Grab a frame while you’re there or make your own for the ultimate personal touch. It will add comfort and personality to their new dorm or apartment. 


A nice notebook is always a good graduation gift idea. They’re great for taking notes, writing down feelings during times of transition, or for coming up with the next great novel idea. Pair the notebook with your favorite pen and you’ll be all set.

Favorite Book

Sharing a treasured book is always a special gift. Think back to when you were graduating – was there any advice that really resonated? Or a book that really stuck with you? A few recommendations to get you started: The Defining Decade by Dr. Meg Jay, Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett & Dave Evans, In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It by Lauren Graham

Travel Mug

For busy students or people entering the workforce, on-the-go coffee and tea is a must. You’ll get bonus points if the mug is insulated to keep hot things hot AND cold things cold. A durable travel mug is a great gift – pair it with tea or coffee to make it extra sweet. 

Survival Kit 

This is great for any practical gift-givers. You can give it to any graduate for their dorm room, new apartment, car, or office. You can customize it as much as you want, too! Start with a small travel bag that zips or an air-tight storage container that is a small or medium size. Fill it with all the little things we often forget to buy: batteries, Tylenol, Band-Aids, safety pins, laundry detergent, quarters, etc. You can find most things in the travel section of most grocery stores or pharmacies.

Polaroid Photos
Photo by Taryn Elliot

Polaroid Camera & Film

Life is all about the memories and too often we forget to capture them. An instant film camera like a Polaroid or Fuji film camera makes great gifts. Don’t forget to buy extra film! If you’re not sure if the graduate already has an instant camera, opt for a disposable single-use camera. 

Rechargeable Power Bank 

These are great for travel or to have on hand in case of emergencies. They come in many sizes and styles, so you can get one that will best suit your new graduate’s lifestyle.

Woman with laptop
Photo by Ivan Samkov

Noise Canceling headphones

Dorm rooms are noisy, apartments are noisy, and open-office plans are noisy. That’s why noise canceling headphones make such a good gift idea for a new graduate. Multi-functional and much appreciated!


While cash may seem boring or impersonal, it is ALWAYS appreciated. Add your own flare by making a custom card, slipping the dollars between the pages of your favorite book, or wrapping the money inside an odd or unassuming shape. Your graduate will never guess what it is before they open!

Subscription box

No matter what interests the new graduate, there is a subscription box for them! Subscription boxes make great gifts because all you have to do is pick one, sign up for a membership, many of which are 3-6 month options. There are food-focused subscriptions, clothing, books, beauty items, and more.


Forgetting to buy a gift or receiving a last-minute invitation to a graduation party doesn’t have to be stressful! The best gifts are ones that are practical and from the heart. Just think about what you could have used when you were in that period of your life, and pay it forward. 

Thinking ahead to the next graduation season? Use Eventective to plan your favorite graduate a party to match your enthusiasm for their achievements.

Marina Crouse is a freelance writer, editor, writing coach, and podcaster living in Los Angeles, CA. To learn more: