Though an overtly sentimental gift may make a great first impression, graduates are most likely to really appreciate gifts they use on a day-to-day basis. Every time the graduate uses your gift, he or she will probably think about you and appreciate the gift even more. So, though you may be tempted to pick up that little teddy bear with the cap and gown, there's a good chance the cute little teddy bear will gather dust on a shelf somewhere. Buy graduation gifts that graduates will actually use. Sometimes this takes a little bit of investigation as to what the graduates have and want. Note that high-school graduates are going to have different wants and needs than college graduates. High school graduates will probably appreciate a number of gifts aimed at settling them into life away from home and in a dorm room. Small refrigerators or microwaves often go over well, as do durable plates and glasses.
A handheld personal digital assistant (PDA) is another good graduation gifts since it will help the graduate keep track of all of his or her appointments, tests, and social engagements when in college or out in the workforce. College graduation gifts differ in that college graduates aren't preparing for dorm life, they're preparing to get a job and find an apartment. House wares often provide great gift opportunities, since most college graduates won't want their first apartments to look like their dorm rooms. The Animal Posters are going to need to come down, and they'll need something a little fancier than those red plastic cups. If you're not sure of a graduate's taste in interior design, consider a gift certificate to a home store, where they can pick up what suits them best.
Of course, one of the best graduation gifts is the old stand-by: money. Graduates rarely have enough of it, and it's the gift that keeps on giving. Though a more personal gift can show a little more thought and effort on your part, the gift of cash will rarely go unappreciated.