Graduation Gifts to Impress Gen Z

Boomers, Gen Xers, and millennials, we’ve got your back. Here’s how to buy meaningful gifts that the class of 2020 will love.

For those who are a little (ahem) older than this newest crop of Gen Z graduates, finding the right gift for a young adult can be a lot trickier than shopping for a peer. What does this plugged-in young generation value in a gift?

“Generation Z is especially interested in expression and individualism,” says Meghan Grace, Ed.D., generational researcher, author, and consultant. She advises that you keep that independent spirit in mind when shopping for Gen Z graduates. After all, “the very best gifts, regardless of age, fit the individual,” says Grace.

Accordingly, Grace suggests that you ask a graduate’s nearest and dearest—whether it’s Mom or their best friend—for some suggestions and insights into their tastes, interests, hobbies, and future plans. “A little research can go a long way in terms of individualizing a grad gift,” she says.

For the class of 2020, which will graduate without the physical ceremonies or celebrations that typically mark their four years of hard work, an extra effort to celebrate the milestone may be even more meaningful now than ever.

Show the graduating young adults you know how proud you are of them with these gift ideas that will resonate with Gen Z.

Graduation Gifts That Give Back

Gen Z loves supporting companies that have social impact baked into their business model. “Whether it’s a company that creates sustainable fashion or footwear, or a business that utilizes a portion of its proceeds to support a nonprofit, gifts that generate some form of social good will be a win with Generation Z,” Grace says. You can even expand the gift by making a contribution to go along with the physical item. “If you know of a specific cause that your graduate cares about, you might also consider making a donation to a nonprofit in their name,” says Grace.

Gift Idea: Do some reconnaissance and figure out what causes your grad cares about, then make a purchase from a company devoted to that cause or a donation in their name to a related charity or nonprofit.

Graduation Gifts for Techie Grads

Gen Z was basically born with a social media account and a smartphone in hand, so tech gifts make sense for this savvy generation. “Things like virtual reality technology are increasing in popularity among Generation Z, as are wearable technologies like Fitbits and Apple Watches,” Grace says. “Gaming is also popular, so new gaming systems, like the Nintendo Switch, could make for a splurge-worthy graduation gift.”

Gift Ideas: Help busy young adults maintain healthy sleep and exercise habits with a Fitbit Inspire Activity Tracker, a gadget that allows them to easily monitor progress towards fitness and rest goals. With dozens of uses, from supplying workout tunes to blocking out external sounds with white noise, Apple AirPods are a gift that will be in constant use.

Graduation Gifts That Help Them Manage Expenses

Cash and gift cards are versatile gifts, and that’s especially helpful for new grads with many new expenses. “Even prior to the pandemic, Generation Z was worried about money,” Grace says. “As they progress into new phases of life, either in college or into new jobs, having extra money will be helpful.”

Make cash or a gift card more personal by including a handwritten note with a bit of friendly advice. You might, for example, share the financial wisdom you found most helpful when you were at the same life stage, Grace says. “You can also encourage your graduate to use the money toward something specific,” she says. “Maybe to buy books for school or put toward activity fees in college. That way, the money you provide will have meaning in something tangible in their lives.”

Gift Idea: Gift funds or gift cards with a note containing sage advice that will help them transition into adult life.

Graduation Gift to Help Them “Adult”

One of the best parts of graduating is finally being on your own. One of the worst parts? You probably have none of the stuff you need to do that. Accordingly, helping a graduate avoid some of the expenses of launching their own lives could be immensely helpful. Consider gifts of furnishings and necessities, such as dishes, glasses, kitchen gadgets, or bedding and towels. Helpfully, when you give with GiftNow, the recipient chooses their own shipping address, and you send the gift by text or email, so you needn’t worry about physically tracking down a busy graduate who hasn’t settled down yet.

For a graduate seeking a job, you might, for example, pay for a year’s worth of premium fees to a networking site, such as LinkedIn, or cover the cost of a personal website dedicated to their job hunt. Clothes for interviewing (yes, you still need to dress up on a Zoom interview!) are also a smart gift. When you give with GiftNow, the recipient can choose their own size and the item’s color—or exchange it entirely—so there’s no missteps and no returns needed.

Gift Ideas: Young graduates heading into the working world might benefit from an upgrade to their wardrobe staples. Kenneth Cole lace-up oxfords are stylish and professional; an elegant kate spade pearl necklace will be worn for years to come. For budding young chefs, kate spade food storage containers are a practical gift with a cute pattern.

Experiences as Graduation Gifts

If you’re close with the graduate, an experience that you share together, such as a weekend getaway or shopping spree for work clothes, is a meaningful gift, and one that can easily wait until the time when get-togethers are possible again.

Think about something the two of you have done together, something they’ve been talking about wanting to do, or simply start brainstorming with their hobbies in mind. “Hobbies are a great way to identify gifts,” Grace says. Experiences that teach important skills, such as a cooking class, can also double as fun. “It’s helpful to think about how the gift can help them in their next phase of life,” Grace says.

Gift Idea: Invest in an experience with your graduate—whether it be a trip, an excursion, or a class that will help expand their horizons.

With any of these gift ideas available via GiftNow, a video custom-made by you is the perfect accompaniment to help you congratulate them. Personalize your gift, delivered instantly by text or email, with a fun video message, bringing you together even when you’re apart.

For more thoughtful ways to mark this coming-of-age moment with the Class of 2020, check out these inventive ideas for celebrating graduation safely this year.

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