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Unique Graduation Gift Ideas: Experience Gifts for New Grads

Finding the right gift for a high school or college graduate can be tough. Gift cards and cash are standard, because they’re easy to buy and use.

But cash isn’t always king. Research shows that experiences make us happiest. With that in mind, you can celebrate this major milestone with Graduation gifts that help your grad live in the moment.Here are some graduation gift ideas to help your favorite new grad live life to its fullest.

1. Adrenaline Experience

Few things in life compare to jumping out of an airplane — except, perhaps, a different high-adrenaline experience. If your grad is a no-holds-barred adventurer, treat them to the mind-blowing adventure of a lifetime.

Try skydiving, race car driving, being a fighter pilot for a day, kite surfing, heli-skiing, or a helicopter ride. With a little research, you’ll find the perfect, heart-pounding gift for a high-energy grad. Search Cloud 9 Living, Great American Days — or Tinggly for those traveling outside of the U.S.

2. Season Tickets

Treat sports fans, theater buffs, and music junkies to an experience that lasts months. Plan ahead and buy season tickets to a theater or concert series.

If you act fast (or have great connections), you could score courtside or box seats to a sports fan’s favorite team. If your grad is a music fan, treat them to VIP access to their favorite festival or symphony season. If season tickets are hard to come by in your area, you can also buy tickets to several upcoming shows or games.

3. Annual Pass or Membership

Art, history, and science graduates can have a field day with a yearly membership to a museum, botanical garden, zoo, or aquarium. Game-players and grads with kids might appreciate an annual pass to a theme park. Museums and theme parks often offer discounts on gift memberships and family passes in the summer.

Many zoos and aquariums also belong to a reciprocal program. This program offers free or discounted entry to other zoos and aquariums across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Membership to one of these zoos can be a great Graduation gift for a traveling animal lover or future biologist.

4. Streaming Movie/TV/Music/Other Subscription

For graduates on the go, indulge them with entertainment. A monthly streaming subscription is a gift that gives back year-round. New grads can stay up to date on their favorite movies and shows with services like Netflix and Hulu. Or they can stream their favorite music ad-free with services like Spotify and Pandora.

If your grad will be working in digital media or design, thrill them with access to Adobe Creative Cloud, which includes must-have tools like Photoshop and Illustrator. Subscriptions can be paid for monthly or yearly, and many services offer gift cards.

5. An Investment

Investments: similar to cash but without the risk of impulse spending. The right investment can be just what your grad needs to help jump-start their future.

For younger graduates, you can contribute to a college savings account or buy savings bonds that will continue to grow until the child is an adult. For those interested in the stock market, you can buy shares of stock and transfer it to a custodial account. These accounts normally give the child control at age 18 or 21.


What are some of your favorite graduation gift ideas? Share in the comments!