Looking for a special graduation gift? Look no further. We’re sharing 11 of the best meaningful graduation gift ideas.

Are you a sentimental person? Do you like giving the perfect gift to special people in your life?

Then you’re definitely going to appreciate this list of meaningful graduation gift ideas.

Between both Anne & I…we’ve had three children graduate high school.

I have three kids…my oldest two have graduated high school and my firstborn finished college too. My youngest has another year of high school.

And Anne also has three children. Her oldest graduated high school and her twins will graduate this year.

three different high school graduation photo announcement cardss on wood table

Our boys graduated in 2016, 2018, & 2020 and we look forward to our girls in 2021 & 2022!


We sure have had a busy few years…with lots to celebrate!

So it’s safe to say that we’ve really thought a lot about graduation gifts in the past several years.

And being the sappy moms that we are…it’s always important to us to give gifts that are thoughtful.

Sure they appreciate those laptops and cash they get for graduating but the sentimental gifts…those are the ones they’ll always remember.

We’ve put together our favorite 11 meaningful gift ideas.


As you may know Anne and I love family photos! Anne is a family photographer. And we both have family photo gallery walls all over our homes.

So it’s no surprise that a photo book is the first idea on our list of meaningful graduation gift ideas.

Creating a photo book is a bit time consuming but so worth the work!

I made a photo book of my son’s childhood from birth through 18. Just a few pages of each stage of his life in chronological order.

Of course, being a super sentimental mom I love a good quote! So I included lots of great quotes throughout the book.

Check out all the details of how I organized the photos and put together the photo book here.

Some other ideas for a meaningful photo book:

  • Short on time? Choose one photo for each year along with a quote or note about that time period. Short and sweet! But full of heart!!
  • Did the graduate have a senior photo session? Usually you choose just a couple pictures from the session. Why not create a book with all the images from their photo shoot?
  • Favorites – Pull out your phone and scroll through the pictures. Create a book with photos of the graduates most recent favorite times. A memory keeper for sure!

Wanderer Bracelet

wanderer bracelet with personalized coordinates on table with canvas bag with logo on it and handwritten note for meaningful graduation gift idea

Both Anne and I gave these Wanderer bracelets to our sons when they went away to college.

A Wanderer bracelet with the coordinates of the graduate’s homes is the perfect gift for graduation.

I wrote Jake a letter and put the bracelet with our home coordinates in the envelope then left it under his pillow after making his bed when we moved him in his dorm.

He texted me later that night and thanked me for both the letter and the bracelet. He really loved finding them when things settled down that night after moving in.

It’s a budget-friendly special gift that will remind them of home!

Personalized Journal

young woman sitting outside holding journal in one hand and pen in the other hand touching face with tip of pen

A journal is a great meaningful graduation gift idea. A place to write down your thoughts, dreams or struggles.

And a leather-bound journal engraved with the graduate’s initials makes this gift even more meaningful.

T-Shirt Quilt

woman holding up completed t-shirt quilt as example of meaningful graduation gift ideas

Do you have a bunch of old outgrown t-shirts your child is ready to donate or trash?

Don’t throw them out! Save them and then get them made into a fun quilt.

I had saved special t-shirts from my kid’s childhoods so I included some from when they were little and some from their later years. I even stole Gavin’s work t-shirt to include in his quilt.

You can check out all the details of how I had the t-shirt quilts made here...it’s a super easy process and really pretty affordable.

But what if you didn’t save t-shirts over the years…no worries…get creative.

Did your graduate play a sport? Why not make them a quilt out of all their track t-shirt or whatever activity they did?

Graduating from college? What about all those fraternity or sorority t-shirts? A favorite sports team? College they are attending or graduating from? So many possibilities.

Grab those old t-shirts to create a one of a kind thoughtful gift.

Book of Letters

meaningful graduation gift ideas photo of young man sitting in family room on carpeted floor reading book of letters

When looking for meaningful graduation gift ideas when my oldest was graduating high school I came across this idea of a book of letters on Pinterest.

I reached out to family, friends, and mentors and asked them to contribute a letter, quote, or memory for the graduate’s book.

This was by far one of their favorite gifts!

To read the letters from family and even favorite teachers was so special to them as they graduated and started the next phase of their lives.

All the details and the link to the example letter I sent to our family & friends to ask them to participate can be found in this post.

This gift will take a little bit of planning but I promise it will be such a meaningful present.


map of unveristy of south carolina hanging from row of hooks and baseball cap on another hook

A map of a special location is a heartfelt gradutaion gift.

When Jake was finishing college we were working with Mapiful and they gifted us this amazing map of his university.

Creating a map of the graduates hometown or even their college town makes a meaningful gift they can hang anywhere.

Sentimental or Personalized Jewelry

mom and daugter standing together smiling outside with matching necklaces on

You usually can’t go wrong with jewelry. And personalized pieces make a wonderfully meaningful graduation gift for sure.

Emma has a little while until graduation but we modeled these pretty matching Mother & Daughter double circle necklaces from Dear Ava. How great would they be for a mom to give to her daughter?

Other jewlery options:

Family Vacation

four cards laying on table with printed words in the middle of each as example of meaningful graduation gift ideas

A family vacation after graduation is definelty something your graduate will always remember.

How amazing would it be to take a cross-country road trip…or a trip to Europe or even a Caribbean cruise?

Family vacations are filled with memory making moments that your graduate will treasure forever.

Jake loves Disney so we surprised our family with a vacation to the happiest place on earth.

Engravable Compass

man holding compass in hand on road with arrow on road

Wherever your graduate travels after graduation a personalized compass is a special gift idea.

Have the back engraved with a message or favorite quote and it makes it even more thoughtful.

One of my favorite quotes would be perfect for engraving on the back of a compass.

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

– Henry David Thoreau

Need more graduation quote ideas? Check out this post here.

Meaningful Graduation Gift Experience

man stading on rock formation with mountain range ahead and trees on either side of him as an example of an experience graduation gift idea

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “buy experiences not things“.

What better way to celebrate your graduate than with an experience.

Like a vacation the memories created with an experience will last a life time.

Have they always wanted to go sky diving? Or maybe get a tattoo? Or have they always dreamed of driving a race car around the track?

The options are endless when it comes to giving an experience as a gift!

You have the opportunity to make a dream come true!

The Night Sky Star Map

custom birth date star map on canvas with small vase next to map

Another sappy mom gift idea is a night sky star map.

Customize the map for the date your child was born.

And boom…meaningful graduation gift idea!

We hope you found a sentimental idea that would work for your graduate and your budget. Have another meaningful gift idea…we’d love to hear about it!

If you have any questions or suggestions, contact me or leave a comment!

Don’t miss any of our tips, tricks, or stories! We’d love for you to follow us on social media! You can find us on TikTok, Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook.

Pin it to Remember it:

Pinterest graphic

2 Comments on 11 of the Best Meaningful Graduation Gift Ideas

  1. I like how you said that grads will appreciate functional gifts, but the sentimental ones will be more memorable and meaningful. My nephew will be graduating from high school near the end of May. I think I’ll look for a custom, hand-woven stole he can wear during the ceremony as a sentimental gift for him.

    • Thanks, Rebecca! That sounds like a wonderful idea and I’m sure he’ll love the thought behind your gift. Congratulations to him!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *