Gifts for new grads that will help them as they enter the workforce

May 15, 2021, 2:00 PM UTC

The last notes of “Pomp and Circumstance” are fading away, and a mortarboard is starting to look like more of a bad fashion choice than an accomplishment. Now the Class of 2021 is ready to focus on the important stuff: their gifts!

Today’s seniors, whether they’re leaving high school or college, are entering a workforce that’s unlike anything we’ve seen in generations. The pandemic has prompted a flush of corporate wanderlust among people already working. (Microsoft’s Work Trend Index found over 40% of the more than 30,000 people surveyed in 31 countries are considering leaving their employer this year.) That could mean there are lots of opportunities for grads.

So as you decide what to get the graduates in your life, maybe consider something that will smooth their transition into the daily grind. We’ve got a few ideas.

Trade Coffee offers a range of packaged gifts and subscriptions for coffee lovers.
Courtesy of Trade Coffee

Trade Coffee subscription

A morning cup of joe makes many things better, but new grads may not be able to afford a daily Starbucks and they deserve better than the gruel from the office machine. If they don’t have a reliable coffee maker, the Bunn HB Heat N’ Brew Programmable ($149) is a Consumer Reports pick with high owner satisfaction. But it really comes down to the beans.

Trade Coffee is a subscription service with over 400 coffee varieties that are personalized for each customer. You determine how frequently deliveries are made, and shipping is free. And if your grad gets a bean he or she doesn’t like, the company will help you pick another and ship it for free. Suggested retail price: $14 to $100 per bag.

The Dell XPS 17 9000 Series (Model 9710) Touch laptop
Courtesy of Dell

Dell XPS 17

Dell has just updated its already incredible XPS lineup, adding the 11th generation Intel Core processors up to i9k and Nvidia’s latest graphics card. It’s just 19.5 millimeters thick and sports a huge 17-inch display. It’s also the first Dell laptop to include 3D audio in its speakers. SRP: $1,450 and up.

The Philips Wake-Up Light
Courtesy of Philips

Philips Wake-Up Light

Skipping class is one thing. Skipping work? A lot harder. This alarm helps you wake up in a more natural way than a jarring chirp from your phone or a morning DJ screaming into your ear. The light brightens a room slowly, easing you out of your slumber. And if you still need a few more minutes, yes, it has a snooze button. The result? You’ll wake up in a better mood and have more energy. And at night, you can use it to help you fall asleep, too. SRP: $100.

You Need a Budget (YNAB) annual plan

Fiscal responsibility in the real world is a lot different than in college. Those student loan payments start to come due—plus rent and utilities. And lack of a food plan can make the whole personal finance budget crippling for some grads. YNAB is a budgeting app that teaches people to prioritize and plan, urging users to be forward thinking. It also teaches people how to make spending decisions and adjust their budget throughout the month. There’s a 34-day trial if you’re unsure, but the app has been widely praised. SRP: $12 a month or $84 per year.

A HelloFresh meal kit delivery box
Daniel Acker—Getty Images

HelloFresh gift card

Yes, we agree, a gift card isn’t exactly a warm, personalized gift. But for someone who’s just getting started in the workforce, long hours are not exactly uncommon. Sure, there will be plenty of meals with friends and takeout food, but take the pressure off them to make a grocery run and come up with a good recipe with HelloFresh. They can choose when they want to have the ingredients delivered. There’s a wide variety of options. And it can teach unseasoned chefs to begin experimenting with flavors and to appreciate the joy of cooking. SRP: Varies.

A pair of Apple AirPods Pro wireless headphones and charging case
Phil Barker—Future Publishing/Getty Images

AirPods Pro

Apple’s AirPods offer high-quality sound with a remarkable level of convenience. They have some of the best noise-canceling technology around, are water- and sweat-resistant, and have an extensive battery life. They work on Android phones, but the experience isn’t as smooth. If your grad doesn’t have an iPhone, you might want to consider a set of Bose QuietComfort Earbuds (SRP: $279), which also have a powerful noise-canceling component. SRP: $249 for the AirPods.

There are no subscription fees or dues, and Stitch Fix can also be scheduled on-demand, whenever a client would like, with no commitment.
Courtesy of Stitch Fix

Stitch Fix

The standard college wardrobe won’t cut it in the workplace (well, unless you’re allowed to work from home and there aren’t a lot of Zoom calls in your day). While students might have a limited wardrobe, give grads a chance to expand it—and explore new looks with the popular styling service. There’s no required membership or subscription fees, so a gift card or set amount is the best option. Just remember there’s a $20 styling fee for each “fix,” which goes toward the purchase price of any items the recipient chooses to keep. SRP: Clothing items start at $20.

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