Congratulations Are in Order...

15 Creative Graduation Gifts to Celebrate Their Journey

Creative graduation gifts

A note on the times: This season of transition is likely looking very different than expected — especially for recent grads. However, students are still preparing to move on to the next phase of life, in whatever form that chapter may take. We hope this list provides inspiration for how to celebrate them and all they’ve accomplished, even if walking across the stage isn’t an option right now.

Diploma? Check. Well-wishes? Check. Now for the celebration.

Graduation marks a significant transition — the end of one season and the beginning of a new one. Reaching this point takes hard work and dedication, with many meaningful memories made along the way. Amidst so many years and accomplishments to celebrate, you may find yourself wondering what to gift a graduate to honor this momentous time.

We believe the most thoughtful gifts are ones that help us recognize and relive past experiences together. So whether for high school or college graduation, we’ve rounded up 15 creative graduation gift ideas to honor this milestone, through photos.

Idea 01

Through the Years Memory Book

Album opened to photo of two little boys
Pictured: Hardcover Photo Book

For a nostalgic and timeless gift idea, create a book documenting important moments through the years. From childhood to graduation, honor the photos that tell their unique story. This is a great opportunity to digitize old photos and give them a permanent home in print. Like flipping through a highlight reel of their life, be ready to cue those happy tears (from both of you!).

Idea 02

Graduation Guest Book

Graduation book being removed from box
Pictured: Wedding Guest Book

One of our favorite creative graduation gifts is to create a guest book with photos for a graduation party or ceremony. Make use of senior photos and print them in this heirloom-quality album with pages that lie flat, allowing guests to sign with well-wishes and encouragement for the future.

A thought for 2020: We know many graduation ceremonies and parties are being canceled this year or happening digitally. Give your grad the same feeling of celebration and support from loved ones, even if they cannot be with them in person. Gather notes from friends and family and place them in the guest book — whether writing them in yourself or adhering physical notes.

Idea 03

Desktop Inspiration

Desktop calendar with inspirational quote
Pictured: Walnut Desktop Photo Calendar

Put a little twist on traditional photo calendars by trading in the pictures for inspiring messages sure to encourage them in the first year of a new journey. It's sure to make for a great addition to their new dorm room or office. Simply choose 12 quotes from inspirational figures whose words will help when they need a little spirit-boost: grandmas go-to phrase, famous literary quotes... it's all up to you.

Pro tip: To make this one work, you'll need to upload a .jpg image of each written quote into the editor. Look to a free design tool like Canva to create and save your images.

Idea 04

Their First Portfolio

Photography portfolio opened to black and white images of young man and woman
Pictured: Layflat Photo Album

Is your grad a young artist, writer, or photographer? Guide them into the next phase of their education or career with the gift of their first portfolio, perhaps amongst the most practical and thoughtful college graduation gift ideas. By having their work in a physical book, they’ll be able to show off their talents — allowing friends and employers to see firsthand their accomplishments and capabilitiies.

Pro tip: Help them gather various works of art, photography, writing, etc. and upload .jpgs of the work into the editor as you customize the book. For gifting writers, our Softcover Photo Book allows you to easily add text while editing.

Idea 05

Oh the Places You've Gone

Board book titled Oh the Places You've Gone
Pictured: Baby Board Book

Want to give someone something truly unique for graduation? Say hello to our Board Book... it's not just for little ones. Easily customized to suit any age, use it to give a nod to the classic gift of the timeless Dr. Seuss tale, creating an “Oh The Places You’ve Gone” book highlighting their favorite trips, moments, and accomplishments.

Pro tip: Select the “custom” theme before entering the editor and let this colorful, sturdy book become a home to their best adventures thus far.

Idea 06

Storytelling Scrapbook

Scrapbook with graduation photo print lying on top of cover
Pictured: Scrapbook Photo Album

Encourage and kickstart a habit of documentation with a simple-to-fill scrapbook design. Fill out the first couple of pages yourself and let them start their storytelling from there. With convenient pockets for storing all kinds of mementos, and thoughtful prompts to guide along the way, this scrapbook will keep their meaningful memories close.

Idea 07

Creations as a Kiddo

Softcover photo book with children's artwork on cover
Pictured: Softcover Photo Book

Honor their early-on creativity with the fun gift idea of a childhood art book. Dust off those old shoeboxes holding countless pieces of “art” and give them a permanent home in print. Digitize the artwork using your phone (yes, your phone will work!) or your home scanner, and create a book sure to provide amusement, joy, and laughter when flipped through.

Idea 08

Family, Framed

Family photo in wooden tabletop frame
Pictured: Wooden Tabletop Frame

Those searching for quick graduation photo gifts need look no further than that favorite family photo (you know, the one where somehow everybody is miraculously looking at the camera). Make a meaningful, creative gift in minutes by featuring that photo in one of our framed prints — available in design-forward styles and finishes that are sure to upgrade your grad’s new living space and remind them of home.

Idea 09

Friendly Reminders and Faces

Wall calendar with photo of three young friends
Pictured: Modern Wall Calendar

Going off to college or entering the working world comes with distractions, and there will likely be some dates and occasions they'll need a helping hand remembering. (Think: Grandmother’s birthday or Cousin Maddy’s senior recital.) Pair friendly reminders with friendly faces in a customized photo calendar that highlights the events and dates of your choice. With a sleek, modern design and perforated photo section, this calendar is stylish enough for their wall and complete with tear-and-keep images — letting them last long after the year is over.

Idea 10

Memories in a Box

Wooden storage box with sliding top and Honoring Each Day engraving
Pictured: Wooden Quote Box

The best high school graduation gift ideas are more than meets the eye, much like the Wooden Quote Box. Sustainably handcrafted in the USA from reclaimed mountain beetle pine, this timeless box can hold an assortment of meaningful little somethings. Create a set of Everyday Photo Prints to place inside, leaving room for those sentimentals like ticket stubs that they're sure to collect and keep through college and beyond.

Idea 11

Return Tickets for Each Year

Colorful photo book series with die-cut covers
Pictured: Color Series Photo Book

Each year of school comes with its own memories, milestones, and celebrations — all deserving of permanence and preservation. By creating a series of photo books dedicated to each year, you'll help them honor the moments that left their mark, so that they're always top of mind. Many of our albums, including the Color Series and Everyday Photo Book, are designed with series-friendly intention, for books that celebrate the individual pieces as well as the bigger picture.

Idea 12

Grad Gallery Wall

Grid of square photo prints on wall
Pictured: Everyday Photo Prints

Liven up their future living space with an Everyday Print Set that they can use to create a gallery wall. Best part? If you're also helping the grad move into their next home, you can put the prints up on the wall together, playing with arrangements to tastefully display photos without frames. Just remember to adhere prints with washi tape to ensure their security deposit makes its way back.

Pro tip: Pair that print set with photo holders to give home decorating a head start — whether a simple print stand, a floating shelf, or a one-of-a-kind display box.

Idea 13

Their Thesis on Display

Thesis cover page in floating frame set on mantle
Pictured: Floating Frame

Wondering what to get a college graduate? Some post-graduate students have just finished up a detailed and time-consuming thesis that deserves an audience beyond their dissertation panel. Put it on display by printing the cover page of their paper in a Floating Frame. Modern and minimalistic, it's the perfect place to honor (and show off) their hard work, especially in a home office.

A thought for 2020: This gift can be especially meaningful for graduates who are unable to present their thesis in person due to canceled classes and finals. After you give them this gift, add the thoughtful touch of offering to hear it yourself, celebrating all the effort they put into it.

Idea 14

Letters With Love

Letter being written in scrapbook album
Pictured: Scrapbook Album

Create a way for grads to hold on to words of love and support as they transition into a new season. Gather letters of well-wishes from friends and family to line some of the many pages of a Scrapbook Album — either writing them in yourself or attaching the physical notes. This gift is one they’ll return to often for encouragement, adding other sentimentals to its interactive prompts and pockets as they go.

Pro tip: Not sure about the scrapbook? Scan the letters and use them to create a flippable photo book of warm sentiments.

Idea 15

Hand Down Family Recipes

Cookbook opened to croque monsieur recipe
Pictured: Layflat Photo Album

Gift a taste of home with a book of family recipes that may just inspire them to cook for themselves more often! Curate images of the meals alongside text of the recipes, whether it's mom's famous fajitas, dad's spaghetti sauce, or grandma's secret soup. Make a night out of it by preparing one of the recipes together before they head off to college or their new home.

Caps Off to the Grad

Share Your Creative Graduation Gift Ideas

We'd love to see how you celebrate their milestone! Just tag us on Instagram (@artifactuprising).