Best gifts for post-secondary graduates

Anny Chih photo

By Anny Chih, 24 hours Vancouver




Graduation ceremonies are underway and cash is always king. But, for gift givers looking to wrap something more personal, there are thoughtful alternatives for graduates who choose to dive into the Canadian workforce and for those embarking on a new adventure abroad.

Goal-oriented graduates who plan on marching straight down the road to financial freedom starting with good old-fashioned employment will appreciate reminders of their ambitions. A well-tailored suit, a classic piece of jewellery or watch, or a high-quality workbag are all practical items for new job seekers.

Behavioural Investigator Vanessa Van Edwards points out that 93% of communication is non-verbal, so the things a candidate wears and carries into an interview say more than the words coming from their mouth. To this end, dressing like they already have the job, can afford the accessories they wear, and are organized are all signs to an employer that they are perfect for the position.

Fresh graduates looking to satisfy their wanderlust by exploring the world are more likely to prefer compact items that are better suited to their nomadic lifestyle than a briefcase that won’t fit into their luggage. Camera equipment, an unlocked international phone, and fitted packs are all solid gifts for the adventurous.

Back-up phone batteries or chargers and travel insurance are arguably the most useful gifts for any traveller from a gift giver concerned with safety. They take up minimal luggage space and weight, but pack a lot of security. Adding a printout of Canadian embassies and consulates around the world to your gift is also helpful and free to include. To access a directory of international Canadian government offices, visit

Of course, many graduates following post-secondary find themselves unsure of whether they want to work or travel first. For the undecided, a gift that encourages self-discovery or celebrates their achievements thus far may be more appropriate. Experiential gifts like dance or cooking lessons, or weekend vacations can help them explore their interests. A framed degree is also a thoughtful gift.

A final practical suggestion is to gift foreign language classes, which can be helpful when working in an international economy or travelling abroad. Then again, new alumni may not be so eager to head back to school after graduation.


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