Experience Based Graduation Gifts

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The ceremonies that mark our journey through life are important. Celebrating the graduation of someone you love marks their passage from child to young adult or young adult to full fledged citizen. Aside from attending their ceremony and shaking their hand, what can you give to help them in their passage?

While money, electronics, a special book or clothing are all welcomed, an experienced based gift might provide special insight into their future for your young graduates.

Here are some experienced based graduation gifts by which your student may benefit.

Tour de jobs.

Help your graduates understand some of the life choices they can make by exposing them to different job choices.

You could organize a look at multiple different careers. Take a look at your network of friends, co-workers and relatives to see which industries and careers are represented, then approach several with the idea of taking your soon-to-be-graduates under their wing for a few hours to exposed them to the heights and depths of that particular job area.

Perhaps they could provide a job overview with stories from their own experiences. Maybe they could even bring your graduates to work for in person visit. A bonus could be a prearranged meeting with the boss – to hear their perspective on the job.

Point them to a variety of summer job types – such as working in a national park ; on a construction crew; on a ranch; in a factory; on a cruise ship  or tanker; as a political party worker; in marketing and etc. and help them figure out how to apply.


  • Your brother drives a long distance truck and can take on riders. Send your graduate on a trip with them.
  • Your Uncle is a manager at Walmart, have him take your graduate behind the scenes to explain the store systems and jobs.
  • You are an independent contractor providing web services for an international audience. Show your graduate how you find jobs, how you market services, how you keep your books, explain the benefits and drawbacks of self-employment.

Expand horizons through travel.

Parents of graduates have spent years guarding and protecting their child. Perhaps it is time to let go a bit and encourage them to spend the summer working their way across the country or the ocean and touring the world on the cheap. This would be even better, if they are part of a youth group traveling together under adult supervision.


  • The church youth group goes on a month long mission to help tornado victims rebuild in multiple areas across the country.
  • The high school cheer leading squad lines up multiple grade schools in various states to provide summer clinics.
  • Your son or daughter visits different relatives in different cities, taking a temporary job in each to earn gas money and pay back their hosts for food and etc.
  • Your graduate volunteers for an overseas mission.

Give them new perspectives.

Your child has never known life other than their own. Often we think everyone lives the same way we do. By showing them that others live differently, you can help them understand the world better.


  • Show your graduates what it is like to live homeless or poorly or with illness. Show them how to help out in soup kitchens, volunteer in hospitals or clinics or trade places for a week with a kid from the other side of the tracks.
  • Show them what it is like to live richly – Take them to visit your wealthy friends, get them invited to a country club or private party. Rent a luxury yacht or car for the day and take them on a lets pretend voyage or sign them up for a rich kid camp.
  • Show your graduates a simpler life. Take them on a covered wagon trip – rolling through the back country in a replica wagon and camping out to get a taste of what the westward trek was like. Get them involved in living history or re-enactment groups – as participants. Simply going away from civilization, away from indoor plumbing, central heat and air, paved roads and technology for a week will give them an exceptional taste of the past.

Change their environment.

Often people who live in cities have a dramatically different outlook on life and experience different opportunities and challenges than those who live in rural areas.  By broadening your graduates’ environment you will open up new worlds for them to consider.


  • If you live in the city, find a way for them to work on a farm for the summer.
  • If you live in a rural area, look for an internship or a student exchange family in a big city.
  • In addition to People to People, there are domestic exchange programs such as  National Student Exchange.

How else can you provide experiences to your graduate as a gift?  Did you get a non-material gift for your graduation?  If so, please share what it was with our readers in the comments.


Experience Based Graduation Gifts — 14 Comments

  1. I like the idea of the environment change. City? Go country. Country? Go city. But also, it can be different parts of the country. West coast people are different from the South, the West, the Midwest, etc.

  2. After I graduated from high school, I got to go to Taiwan for 5 weeks to teach English to elementary students at a summer camp. It was definitely my favorite gradutaion gift and the experiences can’t compare to any material thing that I could have gotten instead

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