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Buy This, Not That: 8 thoughtful gifts for high school grads, all under $25

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High schoolers are notoriously tough to shop for, so I’ve rounded up some of the best gifts to give even the pickiest grad. Here are eight thoughtful and unique presents under $25 —  for everyone from the techie grad to the eco-conscious grad. 

For the fun-loving grad: Unstable Unicorns ($15.99 on Amazon):

Image courtesy of Amazon

This top-selling adult card game — perfect for bonding with new friends in the dorm —  is one of the most-backed Kickstarter projects of all time, a winner of the 2019 People’s Choice Award for Toy of the Year and a top pick on Amazon with more than 14,000 reviews and 4.7 stars. Even better: It’s downright fun. You can play it with two people or up to eight, and as the company notes, “Unstable Unicorns is a strategic card game that will destroy your friendships…but in a good way.” 
– Buy here on Amazon
– Buy here on Walmart
– Buy here on Barnes & Noble

For the sports lover: Wicked Big Sports Kickball Game ($14.84 on Amazon):

Images courtesy of Amazon

Horsing around on the big grassy fields at college is pretty much a right of passage for many college students, so this kickball set is sure to please. The set includes three bases, a home plate, a pump, three ball plugs, and one plug remover —  pretty much everything you need to get a game started.
– Buy here on Dick’s Sporting Goods
– Buy here o Amazon
– Buy here on Kohl’s

For the practical grad: Fresh Wave Plant-Based Odor Removing Gel + Packs Bundle ($24.99 on Amazon)

Image courtesy of Amazon

If the grad is heading for a dorm, this odor-killing bundle will be a life-saver (seriously, another person’s week-old laundry is no laughing matter). The set contains three 7 oz. gels, which are for larger areas, like shared rooms, and another pack-and-pod combo, for smaller areas, like closets. Unlike some deodorizers, Fresh Wave is plant-based, containing no synthetic perfumes or harmful chemical compounds.
– Buy here on Bed Bath & Beyond
– Buy here on Walmart
– Buy here on Amazon

For the eco-conscious grad: swaggr “My Ocean is Not Your Trash Can” Crew Athletic Socks ($14.99 on Amazon):

Image courtesy of Amazon

Fact: Everyone needs socks. And your eco-conscious grad will love these super comfortable, statement-making socks made from recycled plastic bottles. For each pair you buy, four plastic bottles are saved from a landfill, and the company gives 1% of its gross annual revenue to a non-profit working to help ocean conservation.
– Buy here on Amazon.

For the techie: Skyrocket Toys Sky Viper Dash Nano Drone ($19.99 on Amazon):

Image courtesy of Amazon


Some drones cost a fortune, but not this sturdy, easy-to-fly, palm-sized drone – perfect for when your grad wants to procrastinate on doing her laundry. Great for enthusiasts of all skill levels, this drone offers eight easy-to-execute stunts and automatic launching and landing.
– Buy here on Walmart
– Buy here on Amazon

For the thoughtful grad: The Straight A Handbook: The 50 Most Powerful Secrets For Ultimate Success In And Out Of The Classroom by Dr. John Chuback ($7.95 kindle, $16.95 paperback on Amazon)

Image courtesy of Amazon

I usually don’t suggest books as a grads gift, because don’t high schoolers want a break from reading after all the high school reading?  But, this book, which just came out in April, is an exception: It’s a quick read that’s packed with techniques and philosophies to help your grad succeed in school and beyond – and the author thinks about things in an interesting way and asks probing questions. One reviewer writes of the book on her blog: “This book is such an easy read and I love that each skill has its own chapter. I am the type that loves to write notes to myself in a book and this will be one of those books that I keep on my bookshelf and refer to often.”
– Buy here on Bookshop
– Buy hereon Walmart o

For the grad who is prone to stress: Pure Enrichment PureSpa USB Trayvel Aroma Diffuser ($15 on Amazon):

Image courtesy of Amazon

Let’s face it, school can be stressful. Help your grad get their Zen on with this tiny diffuser, which plugs into a laptop or charger. It can be used with their favorite calming essential oil – or you could supply a few, like chamomile, lavender, or ylang-ylang. 
– Buy here on Home Depot
– Buy here on Kohl’s
– Buy here on Amazon

For the beauty lover: THRIVE Natural Face Scrub And Natural Face Wash Gel ($23.95 on Amazon):

Image courtesy of Amazon

This plant-based skincare set includes Thrive’s  best-selling energy scrub to help slough off dead skin, oil and sweat (ahem hangover scrub) and its gel-based face wash that is moisturizing enough not to dry skin. Thrive is socially conscious, giving back to the planet and the Costa Rican farmers who grow their ingredients, and offers a money-back guarantee on this product.
– Buy here on Walmart
– Buy here on Amazon

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