Why experiences make the best graduation gifts

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic that from March caused practically the entire planet to go into forced isolation, the class of 2020 will be graduating into a completely different world. 

Sadly, because of the current situation many graduation ceremonies will need to be either cancelled, postponed or held virtually. But that doesn’t mean people won’t still want to reward friends and family for their efforts over the last months and years. A unique graduation gift is a great way to celebrate a loved one reaching an important milestone, and opening the next chapter of their lives. 

How to find the best graduation gifts

While assembling a listing of what is considered the best graduation gifts for 2020, Vogue magazine, never knowingly behind the trend*, also surveyed a group of students preparing to graduate in 2020 to find out what kind of graduation gift they were hoping for from family and friends to celebrate their achievements. They discovered a strong theme for 2020 graduation gift ideas: 

  • Meaningful
  • Escapist
  • Optimistic

Right now, we all want to feel better about the future and that definitely carries over into giving and receiving gifts. The average household spends around two percent of its annual income on gifts, but while some have the knack of finding the perfect gifts for friends and family, others often find it a stressful process.

Which is why, when it comes to finding a satisfying and unique graduation gift, experience gift cards are enjoying a surge in popularity.

*Although, given that almost all of the gift ideas on their list were physical items, we do kind of think they are missing the incredible growth of interest in experience gifts.

Giving experiences for graduation gifts – eco-friendly and emotionally satisfying

A 2016 study by Cindy Chan, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto, found that: “An experiential gift elicits a strong emotional response when a recipient consumes it… and is more intensely emotional than a material possession.” 

Not only that, but choosing the right gift can help improve relationships between the gifter and the recipient. 

Other studies have been just as revealing. In 2019 Mintel learned that 50 percent of people now prefer experiences over tangible gifts, up 33 percent on 2018. And because gifting experiences ties in with concerns about consumerism and environmental degradation, they are especially desirable to those in Generation Z and millenials. We’ve all got more than enough clutter in our lives, why give more things?

So what exactly are experience gift boxes and why do they make such fantastic college graduation gifts?

Experiences as graduation gifts

“Your imagination is your preview of life’s coming attractions.” —Albert Einstein

What are experience gifts

It’s thought that in the United States alone, up to half of shoppers would now choose experience gifts over a tangible item they can hold in their hands. But if you’re new to experience gifts, it might help to explain a little about what’s involved and why they suit any graduate, from high school graduation gifts to medical school graduation gifts. 

As we’ve seen, an experience tends to be more satisfying for the recipient than a traditional, material graduation gift such as a new phone, a handbag, a camera or a book. There is the anticipation of an experience, where we’re looking forward to what’s coming sometimes for months in advance. And there are the happy memories associated with it afterwards. 

Interestingly, even when an experience doesn’t quite manage to live up to expectations, over time our memory focuses on the parts we enjoyed most and disregards those we didn’t, so that as the years go by, the experience is always remembered positively.

Types of gift experiences

There are all manner of experiences you can give, from the romantic to the adventurous and the culturally revealing, but the best gift cards are those that allow the recipient to choose for themselves. That way the pressure is off you, while the recipient can have a huge amount of fun just browsing what’s available to them. 

Plus of course, satisfaction with the gift is pretty much guaranteed when someone makes their own decision. And naturally if you want to suggest a few ideas to consider there’s nothing stopping you, but the recipient is not wedded to your recommendations.

Graduation gifts for daughter

As an example, ideas that you might want to suggest as graduation gifts for her might include treatments at luxury spas (these are often for two, perfect for couples or mums and daughters to enjoy together); guided horse-riding treks through idyllic landscapes; foodie tours and cookery lessons which are sometimes hosted at the home of a local chef’s family. 

Graduation gifts for daughters can of course be very adventurous too – after all everybody’s different. So if she’s into the idea of skydiving or car-racing, she definitely won’t be disappointed by the options available to her.

Graduation gifts for son

Meanwhile graduation gifts for him could range from white water rafting experiences, amazing bungee jumps and tandem skydives, track days with a host of awesome supercars to try, or guided tours of breweries and distilleries in cities around the world. 

Graduation gifts for sons can also be shared with Dads and brothers or friends – they just need to add them on at a supplement if the experience is only for one person. And of course the same thing goes exactly with graduation gifts for daughters too.

The great thing about giving someone the gift of choice is that they can find something to suit their own personality. After all, when your son or daughter is graduating they’re getting used to making more and more life choices on their own, and experience gift cards link perfectly to that inclination. 

That’s a key reason why you should aim for a gift card that doesn’t tie the recipient to a specific activity.

What makes the Tinggly graduation gift box special?

A Tinggly graduation gift box is actually more than just a gift. It’s a ticket to adventure, to new cultural discoveries, to romance, to relaxation – basically everything the recipient deserves after having worked so hard, for so long, to get where they are. 

Tinggly is an award-nominated company that has one very simple ambition: to revolutionise gifting. Well, no-one ever got anywhere by aiming low.

Since 2015 the Tinggly team have scoured the Earth to track down the very best experiences to try across six continents and well over 100 countries. We’ve developed an unrivalled collection of gift cards to suit every occasion and budget, with several that are ideal as graduation gift ideas. We’ve also created our Activist programme, because like you and your family, we care about the planet and we want it to be experienced by many future generations. 

And judging by the thousands of great reviews we’ve had from happy customers since 2015, our ambition is right on track.

Why choose Tinggly experience gift cards for graduates

  • 2000+ incredible experiences to choose from, all over the world
  • The recipient chooses what they want to do, no fixed experiences
  • No expiry dates to worry about
  • Gift cards can be sent anywhere in the world, physically or by email
  • Sustainability – all Tinggly presentation boxes use recycled or recyclable materials
  • Our CO2 commitment – for every gift card sold, we will offset the CO2 emissions of the average experience by a huge 200%
  • Our plastic pledge – for every gift card sold, we will remove 33lbs (15kg) of plastic from the natural environment, the equivalent of around 660 plastic bottles

Eco friendly graduation gifts

Environmental issues from climate change to plastic waste are sadly never far from the news. We know that many of our clients are concerned about the state of the environment, and we are too. As a responsible business, we want future generations to be able to explore the world using Tinggly experiences, which is why we’ve launched our Tinggly Activist programme. It’s our first step towards making our business as sustainable as possible.

So far, with our partners Plastic Bank, we’ve gathered in almost 66,000kg of plastic that would otherwise have been burned to be recycled, also providing a valuable income for coastal communities around the world.

We’ve helped install several innovative trash traps in rivers on Bali. The vast majority of plastic waste in our oceans, which is of immense concern to scientists and environmentalists, arrives from rivers. Trash traps are a useful part of the fight against river plastic pollution.

And we’ve offset over 450kg of CO2 with our partner Climate Care. We know that carbon offsetting isn’t the answer, but at present we feel it’s a better idea than doing nothing. 

So when your friends and family use our college graduation gifts, you and they can be confident that while they’re having fun the environment is benefitting too.

Too many graduation gifts end up forgotten about in the back of a cupboard or given away. Not because they’re unappreciated, but because they’ve been poorly chosen for the recipient’s personality, or they simply serve no purpose. Instead, you want to give someone a graduation gift they’re really going to love and use, one that won’t end up just another part of the household clutter – an experience will definitely fit the bill.

Graduation gift ideas to suggest

To ensure the Tinggly collection features something that everyone will want to tick off their personal bucket list, the Tinggly team searches the world to identify the best things to see and do in every country. Suitable gift ideas for graduates might include the Premium Collection where they’ll find experiences such as:

  • Swimming with wild dolphins in Mauritius
  • Scuba diving in Cancun
  • Bungee jumping in New Zealand. 

Then there is the Ultimate Collection, featuring an incredible 800-plus experiences to select from, and everything from Game of Thrones sightseeing helicopter flights in Ireland to awesome flyboarding lessons.

The Bucketlist Collection meanwhile has more than 600 experiences inside that are all about securing bragging rights. Cool experiences included range from flexwing microlighting to a high-speed cruise on a Sunseeker yacht, afternoon tea at Buckingham Palace in London to horse-riding over a stunning volcanic lava field in Iceland.

With every graduation gift box the sender can add a personal note, and you can also feel free to suggest an activity you think the recipient will love. But remember that the recipient is not committed to your recommendations – they’re free to choose whatever they want in the gift box you buy them.

Graduation gifts for people who love to travel

Entrepreneur Eric Edmeades on the value of travel experiences:

Many people, after graduating, plan to travel a little and see something of the world. After all, they’ve just been working crazy hard for months, maybe years, to get where they are, so a holiday is the least they deserve.

Graduation experience gifts from Tinggly make a fantastic gift idea for travellers – they are amazing for helping people tick long-cherished dreams and ambitions off their personal bucket lists, for one thing. But here’s a few more reasons why if you’ve got a friend or family member heading off to see the world soon, you should tuck a graduation gift card into their suitcase.

Experiences all around the world

It doesn’t matter where they’re travelling to, the chances are there will be at least one experience and often several in that destination that they’d be interested in trying. At the moment Tinggly experiences cover well over 100 countries on almost every continent (we’re searching for igloo-building classes right now). And with new experiences being added all the time, the possibilities are, okay not endless, but almost endless.

No expiry dates

Yes, you read that right. We take feedback from our customers really seriously and one of the biggest themes we noticed was that people don’t like expiry dates. Which is why we changed our policy and now Tinggly gift vouchers have no expiry dates whatsoever, and that is retroactively applied to any sold before we changed the policy that haven’t been used yet. 

So if you buy graduation gift cards but the recipient doesn’t want to use it yet, maybe they have trouble making up their minds or they want to use their card while travelling but need to work to save up some money first, it’s no problem. And if the gift card gets buried at the back of a drawer or pinned to the fridge and forgotten about for a year or more, it will be as useful when it’s eventually rediscovered as it is tomorrow. In fact it will probably be a really nice surprise!


A lot of the time, you may not be able to give someone their graduation gift in person, and perhaps they may already be travelling. Which is why gift cards can also be sent conveniently by email. It’s the exact same process as sending someone a physical gift box, but without the actual box. 

Cultural discovery

But the biggest reason of all why Tinggly gift cards make such great travel gifts is that they encourage and inspire people to explore the world in different ways. Whether it’s a cookery lesson held in the home of a local chef in Buenos Aires, a guided tour of San Francisco’s best cocktail bars with a local guide, or an introduction to a traditional way of life such as joining a fascinating tea ceremony in Japan, these graduation gifts are all about cultural discovery. Not everyone is content spending their holidays sunning themselves around the swimming pool, and for them, experience gift cards are the ideal choice.

How do graduation gift cards work?

If you’re new to the concept of experience gifts, then get ready for what some have called ‘a revolution in gift-giving’. Very simply, it’s all about choice.

When you buy someone a graduation gift card, you can select from several collections available, according to your budget. Paying securely online takes just a few clicks of your mouse. Then you can add a personal message, such as “Congratulations on your big day!” All that remains to do is select whether you want the gift voucher to be sent via email or through the post, and add the address details, and you’re finished. The gift voucher can be sent to you if you want to hand it over in person on graduation day, or you can arrange for it to be sent directly to the recipient. In fact, the entire process is so quick you could probably have it all sorted in less time than it took to read this paragraph!

Once they receive your graduation gift, they can redeem it against one experience of their choice in the collection. And they can take their time doing that because as mentioned, these graduation gift cards have no expiry dates to worry about. 

A couple of important points to note: if they want to upgrade their voucher to a more expensive collection they can do so by paying a supplemental fee. And if they want to share their experience with one or more other people, they will often be able to do so. In both cases the Tinggly team can help.

The Tinggly experiences map

Here’s where the fun starts. When they’re ready to begin choosing their experience, they can go into their collection on the Tinggly website, and start browsing what’s available. Each experience has a comprehensive description of what to expect and what’s included, as well as highlights to recommend it. 

When they’ve made a decision, they contact the Tinggly team to let them know what they want to do, when and where. Tinggly then makes the reservation directly with the experience operator, and the tickets are sent to the recipient ready for them to use at the agreed date and time. The only caveat is they’ll need to make their booking at least 48 hours before, to avoid disappointment, and ideally two to three weeks in advance – to ensure they can get the dates and time slots they want.

If that all sounds crazy easy, then that’s exactly how it should be. 

Why graduation experience gifts are such a great idea

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost…” 

– Eleanor Roosevelt

Graduation experience gifts from Tinggly are simple to use, satisfying for both the giver and the recipient, and sustainable too thanks to our commitments to carbon offsetting and plastic waste reduction.

Meaningful graduation gift ideas

There have been several recent scientific studies that indicate how experiences are more rewarding than material gifts. And an experience is also a useful way to escape modern society’s throwaway culture.

Escapist graduation gift ideas

The vast number of experiences in the various Tinggly collections suitable as graduation gifts means that there is literally something for everyone. And the fact that they are available all over the world makes them the perfect gift idea for travellers.

Optimistic graduation gift ideas

Anticipating an experience still to come, whether it be a few days or weeks away or far off in the future, is very pleasurable. Experience gift cards that are all about making choices and letting recipients set new horizons for themselves will be intensely rewarding.

Times are very difficult right now, but that just means the big moments in life are worth celebrating even more. For graduation gifts that are unique, exciting and bound to light up their faces with smiles, a Tinggly gift card is just the thing.