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Graduation Gifts for the College Grad


By Kristin Thomas, College Consultant & Guest Contributor

Whether it is a close relative or a friend’s child you barely know, gifting the young college graduate with an appropriate, unique, practical, fun or thoughtful present doesn’t have to be a challenge. Here are a few suggestions for a  gift that reflects your style … or that of your recipient.

  • The Classic – Personalized gifts are always in style: tote bags, pen/pencil sets, key chain, letter openers, and toiletry kits. Beau-coup has a great selection of gifts that can be personalized, such as this toiletry bag or this cosmetic case for example. If you don’t know your giftee well, this is a nice way to make them feel like you do. Make sure you use the announcement for the correct spelling of their name. Misspelling the name will either render the item useless or cause you to be the punch line of jokes down the road. Or better yet, keep it simple and use their initials.
  • The Future – If you know the young person’s next step, your gift can reflect knowledge of their immediate future.  If they have their first “real” job lined up, a leather briefcase, messenger bag, a token with words of encouragement to  adorn that first desk  or job appropriate item of clothing (tie or golf shirt?) might be in order. For those heading off to see the world, travel essentials, GPS, luggage, a camera or a journal could be well received. If they have a big move to a different location, moving supplies or items for their first apartment (think of Alice.com to get them started) might be just the ticket.
  • The Celebration – Forget the practical, you want to make sure the graduate enjoys themselves. Encourage them to take a break with a spa getaway (remember we mentioned Smartbox before?) or a restaurant certificate (as with previously mentioned Restaurant.com). Give an experiential gift that encourages them to try something new: cooking classes, a hot air balloon ride, or a bicycle or Segway tour of the city their moving to (Groupon or BuyWithMe are great sources when looking for local deals). Usually this type of gift will need to be geographically specific, so think about where you would like your young graduate to take advantage of your generosity – their current location/college town, hometown or future area of residence? These gifts are also great to give for the moments when you are unable to be there for when they graduate, because they can be mailed or sent electronically.
  • The Essential – For the young person needing direction or who hasn’t found a job yet, possibly the most useful idea here – and one they will be thanking you for over a lifetime – is the gift of Career Counseling/Interview skills. Jan Slater of the Baldwin Group has a program to coach the graduate from “unclear to competitive” by re-focusing the “‘what do I do now?” through solid career direction, resume building and self-marketing skills.
  • The Favorite – Cash. Yes … Cold, hard cash is always appreciated for that ‘”starving student” turning “starving graduate”.  Add a bit of style with a personalized money clip and they will always remember how you helped them take that first step into the real world.

We would love to hear about your great gift idea for that graduate in your life.

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