Graduation: n. The act of kicking the baby birds out of the nest and watching them fall to the ground hoping that they’ll fly. See also: Welcome to reality, bitches.
While that might sound harsh, at least graduation affords the opportunity to collect some premium swag. After all, even death row inmates get a last meal.
Sorry. I’m being mean. The workforce is great, way better than school, you’ll love it. I’ll stop twirling my mustache now.
All joking aside, here are the top eight gifts to buy for a new graduate:
1) A Tablet or E-Reader is on a lot of wish lists this graduation season. If you decide to go for a more expensive model (iPad, Galaxy Tab, etc.), I would suggest buying it at a store which offers a buy back program so that in two or three years, the grad can exchange it for credit towards a newer model. Best Buy and Apple both offer such programs.
2) Pricey housewares like a K-cup coffee maker, a television, pots and pans or a set of dishes also make good gifts. Your grad will likely be setting up house in an apartment and upgrading their bedding, linens and kitchen appliances is always a huge expense.
3) Airline Tickets or Frequent Flier Miles. When my friend R graduated from college, his parents gifted him 100,000 frequent flier miles. They combine mileage they already had, paid the transfer fee, and gave him the opportunity to take several trips over the course of a year. Especially if your graduate is planning to move away from home, this would be a nice gift.
4) A good quality laptop bag is a necessity in many professions. But even if your grad doesn’t need to haul a laptop, a simple, gorgeous bag like this one from Lodis will make a great work and travel bag.
5) Watches are a good gift because, if you buy a nicer one, the graduate can keep the watch forever. So even if it falls out of fashion or the grad doesn’t wear it every day, they’ll always have the memento. It’s also a nice gesture to engrave a short message on the back.
6) Every graduate need a nice business suit, and by nice, I mean not made of poly-blend. In my opinion, J.Crew makes the nicest introductory level, well-made suit on the market. If you buy their highest end, full-priced women’s suit in year-round wool, you’re looking at $375 for the blazer and $195 for the trouser. But there are less expensive options.
My favorite suit is the 120s, which costs a bit less ($230 for the blazer and $120 for the skirt). And if you can hit the sale rack the prices on the suits can go much lower. I recommend buying navy or black for a first suit.
7) Gift cards are perhaps the greatest give for a new graduate after cash. This is because while cash is great, it will likely be spent on essentials like food and shelter and alcohol. A gift card will at least be spent on something tangible. Clothes for work, furnishings for the home, etc.
If you want something utilitarian, most grocery stores have gift cards. An ex-boyfriend received $250 in groceries for his graduation. I thought it was a bad gift, until he got sick and needed $180 in prescriptions. This was far more than he or I had in our checking accounts at the time. Luckily, grocery stores also have pharmacies.
8) An I.O.U. sounds like a cop out, but in this case, it’s not. One of my great uncles sent me a card for my graduation and wrote his email address inside. He told me to wait a couple of months until I had a better sense of what I needed, and then let him know. Almost a year later, I moved to D.C. and really needed better shoes, so I requested a Nordstrom gift card. A college roommate received the same gift from her grandmother and used it five months later to pay for a U-Haul to move from our college town to a nearby city where she’d found work.
So what are you giving your grad this year? Or what was the best graduation gift you received?
For me it was without a doubt 800 thread count sheets. That is the gift that keeps on giving.