Part I of “Graduation 2010,” a three-part series.

GiftIt’s that time of year when stores are selling Oh! The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss, Cross pens, and mortarboard-festooned wrapping paper, cards, and balloons. As your favorite high school or college graduate prepares to accept their diploma, a graduation gift from you is a thoughtful way to celebrate their achievements and encourage their next steps. So how to celebrate your graduate in style? The following ideas should grant you high marks as you revel in giving from your heart.

This gift is about the recipient, not the gift giver.
Gifts should always be given with the recipient in mind. This may sound obvious, but gift giving doesn’t always happen in this manner. When giving a gift, consider your favorite graduate’s likes, interests, and future goals.

Tip: Enclose a signed card with your gift. If you’re especially close to the recipient write a heartfelt, thoughtful message on the card. Some graduates (or their parents) may choose to keep your card in a scrapbook. Carefully consider any ideas, favorite quotes, words of wisdom, or good wishes you want to capture in writing.

If the recipient is moving to a new city after graduation…

  • Gift certificates/gift cards: These are always a good idea if your favorite graduate is “setting up house” in a new city. You don’t have to forgo the thoughtful factor. Simply purchase a gift certificate (or two) at a nearby shop in their new city (i.e. a restaurant featuring their favorite cuisine, a boutique home decor store, or a local branch of their favorite clothing store)
  • Tickets: Concert or show tickets to local entertainment venues are a great way to give your favorite graduate a break after their big move.
  • Subscriptions: Season tickets to a sports team or a subscription to a gym, magazine, or newspaper are a thoughtful way to welcome your favorite graduate to their new neck of the woods.

If the recipient is heading to college or graduate school…

  • Bookstore: A gift certificate or apparel item from the recipient’s college or graduate school could be a welcome touch.
  • Creature comforts: A gift card to Ikea or a similar store could help the recipient purchase a few creature comforts for their new dorm room or graduate student housing space.
  • Financial support: A check to help cover the recipient’s books or room and board could be so appreciated.

If the recipient would enjoy a themed gift…

  • Pamper yourself: This spa-themed gift basket could include a face mask, nail polish, lotion, bubble bath, and vanilla-scented candles.
  • Young professional: This gift basket could include a business card holder, two high-quality pens, and a leather portfolio. The “basket” could be a leather briefcase if your budget allows for it.
  • Almost a freshman: This shower caddy-based gift could include a Target gift card, colorful shower flip flops, and a set of towels.

If a general gift is the way to go…
“General” gifts can be a welcome treat for most graduates. These include:

  • Attractive stationery, matching envelopes, and postage stamps (especially as note writing is such a novel concept these days).
  • A few timeless books. (Think: The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, and The Three Questions, based on a story by Leo Tolstoy and written and illustrated by Jon J. Muth).
  • A fleece blanket and matching stadium chair.

Here’s to thoughtful gift-giving and opportunities to focus on what’s really important: celebrating your favorite graduate’s accomplishments and encouraging their future adventures.

* Photo by jsnflo

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