Gifts for the Graduate

Education, Home & Family
on April 6, 2003

The answer to what to give a graduating senior is sometimes blatantly obvious, but just as often is a frustrating hair-puller. If you have the opportunity, you simply might ask the graduate what he or she wants. Just keep in mind that you’ll probably get an answer, and may not like it.

“Honestly, I just want money so I can decide what to do with it,” says Evan Laber, who will turn 19 a week before graduating from Maryville High School in Maryville, Mo., this year. “I can buy something, put it toward my education, or save it for the future.”

Money is a favorite of graduates and doesn’t have to be entirely impersonal. One memorable gift is to give uncommon currency, such as $2 bills, gold-colored $1 coins, or silver dollars. Or, give something such as stock that they can keep or sell. If that doesn’t suit, the following might give you some ideas.

• Inexpensive Gifts

Enclosures such as bookmarks or gift certificates are easy to give and send by mail. Phone cards are especially nice if the student is going away to college or relocating for employment. Tickets to an upcoming concert or theme park are also welcome gifts.

Disposable cameras are inexpensive and can be used to capture the moment. For photos taken before, during, and after graduation, frames and photo albums make great gifts. You can get albums for the smallest, wallet-sized photos, and large albums to create scrapbooks.

Many inspiring books are written just for graduates. A devotional or Bible can help with the grown-up choices graduates have to make. You might choose a book of poetry that you love, or a book that inspired you or changed your life.

• Mid-priced Gifts

Jewelry is always a fitting gift. Semiprecious or precious stones are appropriate for graduation. Lockets can enclose a cherished photo, rings can be inscribed with a personal message, and gold or silver earrings are popular. If the student has a special interest, such as music, a musical note pin or charm can reflect that focus.

Or you might want to give a practical gift—towels for the dormitory or apartment hunter, or telephones, sheets, or bathroom accessories.

Students and graduates need to keep track of their busy lives. Daily planners are excellent gifts, as are address books and high-tech gadgets that keep track of information.

Pens are a traditional gift and come in many price ranges and styles, from casual to elegant.

• High-priced Gifts

For your own child, you might have a bigger gift in mind—a computer, say. You have a large selection of computers from which to choose, from PCs to notebooks. A scrapbook containing photos of your child throughout the years from birth to graduation can be a wonderfully compelling gift as well.

No matter what you choose, just make sure it conveys “congratulations graduate.”