Whether you receive an announcement or invitation from a high school senior or a college grad, there are always questions as to what and how much to give. First and foremost, every graduation invitation does not require a gift. You will want to use your best judgment when making the call. Your biggest client’s son? The decision is an obvious “yes.” Your sister’s daughter…yes. Your neighbor’s sister’s cousin…you can skip if you would like to. The litmus test – if you don’t recognize the person’s photo or name on the invitation, move on to the next piece of junk mail.
The following are a few suggestions for proper gift-giving etiquette for both high school and college graduates:
- Mail, deliver or drop off the gift in advance. If you plan to attend the ceremony, don’t show up with the gift in tow. There is too much of an opportunity to break or misplace the graduation gift.
- Money and gift cards are appropriate and welcome. A few gift card ideas: think gas, grocery, coffee, mega store and even iTunes gift cards. Always include a card and a handwritten note with the gift card, check or cash. When giving cash, take the time to go to the bank and get some new bills.
- Skip the urge to gift clothing. Only give the gift of clothing if you are close to the graduate and positive you know his or her size and style preferences. Professional apparel can be a great asset to a new college graduate entering the career world, but only if you are sure he or she will wear it. A gift card to a men’s or women’s store would be a good option.
- Electronics and accessories are a practical gift and greatly appreciated, but only if you can afford to give them. Among the items that are on a graduate’s “wish list” are iPad cases, a phone docking speaker station, a Nook or handy noise-cancelling headphones for late night study sessions or long airplane trips.
- Small appliances for dorm rooms are wonderful gifts of convenience. Appliances allowed in dorm rooms are usually small refrigerators and microwaves. A gift certificate to “stock up” would be an added bonus.
- Avoid graduation memorabilia. A 2012 keychain, pen with the name of the university, or a paperweight with the university mascot will lose momentum by the following year, or the following week.
- Personalized gifts are a classic: a Kindle cover, travel bag or toiletry kit, monogrammed fountain pen and stationery or a leather business card case are all good choices for the college graduate about to embark on his or her first job.
- For the college graduate moving into his or her first apartment, choose something useful such as a coffee maker, iron and ironing board, sheet set or other functional items that will be put to good use. When in doubt, ask his or her parents – or, better yet, ask the grad yourself for some ideas.
Truly, for the college grad just starting out on his or her own, cash is always king! While it may seem cold and emotionless, it is a gift that is most appreciated and can be used specifically for something needed.
As for yourself, staying within your own budget is the smartest gift of all.