If there’s a graduation in your future, it’s likely you’ve already started thinking about what to gift to the graduate. Perhaps you’ve already ordered your multiple pen set gifts in bulk – but, I sincerely hope not. As gift-givers, we want to give something special to commemorate the occasion, but the truth is that the items we often purchase aren’t the most practical or useful. I work with many young executives who recently graduated from college and the consistent feedback is both interesting and worth noting. While new grads immensely appreciate the thought of a gift such as a pen set or a basket full of cleaning supplies, what they most need is a head start to their independence…money to get started in the world. So is there a way to make a monetary gift feel warm and fuzzy? I consulted Dana Ostomel, the founder of an online gift registry, DepositaGift.com, and here is what she suggests when it comes to a modern approach to graduation gifts that may meet everybody’s needs:
- Today’s gift givers are aware of the economy. The people who love you the most will want to give you what you need the most: often it is cash. The reality is that money allows the graduate to purchase what they want when they need it.
- Please, not another pen set! While receiving a box of stationery, one commemorative college sweat shirt, or a nice pen set may be appreciated, after the first go around, some college grads resort to eBay to responsibly get rid of the excess. They then use the money for something they need or want…something that suits their new postgraduate lifestyle.
- Money is essential for graduates with debt. Statistics tell us that in 2012, 20% of households in the U.S. had outstanding student debt while the average wage for workers in the 25-34 age group has decreased by 10%. With this in mind, a cumulative nest egg, regardless of how small, can assist when the new graduate is updating his or her business wardrobe, putting a deposit down on an apartment and converting from a back pack to a brief case.
- Using an online registry allows the graduate to state what they want without outwardly “asking.” Whether you contribute a little or a little bit more, you are assured that you are giving the graduate exactly what they want and need. The grad’s ultimate goal may be to save enough money to replace his or her dinosaur computer or take a trip to an impoverished country to teach a foreign language for the first 6 months after graduation.
- Social norms have changed. Much like everything else in life, gift giving etiquette and social norms evolve throughout the years, and today’s graduate enjoys receiving a tangible gift (that is useful), as well as utilizing technology via an online gift site that can simplify the gift giving process for everyone involved, while still keeping the gift (of cash) personal.
Bonus tip for the graduate: Appreciate the sentiment. Regardless of the gift, the intention is the same…a sincere congratulations on a significant life milestone. Don’t forget a prompt thank you note.