Graduations have already taken place, but there are those that are still in search of the perfect graduation gift for a nephew or niece. An informal poll in my university workshops, along with asking my college intern to do the same, garnered the following results for graduation gift giving ideas:
Top Three Graduation Gifts
Money: A consistently resounding answer to my query on a college graduation gift! “After spending four years in school and having to live as a poor student during that period, money is the greatest feeling in the world,” according to our college intern. She went on to say, “Money is a great gift because it gives me the freedom to buy what I need.” There are those that feel money is too impersonal or cold, and would rather give a family member a gift from the heart – such as a desk set or a briefcase. Both are nice gifts; just keep the graduate in mind when making the final decision.
Jewelry: Jewelry is always a nice gift for both genders, especially when given by a family member or very close friend. Often times families will pass down heirloom pieces of jewelry as children and grandchildren graduate and venture out into the world of reality. Other times a college graduate will receive a coveted piece of jewelry they have been admiring. It’s a nice feeling to open a little box wrapped with a bow and find something delightful inside.
Gift Cards: A gift card is the perfect gift, but can also be a double-edged sword. On one hand, it can be put to good use if it’s from a store that the graduate frequents. On the other hand, it can be a waste of money to buy a gift certificate to a store the grad will never visit. Give a gift certificate from a store that has a large variety of options to choose from, such as clothing, appliances, bedding, etc.
Bottom Three Gifts
An Empty Card: Now, this may sound greedy, but hear me out. When it comes to graduation, there is often a certain expectation, and gifts are unfortunately part of it. A recent graduate shared that receiving a card “with nothing in it” is like “waking up on Christmas morning to find that there are no presents under the tree”. After four years of hard work, it’s nice to receive something sentimental enclosed in the card. Not necessarily cash! Add a favorite picture or write a heartfelt letter. Of course, a check would be greatly appreciated, but not obligatory. One grad mentioned his favorite card was a “certificate of adventure,” promising a fun-filled upcoming experience as a graduation gift. No money, just a promise of fun.
Candles: Every grad absolutely nixed the candle idea as a favorable graduation gift. While it isn’t a “bad” gift, it’s not what they are hoping to receive for the occasion. A few graduates shared their suggestions; a Vitamix blender (yes, a bit pricey as a first blender!), a Target gift card to buy new towels for her apartment, a bicycle to ride to work and a new computer chair.
Picture Frames: Graduation gifts should convey sentimental value and a picture frame, without a picture, simply feels as if it’s missing something important. Consider having it engraved and include a favorite picture of you and the graduate. Remember, the more personal the gift, the sweeter the memory.