‘Tis the season to start searching for “perfect” gift for the grad in your life. That’s no small task. Trying to balance the personal with the practical can be quite a challenge. The key is to avoid procrastination. Great presents rarely happen overnight.
Photo by Judsond
The best gifts are the result of knowing the grads and looking ahead a bit to their life in college. Find out where they will be going to college. Is it near or far? What’s their favorite food? Is there something they need for college, but can’t afford? Where will they be living? Is there something they’re especially looking forward to? Is there something they think they’re really going to miss? Once you’ve gathered a little info, you’re on the right path to finding a gift that your grad will appreciate long after they’ve shed their graduation gown.
Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Tools they’ll be glad they have The idea is to anticipate some of the things that may come in handy as they begin their life in college. You might want to put together an assortment of things like a small screwdriver, pliers, removable picture hangers, roll of duct tape, push pins, dry erase markers, etc.. If they will be flying to college, you might want to choose one item (A roll of florescent duct tape is bound to get a laugh – and be used.) and attach it to a gift card to a store like Target that is near their campus. If they’ll be living at home, you may want to consider a bouquet of office supplies and a thumb drive. And any student would appreciate a pair of noise-canceling headphones.
Practically Speaking - Depending on their major, there are certain supplies that college students will discover they need for class such as quadrille paper, canvases, software, safety glasses, reference books and the list goes on. Most college bookstores now offer gift cards or gift certificates. (Some college bookstores are even run by Barnes & Noble.) Your gift may come in very handy to cover an unexpected cost. It may also buy them a little treat. If you would like something a little more tangible, a thesaurus is also a great gift. To mitigate the lack of excitement over such a decidedly practical gift, why not go through it and highlight the words that you think describe your grad? You could also tuck small notes of encouragement within its pages. They might be just what they need when they pull out the thesaurus to work on that huge paper.
For life’s little boo boos – Students get sick. That’s just a fact of life. A cute option is to buy a child’s plastic doctor bag and fill it with things like band aids, a thermometer, triple antibiotic ointment, Tylenol, antacid, powdered Gatorade, and a package of chicken soup.
Sometimes it takes a village – If there’s something expensive that a student needs for college, such as a computer, why not contact other friends and relatives of the graduate and pool your resources toward the purchase of the needed item?
Don’t forget to take a break - There’s nothing quite like a special treat shared with friends to ease the stress of classes and papers. Gift cards for pizza, coffee, ice cream, or even a grocery store where your grad can get something special can provide a much needed break or turn a boring evening into a great memory. Just be sure your grad has easy access to the place where the gift card is from. If your grad is going to school locally, a gift card for restaurants and coffee houses near campus can help them be more connected to the students who live on or near campus.
Everyone loves plastic – In addition to gift cards, you can also purchase pre-paid debit cards. Campus Dough offers debit cards with tools to help students be financially responsible and discounts for prescriptions and other student services.
We won’t forget you – Nothing says “We’re thinking of you” quite like a package from home. A certificate to your own “Care Package Club” which promises monthly or quarterly packages from home filled with favorite treats and a few surprises is a great gift for any student who can’t easily come home on weekends. A photo album or scrapbook with personal memories jotted down within its pages is also a nice gift for any grad. If you’re tech savvy, you could also do something similar on a CD.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, just a few ideas to get you started. The important thing to remember is that all grads are different; having their own unique likes and needs. If you can tap into those, your gift – no matter what it is – is bound to be appreciated.