Top 10 Graduation Gift Ideas

Though graduates come in all shapes & sizes, they all share one thing in common:  they are about to begin the next chapter of their life. Yes, you could just get a card & throw some cash in and call it done.  But think how much more special the gift could be if you add a bit of personality!
1.     T-shirt/sweatshirt/bumper sticker/water bottle of their future alma mater-for the college-bound, there are few gifts more exciting than those bearing the name/logo of their chosen school. After all, wearing a t-shirt from their future alma mater allows them to be a walking billboard and let everyone know where they’re headed.
stanford sweatshirt
2.     “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” – a classic Dr. Seuss book about the journey of life and its challenges.   One of the most charming lines, “Will you succeed?  Yes, you will indeed.  (98 3/4% guaranteed.)”
oh the places youll go
3.     Membership in AAA – if you’re worried that the grad’s car is less than reliable, or perhaps the grad will be traveling long distances, a membership in the Automobile Association of America can be the perfect fit.  To ensure the gift isn’t met with a puzzled stare, you can help it along by writing on the card, “Congrats on your graduation!  Though I’m exciting to see you are headed off to Dream U, I always want to make sure you return home safely. Love, Aunt Sue & Uncle Bob.”
aaa pic
4.    Some shares of stock – while graduates can always use cash, the gift of stock that (hopefully) will appreciate over the years can be an interesting one as well.  Select stock from a company that will have some meaning to the graduate—the computer science major might like some shares of Google or Facebook; the athlete would appreciate Nike or Under Armour; and if money is no object, go for Berkshire Hathaway.  🙂
(NOTE:  I found a company, Give A Share, that allows you to give a single share of stock and will provide you with the stock certificate (which in the past, I've found to be a pain to get!)  I have NOT used the service, nor do I know anything about the company, but it may be worth checking out.  
5.      “Mad Money” to Keep You Happy – an inexpensive wallet or change purse filled with gift cards for gas, phone, food, music and any other needs the grad might have.
6.    Money tree – graduation is a time of growth and why not have your gift embrace that sentiment.  Gift a money tree, or really any kind of plant, with some money clipped to the branches.
money plant
7.     Fortune cookie – fortune cookies symbolize good luck, plus everyone loves to read the fortune inside.  There are a wide variety of options available: fortune cookie jewelry, homemade fortune cookies (easier to make than you think and soooo much tastier) or even store bought fortune cookies with the fortune replaced with one you wrote. 
fortune cookies in jar fortune cookie in wrapper
8.    A treasure YOU enjoyed at the same milestone-think back to that moment in time when you were graduating…what gift meant the most to you?  A colleague told me how special he felt when he received his very own “grown-up calculator” from his parents.  He continued this tradition by giving each of his kids a Texas Instruments scientific calculator for 8th grade graduation.  (No word yet on whether his kids inherited his passion for mathematics!)
TI calc
9.    Smarties® for the Smarty – if you like the idea of the grad having something—anything!—to open up besides a card with a check in it, fill a handsome jar with a bunch of Smarties®.  This idea works well for graduates of any age.
1o.       Money folded in the shape of the grad year – If you’re going to give the grad money, why not make it a presentation he will never forget!   Learn how to here.
Congratulations to your special graduate!  May he or she go take on the world!  🙂

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