Graduation Gift Giving

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April showers bring May flowers, but there will be more than flowers popping up in May. A pile of graduation invitations will grow faster than the daffodils in your backyard. They flood mailboxes and might include snapshots of that niece, cousin, or distant relative. As this young person innocently smiles up at you, you might nostalgically reflect on how quickly time passes or might be wondering who on earth this person is. In either case, a dark cloud will begin to threaten your blue skies in the form of a graduation gift.

Before even thinking of actual gifts, consider how much you want to spend. To be perfectly frank, graduates expect more from those that are close to them. For example, a graduate might expect a desk calendar and McDonald’s gift card from a great-aunt and an iPod docking station with speakers from close family friends. Since you could be looking for gifts for more than one, if not several, graduates, stick to a strict budget and assign a limit for each person. If the idea of basing the amount spent on how well you know the gift recipient seems too cynical, think of how much you wouldn’t mind spending in total on all graduates’ gifts and assign an equal share to each graduate. A specific dollar amount is difficult to pin down, but according to ehow.com, $25 is appropriate for casual relationships and $50-$100 for close relationships.   

What do graduation gift options include? Money remains the “go-to gift,” and you’ll never see teenagers turn up their noses at cash thrown their way. In fact, ehow.com cites a Hallmark consumer research survey that found 95% of people consider money to be the best graduation gift. Though not the most personal present, money is the most practical. If you are looking for something different but still as “safe” as money, try gift cards. Amazon gift cards are especially useful and can be found at many check-outs and electronics stores; graduates can purchase anything from textbooks to rain boots at the Amazon store online. Restaurant gift cards provide options as well, especially if you are familiar with the area surrounding the graduate’s intended college. You can try more specific gift cards such as iTunes cards, but be wary of the graduate’s interests because, to follow the example, he or she might not have an iPod. If you are not attending the graduation party or graduation, all of these options would be the most suitable for mailing.

For those whom you know quite well, something more personal, but still useful, might be on your list. What would a soon-to-be college student want? You might instantly think of the dorm room, but avoid options such as posters, rugs, or other decorative items unless you are very close to the graduate since he or she would rather decorate the dorm according to his or her own tastes. Instead, look to more useful options like a desk lamp or a wireless mouse with a mouse pad. Contacting the parents in this instance would be a smart idea to know exactly what the graduate needs; the parents will also feel grateful to be able to check that item off their list. If you know where the graduate is attending college, college gear (pens, notebooks, cups, etc.) provide alternatives or nice “extras” when your gift seems to be missing something. Steer away from clothing items due to size trickiness, personal tastes, and a graduate’s near abundance of them already.

So as graduations loom, you can tackle your list of graduation gifts with a plan. If you need some assistance, ask parents and other family for more personal or actually needed gift options. Overall, just keep the graduates in mind; these young people should be rewarded for how far they have come and how far they want to go. With your plan in place, you can give that perfect graduation gift and even have time to stop and smell the roses.       
 

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