How to pick a Graduation Gift

When a young (or old) person graduates from high school or college it is a time of transition. They are leaving what has been home for the last four years and dispersing to make their mark on the world. Graduations are also a time of family, celebration, and, in turn, gift giving. How does one pick the perfect gift to recognize the achievement and efforts it took to reach the milestone of gradation? I have identified three types of gifts I have experienced and debated buying for others at different times below:

  1. The Novelty Item
  2. Item to Start New Career
  3. Cold Hard Cash
  4. My Presence at your Special Event

1. The Novelty Item

When purchasing this gift you are looking for the most trendy item on the market today. This item will show your graduate that you understand what is cool and that you want them to also be seen as a trend setter as they start out on their new life. A great example of this gift right this second would be the infamous… iPad.

2. The New Career

This gift is a recognition that your loved one has moved on up in the world. If graduating from high school this may be a new wardrobe for college. Buy some new jeans, shirts, shoes, socks, underwear, etc… and let him or her redefine themselves as they see fit.

If graduating from college this could be their “get a job” suit. Often, new graduates have zero money saved up, and unless they are lucky enough

to land a job that pays an upfront bonus of some sort they will be severely strapped for cash to purchase that first suit or outfit for work. By providing their first professional outfit you are not only setting them up for success, but could potentially be preventing the start of the credit card spiral as they charge, charge, charge to ensure they can “fit-in” at the office.

3. Cold Hard Cash

This is the gift most commonly given in my opinion. This is not because people just love to give cash, but on the contrary people often feel giving cash is a cop-out. This option is often used as a last resort if no other gift can be thought of to reward and recognize their loved ones.

I contend this can be one of the best gifts for a new graduate. While, yes, they will forget that you wrote them that $20, $50, $100 dollar check probably 5 minutes after they cash it you will be helping set-up your new graduate by reducing the anxeity of starting out on their own.

No one ever truly knows another persons financial portrait unless that person goes out of their way to make it very clear what that portrait looks like. Graduates are probably even less prone to discuss how they accumulated $50,000 in student loan debt, need to make a down payment on an apartment and that their car has been running on three flat tires for the past 3 months. By gifting cash you give the new graduate the power to make those new adult decisions on how to prioritize their money while also helping to reduce the stress that is present with any coming-of-age milestone.

4. My Presence at your Special Event

While I do not want to down play this “gift” I do feel this is a legitimate way to celebrate a persons success, especially if you are strapped for cash and just paid $500 in plane fare, $300 in hotels, $200 in food, and $200 in rental cars just to be at that loved ones event. Not everyone plans ahead for the day that special person graduates, though much like pregnancy you should probably have a pretty good idea when this event will be happening and can save beforehand. So if you find yourself a month out before graduation and are choosing between paying your car payment or giving your brother or sister a cash bump to start out. Do both of you a favor and pay your car payment. I have rarely seen placing yourself in a bind as something that starts out a new graduates life that much easier.

What gifts have you found to be the most successful at Graduations? High-School Graduations? College Graduations? What was your most memorable gifts from these coming-of-age celebrations?


About odysseustoday

25 year old man starting his financial journey.
This entry was posted in Education, Finances, Graduation, Graduation Finances, Personal Finances, Resources and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to How to pick a Graduation Gift

  1. Pingback: How to Pick a Graduation Gift - Wise Bread Forums

  2. Willis Yehl says:

    I gave my sister a gift that I had bought overseas because it was something unique and I knew she would like it. As a college student myself, it is many times difficult to afford gifts for loved ones while dealing with student loans and other various expenses. So if you are ever overseas, be sure and buy plenty of unique items to that country and you will have gifts for future occasions.

  3. B Yehl says:

    I prefer to buy a graduate a useful gift, appropriate for their next stage in life. I probably inherited this preference from my parents who always gave high school graduates a dictionary and thesuarus set. Now, when I give gifts to college graduates I enjoy personalizing a business card holder, planner or brief case, because I know that is what I wanted and needed when I graduated and entered the “real world”.

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