Graduation season will soon be upon us. Between the two of us, we’ve been through five high school graduations and definitely have an opinion or two (what else is new?) about gifts for grads. Basically there are 3 options:
What kid doesn’t like to receive cash? It’s easy. Write a check, pop it in a card. But here’s something we’ve learned. When kids receive a large amount of cash at graduation, it makes them less motivated to find a good summer job. If you want to give cash consider waiting until August (or closer to when the student will leave for school.)
Running a close second to cash for ease of giving are gift cards. You can find them at most grocery stores and we know kids love them. Here are the big three plus a membership:
- Visa/MasterCard/AmEx cards – although we hate the fees associated with activating them
- Membership card to Sam’s or Costco (so they can buy less expensive gas if they are taking a car to school)
Gift Ideas for People Who Like to Give Real Presents
For many of us the cash/gift card route feels uncomfortable. We’d like our graduation gift to not be part of a cash slush fund. Here’s a list of useful, practical items all college students can use:
- Towels (make sure they are good towels that absorb, there’s nothing worse than a towel that repels water.)
- Laundry hampers (the kind that fold flat and pop up, here’s an example.) Find them at Target, Wal-Mart, Bed Bath & Beyond, The Container Store, K-Mart. They are inexpensive. If you have a sewing machine, reinforce the handles. These are useful for more than laundry, they tuck easily under beds, up on shelves and in closets. Load them up when moving in or out of the dorm. In our experiences gals are gentler on them than guys.
- Inexpensive plastic flip flops (perfect for the showers in the dorm.)
- First aid/over-the-counter medical kits (wait until you put together your first child’s medical supply kit, the costs add up!) A basic kit that makes a good gift would include band aids, antibiotic ointment, ibuprofen/acetaminophen, tweezers, and cough drops.
- Skin protection kit: sunscreen, bug spray, hand sanitizer (we buy the Costco size hand sanitizer.)
- Basic tool kit: Phillips and flat blade screw drivers, hammer, small measuring tape, 3M Command Strips
- Tech kit: computer screen cleaner wipes, a couple flash drives
- Mom-in-a-Bag: Getting sick is the #1 reason freshmen struggle in college. Mom-in-a-bag includes packets of chicken broth, tea, cough drops, salt for gargling, Vitamin C.
- T-shirts, sweatshirts, sweat pants with the logo/name of the student’s future school. Sadly (in our experience,) all that gear you paid hundreds of dollars for over the past four years, proudly bearing your child’s high school name and mascot, will quickly fall into the “don’t wear anymore” pile.
So that’s our practical list of gifts for grads. Looking for something a little more fun? Check out our ideas for fun, cool gifts (but they’re practical, too.)
Do you have a favorite, extremely practical, “go-to” high school graduation gift idea? Tell us about it in the comment section.
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