Fun, Out-of-the-Ordinary (and Practical) Gifts for High School Graduates

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by Nancy on April 26, 2011

Are you the mom of a college student? We are too. Don’t miss our other blog: Practical College Moms.

Beyond the tried and true high school graduation gifts, many people like to give fun, unique gifts for the special graduates in their lives. Here are some ideas they’ll be sure to remember you by:

Color-changing Umbrella As we live in a dry climate we rarely use an umbrella, but it’s a very useful item to have in a wetter climate (read anywhere not in the southwest.) It’s an item Joan forgot when she sent her daughter off to college.  Here is a totally cool umbrella that makes walking around in the rain fun.

Scratch Map For the graduate who is off to see the world here’s a map to help them track their journeys. A cool piece of wall-art in its own right and a keepsake for a lifetime of travel.

Finance bookI Will Teach You to Be Rich by Ramit Sethi is a WONDERFUL book for young adults who think nothing of dropping $4 for a latté every day and then calling mom or dad because they’ve run out of money and don’t know why.  We each gave a copy of this book to our most “fiscally responsible” child (yes, Julie and Cameron, that would be you.) The best thing is they both read it, liked it AND they requested Roth IRAs!

Clothes iron – You’re wondering why this is on the list, aren’t you?  Just because most dorm rooms don’t allow a hot plate or cooking device other than a microwave doesn’t mean you can’t give a gift that bends the rules.  Your basic clothes iron can do double duty and make an excellent grilled cheese sandwich. Who doesn’t want a grilled cheese sandwich every now and then?  An iron (we love this cool green one), a small roll of heavy duty aluminum foil and basic instructions (this website is cute and informative) will make a gift that will put a smile on the graduate’s face.

Can’t go wrong with Seuss!

Oh the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss – The quintessential graduation book. Add a heartfelt note for a gift your graduate can keep forever.

Their own domain name – You’ll show you are the most tech-savvy friend they have if you give the graduate their own domain name as a gift.  (We’ll assume you ARE a tech-savvy friend and know how to do this yourself…but if you don’t know and want a long-winded explanation, this USA Today article gives you some basic information.

Books about college life – For students who like to read, here are two guide books for navigating those first weeks away from home:  The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into in College and How to Survive Your Freshman Year.

A gumball machine – Fill it with jelly beans, personalized M&Ms or gumballs. A great icebreaker for getting to know people in the dorm.

A framed photograph or artwork representing the graduate’s hometown. In the beginning weeks of first semester freshman year, many students appreciate having something in their room to remind them (and show their new friends) about their hometown. Every town has a classic landscape scene or iconic landmark and this thoughtful gift makes another great icebreaker during that freshman transition.

Specialized maps or guidebooks – for students  into cycling, hiking, camping, sight-seeing, art studios, museums, etc. If you know a graduate with unique interests that aren’t centered on campus life, search out maps and books from their new area.

Weather Alert Radio – for students who will be living in severe weather areas. Four years ago Nancy’s dad bought a weather alert radio for Julie (Nancy’s oldest daughter) who went to school in Nebraska. The radio is set to only go off if there is a weather alert. A helpful and we hope unfrequently used gift idea that is also timely considering the tornadoes in Alabama and Missouri this year.

For girls only:

Victoria’s Secret “PINK” Campus-Branded Loungewear (some available online, some only in the local stores) – For the girls that want to rock their college logo, here’s cute loungewear that will make them the hit of their dorm! (Joan gave Nancy’s daughter, Julie, a gift card to Victoria’s Secret as a graduation gift. A couple months into first semester, when Julie was feeling a little down, she used the gift card to buy a fun set of pajamas. It was a big hit!)

Congratulations, graduates!

We’ve got a new blog!  Check it out at:

Practical College Moms

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Julie April 27, 2011 at 1:50 pm

Also check out this fun college survival guide book:

Lori April 29, 2011 at 10:29 pm

Any ideas for the college graduate…female??? Help, I have three weeks and the only idea I have is to give her cash. (Brilliant!)
Lori´s last blog post ..Bread

Marsha June 15, 2011 at 12:23 pm

I had absolutely no idea what to get my son for his college graduation. After searching the internet I decided to go with the idea of giving dorm supplies. A few months ago, one of my friends with a daughter graduating, suggested . At first I was a little hesitant since I didn’t want to have to pay high shipping, since I was planning on buying a refridgerator, and that I wouldn’t be able to feel thhe bedding. When I saw the website however, I couldn’t have been more impressed. The shipping is flat rate at $2.95 and they had many bundles where I could pick which would work best for my son. Best of all the colors of the items were more in keeping with what my son likes. The items shipped within 24 hours which made me happy to get them in time for his graduation!

Mandy Rivers August 1, 2011 at 1:40 pm

A framed photograph or artwork representing the graduate’s hometown has caught my attention. It is the most unique high school graduation gift idea. Surely, the graduate who will be leaving away for college will never gets homesick.
Mandy Rivers´s last blog post ..Ideal and Inexpensive: Welcome To The Real World Gifts

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