The Gifts Your Grad Really Wants
Ahh, graduation. A time for you to see your children in a whole new light. Watching their hard work and dedication over the past few years be validated. Giving them recognition for those late nights in the library, stressful finals weeks, and the group projects that magically came together at the last minute. More than that, commemorating the connections they’ve made with their peers and professors, the growth they’ve made as a person, and the steps they’ve taken to begin life outside of your warm embrace.
With graduation season upon us, you may be wondering what to gift your grad. While many gift guides suggest overpriced pens or inspirational home decor — because who doesn’t want a motivational paper weight — these gifts are fairly overdone and often impersonal, ending up in the back of someone’s closet rather than cherished for years to come.
Kids these days aren’t as entitled as they’re made out to be — they don’t necessarily expect anything expensive or extravagant, but would surely appreciate something meaningful as they step into the next stage of adulthood.
We spoke with three recent high school and college graduates about the underwhelming gifts they received for graduation and came up with ideas for practical, memorable gifts that are sure to be appreciated.
Words of Wisdom
“For my college graduation, some people I’d only met once from my dad’s church gave me a huge, clunky mug with some bible verse on it about being blessed or doing good or something. It was thoughtful, because they obviously didn’t know me, but I’m not religious and it wasn’t something I ever used. I’m pretty sure I just left it at my parents’ house. They might have thrown it away when I moved.” — Wil H., Tennessee State University Class of 2014
Choosing a gift for someone you hardly know is no easy feat, as the best gifts, and the ones that are most appreciated, are the ones with meaning behind them.
For graduates you might not know too well, the best gift you can give them is solid advice; you aren’t in a position to send them on an extravagant trip or give them something super-personal, but you do have life experience and wisdom you can pass on to them. We’re not suggesting you outright parent them, so make sure you don’t step over any boundaries. If it’s truly powerful, your words will have a greater impact on them than any mass-produced mug might.
Cash Isn’t Always King
“ [For my high school graduation], my parents just gave me money. Which is great, but I have a feeling they just wrote a check and threw it in an envelope right before the ceremony because they forgot to do something cooler.” — Jessica M., Loyola University Chicago Class of 2017
No one’s going to complain about a handful of bread. Money is a safe bet for all occasions, and is typically the standard gift graduates receive from their parents and family friends. But, as Jessica suggested, something with more thought behind it may have been more memorable.
To go above and beyond, consider keeping the money you’d have given them and putting it to good use. Give your graduate an experience, like a Groupon for a fun art class, tickets for a play they wanted to see, or a short trip to a nearby city. No matter how big or small, an experience is something they’ll never forget — unlike the overpriced and underwhelming shirt they would’ve spent the money on otherwise.
Harsh Slap of Reality
“I was kind of in a weird spot after I graduated college. I didn’t have a ‘big girl’ job lined up, I was working at the same retail store I’d been at for the past two years and I didn’t really know what my next step would be. My dad saw me stressing out and sat me down to have a talk about defining my future and being realistic with my life goals and stuff like that. Yeah, that was just as fun as it sounds.” — Cassie W., Northern Illinois University Class of 2016
As parents, it’s natural to want to push your children to be their very best. After all, if they don’t see their own potential, who else is going to?
With that said, graduation is already a very stressful time, and the extra pressure to succeed tremendously and immediately sure doesn’t alleviate that. While you want your child to enter the workforce and figure out their future as soon as possible, keep in mind they’re not alone — most people their age are finding themselves out in the “real world” without a clue what to do.
Instead of giving a lecture that lashes them with the harsh slap of reality, what they really want is reassurance that everything will be okay. Very few are lucky enough to find their dream job right out of college, but everything finds a way of working out if you work hard and don’t give up.
Need the perfect way to relay this message? Consider giving them an original song that’ll communicate your well-intentioned sentiments beautifully. Not only does it convey your thoughts in a way you never could, but every time they listen to it, your graduate will be reminded of your support and belief in them.
At Songfinch, we create one-of-a-kind songs for one-of-a-kind people. Tell us your story and your message, and after 7 days and for $200, you’ll have a unique graduation gift unlike any other.