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It’s cap and gown season again and millions of graduates around the country will be moving on to life after school, making the transition from college into the workforce. Most of us know several graduates among our family and friends, and we would like to honor their achievement with a meaningful gift of some kind. However, with so many new gadgets and expensive high-tech items out there, finding a great gift at an affordable price can seem like an impossible task.
While everyone would like to give a gift that truly has a wow factor, sometimes taking a more practical approach is the right way to go. Many graduating students, especially those leaving home for the first time, need gifts that can help them get their life started in an apartment or a dorm room. Chances are strong that they have very little in the way of the practical items they’ll need. That doesn’t mean you have to spend an arm and a leg or give an impersonal gift. It just means that you have the opportunity to give them something a bit more practical and a gift that’s more useful to them as they start out. With a little creativity and thoughtfulness, you can find the perfect items. Here are some great ideas to get you started.
1. Inexpensive Plate Ware
Having some nice dishes to have meals on may not seem like the most important thing in the world, but when you’re just starting out on your own, it can make life more comforting and create the feeling of an actual home. When shopping for plate ware, much exists to consider while choosing the right set for your graduate. You can get sets in a variety of styles, colors, and patterns, and in a variety of materials. There are nice ceramic dishes that are very reasonably priced and quite attractive. Additionally, you can consider many colors in styles that are made of a plastic such as melamine, a type of hard-baked plastic. Plastic wear has come a long way in terms of style and durability.
Make sure that the set you choose is microwave and dishwasher safe. Most of the time, those just starting out in the workforce will be eating on the go, which means preparing meals of convenience and quick clean-ups. If they won’t have access to a dishwasher, you might consider giving them a nice supply of disposable products such as paper plates; plastic forks, knives, and spoons; and plastic cups. While not glamorous, these can be the most convenient.
You won’t have to look very far to find a huge selection of colors to match any decor. Stores such as Walmart, Target, Home Goods, and other big box stores will have plenty of affordable and attractive choices. Best of all, your graduate will remember you every time he or she prepares a meal!
2. Cooking Essentials
Your graduate will need some basic kitchen tools to be able to cook actual meals in a new apartment kitchen. There are many great ideas to consider in this category and many ways to put together a practical and meaningful gift. One of the most basic items needed in any kitchen is a good quality cutting board. You can choose from either plastic or wood, as both are very durable and long-lasting. Regardless of which type you choose, a good cutting board will serve the receiver well for many years to come.
Other essential kitchen items are nice potholders and dish towels. While not glamorous, these gifts are highly practical and very affordable, and your gift recipient will appreciate them. With numerous colors and styles to consider, you won’t have any trouble finding the perfect set. For a reasonable price, you can provide your graduate with a nice assortment. Placemats and napkins also make nice gifts that any graduate would appreciate. These are things they would, most likely, not buy for themselves, but will love having when they entertain or sit down for a nice meal.
Basic cooking utensils such as spatulas, whisks, kitchen knives, and ladles are also needed by anyone who’s setting up a new apartment for the first time. Other practical and useful items include measuring cups and spoons, vegetable peelers, can openers, and other kitchen tools used often when preparing meals. The best part about buying these types of items is that you can mix and match them and come up with a nice little package for a reasonable amount of money.
Another great gift for a graduate that’s both practical and affordable is a good, basic cookbook. There are literally thousands available, covering everything from basic cooking skills to making full four-course meals. A great choice is “The Joy of Cooking.” Many young people have little to no experience with cooking, so this can be a real practical and helpful gift, and they’ll use it for many years to come.
3. Linens and Towels
Everyone needs a nice set of towels and a good set of sheets. Luckily, you can buy very nice linens and towels at very reasonable prices in discount and big box stores such as Home Goods, Target, and Sam’s Club. If you really want to add a nice, personal touch, you can have them monogrammed for a little extra money. You can find sheets and towels in almost any color scheme and style but, when in doubt, purchasing them in white is always a good choice. White goes with everything, is easy to clean, and has a luxurious appearance.
You can also mix and match colors to make up a fun set or just focus on bath towels and forget hand towels and washcloths. Graduates will most likely find better use of the towels anyway. Also, don’t forget beach towels. You can find them in fun colors and styles, and these make great gifts for busy, on-the-go graduates to use by the pool, at the beach, or at the lake.
4. Journals, Notebooks, and Writing Tools
Every young professional will need good quality writing supplies for work projects or even just personal use. For very little money, you can put together a very nice assortment of pens, pencils, and markers along with notebooks and different types of paper. Even if your graduate is moving on to the job world, these items can be very useful in their job, in a variety of ways.
Additionally, a nice journal makes a great gift as many young people utilize a journal to chronicle their personal experiences. At such an exciting time in their lives, a journal might just be the perfect gift. Many young professionals also enjoy drawing in their spare time. A nice assortment of colored pens and pencils along with a sketchbook makes a thoughtful gift that they can enjoy for a long time.
5. Smaller Appliances
There are many small convenience appliances appropriately sized to small apartments and living situations that can be very useful to those setting up a real home for the very first time. One-cup coffee makers are a great idea for those on the go, as they’re fast and convenient and make the perfect amount of coffee for one person. Another great small appliance for apartments and is a toaster oven. These very versatile appliances are usable for a variety of meal preparations, such as warming, toasting, and baking. They’re especially convenient because they’re fast and easy and don’t require waiting for a large oven to heat up. This saves on energy and time.
Other small appliances such as crockpots can make cooking economical meals easy and convenient. Most graduates will be on a tight budget. These items allow for good, nutritious, and budget-friendly meal preparation that’s both easy and convenient.
6. Cash and Gift Cards
While these may seem like boring gifts that aren’t very imaginative, giving cash can be incredibly useful and much appreciated by graduates. Having the ability to fill in the gaps of what they need will help them round out the supplies and necessities as they head off to support themselves fully for the first time. Many creative ways exist to give your graduate cash that can make it more fun and exciting. Putting cash inside of a useful book is a fun idea, along with other ideas such as inside pizza boxes, clear balloons, or candy boxes. Also available are many fun cards and cash holders when choosing a graduation card to give. The great part about giving cash is that you can match your budget with a gift anyone can appreciate.
Gift cards also make a nice gift, especially when they’re for your graduate’s favorite places. You can choose to give a multi-purpose card such as a prepaid Visa or MasterCard, or you can choose a card from a store that’ll allow the recipient many items to consider, such as a Target or Walmart card. Gift cards for restaurants are also a great idea. Can’t decide which ones to choose for your graduate? Try getting them an assortment of cards from a variety of restaurants. Cards from coffee houses such as Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts are a nice addition also.
7. Coupons for Things They Need
This is a fun and creative way to give a unique gift to your graduate that’ll keep on giving long after the graduation day. You can make up postcards, addressed to you and pre-stamped, that the student can mail when he or she needs something. Using your computer, you can make these really nice and fun at the same time. The cards can ask for candy or cookies, or some other crave-worthy item they love. Or, they can ask for dinner out, help with groceries, or even just one providing some life advice. The great part about this gift is that it’ll last the graduate a long time, come in extremely handy, and be memorable and meaningful. Best of all, you can definitely provide this gift on a budget.
This graduation season can offer many opportunities to shower those you know who are moving on to the next step in life with the perfect gifts. Sometimes, just a little creativity can go a long way in choosing the gift that’s best suited for your graduate and for your budget.