Great Gifts for Graduation

Education is the best provision for old age.
- Aristotle

After years and years of hard work, my very own little sister is about to graduate from medical school. This is a big event not only for her, but also for our whole family. Shopping for her graduation gift has not been easy. Like other gift giving occasions, the perfect present is something the person would like, but would not necessarily buy for him/herself. In addition, the graduation gift should help mark the individual's transition from campus to career. Here are some hints to help you choose the perfect gift for your graduate.

The Grand Tour ~ Back when only the incredibly rich attended college, they would celebrate their graduation by being sent on a grand tour of Europe. While a summer in Paris would be lovely, any travel helps to broaden one's mind. A weekend in a big city with a fancy dinner, a show and a day in a museum is a fun alternative.

  • Mannersmith favorites: A gift certificate to an elegant restaurant or tickets to a show.
Magazine Subscriptions ~ There are professional magazines for almost every field. A year's subscription is a great way for the new graduate to keep current with their chosen industry. If you know where the graduate is planning to live, you can also sponsor their membership in that city's appropriate professional organization.
  • Mannersmith favorites: For gradates entering the business arena - Fortune, Newsweek, and Working Woman (when appropriate!).
Portfolio ~ Whether for interviewing or taking notes in a meeting, a nice portfolio is a welcome addition to anyone's professional wardrobe. Many portfolios can be monogrammed to personalize the gift.
  • Mannersmith favorites: Coach leather portfolio, Disney's Mickey Mouse portfolio and the mini portfolio from Levenger's.
Nice Pen ~ The saying goes "Why spend $100,000 on a education and only 99 cents on a pen?" Your accessories are an extension of you. An elegant pen with the graduate's name says so much more than a pen advertising a local business.
  • Mannersmith favorites: Cross Pens and Mont Blanc Pens - depending on your budget.
Stationery ~ Enough of writing letters on lined loose-leaf paper! Give the graduate something they are sure to need. Whether it is for thank you notes, letters of hello or thinking of you notes, nice stationery is always of use. Stationery with the graduate's name or initials is wonderful. Or even note cards with their alma matter's seal or skyline.
  • Mannersmith favorite: Crane's Stationery.
Business Card Holder ~ Business card holders help the graduate keep their cards straight and clean. In addition, if you choose a silver one, they can double as a pocket mirror!! (Great for doing a quick face check before a big meeting or after a business lunch.) Business card holders come in a variety of styles and price ranges. Like portfolios and pens, most business card cases can be monogrammed.
  • Mannersmith favorite: cases with Frank Lloyd Wright designs and, at the high end, a Tiffany's business card case.
Briefcase ~ It is time for the graduate to make the transition from backpack to briefcase. And a new briefcase makes a perfect graduation gift. Pick the style based upon the graduate's profession; briefcases, artist's portfolios and business-like bags are all part of the graduate's professional image.
  • Mannersmith favorite: as with the portfolio, Coach comes quickly to mind.
Watch ~ A beautiful watch is another way to welcome the graduate into the working world.
  • Mannersmith favorite: a Movado Museum watch is a classic graduation gift.
Congratulations to the class of 2001!

Q: Dear Mannersmith ~ My neighbor's daughter just sent me a graduation announcement. Am I obligated to send a gift?

A: A graduation announcement is just that, to let you know about this special event. As with other announcements and invitations, you are not obligated to give a gift. However, if you are so moved, or feel close enough to the individual, a gift would be appropriate. If you decided not to send a gift, a thoughtful card or letter should be sent.

Q: Dear Mannersmith ~ I was invited to attend my brother-in-law's college graduation. There are actually two graduation ceremonies, one for the entire university and one for his college. I could barely sit through my graduation; do I have to go to his?

A: Without knowing your family history, I would have to say that for the sake of family peace, my answer would be yes. And you should do so with a smile on your face.

Q: Dear Mannersmith ~ I am graduating this year and want to invite my friends and family out for dinner afterwards. How do I word the invitation so that they know they will have to pay for their own meal?

A: There really is no tactful way for you to do the inviting and then insist on them doing the paying. You have a few options. 1. Host a cake and punch fete after the ceremony that would be within your budget. 2. Enlist the cooperation of a friend or family member who would be willing to loan you the money until after your first paycheck. Or 3. Ask a close relative to coordinate a dinner in your honor, with everyone chipping in to cover the cost of his or her meal as well as yours. Good luck!