Caps in the Air!

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When I graduated from college, my parents gave me a string of pearls. From time to time, but not very often, I go into pearl mode and wear them with everything. Generally, though, they sit in my jewelry box. Years ago I had them restrung, and the jeweler did a miserable job. When I told him they don’t lie flat, that they seem to buckle because of how tight he made them, he told me that my body heat would make the knots relax. I must be stone cold. Those pearls do, however, mean a lot to me.

These days, graduation is a gift-giving ritual from pre-school on up. It’s hard to keep track of who is graduating from where because schools and grades seem to be divided according to a districts’ momentary demographics. My granddaughter, therefore, will be “graduating” this June at the end of third grade when she will advance to middle school (junior high schools in both name and grade seem to be extinct.) So it’s her third graduation – pre-school, kindergarten, and now third grade – at the ripe old age of nine. No problem thinking of something she’ll love. Nine-year-old girls are easy to buy for?

But what do you give the college grad today? For that very large population of parents, most of us, who can’t hand over the keys to a new car or a check to spend the summer in Europe (today’s grads, unlike those of bygone years, wouldn’t be able to make it through Europe on $5 a day as those of my generation did, Arthur Frommer’s how-to-do-it bible in hand.

Some ideas:

Something-of-the-Month Club. Make up your own club to which only your own graduate (child, niece, nephew) has a membership. Anything from home-baked cookies of the month to other clubs of your own devising: movie tickets of the month, T-shirt of the month (great when your grad has a real interest in something specific), wine of the month, make-up of the month, manicure of the month, jelly beans of the month, personalize m&ms of the month. You name it.

Make a donation. There are lots of causes which appeal to young people, causes that let them really see what money can do. A donation in a graduate’s honor can trigger a healthy habit that can be handed down from generation to generation. Heifer International provides training and animals to families around the world to help make them self-reliant, but there are literally thousands of causes, one of which might hold special appeal to the graduate you want to honor.

iTunes gift cards. Actually, anything with an “I” in front of it will do. You’d think Apple stores are giving away iPads based on the number of people you can see pouring out of the stores, new devices in hand. But whether you want to spend ten bucks or dozens of tens, it would be hard to find a graduate who tires of getting new downloads for their iThis or iThat.

Amazon Kindle. Find anyone who owns a Kindle and doesn’t love it. End of story. While there are lots of worthy competitors, to my eyes, this one remains the best. You can also add a couple of books you’ve loved or accessorize with a carrying case into which you add am gift card.

Cash or an Amex gift card which can be used anywhere. Need I say more? Might soon disappear, but will not disappoint!

Quilt throw. It’s a little late for this one, but if you’re really handy. . . . Get photo transfer fabric (any quilting store) and transfer photos of your grad’s life (or college life) to these fabric squares. Choose a background fabric. Stitch the squares together, and you have usable photo “album”

Go have fun bag. If your graduate, like so many, has been toting gear and clothing to and from college in tired duffles or, as my daughters did, giant leaf bags, a nice lightweight weekend getaway bag is a good gift. Family members who want to add to the send-off can put their own gifts into the bag.

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