Giving great gifts is an art and the availability of online choices make the task easy, fast and even fun. Sure, gift cards or cash are functional choices, but they won’t leave a lasting impression on the grad. I love to give gifts that the recipient thinks fondly of me when they use it and maybe even considers how much thought I put into the selection. To hit a homerun, you’ll need to know a little about your grad or at least do some basic research using social media, friends or family. Trust me, a little time spent investigating your grad’s preferences will guarantee your thoughtfulness stands out among the sea of tissue stuffed gift bags.
In my digital retailing role here at the University of North Texas, I’m constantly reviewing eCommerce websites and online products. I’ve compiled my list of 12 favorite, unique graduation gifts you can easily order online and even have shipped directly to your graduate.
For the High School Grad
1. Monogrammed Bath Sheet
Find out the two main school colors of the university your grad will be attending. Customize a good quality bath sheet size towel by monogramming their first name or initials. It’s a gift they’ll use throughout their college years. I love the prices and many color combination choices at NeimanMarcus.com
2. Set of Deep Cereal Bowls
These will be used hundreds of times in the dorm room or apartment, for cereal, ice cream or a comforting bowl of soup on a chilly day. Find hundreds of fun patterns online or CrateandBarrel.com has a set of 4 Farmhouse Cereal Bowls available in 5 solid colors.
3. Set of Personalized Note Cards
The college years mark the beginning of becoming a professional and present many opportunities where a hand-written note or thank you is appropriate. A tasteful, simple, high-quality personalized flat note card sent in gratitude for application recommendations or follow-up to job interviews will help your grad stand out from the crowd. Timeless, classic choices are available at Crane & Co.
4. Picture Frames
Whether your grad is a guy or a girl, a framed photo of the family or beloved pet is a must-have in their new home away from home. Find a great selection at budget-friendly prices at HobbyLobby.com
5. Magnifying Vanity Mirror
Dorm room and apartment lighting are notoriously anemic. Boost their grooming confidence with a 2-sided counter vanity magnifying mirror. Find lots of choices at Bedbathandbeyond.com.
6. Solar-Powered Charger
Everyone is on the go and sometimes forgets to charge devices, which can leave the newly independent grad in a bind. Give a portable, shockproof, waterproof solar charger, available at Newegg.com.
For the College Grad
7. Scratch Off Travel Map
As their life adventure begins, here’s a perfect gift to document your grad’s travels. Covered in gold foil, each new journey can be logged by scratching away the destination, revealing a colorful map of the world. Find it at UncommonGoods.com.
8. Cooking Class and Cookbook
With the days of dorm food behind them, your grad will appreciate the opportunity to learn the finer points of home cooking. Williams Sonoma can help you give the gift of a cooking class, then pair it with a great cookbook.
Help your newly minted college grad arrive organized and in control at interviews, leaving a lasting impression. Bringing old-fashioned printed resume copies, note paper and pens in a traditional padfolio can facilitate those job offers rolling in. Here’s a great selection at OfficeDepot.com.
10. Rollaboard Suitcase
After years of well-worn backpacks and duffle bags, it’s time to upgrade to a smart-looking rollaboard suitcase. Flight attendants and pilots favor TravelPro for its functionality and durability. Find the TravelPro Walkabout at Macys.com
11. Recipe Box and Family Favorite Recipes
As your new grad becomes more domestic, an eco-friendly, simply designed bamboo recipe box will store those delicious go-to recipes. For an added personal touch, collect and fill it with family favorite recipes to jumpstart their personal collection. Online at Wayfair.com
12. Auto Emergency Kit
No longer within the communal boundaries of college life, an emergency kit can be a lifesaver. Kits can include jumper cables, a rain poncho and duct tape. Find choices at Walmart.com
Linda Mihalick is an eCommerce executive leader, website fixer and builder, and serves as the Sr. Director of the University of North Texas’ Global Digital Retailing Research Center. She is fluent in eCommerce, merchandising and marketing, is a digital thought-leader and digital retailing faculty.