One of the best benefits of graduating, aside from cafeteria food freedom and no longer having to be saved by the bell is the immense pride you feel walking across that stage. You did it! High school is behind you and it seems like literally the whole world is ahead of you.
With the elation of graduation comes a windfall of cards, cash and presents—an awesome overload from relatives and family friends praising your ascent into young adulthood.
Other than the kisses, cards and cash flow, relatives might want to opt for giving you a tangible gift that you can get more use out of. And chances are, if they plan on going this route, they will be straightforward and ask you what you want.
Take the golden opportunity to get a pricey gadget, dorm room essential, dream piece to add to your wardrobe or even a summer getaway. But instead of thinking of the endless, over-the-top possibilities, think about the future and this gift’s long-term value. Here are some classic dos and a few overly trendy don’ts to help you brainstorm.
Dorm Room Pick: Cute and durable space savers.
Storing shoes for every occasion can be tough. A hanging shoe wall is the perfect solution. Ask for space-saving essentials like this and many others in your favorite pattern from Vera Bradley. The durability plus the matching room accents will last you all four years and beyond.
Dorm Room Skip: Expensive and so-called "dorm room-friendly appliances."
Caffeine addict? If you're not, it's likely that you will become one by the end of freshman year. And a personalized, one-cup coffee maker may seem like the perfect, pint-sized appliance to fuel your addiction. But many of these micro tools like clothes irons, mini stove tops, and coffee-makers will get confiscated at the first surprise room check faster than the time it takes to brew your daily fix. Being forced to quit your morning joe cold turkey is far more difficult than planning ahead. Leave the mood swings to the stressed grad students.
Wardrobe Pick: Classic Jewelry.
Holly Golightly had the right idea by eating her Breakfast at Tiffany's. The jeweler has been making pieces for 175 years, making it a classic choice that will definitely stand the test of time. Their best-selling sterling silver bracelet goes with every outfit [www.tiffany.com]. Or if you want a more unique and sentimental piece, ask for an heirloom that's been passed down through the family, possibly a strand of pearls that belonged to your grandmother or your mother’s class ring from her own graduation.
Wardrobe Skip: An up-to-the-moment trendy item.
Those chunky platform heels all your friends are coveting are so hot… right now. And of course with neon being a huge spring trend, an electric blue bag is on the top of your list. These grad present splurges many induce drool and envy among your friends, and although fashion is cyclical, ten years from now, your adult self might not care to rock a teenage trend. Fight the urge and stay clear of trendy items.
Gadget Pick: A Macbook.
Apple runs their best deal of the year during the summer months on their laptops as a back-to-school special. It’s virtually the best computer money can buy. Take it from Ohio University junior Jessica Salerno:
"My high school graduation present was a Mac, and it's probably been the best gift I've ever received. I'm on my computer all the time and I've never had a major bug or virus to deal with (knock on wood)".
Working all summer to afford your own piece of Apple hardware is a noble effort, but it’s a lot easier to cash in on this one grad gift now so you can have time to use it before the immediate start of school. The back-to-school deal changes every year, sometimes giving students free iPods or printers with their computers. Check an Apple store to see this summer’s deal and work out pricing with your relatives.
Gadget Skip: Pricey MP3 player.
Before I mentioned receiving a free iPod with your Macbook purchase, which is a great bargain. But even if you don’t get the Mac deal, asking your parents for the current best selling MP3 with maximum storage will only end up hurting you in the future. With technology, there's always something new and innovative coming out which means your 16 GB iPod will pretty much be ancient by the end of your freshman year. A Macbook is a more of a stable purchase because you can actually do everything with one machine and no matter what model you get, the quality will last throughout your college years and beyond.
Getaway Pick: Road trip with your girlfriends.
Although not a tangible item, hitting the open road with just your girlfriends before you each head your separate ways for college will allow you to make lasting memories associated with graduating. Ask for your parents to fund the gas money, rental car, and hotel stays as your gift like Boston College sophomore Kelsey Damassa did. "When I graduated high school, I asked my parents if I could go on a trip with my best friend and I will definitely always remember it. We basically took a tour of the south (Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, etc.) and had so much fun," she says.
Getaway Skip: Expensive tropical vacation with one friend/relative.
This is more of a setting for your first spring break, of which you have yet to experience (all in due time, pre-collegiette). Keep in mind, it’s summer! Why ask for a pricey Caribbean cruise when the weather is on optimal levels in your own backyard? True, there are some great deals on island resort packages in the summer months. But factor in all the hometown summer memories you'll miss out on, and this being the last time you'll get to experience them as a senior, and, for once, it seems that the scale tips towards home.
Whatever present you choose to commemorate your graduation, try to think if you will cherish or forget your gift years from now. Keep in mind your future and make it last. After all, you're growing up now!