Jun 18, 2011

Fabulous Gift Ideas for the College-Bound High School Grad

If you hate the thought of shoving a few bucks in an envelope, consider graduation gifts that are memorable, significant, and maybe even useful.

“Part of the fun of being invited to a graduation party is selecting the gift,” said Kathryn Hollis, as she ran between parties celebrating various DC area high school graduations. “Logo merchandise from university bookstores will always bring smiles, but there are other equally wonderful possibilities.”

And it can all be done online. Simply let your fingers do the walking and check out the following website suggestions:

  • College Bookstore: This time of year, bookstores do big business and frequently sell out of the most popular items. Simply enter “bookstore” in the search function located on the college website and a link should appear. Note that many bookstores are run by Barnes and Noble and that a gift card to the college bookstore always “fits.”

  • Team Shop: In addition to typical bookstore items, many college athletic departments or boosters maintain separate team shops where you can find logo gear. Use Google or your favorite search engine and enter the college name and “athletics.” Not all these sites sell team products, but it’s worth a try.

  • Off Campus Food: Undergrads are either really excited about dining hall options or they’re not. Google their favorite chain to see if there is a location near campus and arrange for a gift card. Or take the idea one step further and research fancier dining options with tablecloths. If you go this route, be sure to put enough on the card to support more than one diner!

  • Amazon: After entering the name of your targeted college or university in the Amazon search, you will be presented with a list of relevant departments including Sports & Outdoors, Books, Clothing & Accessories, and Home & Garden. Some products are sold directly by Amazon, but frequently items will come from independent vendors selling under the Amazon umbrella.

  • UGrad Shop: This site features classic products ranging from cuff links to sports coats. Seasoned shoppers recommend UGrad’s service and price. The collection of colleges featured on the site includes Georgetown, University of Maryland, UMBC, UVa, and Virginia Tech.

  • Ebay: If you’re looking for a slightly offbeat or keepsake item, try Ebay. Not everything is “used” and if that’s not a problem, you might find “collectables” such as college prints and old fraternity pins or barstools and used flip flops.

  • NCAA College Store: This site advertises as having the "largest selection of college merchandise anywhere." There are over 550 colleges and universities from which to choose, and the selection of products is nothing short of amazing. Look for some real bargains among sale items.

  • Vineyard Vines: Check out the college collection for everything from boxers and loungewear to ties and tote bags. The "preppy" designs are unique and very much in vogue among undergrads. It’s so popular that many college bookstores have “exclusives” on their Vineyard Vines products.

  • College Snuggie: The blanket with sleeves now comes in over 90 college logo designs available on the Snuggie site, including UVa, UMd and Virginia Tech. They are enormously popular among undergrads who wear them to sporting events, class, and to study—sometimes.

  • T-Shirt Quilt: If you’re sitting on a stash of t-shirts from school, team, or volunteer events, why not put them to good use by creating a fabulous keepsake quilt. You pick the size and price based on how many t-shirts are going to be incorporated into the quilt, send a deposit, and mail the shirts. There are several vendors online and most ship completed quilts in a matter of weeks.

  • Magnolia Lane: These unique pottery and ceramic items periodically show up at local Hallmark Stores and include UVA and Virginia Tech in the product line. You can shop directly from the manufacturer, but a better price may be found at invitationbox.com.

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