Jun 11, 2013

More Pretty Awesome Graduation Gift Ideas

If you’re like me, you hate the idea of shoving checks in envelopes when graduation time comes around.  I
prefer something that’s a little more memorable, significant, and perhaps even a bit useful.

“Checks just go in the ‘general fund’,” said Kathryn Hollis, an experienced mother of two UVa undergrads.  “It’s nice when you can find something distinctive or a gift they might actually need.”

And for the more creative gift-giver, it can all be done online. Simply let your fingers do the walking and check out the following website suggestions:
  • Amazon: After entering the name of your targeted college or university in the Amazon search, you will be presented with thousands of products sporting the institution’s name or logo.  A recent search yielded Michigan Jenga for newly-minted Wolverines and Terpopoly for prospective “Terps.”
  • Bike-sharing membership:  Close to 20 U.S. cities have started bike-sharing initiatives.  If your grad is going to school in Boulder (connecting to 15 other cities), Boston, Charlotte, Denver, Miami, Washington DC, or any of the other cities currently on the list, invest in a bike-sharing membership to help them get around.  Bike-sharing cities in the works include Chicago, San Francisco, Portland OR, and Seattle.
  • College Bookstore: Simply enter “bookstore” in the search function located on the college website and a link should appear. Note that many of these bookstores are run by Barnes and Noble and a gift card to the college bookstore always “fits.”
  • College Snuggie:  Once sold independently by the manufacturer, the blanket with sleeves now can be purchased in a variety of specialty stores.  They come in many collegiate designs including UVa, UMd and Virginia Tech. And they are enormously popular among undergrads who wear them to sporting events, class, and to study—sometimes.
  • College Survival Kit:   Several different manufacturers put together these kits and the contents can range from lipstick pepper spray to alarm clocks or from chocolate covered potato chips to gourmet coffee.  They’re fun, creative, and you can have them shipped any time—even after move-in day.
  • Décor 2UR Door:  While gift cards for Bed, Bath & Beyond or Linens and Things are always helpful for freshmen in need of extra-long sheets or a laundry basket, a touch of dorm elegance may be found in the products and services promoted by Décor 2UR Door.  Gift cards, registry, and custom dorm decorating advice are all available as gifts for your graduate.  Beyond the designer fabrics and bedding, be sure to check out latest in college dorm décor:  vinyl wall art—no nails, tape or paint involved!
  • Ebay: If you’re looking for a slightly offbeat or keepsake item, try Ebay. Not everything is “used” but if that’s not a problem, you might find unique “collectables” such as college prints and old fraternity pins or barstools and used flip flops.
  • Magnolia Lane: These unique pottery, ceramic and glassware items sometimes appear 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.

  • 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.
  • Off Campus Food: Undergrads are either really excited about dining hall options or they’re not. Google their favorite chain to see if there’s a location near campus and arrange for a gift card—burritos by the dozen, anyone? Or take the idea a step further and research fancier dining options with linen tablecloths. If you go this route, be sure to put enough on the card to support more than one diner!
  • 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.”
  • T-Shirt Quilt: If you’re sitting on a stash of used 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.
  • Vineyard Vines: Check out the college collection for everything from boxers and loungewear to ties and tote bags signaling your grad’s new connection to George Washington, Georgetown, UVa, Virginia Tech, the University of Maryland, and many recognizable postsecondary institutions.  The "preppy" designs are unique and very much in vogue. They’re so popular that some college bookstores have school-specific “exclusives” on Vineyard Vines logo products.

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