Graduation giftsWe spoke to local graduates of University of South Carolina Beaufort to share their favorite graduation gifts.

When I graduated from high school, I know I was given all sorts of gifts. Some I remember, and many I do not. The one item that stands out for me was the Leatherman someone gave me so I had it when I went to college. I remember thinking it was a very odd gift. It turned out to be one of the best items anyone ever gave me.  Virtually no one on the college residence hall floor with whom I lived had a screwdriver. It came in handy ALL the time.

It’s graduation time! Our local University graduates students on Friday, May 2, and our high schools will follow suit at the end of the month! Here are some awesome ideas for low- and high-cost, and, more importantly, some high-emotional-impact gifts that local students received before matriculating at college.

Meds bag: This was a little bag full of all sorts of over-the-counter meds and bandaids. This way the student had them on hand and didn’t have to panic when he got a cold. His grandmother packed this for him (and he thought it was a little weird upon receipt!), and he views it as one of the best gifts he got.

Cash: You can’t beat cold, hard cash. If you don’t think this is a good idea, consider purchasing a gift card to a local (to the University) grocery store or gas station. An idea from my university-employ includes loading the university-issued ID card with pre-paid dollars that can only be spent at the campus (and sometimes beyond if it’s a large college town or city), so one’s spending is a bit more tightly controlled.

Gift cards: Amazon, Bed, Bath and Beyond, Walmart, Target, they’re all appreciated and most can be used online if there isn’t a store readily nearby, or if one forgets an item upon arriving at campus.

Laptop/printer: I never would have thought of this, but it’s true! A new machine is such a saving grace for a student. While most campuses have complete computer labs with full access to printing, it’s a time-saver to be able to bring a laptop wherever, whenever, and to be able to print in one’s room.  If this isn’t in the budget, consider working together with other family members to go in on a group gift. We use a Chromebook at our house, and I almost think that would suffice in today’s tech drive-driven world. Hint: Check with the University’s tech specifications before purchasing!

Coupon book (homemade): One student received a handmade coupon book! Coupons included free grocery trips, late night pizzas, coffee-pick-me ups, and she was able to cash them in throughout the year. I love that idea since I know that students tend to blow their cash well before the end of the semester! The student who received this gift says it was one of her most memorable!

Inspirational books: Oh, the Places You’ll Go! By Dr. Seuss is always at the top of the list for graduates and one student mentioned loving her copy. Anna Quindlen has a book that inspired me when I was in this age range, and another list includes books by Lauren Graham, Carl Hiassen, and Marie Kondo. There’s something for everyone (who likes to read)!

Personal items: One woman showed me her bracelet personalized with her Hawaiian name, along with a Hawaiian quote and a congratulatory message from her grandparents.  It’s a tradition in this young person’s family for women to receive this sort of bracelet upon completion of a monumental task. She knew she’d get one at some point, but did not realize that day would be on her 18th birthday combined with her high school graduation!

Another young woman suggested a $2 bill she had received -- she would never be broke, and would always have good luck! She says she still has it and it shows how far she has come. It was her “favorite gift by far!”

And if after this list, you can’t think of something for your special grad, there’s always the Leatherman! I’m sure it still has some merit today! Just be sure you get one with a screwdriver!

Kate Vermilyea is a higher education administrator turned full-time homeschooling mother of three living in Beaufort. She is the content curator for ParenthoodIQ.