It’s that time of year again. Summer is right around the corner, and for some—myself included—this season marks a particularly exciting moment: graduation! Most of us know someone who's flipping their tassels soon, which presents an annual conundrum: Carnations and Starbucks gift cards are fine and well, but what do graduates actually want to unwrap? Well, since you asked...
It should come as no surprise that cold, hard cash tops this list. The great thing about money is its versatility—we can splurge on a pair of shoes we've been eyeing or, yeah, sure, add it to our savings account. If you're uncomfortable with the idea of simply forking over cash, Visa gift cards are a great substitute that still fit nicely in an envelope.
2. Travel assistance
As my own dad frequently reminds me when referring to my graduation, "the party's over!" All the more reason to get one last hoorah before entering the dreaded "real world" we've been warned about for so long. Tons of new grads would love a contribution toward a summer vacation, whether that means chipping in on a plane ticket to Europe or offering some gas money for a celebratory road trip with friends. An instant film camera or monogrammed luggage from Texas designer Jon Hart can mean a lot to a grad with wanderlust, too.
While financial aid is a foolproof gift, some students might want more sentimental value, which could take the form of a nice piece of jewelry a grad's not likely to buy for themselves. Surprises are awesome, but it's always a good idea to check in with the graduate or at least seek a second opinion on fine jewelry purchases that can't always be returned. You never know if someone's a rose gold gal or sterling silver sister. Need a starting point? Daniel Wellington makes beautiful watches for both men and women, and Etsy has near-unlimited options for timeless, minimalist pieces.
4. Online subscriptions
Game of Thrones may be over, but that doesn't mean there aren't hundreds of other shows to be binged. A one-year subscription to streaming services like HBO, Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Spotify is a fantastic gesture of congratulations. Trust me, it will be used.
5. A good laugh
You can't go wrong with a nice pair of earrings, but sometimes the most meaningful gifts are those that can bring light to this transitional time. Graduation is exciting, but it can also be wrought with anxiety. A Kim Kardashian mug or sassy candle—anything that inspires a laugh—can do wonders.