Give the grad a book that’s changed your own outlook on life. Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers: The Story of Success is one of my favorites – and a reminder that practice and persistence are even more crucial than talent. Another favorite is The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy by Thomas Stanley and William Danko. You couldn’t choose a more practical look at earning and saving, from the viewpoint of frugal wealth.
Make the book even more welcome by including a small check, tucked somewhere in the first third. If the check’s cashed, you get a nice boost, knowing that your recipient took the time to look through the book!
Other good presents for the grad, especially if they’re going on to college or graduate school: rolls of quarters (good for laundry); a Starbucks, Panera or fast food gift card (for cold, rainy days when they’re broke); stylish leather blank books or folders, for journaling and classes; an address book, pre-filled in with family information, plus stationery and a roll of stamps; a case of their favorite drink or food, if they’re not moving too far away. (Daughter #1 loves mushroom soup, cold out of the can, and was thrilled to get a case to take with her. I know…but she does!)
Post-21 grads will appreciate specialty beer or wine. You’ll find more ideas here, here and here. (BeingFrugal, the last contributor, remembers a present her aunt wrapped in dollar bills — what a great idea!)
Have you been holding onto a family heirloom that’s important…but not exactly your taste? If your bride-to-be’s taste is in antiques, don’t hesitate to polish that silver platter or set of glasses up and re-gift them – she’ll appreciate their family connection, as well. (Other possibilities – antique quilts, table linens, candlestick holders, etc. Just be sure they like this sort of thing before you gift them.)
Small appliances are more reasonably priced than ever – especially if you plan ahead, and purchase them during January clearance sales. (Prices aren’t bad now, either – just remember for next year.) A coffee pot (with a pound of their favorite brew), one of those great portable blenders that let you mix right in the glass. Perhaps a toaster or microwave oven. These may seem a tad blasé – but your recipient will think of you whenever they use them.
What about a portable picnic? Baskets are not only often on sale – but you can find them at consignment and thrift shops, as well. Include paper plates and napkins, plastic ware and even a few goblets. (Add the wine and some snacks if your budget permits.)
Christmas lights…special ones, that is. Or fancy ornaments. (Once again, this is something most easily purchased in January.) Our Christmas tree is famous for its Midwest Bubble Lights…and a number of our friends now have them too.
Whatever you give, remember: it’s not the money that counts – it’s the love.