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13 Great Graduation Gift Ideas for the Class of 2013

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Graduating from high school is a major milestone for most teenagers, and it’s an event that is celebrated by parents, family, friends and teachers. The commencement ceremony itself and customary graduation party that soon follow will be full of lifelong memories, but the graduation gifts are a big deal, too!

If you aren’t quite sure what to get the special high school grads in your life, here are 13 great graduation gift ideas for the Class of 2013 to help you out:

1. Homemade scrapbook.

Digital photos are great, but there’s something to be said about a photo album that you can hold in your hands while physically turning pages. Fill a blank book with pictures, drawings or homework, ticket stubs, report cards … anything memorable from his or her elementary, middle and high school years.

2. College survival kit.

The fall semester is a few months away, but a college survival kit will survive til classes begin! Fill a storage crate or plastic laundry basket with basics that most young adults will wind up needing. Need a few ideas to get you started? Towels and wash cloths, laundry detergent, fabric softener or dryer sheets, a first aid kit, reusable water bottles and coffee cups, a screwdriver or mini tool kit, and non-perishable snacks that won’t melt are a good start.

3. Charm bracelet.

Most young women would love to receive a gold or silver charm bracelet as a graduation present. Add one or two relevant charms, such as a graduation cap or a key to symbolize the keys to the future, and give her additional significant charms on other important occasions.

4. Family heirloom.

Watches, jewelry and the like are often passed down for generations. Some parents do not feel comfortable giving their children family heirlooms until they are old enough and responsible enough to take good care of them. Graduation may be the appropriate time, but these items may be better left at home than taken to the dorm.

5. Vacation.

Has your graduate always wanted to see a Broadway show in New York City? Always wanted to visit Disney World? If your schedules allow and you can afford it, the summer before college is a great time to take a family vacation, or at least a long weekend road trip. Purchase post cards and tacky souvenirs from each city or place that you visit, and take plenty of photos along the way.

6. Quality headphones.

Dorms can get pretty loud and ear buds might not cut it. Giving your grad a pair of noise-cancelling headphones can help drown out the noise while they put up with their noisy roommates or neighbors.

7. Dorm room necessities.

A bed in a bag, alarm clock or docking station, microwave, mini fridge, coffee maker or other purchase that will be slightly pricy for someone fresh out of high school can make a great graduation gift.

8. Smart phone.

If your son or daughter’s cell phone is getting outdated or your contract is nearing its end, a new phone will be accepted with welcome arms. If you aren’t the one paying the phone bill, consider giving a pre-paid plan.

9. Gift cards.

Some people consider them impersonal, but most teens and young adults love receiving gift cards for their favorite stores or restaurants. If you intend for them to be used during the school year, make sure there are locations close to campus. Not sure? Amazon or other popular websites are a safe bet.

10. Bicycle.

A new car might be out of your budget, but it’s still possible to give someone a set of wheels for their graduation—the two-wheeled variety, that is. Freshmen are not even allowed to bring cars to school at many colleges, but a bike is a great way to get from Point A to Point B on campus.

11. Wallet.

A nice wallet with some money inside is a classier way to give someone cash than sticking it inside a greeting card.

12. Desk accessories.

Making friends and socializing is a pretty important aspect of college life, but the main reason for attending is to learn. Spruce up your grad’s studying with some new desk accessories or complete desk set that contains items like a memo holder, pen and pencil cups, storage trays, and a desk pad.

13. Journal.

Blogging on the Internet may be trendier, but writing your thoughts down on paper will never lose its luster for many. A leather-bound journal or blank book will provide a place to jot down notes, write poetry, or share inner hopes and fears.


Melissa Rhone+

Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.

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