It isn't always easy settling on a gift for the
bewildered and reluctant bright-eyed and enthusiastic college grad, especially when you're well aware that if you deviate from what they really want (read: cold hard cash) there's a good chance that said gift, however thoughtful, may wind up in a box shoved into the back of a closet in their first post-grad pad.
One suggestion that's not an all-expenses paid trip to IKEA? Give them something practical, something that they'll actually need and use in their first post-college home whether it's a shared rental or a micro-home-on-wheels. Below you'll find my top gift picks, selected with an emphasis on unique and utilitarian items designed and/or manufactured in America with a few grad-appropriate purely decorative (and fun) items thrown in for good measure.
Sure, you may be on the receiving end of a confused stare if you bestow your 23-year-old nephew with a couple of light bulbs, a water filter, and a doormat as a graduation gift. However, you can remain confident that your gifts will be used at some point down the line — because if there's anything that cash-poor recent college grads hate spending their own money on, it's things like light bulbs, water filters, and doormats. Think of it this way: you're doing them a favor.
And while we're on the topic of college graduation gifts, what's the most bizarre/useless thing that you received? What about a cherished, utilitarian item that you still use today?
Thumbs Up Trophy by iamhome @ CB2 ($59.95)
Key Target by Bower @ Areaware (ships 6/15)
Large Wine Glasses @ Lifefactory ($24.99/2-pack)
Soap on a Rope by Pat Kim @ A+R Store ($16)
The Hostess Collection: Oven Mitt and Pot Holder by John Hiemenz @ shopSCAD ($14)
Sunrise Door Mat @ Izola ($45)
Foodie Garden - Scotch Bonnet Pepers @ Poketo ($15)
Soma Water Filter @ Drink Soma ($99 - Glass carafe/1-year filter supply)
The Mansion Keychain by Various Projects @ Cooper-Hewitt Shop ($15)
PinWorld Map + Wall Map Diary by Palomar @ A+R Store ($44/$75)
Twain Catch-all @ Izola ($45)
Wall Mounted Bottle Opener - Green @ Brook Farm General Store ($10)
Daruma Money Bank @ Cooper-Hewitt Shop ($40)
Philips SlimStyle 60W Equivalent Soft White Dimmable LED Light Bulb @ The Home Depot ($8.97)
Related stories on MNN:
- Queen of the castle: Mother's Day gift ideas for the home and garden
- A SCADpad of one's own: Inside a parking space-sized micro-dwelling