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How to Give a Meaningful College Graduation Gift

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I received gifts at my own college graduation (I was a literature major), and I gave graduation gifts to my sister, a nursing major.

Looking for the right gift for graduation? Check out this guide.

Looking for the right gift for graduation? Check out this guide.

Graduation Gifts for Her and Him

Graduating from college is a pretty big deal. I remember my graduation as if it happened yesterday, even though it's been almost two years now. In just a couple of weeks, my sister is going to be graduating and so, on top of deciding on a great Christmas gift, I am stuck trying to think of the perfect gift to celebrate her graduation.

For my own graduation gift, I got a couple bouquets of flowers and a lot of money to help me pay back loans that I am still not even close to getting rid of any time soon. Unfortunately for my good ol' sis, I don't have nearly enough money to give her a head start on her own repayment plan so it's time to get a little creative and try to get something that can help honor her on this special day while staying within a small budget.

If you're in the same boat, looking for a meaningful, inexpensive gift, perhaps my advice below can help you out. Luckily for my sister, I actually gave her her gift on our birthday over a month early since I was moving and didn't want to lose it in the process so my gift searching is actually all said and done. Planning early, no matter what the circumstances is definitely a plus if you want to get them something that they will really enjoy.

You can find meaningful but inexpensive gifts that your graduate will love.

You can find meaningful but inexpensive gifts that your graduate will love.

College Graduation Gift Ideas by Major

One of the most important things to recognize in the college graduate's gift is the area of study that they majored in. My sister, for example, majored in nursing so for her graduation gift I bought her a necklace that was a heart with a nurse's hat on the top. She can't wear jewelry at work but I figured it would be something she could wear at the ceremony or at school to show off her snazzy degree and enable to talk to people about it since I know she is both extremely excited and very passionate about the career she's taking her first steps into.

Here are a few ideas for gifts for graduates with other kinds of popular degrees out there:

For Accounting Majors

Of course, one thing an accountant is sure to need is a nice new handy calculator. Even buying an old vintage one can be a cool thing for them to use to decorate their desk. There are also tons of mugs and t-shirts out there with funny sayings. One of the most fun gift ideas is a necklace of Saint Matthew, Patron of Accountants. When in doubt, I always say buy a gift card. For accountants, a card for Staples or Office Depot might be just the thing to help them get started on some great office supplies.

For Anthropology Majors

People who love anthropology enough to major in it are probably really into old stuff and museums. Buying a college grad a ticket to a museum or presenting them with an old artifact may be just the thing to satisfy them on that special day. A subscription to a magazine such as The Smithsonian or even a new book related to that field may also be a great choice. If you choose to go the gift card route, I would suggest one to an antique store or a museum.

For Business Majors

One safe bet for a business major is that they are looking into a career doing some office work of some sort. Buying that guy a tie or a girl a nice pearl necklace to go with their suit can be just the thing to help them look great for their first set of interviews. If you can't think of the perfect accessory, a gift card to a department store works just as well.

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For Literature Majors

As a literature major myself, I would say anything to do with books or reading is a safe bet. I think the best gift I got while in school was a Kindle so if the grad doesn't have an e-reader already, consider buying them one. Even good old books can be great gifts, especially the classics. If you can't decide on what you should get them or have no idea what books they already have in their enormous collection, a gift card to a bookstore is always welcome.

For Nursing Majors

If there is one thing I've learned about nursing majors through my sister, it's that they put a lot of hours both in and outside of school trying to keep up with homework, tests, and all the required clinical hours. My poor sister, unlike me, doesn't even like coffee or energy drinks so I don't know how she survived. A nice new coffee maker may be just the thing to help give them a boost as they get used to working 12 hour shifts. My sister's favorite gift so far was a nice new stethoscope from my mother. Another option is a gift card to stores that sell scrubs or other nursing supplies.

For Psychology Majors

Psychology majors tend to enjoy learning about and keeping up with the latest psychology topics out there, so, why not get them a subscription to Psychology Today? If they aren't much of a magazine reader, a new book can work as well. If they have a great sense of humor, there are plenty of sites out there with products for psychologists like a Freud poster and a Magic 8 therapy ball. Once again, a gift card to a bookstore or any other store that could possibly have something of interest is always handy.

How to Buy a College Graduation Gift: More Graduation Gift Ideas

The Best Graduation Presents

Although money is a great way to get student started as they go out into the real world and start their own careers, not everyone can afford to dish out very much. The best way to find the perfect, most meaningful graduation gift for college students is to really know who they are. Remember that they have worked their behind off for this piece of paper so honoring that with a gift that is related to their field of study is greatly appreciated, even if it isn't the most expensive gift in the world.

Have fun with the gift and try to make sure that it does not take away from their special day. When in doubt, a gift card can be just as appreciated as a present all wrapped up with a big bow on top. I'm sure that as long as you are there to support them and show just how proud you are, it won't matter in the end whether you got them exactly what they'd hoped for or not.

© 2012 Lisa


Stephanie Launiu from Hawai'i on February 03, 2013:

Voted up, useful, interesting. Thanks for the creative gift ideas! Aloha, Stephanie

Nancy Yager from Hamburg, New York on November 29, 2012:

What wonderful ideas for anyone graduating. It is always so difficult to come up with gift ideas.

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