Graduation, leaving home and going away to college are big steps in anyone's life, and it's a big financial commitment.
Traditionally, a watch or piece of fine jewelry would be a treasured graduation gift. But these days, more practical items may top the list for most grads, as they watch their pennies for tuition.
Being independent and making your own decisions can be as challenging as it is exhilarating, but you can help ease that transition by helping your graduate be prepared.
For most students, dorm life is their first experience in communal living. Habits which made sense in the privacy of your own home are simply impractical in shared living spaces.
What do you wear to and from the bathroom, especially if you share a large bathroom down the hall? How many towels do you really need? What kind of robe or shower wrap is appropriate where men and women may be housed on the same floor? It's not always easy to anticipate.
So, here are our recommendations for the most practical and appreciated graduation gifts:
A robe should be comfortable, easy to care for, quick-drying and a little more generously sized. (Many freshmen gain a few pounds that first year as they adjust to a changed diet.) Steer away from anything too short, revealing or see through.
An ideal solution would be Gilden Tree's kimono style Waffle Weave Robe, or shawl collar Waffle Weave Robe. These robes are comfortable, attractive, dry quickly, and wash and dry well.
For more full-figured students, you may want to consider a Full-Figured Waffle Weave Robe, designed to look and feel just like the regular kimono style robe, but redesigned especially for full-figured folks.
These are a godsend for just after the shower, and for applying makeup and doing your hair. Most dorms have either a communal bathroom with rows of sinks, or a suite type arrangement, where one bathroom is shared amongst 4 or more people.
In either case, sink and mirror time is always at a premium, and being able to get ready without having to go back to the room and get dressed first is very convenient. All shower wraps should be longer than the knee, with a good front overwrap and should wash and dry well.
I recommend our Waffle Weave Shower Wraps, or our super-soft Velour Shower Wraps. Both are soft, comfortable and secure across the chest with a series of snaps, so they're very adjustable. Once again, full-figured versions are available in Velour and Waffle Weave, and we've just added an Extra-Small Velour Wrap, too.
Most dorm rooms have miniscule closets and limited towel bars in the bathrooms, plus you may not want to leave your towel hanging in the bathroom for everyone to use, so it's smart to avoid thick, heavy, terry-cloth towels. Aim for a slightly thinner, more quick drying towel and avoid having damp towels draped over every available surface.
Often students will only do laundry once a week or perhaps only twice a month. A minimum or four to six towels should be included, and the same number of hand towels to use as a hair towel for girls. If your student uses them, plan to get at least a dozen wash cloths.
A great new option are waffle weave towels. These 100% cotton towels are light, soft and very absorbent, plus they dry very quickly, even in humid climates. You may be able to go with fewer towels because they won't get musty like terry towels.
Gilden Tree offers towels in two styles: Modern Design and Classic Waffle Weave, in a range of sizes and fun colors.
Monogramming is a wonderful way to personalize a gift, but be careful to choose a style that your student will enjoy. You may love a classic monogram in a curly Olde English letter style, but your graduate may want something a little more low key.
A pretty safe bet is to go with a clean, modern letter style in the same color as the item being monogrammed (white thread on a white robe, etc.) Single initials are very popular right now and should always be the first initial of the student's first name.
Avoid using nicknames that are babyish or silly - no matter how much you love them. Your student is doing his or her best to appear mature and together and a "Punkin'" monogrammed robe defeats the purpose.
The Real Gift:
The most important gift you can possibly give your student is your attention. Don't forget to check in with them from time to time, via email, phone or mail while they're away at school.
My mom sent my brothers and I letters, little gifts and home-baked cookies "packed" in popcorn. The taste of home and the feeling of being loved are something I've never forgotten. Even if they say they don't need it - they need it. So don't forget that most important gift of all - your time and attention.