Everyone knows Christmas is a budget buster, but between graduations and weddings, May/June can leave your wallet crying for mercy, to and that’s before you even think about taking a family vacation!
Here are a few tips to keep things sane when it comes to honoring new graduates.
1. Don’t feel obligated to do something about each and every graduation announcement you receive. Some people send them to literally everyone who is even vaguely acquainted with the graduate. A cynical explanation is that it’s a gift grab, but thinking that will just make you grouchy so instead just smile at how exuberant the graduate and family are about this big milestone and wish your co-worker’s step-sister’s daughter well as you put the announcement in the recycling bin.
2. While some people consider cash gifts tacky, I think it’s the way to go for new graduates and not just because I’m lazy. This is a time of transition for them and the last thing they need is more stuff to deal with. Cash gifts can be pooled to get the graduate what they really need as they go off to college or start their career. Don’t worry, you don’t have to give a ton, and it can depend on how close you are to the graduate and how big your wallet is.
If you really don’t like giving cash, a gift certificate to Target or Amazon or a similar “sells everything and is everywhere” type store is a good choice. Consult with the graduates family before buying things like luggage, bed linens, small appliances, etc to avoid duplication, buying the wrong size or buying something that they can’t use in their new home.
3. If you are close, do consider taking the new graduate out for lunch or a coffee and let them know how proud you are of them and talk about their future plans. This is a great time for you to let them know about any networking opportunities you know of or to give them some helpful advice about living on their own and dealing with the rigors of college or a career. Often the best gift we can give the people in our life is our time (that said; don’t schedule your “catch-up” chat for the morning after the graduation party!).
4. Most graduates have only a very limited number of tickets to their ceremony. If you’re invited and can’t make it, please let them know well in advance so that they can invite somebody else.
5. Being invited to an out-of-town graduation can carry significant costs. The good news is that you generally have quite a bit of notice that a family member will one day graduate from high school or college and can plan accordingly. Don’t feel guilty, however, if you have to turn down a more distance family member or acquaintance’s invitation because of financial reasons. Do call them up personally to let them know how proud you are, but don’t allow anyone to try and guilt you into sacrificing your financial well-being to go.
6. Don’t feel like you have to send a gift or cash the minute you get the graduation announcement. It might very well come in handier in the fall after they move into the dorms or after they start their new job.
7. Consider offering the new graduate a service instead of a physical gift. For example, you can lend them your truck to move to the dorms or offer to get their computer in tip top shape before they leave. Again, the idea is to avoid too much stuff and to do things that will actually help the graduate get a great start to the next chapter of their life.
Do you have a go-to graduation gift? What are some of the more memorable gifts you were given for graduation?