Graduates tossing their cap in the airThey’ve done it! Another set of college students has survived approximately four years of dorm food, roommates, theme parties, organic chemistry classes, Shakespeare seminars, terrible flus and that one professor, good or bad, who they’ll likely not soon forget. These accomplished, young 20-somethings are marching out, diplomas in hand, into the post-college world.

How do you plan to congratulate the college grads in your life? You could, of course, hand them a wad of cash or jot some numbers on a check – but maybe this year you’re ready to do something a little different. Read on for some unique gift ideas that your favorite college graduate will surely value.

Kitchen Goods

College students may have cooked a meal or two, but the majority of them are probably lacking most essential kitchen items. You can help them fill their kitchens and stomachs with some necessities everyone should have.

First, the newly minted grownup will need some recipes to follow. Here are some wonderful gift cookbooks:

  • “How to Cook Everything” or “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian” by Mark Bittman
  • “Jerusalem: A Cookbook” by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
  • “The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook” by Deb Perelman

Next, the graduate will need some ingredients with which to cook. Feel free to be as creative as you want. Some things you may want to consider including are spices, hot sauce, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, pasta, honey, baking powder, breadcrumbs and unsweetened chocolate. It may be nice to include some more expensive items too, like saffron, Arborio rice, pinot noir red wine vinegar, or dried morel mushrooms. For the young person with a green thumb, you could even put together an indoor herb garden. These gardens can sit in windowsills, on counters or even hang on walls.

Professional Prep

Let’s face it – not all graduates enter the world knowing what step should come next. A session with a career coach can go a long way to help. The coach can give the graduate a personality test and take an inventory of his interests. The coach can help guide the graduate to identify what type of work and work environment may make him the happiest.

Most graduates will already have a basic LinkedIn account set up. Many, however, will not have access to premium services. A premium account is a luxury that will allow the graduate even more opportunities to network, job search and stand apart from the other job applicants.

In order to land that dream job, the graduate will need a resume that distinguishes her from other applicants. A professional writer can help shape the graduate’s resume so that it really appeals to specific employers, highlights the applicant’s strengths and stands out among the others due to its design, wording and polish.

Books

When I graduated, my mentor gave me a dictionary. While that’s kind of an outdated gift these days, at the time, it was so clever. It was tangible, practical and meaningful. I’ve carried it from apartment to apartment, and even though I now often use the dictionary on my phone, it still sits on a bookshelf in the study. I’m quite sure I’ll never forget who gave it to me, and I know I’ll never give it away.

Give your favorite college grad a signed first edition of a novel, a book of etymology, a collection of poetry, or any other book you’ve loved or found useful. Be sure to inscribe the title page with your well wishes and signature. The graduate will be able to carry the book from place to place, decade after decade, and think of you every time she gazes at it on the shelf or cracks it open.

Are some of your relatives and loved ones graduating this year? What graduation gifts, beyond cash, do you plan to give?

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