Functional Graduation Gifts for the College Graduate

After years of work, your favorite student has finished college, and you want to reward the effort by finding functional graduation gifts to help prepare them for a new life. However you define, "what is a graduation gift," be sure to equip them with the necessary tools for success in the real world. You can find the right types of graduation gifts by focusing on practical items for their professional and personal life.

Office Organization and Decor

Your new graduate could be exchanging the dorm room for the boardroom. Business meetings and appointments with clients will take up their time, so a neat office is a necessity. A practical graduation gift is a desk organizer to keep the work area tidy. A hard wooden structure, available in various finishes, offers durability and style sure to impress clients. For the college grad handling many things at once, look for a desk organizer with multiple compartments for writing utensils, incoming papers, personal notes, and storage. If you want a unique look, see how vintage metal mail stands work for holding memos and placing outbound documents.

A perk of holding a professional job is having your own business cards. Instead of keeping them hidden in a drawer, let your grad display and hand them out from a business card holder. A small square wooden box that holds two stacks of cards looks nice and on any desk. For another graduation gift idea, go for a fancier holder for the cards, such as a flat gold leaf tray.

Your former student may want to show off their credentials in the office or cubicle. A picture frame is a popular graduation gift that holds a diploma or other certificate of achievement. Find a frame with a sufficient and polished-looking border to highlight the diploma or certificate, and keep in mind that advanced degrees often require larger frames.

Home Essentials

Since your graduate is away from the college cafeteria, they need to make their own food in order to avoid regular takeout. Any alum can create and enjoy many types of meals with a wise pick of kitchen essentials. A popular graduation gift is a dining basics set of glasses, plates, and utensils that serve as useful gifts by occasion, and college graduation is the perfect occasion for such choices. An everyday meal needs basic glasses, while a fancy dinner with potential clients requires nicer tableware, such as wine goblets. Consider a graduation gift that includes glassware with several types of glasses for entertaining.

Your grad should serve lavish meals on equally nice dishes. Think of selecting a few differently sized place settings of differing shapes. Rectangular plates work well for appetizers, round ones are suitable for the main course, and smaller plates in any shape are ideal for dessert. A casual flatware set and a formal silverware set are a must for accompanying any meal. Remember to include larger serving dishes in your graduation gift package, as your alum will appreciate them when it comes time to serve the salad. A gift set of wooden tongs and spoons is a naturally sturdy option and plastic ones offer durability and ease in gripping fruits and vegetables.

Furniture Fill

A newly minted college graduate is likely to need something to fill an empty house or apartment. Help fill the space with stylish and functional graduation gifts that make the house feel like a home. After a hard days' work on the new job, the former student's feet need a place to rest. Let them relax in a chair or seat that fits any room. Choose a chair that lets the legs naturally reach the floor. Since your recent college student may not have much space or may move to other places before completely settling on a permanent home, select a seat with a simple style and color. For most of these types of graduation gifts, stick with neutral tones like black, brown, or tan that match any wall color and accompanying furniture, too. In a living room or study, a chair with arms gives support and comfort, while dining room chairs are more practical with straight back frames that your former student and company can pull up to almost any table. 

If a chair is too big to bring to the party, bring a graduation gift that goes with one. A table lamp provides plenty of light next to a reading chair. Look for one with sufficient distance between the base and the bulb so they have plenty of light at eye level, and for something that is a bit unique, choose one made of burlap with a driftwood base.

Art Installation

After a spartan college existence, your former student is likely in need of a home makeover. Another type of graduation gift that is practical, yet personal is decor. Brighten up plain beige or white walls with art prints that bring emotion and focus to the room, giving your recent grad a homey feel. Search for a painting that makes a positive welcoming statement. Warm colors like pink or red make artwork pop when combined with complementary colors in an artistic composition. The subject of the art can be a landscape, animal, place, or even an abstract representation of a feeling.

A set of framed photo prints also brings sophistication to a room. Black-and-white or tinted photographs look classy and catch the eye. For an attractive and functional graduation gift, consider giving a series of mirrors that serve the dual purposes of creating a larger feel in the room and reflecting light. If your alum lives in a modestly sized apartment, fool the eye into perceiving it as a wide open space by placing mirrors across from natural light. Artfully arrange your grad's new mirrors at staggered angles so they reflect light against each other.

Support your college graduate in this important milestone by choosing simple yet useful graduation gifts that provide a way to achieve a productive life in a home or an office. Giving functional graduation gifts provides practical comfort and style to their newly independent life and also serves as mementos of your best wishes for their success.