As a new batch of students prepares to graduate from college this spring, the cold reality of the current job market begins to set in. According to the Associated Press, more than half of recent college grads were jobless or underemployed in 2011. Yes, you read that correctly, more than half. So, while upcoming grads may have dreamed of a share in a cozy two-bedroom apartment while embarking on their dream career, they might instead be looking at a futon in their parents' garage... next to the family car. While you want to give them something useful to make sure they're healthy and pursuing their dream, you don't want to offend them by implying that you think they'll never make it. To help unblur the lines between inappropriate and amazing here are some tips!
Bad Gift Ideas
A tent. Before scaring them into thinking they'll be homeless forever, why not try the gift of a good ole pep talk? Encourage them to take a "pay the bills" job while continuing to look for their dream job.
A book on being a street performer. While embracing a recent graduate's creative side is great, encouraging the most desperate of all backup plans, not so much. They might not land a job right away, but they should at least try.
Noise-cancelling headphones. There's only one visual that noise-canceling headphones conjures up, and it's that they're back home with their parents. And, let's face it, that's not a pretty picture.
A padlock. I'm not saying your gift needs to be keys to a brand new condo, but a padlock for their childhood bedroom door is not exactly a positive gesture.
A set of matching shot glasses. Graduating from college is definitely a reason to celebrate, but you can only take the "cool" aunt/uncle thing so far. Even you can't justify this one.
Good Gift Ideas
Dinner of the month club membership. Most post-grads are on a steady diet of ramen noodles and PB&J sandwiches, and that's just fine. But a real meal at least once a month might be nice too.
Around the world plane ticket. They might as well travel while they wait for the economy to get better. Work with relatives to pull this together with some spending cash and a guidebook to get them started.
Resume and/or blog writing class. Looking for a job right out of school can feel like a catch-22 to a recent graduate. How can they find a job when they don't have any experience? With classes like these, they can either gain new skills or learn to embellish them like a pro.
A laptop. Without a laptop, how can your favorite graduate make electronic music on GarageBand? I mean, job hunt online using free Internet at their local coffee shop.
A blazer or sport coat. To ensure that your giftee doesn't show up to his or her first job interview in a torn sweater, invest in a nice blazer or sport coat for them. Find out from their parents what stores they like and get one from there.
Before you attend your next graduation party, be sure to look this list over. You may get them the one gift that ends up launching their career. No pressure or anything.
Dana Holmes is a lifestyle, gift and etiquette expert who acts as Editor in Chief of Gifts.com and the Gift Rap Blog. She has been working in trend forecasting and gift recommendations for the past decade. Dana loves making occasions special with her unique gift ideas, tips and touches. She has been interviewed by the New York Times, Associated Press, Fox & Friends, TODAY in NY and many more.