The News Courier in Athens, Alabama


May 24, 2014

Gift guide: 9 tips to celebrate graduates

— Money is always a popular gift but sometimes people want to bestow their graduates with something more permanent than an envelope filled with crisp bills or a check.

More than 700 local students are expected to receive diplomas at nine high schools in Limestone County, starting with last Tuesday’s ceremony at Lindsay Lane Christian Academy and ending with West Limestone this Friday. (The Ombudsman Center will hold its ceremony this Tuesday.)

Many grads are headed to college, while others will enlist in the armed services, take on apprenticeships or enter the full-time workforce.

To help with the search for a present with a personal touch, here are nine gift-giving ideas for the Class of 2014:

• Inspirational books — CEI Bookstore at 220 South Marion St. in downtown Athens offers books ideal for a graduate wanting to rely on faith-based teachings.

“We have a little paperback devotional, ‘Divine Moments for Students: Everyday Inspiration from God’s Word,’ which is $3.97,” said Andrew Boyd, an assistant shipping clerk at CEI. “We also have a hardcover with leather binding, ‘God’s Promises for Graduates: The Class of 2014.’ It’s $14.99 and goes through what to do when you need contentment, and it includes a devotional.”

Boyd said his personal favorite is a “God’s Promise for Your Every Need. The burgundy, leather-bound tome is $14.99.

“It helps when you’re stressed and gives a couple of verses (pertaining) to that particular moment,” he said.

• GPS devices — Many cellphones feature GPS and driving apps but sometimes service can be interrupted if traveling in an area without a nearby cell tower. A GPS device that plugs into the car’s power port can provide a backup as your student navigates new locales. Some of the most popular and easy-to-use brands are TomTom and Garmin.

• Photo collages — Even with Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook and the myriad of ways photographs can be shared on social media, actual photos remain popular. Take this a step further by loading a few snapshots on a thumb-drive or disc, using a photo kiosk at the local pharmacy to turn these pictures into a collage. Add a frame and it will be ready to hang on the new apartment wall or display on the dorm dresser.

• Personalized note or card — Graduates may not put this on the top of their list, but this keepsake can convey your pride for their accomplishment while also providing inspiration and comfort.

• Phone car chargers — Phones are the ultimate accessory for most teenagers, so give them another way to stay charged while on the go.

• Laundry gift basket — Purchase an easy-to-carry clothes hamper and fill it with dryer sheets, washing detergent and hangars. An added bonus would be to add some rolled quarters for the laundromat.

• Car kit — Find a clear plastic container with a snap-on lid and fill it with helpful vehicle items such as jumper cables, oil funnel, paper towels, basic tool set and tire gauge.

• Furnishings — Even with most dorms being fully furnished, college students can always use a comfortable reading chair and extra lamps. And graduates settling into new abodes will need everything from kitchenware and cleaning supplies to wall hangings and rugs.

• Mementos — This ranges from a fancy diploma frame and jewelry to stuffed animals in graduation regalia.

Regina Crawford, owner of Crawford’s Gifts at 203 West Washington St. in downtown Athens, said shoppers are seeking graduation presents with a personal touch.

She said two of her best-selling items have been a keepsake canvas for $32.99 and initial necklaces for $37.99.

“It’s a vintage pearl necklace that’s hand-stamped — we only have two of those left because they have been a hit,” Crawford said. “The canvas is a signing tree congratulating the graduate and everyone signs it.”

The store also carries Alabama and Auburn items, along with timepieces that would transition well from the college to career.

“We have a special on little crystal desk clocks for $14.99,” she said. “A lot of people like to give something that doesn’t go away.”

Even though it’s hard to go wrong with cash and gift cards, keep in mind there are plenty of other options to commemorate earning a diploma.

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