The All-Purpose Graduation Gift

Well, it’s that time of year again: graduation. High schools, colleges, grad schools, law schools, and med schools are all filled with people matriculating into a new chapter of their lives. This year is a first for me because I am neither in school nor graduating. Instead, this year was all about celebrating the successes of others.

I had a moment of panic when I realized a) how many people I know who are graduating this May and b) that I should really have gifts for most of them. In particular, my younger sister  graduated from undergrad (I’m the oldest of 3 and I have a younger brother too), one of the girls I babysat/nannied for years graduated from high school (whoa – am I really that old already?!) and 3 of my cousins also graduated from high school.

After pondering what I could send them that they would both use and appreciate and that wouldn’t leave me broke, I came up with the perfect idea: a planner. Now, maybe this is just my type-A lawyer personality, but I love a good planner. I need to-do lists, notes of my appointments and meetings, and a space to put my bills until they’re paid, business cards, etc. If I hadn’t carried a planner with me at all times through undergrad and law school I would never have graduated, because I would have lost track of everything (I also worked at least 2 jobs through most of undergrad in addition to being a full-time student, so scheduling my days was key).

This is the planner that I used all through undergrad, made by Mixed Role Productions:

August to August planner by Mixed Role Productions.

These amazing yearly planners have enough space to record homework, meetings, vacations, and monthly finances – everything that a college kid needs! – and they hold up really well even in hugely full purses and backpacks. I gave one of these to each of the high school graduates that was planning on continuing on to college.

For my sister, who is no longer a college kid, I upgraded her to the “planner” that I have been using since around my second year of law school (there was some overlap where I was using both of these planners and had them with me in my purse at all times. Yes, I am that person). The mini-binder and all of the filler options are from Russell + Hazel.

Silver Mini Binder by Russell and Hazel


Mini Filler Sheets – Great for jotting down random notes and information


Mini Daily Calendar Sheets


Mini Weekly Calendar Sheets

While this isn’t a traditional planner, I think it’s a much better fit for a post-college lifestyle because you can put whatever you need in here, and you aren’t limited to weekly pages. Russell and Hazel also have great bundle options for a basic binder set and an address book that could easily be spiffed-up planners with the addition of the daily or weekly calendar pages.

Russell + Hazel also carry these amazing things called “Stash Sacks” – basically a little leather wallet, they are insanely good quality for a super reasonable price. I have the black one that I use as my daily wallet, and a purple one for fun (I also bought one for each of my bridesmaids for my wedding last summer). The Stash Sacks would make a super good graduation gift too, especially with one of the binder systems and the cute leather keychains that Russell + Hazel sells.

If you’re really looking to spoil a recent grad, here are some of my other favorite gift ideas:

  • A luggage set – I got a set of luggage from my grandparents when I graduated high school, and it is by far the gift I’ve used the most. My largest bag is actually starting to fall apart because I’ve used it so much.
  • E-reader – I love my Nook, and for a book-lover this would be a great graduation gift (especially if they don’t have an Ipad). Books are usually cheaper in electronic format, an e-reader takes up less room in a purse or book bag, and they can subscribe to magazines without needing to forward their mail every time they move from home to the dorms back to home for the summer to the dorms again and then to an apartment (Yeesh. I remember that.)
  • Gift card to the campus bookstore (for those continuing their education) – Useful for textbooks and for showing school spirit in t-shirts/sweatshirts, etc.
  • On the (very slim) chance that anyone knows a grad who plans to study Philosophy or who loves to read history, I also highly recommend Bertrand Russell’s History of Western Philosophy. It’s one of my favorites, and no matter what the curriculum, it’ll have some interesting tidbits and topics that classes won’t cover.
* Now for my lovely legal disclaimer: I haven’t been paid, perked, or otherwise induced to share these products, I just love them and think that y’all will too. (Although if Russell + Hazel decide they want to sponsor my blog, I’d be happy to accommodate them!)

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