The most digital generation in history is stepping up to the podium to get their college and high school diplomas. So what graduation gift should you give your capped-and-gowned digerati?
It's hard. An iPod? (Probably passé.) A check? (Impersonal and, ewwww!, paper-based.)
Try instead one of our Top 8 graduation gifts, which show you've put some thought into it and escaped the 20th century with some element of cool still intact:
8. GPS system. For a graduate heading off to a new city, a GPS unit can help make the unfamiliar a little easier to navigate. The Magellan SE4 retails at about $100 and includes a 4.4-inch LCD screen and preloaded with maps covering the continental US, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. The TomTom Ease, which features a 3.5-inch touch screen will also set you back about $100, offers turn-by-turn spoken instructions and 3D graphics as well as six different color options. Similar models with the up-to-the-minute traffic updates run about $160.
7. Set of luggage. While it's not exactly groundbreaking, a gift of new suitcases is a way to connect with a grad making a big move – or planning to travel before settling into a job. An Eddie Bauer six-piece luggage set on sale at Target.com costs about $100. American Tourister, which is owned by Samsonite, is taking 25 percent off its iLite XL luggage series, with a 21-inch suitcase priced at about $80. You can find a five-piece nested Samsonite luggage set on Amazon.com for $140.
6. Solar-powered backpack. The environmentally-minded graduate bound for a sunny locale will appreciate the gesture. The $220 bag not only fits books and a 15-inch laptop, it also charges iPods and cell phones when you're on the move using solar power. The bag’s waterproof solar panels generate up to 4.5 watts of power, and a lithium-polymer battery is tucked inside to store it. It includes wire channels for headphones as well as harnesses to attach the solar backpack to a larger bag.
5. All-in-one multitool. Sometimes, the classics are best. This versatile gift would work well for a new graduate who doesn’t have the space or budget for a full tool kit. Leatherman’s Squirt ES4 includes (ready for this) a set of scissors, a wood and metal file, bottle opener, wire cutter, blade, pliers, and a flat and Phillips head screwdriver all in a keychain-sized tool. It costs about $29. Swiss Army Knife’s Deluxe Tinker (which includes 13 similar features) is priced around $52.
4. Skype subscription. It's the latest way for graduates to keep in touch, whether it's from a college dorm or their very first apartment. The online service, which allows users to chat with other Skype users for free on their website, also offers affordable monthly plans for computer-to-mobile or landline calls. For unlimited calls within the US and Canada, a plan costs just $2.99 per month. That way, they have no excuse not to call -- and they don't even have to get off the computer.
3. New York Times Crossword Puzzle Society Membership. For puzzle lovers (and for new graduates whose first jobs may not necessarily entail all the intellectual rigors of academic life), a hard puzzle could help keep them sharp. A one-year membership costs about $50 and includes 12 classic Sunday puzzles each month – or 144 for the year.
2. Shares of stock. Introduce this one carefully to a business-oriented grad. For a generation who's formative experiences were forged during Wall Street's near meltdown, they might take offense being given shares of Citi, Goldman Sachs, and BP. Still, there are plenty of good companies out there that they can believe in. If you don’t have too much money to invest, OneShare.com helps you easily and quickly buy single shares in some of the world’s biggest companies.
1. A piece of land in every state. We bet your grad doesn't have this. American Acres makes it easy and cheap to own land. A digital deed of your purchase costs only $20. Granted, your new grad will only own a one-inch plot in each state. But hey, even Donald Trump had to start somewhere.