Monday, June 04, 2007

The Bartender Does Graduation...

An anonymous patron of the Happy Hour was the first to submit a question for the bartender.

The patron writes:

Hello There!

I have a question for you. I am attending a high school graduation
party this coming weekend, and need to get a gift. I obviously can do
cash or a gift card, but i was wondering if you could remember
something you may have received as a gift, that you enjoyed!!

Well, my dear patron, I am glad you came here in your search for a suitable gift idea! Seeing as this is only a high school graduation, unless the graduate suffered terrible academic failure for a few years of his or her schooling, it's pretty likely that the recipient of this gift is under-age. This obviously rules out alcohol as a gift, which is something that older recipients (particularly recipients who fancy a good drink now and again) would appreciate.

Cash and gift cards present their own specific issues: First off, there is no real mystery as to how much you were willing to spend on a gift. By giving cash or a gift card you are assigning a specific value to the achievement... And let's face facts here, MOST (not all, but certainly most,) high school-ians (yes, I made that word up, deal with it,) are selfish ingrates. It comes with the territory of being young and dumb. Therefore whatever amount you spend on the graduate is in all likelihood going to be mentally (if not overtly) judged as measly. (Like I said, young and DUMB... Obviously they have not yet learned that the world owes them NOTHING and they should be grateful for anything that they don't have to work for.) The second problem that you run into is that cash or a gift card is impersonal and not at all creative. Yes, the recipient can choose what to purchase on their own using the funds you have provided them, but when you are wanting the gift to be memorable, this is hardly the way to go. I have received gifts of cash in my day, and then blown it on whatever I wanted or needed at that particular moment, but if it were even a lasting item I purchased with that money and not, say, a box of tampons, some garbage bags, food items, toilet paper, and shampoo, I can pretty much guarantee that if someone asked me where I got it, I'm telling them that I bought it at store-X, and not saying "Oh, I got that for graduation using the money I got from Wilma and Roy!"

As for memorable gift ideas, I think it largely depends on the recipient. Seeing as this is an academic achievement, and I am always one to encourage continued learning through life, I'd go looking for books. Books are a great gift idea because not only can you give a gift centered on a specific interest of the recipient, you can give them a book that has had a personal impact on you. The fact that you can also inscribe in the front cover a personal message also lends itself to making your gesture a memorable one. Some of the best gifts I've ever gotten were books. And I felt a little more appreciative that the givers took the time to know what I would be interested in reading about. Books are obviously a less feasible option if you're giving a gift to someone who doesn't read, (insert cheap joke about Paris Hilton, or Victoria "Posh" Beckham here,) so you have to judge that one on your own.

Depending on budgetary constraints, you could always opt for a handmade gift. I have saved SO MUCH money by knitting scarves, painting pictures, or assembling other such handicrafts and then giving the items as gifts. This is obviously a better option if you ENJOY doing things of this nature... If you hate all things crafty, then obviously you're not going to want to put in your best effort on the gift, and we all know what happens to shoddy craft projects that were not crafted with the utmost in care and attention to detail... They end up in one of two places, the city dump, or the darkest, dustiest recesses of the least used closet.

If the recipient is someone you are particularly close with, and you don't mind spending a little more on the person, then a simple piece of tasteful jewelry is always memorable. If you take the time to note what the recipient might like, and what they might actually wear and use on a regular basis, it can serve as a reminder of your gesture every time they wear it or are complimented on it.

Another criterion you can use when selecting a gift depends on what the future holds after graduation day. Knowing the grad's plans for the foreseeable future, can lend itself to a myriad of gift options. Is the high schoolian going to college? (For those who are college-bound, money is good, but only if you don't mind your gift being spent at the bookstore on tomes that will instantly lose 87% of their value at the end of the semester whether they were ever opened or not, on a cable bill, or at bars who are less selective about the age of their patrons.) For the college-bound kids, I find that practical gifts are in order, but again you've got to know your audience in order to know what is going to be needed, wanted, and used. For those not going to college, well... I'd say the world is going to be a pretty harsh place. (I'm not saying that there are not people out there who haven't been successful even while lacking a college degree, but speaking from experience, the world is plenty harsh even for those of us who have pursued higher education, and supposedly that degree opened all kinds of doors...) When I graduated high school, I got functional gifts like luggage, film, and other items I was likely to use on a trip that I took not long after I wore my cap and gown. Those were memorable gifts not only because I can recall getting them for graduation, but I also associate them with the good times I had on the trip when I used them.

I guess the key to making a gift memorable is to really key into the recipient. Knowing your audience is the key to making something mundane into something special. I hope I've provided you with a few useful tips and/or ideas when shopping for your gift.

For those of you reading this, what were some memorable gifts you've ever gotten? Did I miss something important? Do you have something else to say on the matter? Leave it in the comments!

This bar is always open, so come back any time to shoot the breeze, get advice, or have yourself a shot!

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