You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.
You're on your own.
And you know what you know.
You are the guy who'll decide where to go."
As the graduate goes out into the world give them something to take with them that has meaning or inspires them. And if you can't come up with a great idea there's always CASH! Because I work from a pretty tight budget I am always looking for creative and thoughtful ideas that don't require a lot of $$ when a gift is in order.
Love this gift that a friend made for her son when he graduated from high school and was off to college, far away from home. Over the course of a couple of years she squirreled away several of her son's favorite and well worn t-shirts. She's an excellent seamstress and was able to turn the tattered tees into a smashing, soft quilt that would continually be a reminder of past memories and Home. If you're not a sewer (that's sew-er, not sewer as in waste water) yourself I'm sure you could find someone to convert cast offs into an heirloom.
I made a scrap book of my son's high school years for his graduation. It held not only photos but invitations, programs from plays and anything else I could find that would stir memories for him. I guess it did. He's been out of high school for over a decade and I noticed, not too long ago, that it sits on a shelf in his "Man Cave".
A video history for the graduate would be great too. Piecing together all the video of the high school years or their whole life would be a keepsake they would treasure.
I am going to mention again my "Go To" gift solution...Quotes in a Box. It's fun to choose 12 quotations for the high school grad, more for the college graduate. One quote for each year of school. You will, of course, choose the quotes that you know will hold the most meaning or be inspirational to the recipient. Find a great box at a discount home store or antique/second-hand store to hold the hand-picked quotes. (Feel free to refer to the quote page here on this site.)
If you do give $$$ do so creatively. How about buying a pizza crust in the box and covering it with $$$ and layer in a few coins as the topping. Perhaps this is an out moded expression but I heard it many times growing up..."Money doesn't grow on trees." Well, maybe just this one time. Roll up bills and attach them with colorful ribbon to a small potted tree.
This last idea is more extravagant and incredibly thoughtful. My sister and brother-in-law don't have their own children but are very close with their nieces and nephews. They gave my son and his cousin, who graduated from high school the same year, a trip to Washington D.C. with them. They went right after graduation and stayed for a week. There are stories still being told about that memory making trip. Oh, the adventures they had in our nation's capitol! Everything from plumbing disasters and record heat to theater, food, museums, monuments, boat rides on the Potomac, getting lost and eventually found. My sister kept quite an extensive journal of the trip and had it bound for them when they returned home. What a great celebration of a milestone in a young person's life combined with the joy of family.
Congratulations to all the grads out there....best wishes for your future.