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7 Gifts NOT to Buy a Graduate

From tablets to teddy bears, these are the things your grad doesn't want or need.
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What to buy a grad

Graduation season is upon us! With friends and relatives expected to spend a record $5.6 billion on gifts, knowing what not to buy is perhaps just as important as knowing what you should gift your grad. Unless you want your gift to end up in the garbage bin as soon as it's socially acceptable, heed the advice in this handy guide.

Graduation Trinkets

Unless you're a grandmother, you are not permitted to buy a teddy bear in a cap and gown — or any other tchotchke bearing the year of your giftee's graduating class. Such items are usually sewn together by children in Third World countries, and make a quick trip from the card store to the garage sale to the landfill.

SEE ALSO: 11 Great Gifts for Grads That Are Actually Useful

AmEx/Visa/MasterCard Gift Cards

If cash seems impersonal, what makes a gift card preloaded with currency more thoughtful? Though your grad may appreciate having some spending money, unless they are the goodiest of goody-goodies, you know they will not be spending it on anything pragmatic. You might as well just buy them a case of beer.

Oh, the Places You'll Go! (and Other Inspirational Books)

There was a time, a very short period of time — the year 1990, to be exact — when buying Dr. Seuss' last published work was a quirky, fun gift. These days, it is a meaningless, cliched gesture. And don't bother with similar inspirational titles, as they are sure to simply be donated.

How-To Books

Unlike the above, books with information on how to do stuff might come in handy. Thing is, all that information is on the internet these days. Save some trees and skip it.

Trendy Electronics

Each year, there is always some new gizmo or gadget that's seen as a must-have item. After a few months, there's either something better or it turns out we never needed it to begin with. If your potential gift fits this description, put it back on the shelf and walk away.

SEE ALSO: 8 Best Credit Cards for College Students

A Tablet

We were tempted to throw tablets in with the category above. As they continue to be seen as a useful item, we're singling them out. It's highly likely that your graduate's phone can do everything a tablet can do, and if not, it's better done on their laptop.

Stuff the College Provides

While gifts like a gym membership or a desk might seem thoughtful, your grad probably won't need them. After all, the college they'll be attending will have a gym where they can work out, and dorms equipped with desks. If you're unsure whether your gift would be redundant, you can always contact the school.

Readers, what do you think? Are there other things you wouldn't buy a grad? Let us know in the comments!


Senior Staff Writer

Stephen has been covering consumer electronics and technology for 20 years, and has been with DealNews since 2013. His insights have also been published in The Village Voice, Paste, CMJ New Music Monthly, The Big Takeover, and many other national and regional publications. He runs The Agit Reader, a music webzine.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Unless marked as a "Sponsored Deal," the opinions expressed here are those of the author and have not been reviewed or endorsed by the companies mentioned. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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6 comments
chefcristo
in addition to other gifts i KNOW he'll like and need (because he told me!!) i got my graduating grandson a case each of individual chicken and beef ramen noodles. he has to find his own hot water, but i know he practically inhales them. this is sort of a joke gift, but the joke's over when he needs a really quick snack after midnite.
BlueOak
Agreed, the "college provides" comment near the end of the piece implies this is for high school grads... but the ambiguous title does readers no favors!
topper
While the article doesn't clearly state this is for high school graduates, it does say not to buy stuff that the college provides. If you're graduating from college that paragraph would not apply. Thus, implying the list is for high school grads.
Greg the Gruesome
@ski522: "You might as well just buy them a case of beer" is sarcasm.
westeast
ski522 use your CTRL F for "high school" on this article and let us know what you find. Methinks by lack of reading and quick assumption, you most likely reached legal age by your high school graduation if that transpired, so that point is most moot anyway. Grad = ANY age
ski522
So you're advocating buying High School graduates a case of beer? Cash is simple, who cares what they spend it on, it's celebrating their hard work to graduate, if they want to splurge on something for themselves so be it.
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