The Best Graduation Gifts for Friends

best-graduation-gifts-for-friendsDo you give graduation gifts for friends?  Reader E wonders…

I have a good friend from undergrad graduating from business school this spring. Any thoughts on an appropriate gift?

I’ll throw out a few ideas, but I’m curious to hear from you guys — how often do you gift friends? Friends and I used to exchange holiday and birthday gifts (all around $30, if memory serves), and we all just kind of stopped doing it sometime in our mid-20s, I think because we had mostly passed the realm of being excited about $30 gifts. I still gift for weddings and showers, of course, but having gone through them myself now I know that there’s a huge range of what people give, with some sticking in the $50 and under range, while others go for bigger ticket items. (The hardest thing I’ve had to realize about the wide range of gifts is that they don’t necessarily reflect how “good” a friend you are — sometimes a friend gets you a bigger or smaller gift because it’s how she was raised; maybe she’s on a budget; maybe she factored her travel costs into her gift-giving budget, and sometimes she just procrastinated and had a limited selection from the registry by the time she bought.)  It’s easy to “respond” in kind if you know how much someone gave you for your own wedding or baby shower (ladies, this is an excellent reason to keep track!) but if you’re the first you sort of have to pick a target price out of thin air. For non-wedding/baby events — such as my girlfriend who just made partner at her law firm — my go-to gift is a bottle of Veuve Clicquot, which I always think of as being classy and celebratory without being overly expensive.  As for graduation… all of my friends graduated generally at the same time I did, so I don’t think I got them anything beyond maybe dinner or drinks. (Pictured: Graduation cake topper, originally uploaded to Flickr by Lou.)

Anyway, if you’re inclined to give a graduation gift to a friend, here are some ideas…
– bottle of Veuve Clicquot (I said it was my go-to gift!)
– A gift certificate for a swanky spa (perhaps you can make a day of it with her)
– A few items from Sephora — with their excellent return policy gifts are just as good as a gift certificate.
– If she’s traveling somewhere for vacation, perhaps a vacation-themed gift — a gift certificate to a local store or an experience-centric thing such as Context Tours
– dinner and/or drinks some night

For my $.02, I would avoid business-themed accessory gifts unless you know exactly what she wants — let her pick out a card case, tote bag or briefcase, great pair of pumps, etc, on her own.

Readers, what are your gift-giving habits?  What do you think are the best graduation gifts?

Update: I forgot about this until way later, but I’m also a big fan of Dr. Seuss’s Oh, the Places You’ll Go! for a graduation gift.

Comments

  1. Jeepers Creepers :

    I disagree with Kat. I love getting gifts from friends, and still receive gifts from friends (and reciprocate), for things like birthdays and holidays. And these are not expensive gifts — usually a book, a $20 necklace or scarf, a cute mug, a desk bauble, etc. Whatever it is, it is something a little splurge-y that I don’t need and wouldn’t buy for myself but nonetheless love. And I would like those types of things a lot more than a bottle of alcohol (which I don’t mind, but we have enough at home, and it’s not something I give except when I am a guest at someone’s house/meal). I hope gifts don’t have to get more expensive with age. And this is coming from someone who works in a high-paying industry and could afford expensive gifts, but just doesn’t see the need. Also, I happen to think that business card cases are a good gift (and in any case are easily exchangeable). And while I keep track of wedding and baby gifts, that is so I reciprocate appropriately when I have to give them corresponding gifts. It’s not like $100 wedding gift $100 graduation gift. I guess I don’t necessarily give for things like graduation or promotion, though.

    • I am a banana. :

      Agree with business card cases. I treasure one that my friends gave me when I graduated from law school. They had it engraved with my name and graduation date. I just couldn’t believe someone would take the time and thought to have that done, and I use it almost every day, two years later.

      • AnonInfinity :

        Same here. Mine also says, “Love, AnonFriend” on the back. I treasure it because we live in different cities now, and I can still carry a little piece of my best friend with me everywhere.

    • attiredattorney :

      My business card case is one of my favorite graduation gifts I received. Likewise for my simple black leather Coach portfolio.

      Also, for graduations from undergraduate institutions, I like giving small, framed pieces of original artwork featuring the college town or a signature building on the campus that would be significant to the graduate. This will usually be under $50, and I love seeing these hanging in my friends’ offices even years later. For an even less spendy gift, I like giving them their first piece of alumni gear. Whether a t-shirt or car decal, it’s something little that even if they don’t use, will make them smile.

    • I agree! I choose 1 or 2 friends a month & just send them a random gift. Something from Etsy or Overstock, or something I’ve made (in the <$20 range)… who doesn't love getting gifts?
      Plus, the whole process makes me ridiculously happy and keeps us all in touch.

  2. AnoninNOVA :

    This brings me to a gift question that keeps reoccuring for me now – I kind of like to get my friends a little something when they announce they are pregnant. I’m excited for them and I want to celebrate this new phase in their life. I used to give Republic of Tea’s Get Maternal Tea – it ships right to them, $20, easy, but a nice thought. Then I started reading all these pregnancy websites cautioning about herbal teas. Well out went that idea. Any other ideas – preferably non-gift certificate? I wanted to focus on the Mother, not the Baby, part of the celebration – something for her. Mani/pedi is out because I have friends all over the country, and I don’t know their salons. My next thought was the Well Rounded Pregnancy Cookbook? Responses?

    • I think herbal teas, especially with a maternal theme from a reputable company, are fine. With pregnancy there are always those who are super-conservative about everything from drinking tea, to eating cheese, etc but I think most people would drink tea. It’s super sweet of you to give a gift. The cookbook sounds relevant but only for someone who you know likes to cook (perhaps obvious.)

    • L’Occitane Mother+ Baby products. I can’t imagine using them on a baby, but they are perfectly indulgent for the mother, and yet still keep with the pregnancy theme.

    • I have been thinking about getting things from Earth Mama Angel Baby for pregnancy-related gifts, but I have not tried them yet.

    • I received a book from a co-worker when I announced my pregnancy – Oh Baby the Places You’ll Go. It’s based on the Dr. Suess books and its meant to be read to your belly so the baby can hear your voice. My son loves reading it now – he’s 3. It’s a small gift, but thoughtful!

    • I got a a basket of Mustela foot lotions and massage creams when I was pregnant – it was very thoughtful and especially handy for those days where I couldn’t sit or stand with all the hip and leg cramps! I’ve thought about doing a “mom-to-be care package” for my friends who’re pregnant right now: massage cream, bottle of tums, a People or fashion magazine, take-out menus, pre-natal vitamins, etc….

    • Oh or maybe a gift card to a maternity clothes store…!

    • Philosophy also has a new mom/mom-to-be gift set of lotions and potions that I was given and appreciated.

    • SoCalAtty :

      I LOVE the mom products at Sephora – I think you can have those shipped right to them in a gift box too. They have some great stuff. I also always tend to gift for the mom, since they get piles and piles of stuff for the baby.

    • All the personal care /body products sound great for someone who’s dealing with the issue that that specific product addresses, but how do you know if your friend has an itchy tummy, sore feet, or indigestion?
      I probably shouldn’t post that without a suggestion, but I’m still thinking.

      • Totes McGotes :

        But isn’t it almost a given that at least some of those symptoms will crop up in the course of an average pregnancy? If none of those things happen to her, then she is a magical chupacabra and can regift them all!

    • Mama Mio lotions. I have no idea if it really worked, or I just didn’t get them, but no stretch marks after using them! Plus, they smell SO good.

    • I am 7 mo pregnant. The only thing I can think of would be pure (raw/unrefined no additive) shea butter and/or cocoa butter. I wouldn’t drink the teas (yes, some can cause contractions apparently), please don’t buy vitamins, we have our regimens already and extra you can’t take… I’m veg so wouldn’t want that cookbook but I’m sure you know your friend well enough whether diet choice is an issue… honestly the only thing I’ve wanted is free time and to feel better. The stuff I needed was help with temporary hem tape on a bunch of pants/skirts and that kind of thing that can’t be sent via mail… when the Moms sent me gifts it was just another to-do to have to pick them up from UPS- though well-intentioned, more stuff isn’t always best. But I’m picky about products (non-chemical only so no Sephora etc.). Also I wouldn’t have wanted gift cards to maternity stores- got most second hand and hate going in there with their whole aggressive ‘ohmygod what’s your name gagaga’ treatment. I actually thought this question through, because I got a little bonus mid-way and thought “what treat shall I buy myself?” and realized there were almost no material items wanted, just time/peace/comfort. Like, if a friend brought over takeout one night (nonspicy/greasy of course:)), but didn’t stay too late once I was tired, that would be nice. The thing is there is a huge range of pregnancy experiences- mine is really hard with many limitations plus working full time- people with different circumstances may appreciate other things.
      Just thought of one: maybe a nice scarf… if the taste is right those can help with the drab, bulky maternity wear. And for me anything dark-chocolate related but that depends upon the lady:)

      • AnoninNOVA :

        Unfortunately “bringing over takeout” isn’t an option if the friend lives in another state. Material things are all I can send! That cookbook is full of vegetarian recipes BTW (just in case you were looking for a good one!) It even has options for it, like if you’re feeling full remove these 2 ingredients, if you’re feeling hungry, add these 2 ingredients.

  3. Early TJ! Am in Vegas with the hubs, both of us on business, but we have one free night to have dinner together (this evening). Suggestions? Would prefer not to spend more than $150ish combined, and we like all kinds of food. Staying at Bally’s, if that helps. Thanks ladies!

    • Just came back from Vegas. I would highly recommend Julian Serrano, a restaurant in the Aria hotel. It is a tapas-y place, but with lots of interesting options beyond conventional, run-of-the-mill Spanish offerings. It was AMAZING – definitely the best meal I had there – and very reasonably priced. Enjoy!

      • Julian Serrano seconded! I went there about a year ago and loved it, and it was a super fun place to people-watch as well.

      • SoCalAtty :

        Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House! Amazing. If you don’t order drinks you can probably get it under $150, and many times they do a prix fixe for around $50 per person. It is called the power dinner or couples dinner or something like that, and if they don’t offer it you can ask. It is a “no jeans” type of place, which I like for a nice dinner.

        The food was amazing, and I think our tab was right around $150.

    • I am a banana. :

      Last time I was in Vegas, I had tapas at Jaleo in the Cosmopolitan and then a drink at the Chandelier Bar (also in the Cosmopolitan). Should fit your budget. Jaleo was one of the best meals I have ever had, it was a great evening.

      • Crabbymandy :

        Did the exact same thing when I was there 2 weeks ago, delicious and super fun. And seriously, sounds strange to say but what a gorgeous casino!

    • Another Sarah :

      Just came back from Vegas – if you’re into Asian, Tao in the Venetian was OMG excellent! Three of us ate (1 app, 3 entrees, 2 desserts, 2 glasses of wine) for about $120. Mario Batali’s restaurant in the Venetian was also excellent, but the service was bad – we didn’t order aaaaalllll the courses, so we were ignored for most of the night. If you like ice cream, Serendipity 3 is at Ceasar’s, and it has excellent and ginormous sundaes.

    • DH and I loved B&B I the Venetian- great Italian. We also liked jaleo, but felt everything was really, really salty.

    • I adore Bouchon, in the Venetian.

    • I’d recommend staying within walking distance of your hotel so that you can spend on dinner and drinks what you would have had to spend on a cab! Therefore:
      Prime in the Bellagio;
      Jaleo in Cosmopolitan; or
      Mon Ami Gabi in the Paris.

  4. Fixed rate for all gifts :

    I actually think that it makes sense to set an amount and treat everyone equally, regardless of how much they gave you or whetehr they are a closer friend. I have two reasons (1) it is too complicated for me to keep track of who gave what and match appropriately, and (2) no one feels left out.
    For (1), my reasoning is that even if I were very organized and kept track of all gifts I ahve ever received (and figured out the value of gifts in kind), it is not fair to give my barely-making-ends-meet PhD-candidate friend less than my Wall Street banker friend just because PhD couldn’t afford to give me more. Also, what if A and B were not together when I got married, do I give them the $ combined or pick the highest value?
    For (2), I don’t want to risk offending people because they think I got someone else more. The same PhD example applies here too — in fact, maybe my PhD friend should get more, because she actually needs that microwave and can’t afford it. I can always put more time and thought into the actual gift if I really care about that person, but the $ is always the same.
    In these past 3 years I have been invited to approx. 10 weddings per year. Some are closer relationships, others are family, others are important busienss contacts. Some groups overlap. If I have a set amount to give everyone, there is no issue about why I gave someone more or less. That also means all my giftees get treated the exact same way as all my husband’s giftees, so there is no arguemtn about whether his friend X is closer to us than my friend Y.
    We use the same amount for weddings, birthdays, Christmas, everything. You don’t get special treatment just because you happen to be lucky enough to have found a person to marry you (and are legally allowed to do so).

    • In 3 years you’ve been invited to 30 weddings!?!? Holy crud! I have never been so grateful for my -very- limited circle of friends! I’ve been to exactly three weddings in my entire life (and one was my Aunt’s and I was so young I don’t really remember it), the other two were both business/personal overlap. I did get a close friend a wedding gift even though I was not invited to her wedding, long story.

  5. I don’t really like the “cover your plate” rule or trying to give the same amount that the (now) recipient gave you. For weddings and showers, I spend as much as I feel comfortable or think is appropriate, taking into account how close I am to the person/couple.

    I exchange birthday gifts with a small group of friends, and they’re generally items that are less than $25 that I pick out for each person in particular, like a book I think she’ll love, an apron with a cute design if she is a big baker, etc. I really enjoy picking out gifts for people I know well, though.

    I haven’t done that well in the past giving gift certificates. Some restaurants won’t allow you to pay tip with a gift certificate–we found this out when we were trying to get a thank you gift for someone and wanted to treat her and her SO to dinner, but them having to pay tip on a $100 meal doesn’t count as “treating them” IMO. I also have had someone just not use the food-related gift certificates I had picked out for him because he didn’t have the time.

    • I think “cover your plate” is unnecessary (and hard to gauge), but I do take into account how much the recipient gave me in deciding how much to spend on him or her, at least for obligatory gifts, like wedding gifts. I won’t match 1:1, but if someone in basically the same financial situation as I gave me a wedding gift worth $X, I probably won’t give something worth $2X. If the friend has a lower-paying job, a lot more in loans, is pregnant, etc., then I am more likely to adjust up. For me, the recordkeeping has been most helpful with relatives and friends I’m not that close with. Happily, wedding years are basically behind me (I am long married, most of friends are either married or unlikely to do so in the near future, and my summer weekends aren’t all booked with weddings and related expenses, so I can be a little more generous when I do give since I have fewer gifts to give overall).

      • Oil in Houston :

        I must admit that this tit-for-tat approach in giving gifts puzzles me …. I’ve seen people do that, and I understand, but when the situations are different, say in one case you were invited with a +1, in another not, or you made it to wedding, or didn’t, then it has a huge impact on how much money I would give. It also depends a lot on the type of events, how close I am to the person, and so on and so forth…
        For graduation gifts, I’d only do it for family, all my friends graduated at the same time. And then I can be rather generous, my sister is graduating from college next year for instance, and I’ll buy her a ticket to come see me in Texas. I guess it’s both a present for her and for me!!!

        • Totes McGotes :

          I am sort of repulsed by the fact that someone I know may be putting the gifts I give into a spreadsheet to gauge how much they should spend on me at a later date.

          The only considerations I put into gift-giving are: 1) how much I can afford to spend and 2) what my friend might like to have – except at Christmas I try to make it somewhat even as far as price and number of gifts because my circle of close friends will sometimes get together and exchange gifts all at once. Other than that, it’s really only about what the person needs in their life and/or what will make them smile.

          I also disagree with Kat about business items – I know I have appreciated the things I’ve received, especially when I try to shop for myself and am instantly overwhelmed by the universe of options in business card cases. I usually wind up deciding that I don’t need the thing after all and isn’t a rubber band/zipper pocket of my bag good enough?? I’d much rather receive a gift that someone chose for me with care.

  6. Kat, your ideas are pricy!

    For what it’s worth, I hate the tit for tat model. I don’t want my friends to keep track of the cost of my gifts to them, and I don’t want to have to keep track of their gifts to me! I tend to give friends books (cookbooks, photography books, that kind of thing). I also send flowers a lot. I love love love getting flowers (especially at work!) and it’s fun to send them to friends.

  7. Fan of the Widow :

    Kat! I love that you give Veuve to ladies for a special gift! Did you know that she was the first woman to enter the wine-making business in the Champagne region , and her winery developed groundbreaking techniques for bottling champagne. More, all of that was only possible because she was a widow, and therefore, legally allowed to own her own land. If you ever need a gift for a reader, especially a Corporette type lady, a bottle of Veuve Clicquot and this biography makes a really great treat: http://www.amazon.com/The-Widow-Clicquot-Champagne-Empire/dp/006128856X

    • Yes, this is a really good and fascinating book! I had no idea how champagne was made before reading it. And Veuve is my go-to celebratory champagne because my parents always bought one bottle per year and opened it on a special celebration (either a birthday, or a promotion, or if nothing fancy came along, New Year’s).

    • Wow, never knew this. Thanks for sharing! This story makes this more than just a good champagne.

  8. FWIW, I graduated undergrad a ~15 years ago, and recently from grad school. Not a lot of my close friends have graduated from grad school. Gifts I got for grad school were booze, really nice dinners out, Sephora cards and spa gift certificates. All much appreciated. For someone going *into* grad school, I’d recommend an Apple gift card or a gift card to the university store.

    To your other point, my group of undergrad friends still trade gifts. As a woman, I would hate for gift giving to be relegated to weddings & baby showers, although as friends sort of drift off you get in touch for big, life events. As circumstances change, costs change. Individually, we’ve all been through some roller coaster or another over the years. We always give fun gifts, but sometimes big ones (examples include: a group of us paid to fly a friend and her new husband out and have a big party after they eloped; and when I was laid off and had to take care of my bedridden mother, some friends got together and got me a very generous spa gift certificate). Usually, we mail boxes of random, fun, appropriate-for-the-person gift. And usually late– sometimes we combine Christmas and birthday, but we go with the flow.

  9. Hi ladies! I’m so excited– I just got the call that my job offer came through, at about $5k over my expected salary, too.

    My question is this: someone at the office, the wife of my father’s colleague, passed my resume along and certainly helped get me my first interview. I’m thinking of sending flowers or a nice thank-you note; would either of those be overkill?

    Also: does anyone have recommendations on DC neighborhoods for young professionals vs. living close to work in NOVA?

    Many thanks!

    • FWIW I have absolutely no experience in this area but I think it would be AWESOME to get/give flowers for this. At my new office they got me flowers when I started (well, a beautiful plant that I’m killing by inches actually, but it’s the thought that counts!) and it made me sososos happy. A nice thank you note is good too, but flowers just make people happy. And it’s spring!

    • Congrats on the job! I’d vote for a nice thank-you card.

      As for DC neighborhoods, I haven’t lived in the area in a few years, but certain popular DC neighborhoods (e.g., Adams Morgan, Dupont Circle) would not make for an easy commute to VA. There are several neighborhoods in Arlington, mostly along the orange line, that are also popular with the young professional crowd, but they have a different vibe than DC proper. Good luck!!

    • How young is young? How far from your office do you want to be, and where is your office?

      I would definitely send a thank you note.

      And, CONGRATS!

    • Congratulations on the new job! (maybe also post this on the next article, since not everyone reads/posts on the question-specific articles)
      Re: DC neighborhoods and NOVA — If your job is accessible by the Orange/Blue (or Yellow, in the case of Alexandria) then living in Arlington or Alexandria is do-able and pretty great. I looked at places in Clarendon, Courthouse, etc and there are some very nice apartments around there that are totally accesible to all the amenities and a quick metro ride to the city.
      However, I ended up getting an apartment in DC proper because unfortunately, my job is only accesible by the Red line. I also wanted to be on the Red line because my boyfriend is going to Georgetown Law. We chose a place in Mt. Vernon Triangle (north Chinatown/Union Station area) because of proximity to the law school and to the red line. It’s a newly-renovated area, so there are a lot of new restaurants and other amenities but still a lot of empty parking lots too. I haven’t lived here very long but so far I like it a lot, especially being close to a gym, grocery store, etc.
      There have also been many threads on this in the past so try searching for some neighborhoods (such as Columbia Heights, Dupont, Logan Circle, Adams Morgan, Woodley Park, etc) with the Corporette search bar.
      Good luck!

      • Oh I misread — you work in NOVA? Then I’d probably live in NOVA as well. As far as I’ve seen Arlington has all the things you need and there are tons of young professionals out there.

        • Ugh, my comment got eaten.
          I misread as well. If you’re working in NOVA, definitely live in NOVA. If you really want to experience DC and have never lived there before, you could rent an apartment in the city for a year, but the rent is much higher and there are neighborhoods of NOVA that are great. If you want a place to stay put in for a bit, I’d agree on the orange line through Arlington. I’d avoid the other area of Arlington–blue/yellow lines of Pentagon City, Crystal City– if you’ve never lived in the area before; they’re much more suburb-y.

    • Definitely send the thank-you note.

      NOVA will be cheaper, but if you want to live in D.C. proper, the Chinatown/Penn Quarter neighborhood is a totally reasonable commute to work in VA. It’s also an emerging neighborhood, so rents are a bit more reasonable than other popular DC neighborhoods, but there are still plenty of decent bars, restaurants, etc and it’s pretty easily accessible to anywhere else you’d want to go.

    • Thank you all for the congratulations and lovely advice! It may be easier to live in the Arlington area (orange line) and have a short commute and easy access to the city. Young professional: mid-twenties.

      I’ll definitely be sending a very nice thank-you note, at the very least. I’m so excited!

      • If your office is in Arlington or near there, I’d definitely live in Arlington or surrounding. The rent will be significantly lower than being in the District proper, and Arlington is quite great. You’ll still have plenty of young professionals living out in that direction, and the commute into the city for social activities won’t be bad (in fact, many people commute from Arlington and further to get to the city).

        Congratulations!

    • I lived in Clarendon my first year in DC, and then promptly moved to the U Street/Logan Circle area, which I absolutely love. DC and NoVa have verrrry different cultural feels. Put simply, Arlington is culturally suburban (the Arlington Rap is not hyperbole). If you have a little more of an urban sensibility, then definitely live in DC. Living near Foggy Bottom or McPherson Square would put you on the orange line only a couple stops away from NoVa, but would still leave you within walking (and biking on the Capital Bikeshare bikes!) distance of most places you’d want to get in DC. From my experience, living in Arlington really can feel far away from your friends in DC, especially on weekends when the metro doesn’t run so often. Rent is actually about the same price in DC/NoVa for places near the metro. NoVa is only cheaper if you want to live further away from the metro. Good luck!!!

  10. My friends and I generally don’t do birthday/holiday gifts anymore. When I finished law school, I was really pleased to get a gift consisting of a favorite snack and a gift card to a favorite store from my close undergrad (non-lawyer) friends. I wasn’t expecting a gift, so I was touched that they thought of me, and I don’t think they spent a lot. Of course, now that they’re finishing graduate degrees themselves, I have to return the favor! :)

    I usually spend about $75-$100 on wedding gifts, regardless of how close I am to the person/couple. I think this is easier than trying to match the size of the gift to the warmth of the relationship.

  11. suggestions :

    I don’t think it would be overkill, but I’d stay away from showy presents she would receive at work, like flowers. This is of course assuming it’s the same office you’ll be starting at. I vote thank you card or something like chocolates/wine.

  12. Thread jack- are the J.Crew summer cafe Capri pants in a bright color appropriate at a law firm? I know it’s a know your office thing, but I just want to know if it would ever be acceptable in anyone else’s. I think it is fine if I wear dressy shoes, a silk blouse, and a maybe a cropped blazer, but just want some input. Other women I the office wear bright colored dresses and skirts but no one is very fashionable so I have yet to see cropped dress pants (the closest would be some of the staff wearing capris).

    • Woods-comma-Elle :

      At my office – yes, but as you say, know your firm.

      That outfit sounds lovely, actually. In my head the Capris are pink, white silk blouse, black blazer, black shoes. Or even better, white blazer, black blouse.

    • I own a few pair, but have not worn them to my firm, and would probably not. I wear cropped pants in black and navy blue, but, to me (opinions vary, of course), cladding my bottom half in bright colored pants seems a little too “look at my bum” for work.

      I’m kind of weird like that, though. I have two of the bright colored wool pencil skirts from J. Crew and I do wear those to work, but I feel a little weird in those, even.

    • At my office, yes. I am currently waiting for a warm enough day to wear a slightly oversized white silk blouse and orange flame JCrew Minnie pants.

    • I think you could do it, but I caution you to be careful in selecting a color, you don’t want to be the girl with red pants on once every two weeks. I know some partners I work with would give me a strange look if the color were too bright.

      A thoughtful choice, like eggplant, deep cobalt, or merlot would be much more wearable. Personally, I wouldn’t go with a bright color trouser, i’d do something like navy or army green for the pants – but a bright color blazer or top instead.

    • phillygirlruns :

      i have a pair of the cafe capris in kelly green and wear them to work in my business-casual office. i am 5’3″ and the “capris” are ankle length on me. i have “the skirt” in a similar shade of green as well (am actually wearing it today). i always pair this color with navy or navy/white, which i think tones it down a bit.

    • Yes, but I’m in Silicon Valley, and my office trends very casual once it gets hot in the summer….

  13. i would like to get my DH a nice brief case for his upcoming law school graduation. do men even carry brief cases anymore? or a messenger bags/attache cases cooler? any recommendations?

    • Former MidLevel :

      When my mom asked me the same question re my baby brother, I told her that (at least in my experience) a nice laptop bag would be more useful to a young male attorney than a briefcase – like a nice one he could take to court or on an airplane.

    • Just bought my DH one when he got a new in-house gig. I went with a Jack Spade. Two male associates in my office had the same and provided the inspiration. Now I kinda want one!

    • I got my SO an REI briefcase/messenger bag several years ago, and he seems to like it. It is not super formal, but fine for his govt job and definitely more his style. It has held up well and has nice pockets and organizational features.

    • phillygirlruns :

      i got my husband the “classic briefcase” from saddleback leather a few years ago. it’s a very, very hefty bag with something of a rugged look, but the leather quality is excellent and the bags come with a 100-year warranty. he carries it daily and lugs around quite a bit of stuff – laptop (sometimes two), textbook-size hardback book(s), cords, portfolio, etc. link to follow.

    • a passion for fashion :

      my husband just bought a jack spade one that he really likes. And FWIW, my husband uses a messenger style bag with a strap in the winter when he wears a coat over his suit, and a brief case type bag that he carries in the summer when there is no overcoat. This, he explains, keeps his suits from getting wrinkled by the strap.

      • got my spouse one at century 21 yrs ago- kenneth cole plain black soft style- he has used it daily since. he has a ‘summer bag’ too that looks like an ugly burlap messenger bag but almost always uses his black one and seems to love it.

    • great question. I got my husband a black very functional timbuktu when he was working in a biz-casual environment and needed to carry 2 computers. Wondering if I should upgrade him?

  14. Timely post, as I’m trying to figure out what to get my sister for graduating medical school. I’m totally stumped.

    If I come across something cute that I know my friend will love or something that is reminiscent of an inside joke, I’ll get it for my friend, no occasion necessary.

    • There are tons of hippocratic oath themed gifts for med school grads, and I’ve also seen companies that make personalized little statues (like caricatures) of different types of specialists for about $100 or so- not sure if I’m describing that well.

      Honestly though, I would get her a spa weekend getaway– med school is a ton of work and residency will be even more. It would be nice to give her a relaxing weekend. Depending on her specialty, she might not get many of those in the next few years.

  15. Question about wedding/shower gift etiquette

    — I am invited to my college roommate’s shower next week and wedding in the summer. Do I have to get separate gifts for shower and wedding or just one? Is shower gift same as the wedding gift? If the gifts are different, can I get shower gift from the registry?
    I am from a different country and this is my first American wedding to attend so just want to clarify what is expected. FYI, my college roommate is an amazing person, great friend who helped me out a lot when I came to college in US. Money is not a big concern as she is one of my closest friend whose wedding I actually get to attend, so I don’t mind spending bit more. TIA

    • So I think some of these things vary a bit regionally, but the rule of thumb I use in CA is:
      -Separate gifts for shower and wedding.
      -OK to buy either or both from the registry.
      -I usually spend less on the shower gift. I aim to keep shower gifts around $50 and for wedding gifts of friends we usually give a check for $150.

    • Two seperate gifts (if you can and want to).

      Generally, I always give a gift from the registry (or if the person is a close friend and I know their taste — a nice gift for their home — a nice picture frame, serving bowl or candlesticks) and then for the wedding, I always give a check. I bring the check to the wedding in a card.

    • Typically people give both a shower gift and a separate wedding gift if they are attending both. (Gifts are typically unwrapped in front of everyone at the shower. Be sure to put a ribbon or bow on your gift–those are often used to make “bouquet” for the wedding rehearsal). It is absolutely fine to get both gifts off the registry. I do typically spend less per gift when I am attending both the shower and the wedding because it adds up. And I usually spend less on the shower gift than on the wedding gift. I usually have the wedding gift shipped directly to them from the registry rather than bringing it to the wedding.

      • I agree – it’s considered proper to send the wedding gift to the couple at home rather than bring it to the wedding. A lot of people don’t do that, so if you send it ahead and see a table with gifts at the wedding don’t feel bad! It’s a lot more practical to send it ahead – you don’t have to travel with it and the couple doesn’t have to worry about bringing it home or keeping track of it over the course of a very long day.

        And yes, I do separate gifts for the shower and wedding (bring the shower gift to the shower personally). I typically use the registry for both because it’s just easier and include a card with a nice note. In the past I have gone off registry if the only things left were either way over or under my budget, but in those cases I include a gift receipt. I tend to go less expensive for the shower and a little more for the wedding. It’s common here to give cash as a wedding gift but even though that was the norm among my family growing up I just feel weird doing it now among peers.

    • Yes, the wedding and shower gifts are two separate presents. It can be common in some areas to give a registry gift for the shower and then cash for the wedding gift (cash isn’t a good shower gift–the bride typically opens all the boxed gifts at the shower). It’s fine to get both gifts off the registry. I like to personalize gifts a bit–maybe a cookie sheet from her registry, combined with a cookie cookbook or some cookie cutters in a design that she’ll like.

      • Original Poster – thanks a lot ladies. This clarifies so much, especially the fact that shower gifts are opened in front of everyone and why a ribbon is added, i didn’t know that !
        Corporette is so helpful. I will get two separate gifts, wedding + shower, both from the registry. I will bring the shower gift with me and ship the wedding gift.

  16. Best law school graduation gift I got was a DSW gift card. New shoes for a new career. Perfect.

  17. Diana Barry :

    Hey ladies,

    I may post on the other thread if no answers here, but…where would everyone recommend getting a zip leather portfolio? This is for my husband. He has one but it is getting grubby. He likes the zip around, fits 8.5×11 notepad in one side, and then you can slide in your ipad, business cards, etc., on the other side.

    I looked at Coach but their regular-looking zip portfolio is $200 – yikes!!! Anything cheaper that would still be nice quality?

  18. Anon for this :

    Doctor Rec Threadjack:
    Does anybody have a good ob/gyn recommendation for the Princeton NJ/Central NJ area?

    DH and I are moving from NYC to NJ and we will be in TTC-mode. I have a fab ob/gyn, but she’s in the Upper East Side where all the doctors’ offices seem to be. I’ve been told that it’d be hell to be a commuter-baby… so need to find someone who will be near the hospital where I’ll most likely be giving birth.

    Thanks!

  19. All – I posted on the weekend thread about my boy cat who was having a heart exam today.

    I’m so very happy to tell you all that he checked out. He’s not in heart failure, but has a small bit of extra tissue on his heart valve. It’s currently not causing any problems with his heart function, so they’re not recommending any treatment. We’ll need to have him checked out twice a year by the regular vet, and the cardiologist would like to image his heart every year to monitor his progress. But, compared to what we initially thought it was, this is fantastic news, and the hubs and I are so very relieved.

    Thank you to everyone who thought good thoughts for us. It’s very much appreciated.

    • Oh that’s great news! Congrats!

      Those boy cats are just always getting themselves in trouble, aren’t they! I came home from the weekend and had two messes, gauging by how sweet my boy cat is being I’m pretty sure they were BOTH him!! :-)

    • Tired Squared :

      Oh, I’m so glad to hear that your little kitty is okay!!

  20. Geezerette :

    Okay, all you lawyers (and law students) — what’s a good college graduation gift for my mentee who is heading to law school this fall? Maybe something she will need or appreciate once she’s in law school?

    • Barrister in the Bayou :

      A gift certificate to a spa for a massage. Either before school begins or right before her finals during her first semester.

    • A travel drink mug for coffee and tea and a certificate to her new campus’ book store? Something to help her study and something to help her relax? A nice messenger bag of some type might be nice too.

    • Geezerette :

      Thanks for these ideas!

    • A cute USB drive with all of your outlines on it? Kidding…a little :) A fun, large capacity USB would be a fun gift, and I used the heck out of mine in law school. Other than that, the massage gift certificate is a great idea, because as we all know, once school starts we stop taking care of ourselves unless someone reminds us to!

    • As someone heading to LS in the fall (assuming I make up my mind about where to go soon), I’m going to say that I would love a massage or spa gift card in general, but I feel that something a little more personal and career-oriented from a mentor would seem better, especially since it would be something that lasts a long time and makes me think of them. I’d suggest a leather portfolio bag, a nice business card holder, or something like that if she doesn’t have one – something along those lines.

    • attiredattorney :

      -Gift card to a study spot -cafes with wifi, Starbucks, etc.
      -A basket filled with fun office supplies. I got this gift from my then boyfriend when I got into law school. The relationship didn’t last, but two years in, I’m still using the neat post-it flags, highlighter/pen combos, etc.
      -For a more spendy gift, my grandfather got me a beautiful edition of Black’s Law Dictionary -the big leather bound variety- when I got into law school. I rarely use it, but it looks beautiful in my office and always makes me think of him.
      -Itunes gift card, along with a list of the best apps for lawyers (Blacks, FRCP, Barbri, etc)!

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