The class of 2020 may not get to experience the pomp and circumstance of a traditional in-person high school graduation party, but the momentous occasion still must be celebrated. That includes great grad gifts. Our guide is designed to help gift-givers go to the head of the class.
Ideas range from just-for-fun to down-to-earth and everything in between, from Long Island stores and beyond. Shops may not be open for browsing, but they are fulfilling online and phone orders and offer curbside pickup, in-store pickup or delivery. Contact stores to check.
“Graduation is a huge milestone, even if the physical ceremony [might not] take place,” says Megan Janosko, a Westbury High School teacher whose 17-year-old twins Brianna and Michael are 2020 grads.
“Families are all still celebrating on their own,” adds Janosko, who lives in Rockville Centre. “The kids have worked so hard for this. This is a big life event.”
With two teenagers starting college in the fall, Janosko doubles-down on gift inspiration. In addition to getting creative, she likes gifts that are special and specific. (Think, You-niversity!) That means presents that name-drop kids’ colleges that run the gamut from signs to water bottles to chocolates.
“Gifts with school colors are always popular at this time of year,” says Maggie Landrem, who lives in Garden City and runs the virtual store Mollie’s Monkie. “They’re one of my graduation specialties.”
As teens turn a page to the next chapter of their lives, books “are packed with meaning,” says Julie Wernersbach, general manager of Book Revue in Huntington.
Books for graduations “typically fall into two categories,” adds Wernersbach, “ones that are written to inspire and ones that are practical guides to life.” There’s always room for more of both for college-bound kids — and everyone else.
“Celebrating graduation this year is very different from two years ago,” says Rockville Centre mom Kathy Baxley. Her son Matt begins studies in the fall at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her daughter Julia, just wrapped her sophomore year at New York University.
After a digital UW shopping spree (Bucky Badger bobblehead, anyone?), Baxley focused on local shops hit by coronavirus. “We want business to be back the way it was,” Baxley says.
GIFTS FOR GRADS
“Oh, the Places You’ll Go,” a Dr. Seuss classic about life’s twisty journey ($18.99); “Navigate Your Stars,” Jesmyn Ward’s speech-turned-page-turner about hard work ($16) and Harlan Cohen’s practical guide “The Naked Roommate” ($15.99) offer an array of choices. (Book Revue; 313 New York Ave. Huntington; 631-271-1442)
MESSAGE WITH MEANING
The perfect dorm room décor accessories remind that distance doesn’t matter one bit when it comes to love. Frame, $40; sign, $15. (Jeannine’s Gifts; 6 N. Park Ave., Rockville Centre; 516-536-7467)
Have many gifts to give? Budget-friendly plastic tumblers with a personal monogram go down easy. $15 each. (Mollie’s Monkie; firstname.lastname@example.org; 516-428-9560)
A COZY KICK
Blankets and pillows boasting school spirit offer more than comfort, they’re cool. That’s a win, win. NCAA college throw pillow, $32.99; Raschel throw, $45.99; Wayfair.com.
Sweets just got even better. The folks at Chocolate Works say they can do any school or image on an Oreo, including logos, photos and monograms. Six-piece Oreo set, $24.95. (Chocolate Works; 191B N. Long Beach Rd., Rockville Centre; 516-665-3241)
Duffel bags come in handy for students on the go. And, let’s face it, for holding laundry, on a visit back home. Black vinyl 32-inch wheeled duffel ($79.95) comes with a matching tote. “It’s a gift with a purchase,” says owner Donald Casati. (EVincent Luggage; 435-B Old Country Rd., Westbury; 516-536-2275)
Perfume a dorm room or bedroom without a flame and feel good about using eco-aware soy wax. “A lot of young people are into the environment, and that’s made these popular,” says proprietor Melanie Gonzalez. $29; wax melts, $8. (Simple Good; 35 Chandler Square, Port Jefferson)
PACK IT UP
The move to college is the perfect time to upgrade an everyday accessory that always gets a workout. Lug a laptop? Yep. Hold lunch? Check. And the list goes on. Bag; $134.90. (Di Angela Leather Goods & Accessories; 140 Main St., Greenport; 631-477-1142)
For collecting one’s thoughts — and doing it old-school — decomposition notebooks offer a great escape. $11.95 each, plus shipping. (BookHampton; 41 Main St., East Hampton; 631-324-4939)
PEACE & QUIET
Noise-canceling headphones, including this wireless option, bring an instant hush when needed. $99.99; Best Buy.