Graduation season is upon us, which means that young men and women across the country are eagerly anticipating the conclusion of one chapter of their lives and the beginning of a new one. The rest of us are searching for ideas about what to buy for them as we help them celebrate this momentous occasion.

Graduation gifts can be tricky to purchase. Sometimes, we don't know the graduate very well and don't know what they might like, while other times we know them so well that we want to find the perfect gift that's filled with just the right meaning.

Need some help getting started? Here are just a few ideas.

Gifts For Your Favorite Graduate

1. Oh, The Places You'll Go. You might expect a Dr. Seuss book to be more appropriate for the kindergarten crowd, but this one will inspire and entertain graduates of all ages. Who wouldn't appreciate these words from the inimitable Seuss? "You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose."

2. A College Survival Basket. If you're buying for a graduate who is headed to college away from home, there are plenty of everyday items that he or she will need when mom and dad are no longer around to supply the necessities. Think college essentials here, things like towels, flip-flops for the shower, first aid supplies, and maybe a box of Emergen-C. Then add in some fun extras like posters for the dorm walls and some of their favorite candy.

3. A Webcam. If the graduate will be leaving home for the first time following graduation, they might appreciate a webcam, which will allow them to stay in touch visually with friends across the country and family back home.

4. Cash. Cash is a standard graduation gift because it's easy to buy a greeting card and fill it with a few crisp bills. Graduates always appreciate a gift of cash, though if they're headed to college, chances are good that they'll spend it long before they get there. Another drawback to cash is that the recipient will know just how much you spent, so if that's a concern you might want to choose another option.

5. Gift Cards. Gift cards can help graduates as they purchase many of the essentials they will need if they're heading to college or furnishing their own new place. You can also select gift cards to places like coffee shops, clothing boutiques, or other fun and unique stores. This is a great way to encourage graduates to spend your monetary gift on something they will enjoy, but might not choose to splurge on for themselves.

6. College Gear. If you know where a high school grad will be attending college, consider buying them a sweatshirt or hat with their school's logo. This can also make a great gift for a recent college grad, who will be proud to sport their college colors now that they are officially alumni.

7. Graduation Mad Libs. Okay, Mad Libs aren't a big gift, but they are a fun one. Any graduate will enjoy gathering with their friends and playing these hilarious word games.

8. A Scratch Map. With a scratch map, graduates can use a coin to "scratch off" countries as they visit them. This map is a perfect gift for any graduate with plans to travel around the world, or anyone who dreams of broadening their horizons.

9. Books About Life. Maybe it's the literature major in me, but I'm a sucker for books. I think they make great gifts, and have a lot to offer recipients if you choose the right one. Books about financial literacy, or how to craft your life and achieve your dreams, or even guides to succeeding in college or in the workplace all make excellent graduation gifts.

10. Personalized Frames or Photo Albums. If you have a cherished photograph or keepsake, consider framing it and giving it as a gift. Even if you don't, you can still purchase a nice frame or album and have it personalized or engraved so the graduate can add their own pictures. These 2011 collage frames from Gifts.com are some that most graduates would enjoy.

11. Graduation Bears. Personally, I don't understand the trend to dress up stuffed animals and give them to adults as keepsakes from graduations, weddings, etc. But I do know these things are hot right now! At Gifts.com you can get personalized graduation bears, and at the popular Build-A-Bear Workshop chain you can create your very own stuffed animal and dress it in a 9-piece graduation set, complete with the option of personalized embroidery.

12. A Desk Calendar or Daily Planner. Many desk calendars and planners include daily doses of quotes, tips, and humor that are designed to inspire, so one of these gifts will keep a graduate both organized and entertained. You can find lots of these at Calendars.com, including my favorite, the Don't Sweat the Small Stuff 2012 Desk Calendar, which is based on the popular Don't Sweat the Small Stuff (and it's all small stuff) series.

What kinds of gifts do you buy for graduates? Any recommendations?

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