Summer is coming. So is graduation season.
Much like the holidays, it’s a prime time for gifts—and gift guides. But shopping for graduates and young professionals might not be as simple or easy as it might have seemed in years past. Frankly, a fancy pen won’t cut it anymore, especially if countless studies are accurate that millennials and members of Generation Z prefer “experiences” and services over tangible objects. That said, that could be because younger consumers are more concerned with a purchase’s utility and longevity rather than having something that sparks joy for a few days or weeks.
Thus, here’s a gift guide curated for those setting off on their own and into the workforce, with an emphasis on function, practicality, and usefulness.
After finishing college, now comes the hard part: finding a place to live. (And yes, finding a place to work, but let’s focus one issue at a time here.) Then comes the next hard task: moving. There comes a certain point in one’s life when you have to stop asking your friends to help you move and hire movers. After a comparative pricing and booking website for moving services, debuted a few years ago and is still seemingly under the radar. (Case in point: I brought it up with several decade-long residents of New York City—arguably one of the hardest cities in the world to move to, from, or around—none of whom had heard of it.) Well, secret is out: UnPakt is one of the easiest ways to find a mover save someone you know and trust actually telling you face-to-face. You simply plug in all of your inventory as well as details about your current and next residence (i.e. Is there an elevator? How many flights of stairs are in your walk-up building?), and the system gives you a quote, which locks in only two days before your move and really fluctuates based on your inventory, not anything else. Note that UnPakt is not an actual moving company itself. They connect you with more than 600 local moving services in 47 U.S. states. That said, they do the heavy lifting (pun intended) when it comes to coordinating your move as well as if you have a (nearly always inevitable) damages claim after.
Framing the diploma is a basic but obligatory task. After years of work (and thousands upon thousands of dollars), that piece of paper deserves a proper home in a dignified frame—not just something you pick up at the local hardware store. That said, you don’t have to rely on just the college bookstore for suitable and sophisticated options. A number of online framers, such as Artifact Uprising and Framebridge, offer a variety of frames, customizable down to the frame size, material, matting, and delivery. Shoppers can opt to upload the prints they want framed or, as in the case of diplomas, either mail the diploma to the respective company for mailing and return or just have an empty frame measured to size sent to the buyer.
In the year 2019, even towels—among the most mundane of household goods—have gone viral. Specifically, the quantity of how many one should have at any given time. Turns out it’s a touchy subject, but what about the *quality* of your towels. There might not be anything else that induces the feeling of a fresh start more than towels. (Except bedding, but more on that in a minute.) Enter Weezie, a new luxury direct-to-consumer towel company based in Savannah, Ga. and founded by two women: a former creative director at Bustle along with a New York-based angel investor and BlackRock veteran. To say these cotton towels are fluffy is an understatement. They’re unbelievably soft and, most importantly, super absorbent. Perhaps the most useful are the navy-hued hand towels, perfect for removing makeup or face masks without ruining your washcloths. SRP: A starter pack with four bath towels and two hand towels starts at $230.
You might have seen this bedding advertised on the subway. Or on Instagram. It’s everywhere. But far from the D2C, social media-friendly bedding brands that are bent on selling one thing and one thing only, Parachute has goods to outfit an entire home, from the kitchen to the bathroom to the living room to the bedroom. Among its newest offerings is the cloud cotton duvet cover set, an airy fabrication made from 100% Turkish cotton. Light and fluffy, it’s summer’s answer to the weighted blanket. Most importantly, it’s machine-washable. Buyers are treated to free shipping and returns as well as a 90-day trial. SRP: Starts at $259 for full/queen.
Direct-to-consumer mattresses is a big business these days, but there are so many options now that they could collectively fill out a mattress showroom of their own. The Nectar mattress is a dense memory foam mattress, which promises to “cradle” its guests in every direction. Specifically designed to be medium-firm, it’s is recommendable for sleepers with lower back pain. Nectar also offers one of the longest, if not the longest, free trial period of the bunch: 365 days. Nectar provides free shipping and returns, and a white glove service is available for taking your old mattress away while dropping off your new one. SRP: $599 for a full-size mattress. More options available.
Small Space Furniture
Chances are that a new graduate and younger professional without a disposable income is going to be moving into a very small space. That could mean a studio or a multi-bedroom apartment divided up into even more bedrooms. One way to make the most of a small amount of space is multi-purpose furniture—or better yet, furniture with multiple configurations. Perhaps the most economical (when it comes to space, albeit not price tag) is the wall bed, also known as a Murphy bed. You can’t find these at Ikea, but a number of online sellers—notably Wayfair and AllModern—have a bevy of options in bed size, color, attachable furniture, such as a cabinet or nightstand. Truly a bedroom in a box (or a few boxes delivered together). But given that this is not Ikea furniture, Murphy beds are not easy to assemble. Thus, another gifting idea this time comes in the form of services, such as TaskRabbit or Handy.com. Whether it be for assembling furniture or hanging frames on the wall, you can easily reserve and in chip in for a few hours of professional handiwork with minimal work on your own part.
For new apartment dwellers who also want to shun the standard Ikea (or even CB2 or West Elm) furniture aesthetic, a number of D2C furniture brands are sprouting up, promising a palette of customizable options from the paint and print to fixtures. Inside Weather, a Bay Area-based startup, is hawking all of the apartment basics (seating, storage, and tables) with dozens upon dozens of options of which customers can configure. It’s almost a bit dizzying, but for the truly creative types who want something beyond white, black or birch tree, it’s a dream. Inside Weather also promises that you don’t need professionals to assemble its products, which ship free and buyers have a 365-day free trial should something not be satisfactory.
Tea Sampler Set
Sometimes it’s the simple things in life that bring the most joy. Tea certainly fits into that category—not to mention it’s one of the few gifts that seems to satisfy just about anyone. Matcha is still as popular with younger consumers as ever, but if you want something a bit elevated, Tea Forté’s matcha gift set truly dives deep into the Japanese art of preparing matcha green tea. Matcha, a finely ground powder of green tea leaves, dissolves in water or steamed milk, dairy or non-dairy. The gift set is a sophisticated introduction to proper, ceremonial tea with one ceramic tea bowl, one measuring ladle, and one bamboo whisk.
Tea Forté’s single-serve pouches—in five blends: chocolate, chai, coconut, ginger, and pure matcha—are also extremely portable and travel-friendly for anyone in a rush or constantly on-the-go. There are 30 of these in the sampler set. SRP: $128.
Business Card Holder
An old graduation standard, but it’s a classic for a reason. Despite smartphones and countless apps that have tried, nothing has quite replaced the paper business card in networking. But not only do the business cards make an impression, but the card holder often does as well. But again, this doesn’t have to be boring. Leatherology offers a number of different standard-sized card holders, carrying up to 30 business cards or a dozen credit cards if you want to go for a petite wallet, which can be customized by color as well as monogrammed.