Friday, April 24, 2015

Self Reliance Gifts for Graduates

Our youngest son is graduating from high school this year. Does that make me old? I guess that depends on your definition. As I have gotten older my desire for self reliance has increased. With that my need to make sure my family has a basic level of readiness has become critically important.
Our son is focusing on two opportunities after graduation. He has decided that he wants to pursue a career as an electrician. This is a very good field and barring a total collapse or major EMP event will never go away.

One of the opportunities he has is technical college. It has a good program and is not too far way. He would be able to live at home while he studies and work part-time during the program.
The second opportunity is an apprenticeship program. This is the one he is most excited about. If he is accepted, he will be attending classes a couple of nights a week and will be working with a master electrician a full-time schedule.

There are actually several benefits to the second opportunity. First is there is a lower cost of training. The only things that our son will have to buy are tools and books, there is no tuition costs. Second benefit is he will be earning money, in his chosen field while he learns. 

No matter if he goes to the technical college or if he is accepted into the apprenticeship program, he will have things that he needs and it is not very long before friends and family members will be asking for ideas on what to get him for graduation. We are going to first talk about common gifts for graduates.


Common Graduation Gifts

Me just being who I am, I decided to do a little research and see what the most common gifts for graduates are. Some I knew would be on the list and some I was quite surprised to see.


Honestly, this is the easiest for everyone, almost to the point that some consider a cash gifting to be the lazy way out. A cash gifting does have some major benefits. If a graduate is going off to school or moving out on their own, having a little extra money is a great benefit. Deposits for utilities or even just furnishing a dorm room can get expensive quickly. I can see the good for everyone involved.

A New Car

This one is a double edged sword. I can see the reasoning behind this gifts, but there are problems as well. Unless you have the money to buy a car out right I am not sure this is a good idea.
The added cost of payments and insurance can put a strain on a young adult just starting their life. I do know some parents that cover the cost of both the payments and insurance, but this is not helping teach the responsibility of budgeting.

Plastic Surgery

I was shocked to find out that plastic surgery is growing in popularity as a graduation gifts. Over the past several years there have been several news reports on the increase of plastic surgery as a graduation gift. The most popular procedures given as gifts are nose jobs and breast implants. There are so many concerns with this trend that I don't even know where to start.

Other Common Gifts

Other gifts that are common include: furniture, luggage, travel, briefcase, and things like that.

Self Reliance Gift Ideas

What is the difference between a gift and a self reliance gift? A gift meets a social requirement. A gift doesn't really have to require thought. Anything can be used as a gift. A self reliance gift does require thought and imparts a help or sometimes a guide. Take time and think about what the graduate will be stepping into. Here are some ideas of gifts that might be of help. 

First Aid Kit

I am a firm believer that everyone should have a first aid kit. This kit can be purchased or you can assemble one yourself. The size and complexity of the kit should be determined by the one who will receive the gift. 

Here is a video that might help you assemble a good kit. I have also included a couple of links to different sized kits.

Laundry Essentials

This one is more important for the graduate who is going away for college. A laundry basket filled with detergent, fabric softener, and the like will really come in handy for Amy student who is having to live either in the dorms or off campus. Oh, don't forget to include several rolls of quarters. The student will most likely be using a laundromat.


I am not necessarily talking about tools for a trade, but if the young adult in question is working toward a trade these will really help them save money. The tools I am actually talking about are basic repair tools and basic mechanics tools. Hopefully by the time a young adult is ready to leave for college or start their own home they know how to change a tire, a car battery, replace a belt, and check and change the oil in their car. A young adult should also know how to unclog a toilet, fix a leaking sink, and do very basic carpentry work. A good starter set of tools is an excellent gift.


This one should be started long before graduation, but it is really never too late to begin. The skills listed above are just the beginning. Balancing a checkbook and making a budget (even an informal one) are very important skills to learn.

Critical Thinking Skills

This one should also be taught as early as possible. As we get older learning critical thinking skills are more difficult to learn. College has turned into an indoctrination camp. A young person must be firmly grounded in their beliefs of they wish to survive.
A study Bible written for college students is an excellent gift as well as a copy of the Constitution and The Federalist Papers should be included in any liberty loving young person's possessions.

Small Appliances

This is very important for those who are going off to college. A compact refrigerator, microwave, and a hot plate or electric skillet will enable the student to save money on meals. These can be found at your local appliance or home improvement store.

Laptop and Printer

I know when I was in school a computer was extremely important. If I had not had a computer my work would have been much more difficult. Today a computer is a necessity. For those who are college bound, this could be the best gift. There are so many variations on computers that I wouldn't dare even suggest one.

A Bike

Again this is for those.who are going off to school. Many college campuses are simply not set up for someone to drive to all of their classes. At every college I have ever been to parking is a nightmare. A good bike can mean the difference between getting to class in a reasonable amount of time and struggling not to be late.

A Backpack

This is one area where I deviate from the average preparedness mindset. I do not carry a tricked out tactical bag. If something major were to happen, I am of the opinion that you should try to blend in as much as possible. Of you have a tactical look to you or your gear you will be a primary target. Having said that, I do want my son's backpack to do the job. The backpack that I am talking about would be separate from their school backpack.
Giving your student a backpack with the basic necessities for survival is a thoughtful gift. It can be used for hiking and camping as well as getting home in a bad situation. I like the backpacks that have a small solar panel in them so cell phones can be recharged.

Self-defense Gifts

I know that firearms are prohibited on most college campuses, but that doesn't mean that you have to send your student unprotected. You will have to check your state laws and campuses rules, but here are some ideas. Stunning gun, truncheon, or a slap cap.

Gas Cards

Gas Cards are especially nice if the young adult is going to need to travel for any distance. This will take a little financial stress off of the student. It is a thoughtful gift.

Clothing for Interviews

This is a great gift for all graduates. It doesn't matter if they are going to college or not. All of these young adults will most likely be entering the public workforce, many for the first time in their lives. A nice suit of clothes helps with first impressions. First impressions are critical in an interview.
I am sure that there are several other ideas that would be a great addition to this list. Can you think of any? Feel free to add them in the comments section.

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