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10 Gift-Worthy Experiences for New Grads

Apr 27, 2016

by Molly Simms

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

It’s cap-and-gown season, which means it’s time to hunt down the perfect congratulatory gift for the soon-to-be graduate in your life. Sending them out into the world with an experience-based present — a class, a museum membership, or even a skydiving lesson — is a great place to start, but handing over a flat envelope containing a gift certificate (or even a pricey plane ticket) can feel a bit anticlimactic. When you’re gifting an experience, try bundling it with one of these charming goodies to make a more lasting impact — because after all, isn’t that the point?

The Experience: An International Trip

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The Extras: Oh, the places they’ll go. But before they jet off to see the world, give them a personalized passport cover ($45) and an ultra-chic denim travel bag ($180) to ensure they travel in style. A coffee-centric city guide ($4.50) will assist them in staying well-caffeinated while seeing the sights, and a travel journal ($12) will help them document their far-flung discoveries.

The Experience: Cooking Classes

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The Extras: Everything tastes better with truffles, so why not treat an aspiring gourmand to a sea salt sampler ($30) that includes truffle seasoning? This adorable oven mitt ($21) will win over Anglophiles, while an ultra-simple linen apron ($44) means they’ll look sharp even while they’re honing their knife skills. This cutting board and utensil set ($58) comes in a kaleidoscope of colors to make prep work more palatable.

The Experience: A Museum Membership

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The Extras: What could be more mind-expanding than a membership to a venerated cultural institution? A pop-up card ($9) will whet their appetite for history, while a library-scented candle ($18) is sure to win over bookworms. With a marbleized journal ($10), they’ll be able to record their thoughts and inspirations for posterity, and a pocket-sized watercolor palette ($117) will help them make some masterpieces of their own.

The Experience: Theater Tickets

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The Extras: A classic Folies Bergere poster ($10) will suit those who believe they were born in the wrong decade; sheet music earrings ($20) appeal to those who’ve always got a song in their hearts (and love to sing it in the shower). Pencils ($9) printed with the Bard’s most famous lines are just the thing for would-be playwrights, and a doll ($51) modeled after one of America’s most celebrated scribes wordlessly signals quirky — yet highbrow — taste.

The Experience: Skydiving Lessons

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The Extras: When they’re ready to take the leap, a lucky four-leaf clover necklace ($48) and some anti-anxiety roll-on perfume ($12) will give them a bit of much-needed courage. This organic-cotton T-shirt ($75) is required wearing for anyone planning to spend some time among the clouds, and a fluffy eye mask ($15) will help even adrenaline junkies get some calming sleep the night before the big jump.

The Experience: City Walking Tour

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The Extras: Help them see their city in a whole new light: An inspiring mug ($20) will make sure they start the day on the right foot, and a leather fanny pack ($75) facilitates hands-free wandering (and is far more modern than the neon nylon options from a few decades back). A custom camera strap ($44) and handmade walking shoes ($123) elevate the urban-explorer experience.

The Experience: A Spa Day

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The Extras: After making it through finals, a day of pampering is exactly what a grad needs. Up the luxury factor with hand-crafted leather slippers ($40), a rosemary-orange shampoo bar ($4) that’s full of indulgent oils, and Turkish cotton towels ($15) that are as fresh-looking as they are functional. Back home, this soy candle‘s ($19) hints of lemongrass and black currant will revive the relaxing vibes for weeks to come.

The Experience: Yoga Passes

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The Extras: Looking good starts with feeling good, and a pair of flattering, well-fitting yoga pants ($45) gets them closer to both. Mats go mobile in a gorgeously simple canvas bag ($55), while bangs stay out of the fray with the aid of a cute elastic headband ($12). A set of reclaimed wood blocks ($45) will help them get into proper position.

The Experience: Cocktail-Making Classes

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The Extras: Learning how to make a killer mojito is much easier with the right tools, like a snazzy wooden muddler ($30) that can be personalized for free. A set of small-batch bitters ($27) adds some nuance to their drinks — which they may prefer to pour on the sly from a vintage-style teapot ($84). Since presentation is everything, monogrammed linen napkins ($32) will make those first top-shelf tipples feel extra-fancy.

The Experience: Dance Lessons

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The Extras: A colorful circle skirt ($40) will spin satisfyingly as they twirl, while a leather hair tie ($14) becomes a bracelet once she moves from the barre to the bar. With a simple yet chic art print ($9) or a pair of vintage cufflinks ($95) inspired by Fred Astaire, they’ll have a constant reminder to keep moving — onward and upward.

(Header image by Wendy Gold.)

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