6 Awful Gifts for High School Graduates

[is-gateway name=”HicksNewMedia” id=”INFOtainmentNews”]If your favorite teenager is about to graduate high school and head off to college, don’t make the same mistake your parents and grandparents made when they were shopping for impractical, uncool gifts for your bon voyage party. Whether you’re doing last minute shopping online or you’re browsing the mall looking for the perfect gift, there are a few things that will always make an awful graduation gift. Avoid the six items on this list, and your gift is sure to be a success.

1. DVD player

Why it’s a terrible gift:

A DVD player may seem like a generous high end present, but in reality it’s a waste. Nowadays, kids graduating from high school only watch DVDs on big televisions when they’re at their parents house. When they’re alone, or left to their own devices, they use their laptops, their video game consoles, or they stream movies off the the internet using any number of wireless devices. Welcome to the modern era. The DVD player is a particularly terrible gift because, despite its impracticality and basic uselessness, it’s an expensive item that a young person will feel obligated to unnecessarily lug around with them. Not to mention it can potentially force them to buy a TV they wouldn’t otherwise purchase.

Get them this instead:

A year long subscription to Netflix. Choose from a variety of plans (streaming only, one DVD at a time plus streaming, etc.) and your soon-to-be college student will be infinitely more grateful.

2. Dictionary

Why it’s a terrible gift:

They’re expensive, they’re cumbersome, and everybody’s buying them as graduation gifts. Unless the dictionary you’re planning to give is an heirloom, leave it on the shelves, students have no trouble looking up word definitions online where the information available to them is likely to be more comprehensive that a simple dictionary definition anyway.

Get them this instead:

Magnetic Poetry, popular group word games like Apples to Apples, or even Word-A-Day desk calendars–anything that will improve their vocabulary in a natural and enjoyable way. Or for the graduate who’s already hyper-literate, buy them a usage dictionary like the Chicago Manual of Style or Gardner’s, or the MLA manual which they’re likely to require for scholarly writing in college.

3. Anything living

Why it’s a terrible gift:

Plants, fish, small furry rodents, birds (obviously), reptiles, none of these are good gifts for the highschool graduate who will soon be leaving home and going to college. First, unless they’re planning to live off campus their first year (which most schools don’t even allow) they’re going to have to follow dorm guidelines, which usually means no pets. The result: any animal gift will go straight into the hands of the parents. Plants are likely to be allowed in a dorm room, but a busy student is unlikely to be a good caregiver for a plant, and the plant is likely to die. Discouraging at the least.

Get them this instead:

Day passes for two to the zoo or botanical gardens. What college students are actually the worst at is managing time for relaxation and fun. It may sound unlikely, but even time spent partying can feel like obligatory work, and comes with a lot of social pressure. Most students don’t actually give themselves real time off from the college environment, so giving a student the incentive to break stride and relax is a great idea.

4. Portable Space heater

Why it’s a terrible gift:

They are one of the biggest dorm fire hazards out there, and as far as gifts go, they’re pretty mundane.

Get them this instead:

Awesome slippers for walking around cold dorm rooms, new down blankets for dorm beds, or even a warm robe that matches their personal style. Most dorms are heated well enough that a properly outfitted student shouldn’t need a space heater at all.

5. Posters

Why it’s a terrible gift:

Posters are something that, if they must be got, must be got by the graduate themselves. As gifts go they’re cheap, they rip easily, and are difficult to move without ruining, and its unlikely that the giver’s taste in music or art will accurately reflect the the tastes of a highschool graduate. If you must give a poster, under no circumstances should that poster bear any maxims, ideologies, or words of encouragement.

Get them this instead:

Tapestries are multifunctional, take up a great amount of otherwise blank wall space, and they can soften the edges of a poorly lit room. It’s a lot harder to strike out on style with a tapestry too. You can easily find a great gift option from OneShotVariety.

6. Amazon Gift Card

Why it’s a terrible gift:

Amazon wants to rule the book world, and your college student is about to need a lot of books, so what’s the problem, right? That question is a long one to answer, but if your college student is the kind who becomes socially or politically motivated and idealistic during their time away from home, then you’ll be hearing the long version every holiday unless you rethink a gift card from this Mega corporation. Besides, they’re putting every local bookstore out of business, and that’s not nice behavior to reward.

Get them this instead:

A gift certificate to Powell’s Bookstore is an absolutely excellent alternative. An independent bookstore out of Portland, Oregon. Powell’s has managed to compete with the giant Amazon, selling both new and used books (and their selection is absolutely astonishing) online and in brick and mortar stores on the west coast. This gift educates about the power of the dollar, while encouraging your student to seek out creative alternatives when making purchases.

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Anna Johansson
Anna is a freelance writer and researcher from the Olympia, WA area who loves to obsess about weird topics and then write about them. When she isn't writing, she is outside on her bike and comtemplating her eventual trip to graduate school.

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