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Graduation gifts for the class of 2006

What they want versus what to get them

Show me the money seems to be the rallying cry among this year’s crop of graduates. “Money, money,” in any form is good, says Stefanie Simons, who is “walking” with her class this May but will graduate in December from Brown University. A string of three monies — “money, money, money” — topped the list of Morgan Lazzaro-Smith, who graduates this May with a master’s degree in somatic counseling psychology from Naropa University in Boulder, Colo.

Fun also ranked high. “After graduation is when we start thinking we'll finally do the things we didn't have time to do while in school: catch up on movies and books and shows,” says Lazzaro-Smith. Simons, a Latin American studies and literary arts major, says she is concerned that she won’t be able to afford “fun.” So she’d like “gift certificates of various sorts — to Whole Foods, to movie theaters, to the theater.”

Travel was another theme. After money, Lazzaro-Smith would welcome “a relaxing, rejuvenating getaway, especially involving spa-type treatments: massage, facial, mani/pedicures, yoga.” Simons opted for “a round-trip ticket around the world.”

Other items on Simons’ list included bartending lessons — “an employable skill” — cooking classes and a date book — “as life continues to get crazy.”

Lazzaro-Smith also petitioned for a digital camera, an iPod and anything for the home: furniture, art, lamps, TV/DVD player, stereo.

OK, so write them a big fat check or send them on an all-expense paid trip to a spa in Bali. My “educated” guess is: this is not going to happen, especially for parents who just dished out tens of thousands of dollars to get their kids through college.

There are other options, such as gifts that will help them compete in the ever-changing global marketplace, or fix stuff, or dare I say, think about what that they will do with their lives.


Replogle Globes, Inc.

Now Simons and Lazzaro-Smith probably could put their finger on Iraq or Louisiana on a globe. But about “one-third of young Americans recently polled couldn’t locate Louisiana on a map” and “nearly six in 10 couldn’t find Iraq,” as reported in an Associated Press story on May 2 (See “Young Americans shaky on geographic smarts.”)

To have a worldview, one has to have a grip on the physical layout of the world. At least that’s the philosophy at Replogle Globes, a Broadview, Ill.-based shop that has been making globes since 1930.

Replogle stocks hundreds of globes, ranging in price from $9.99 for the Wonder Globe, designed for young kids, to $8,500 for the Diplomat, best suited for the aspiring cartographer or the grad that has everything.

Popular gifts during the “Dads & Grads” time of year are the desktop Vienna globe, a 12-inch raised-relief antique globe for $69.99, and the Marin floor globe, a 16-inch antique globe mounted on wrought iron stand for $399, says Maureen Kehoe, a company spokesperson.

As with any purchase, buy the globe that works for you or the recipient of the globe, says Kehoe. Some things to consider are: 1) Will you use the globe as an educational tool or decorative item? 2) What style do you prefer — traditional, contemporary, desk top or floor model? 3) What type of map appeals to you — blue, antique, black or specialty? 4) And of course, the price range.

Replogle globes are sold at brick-and-mortar stores, such as Pier 1 and Barnes & Noble. The Web site also features a store locator and a list of online dealers.

Duluth Trading Co.

An alternative to a desktop globe is a travel atlas, which takes up less space and may even come in handy for all those trips around the world. Best known for their resume paper and stationery, Crane & Co. carries a leather bound world atlas for $46. The outside cover of the 4 3/8-inch-by-6-inch handbook is made of “full grain calf British tan leather.” Inside the 318-page atlas, there are 182 pages of full-color U.S. and world maps plus 13 lined journal pages, a perpetual calendar and other domestic and international travel information including a directory of foreign embassies in the United States.

A slightly more rugged looking atlas is available at Belleville, Wis.-based Duluth Trading Company. This leather-bound atlas is unique in that it has a hardwood spine. Priced at $42, each 5-inch-by-7 inch book contains a copy of the Hammond World Atlas Collector’s Edition. The 224-page book includes 43 world maps, highway maps of Canada and Mexico, individual maps of all the states in the United States plus 32 pages of world travel information such as climates, terrain, air distances and statistics.

Tools for success
A handy tool to take on that trip around the world is a pocket knife. What’s appealing about the new Gentlemen’s Pocket Knives collection at Buck Knives is its simplicity. The slender, single-blade knife comes in three styles, all of which can be engraved. Named appropriately for recent grads soon to be colleagues and perhaps nobleman, the colleague cost $18; the scholar retails for $22; and the nobleman sells for $25 or $30 with a Titanium-based coating. All the knives feature a stainless steel blade, a contoured handle and an ergonomically placed finger groove.

Whether heading out into the world or settling into a dorm room, a tool kit also makes a practical graduation gift. A great starter kit is available at OXO, best known for its rubber-grip kitchen utensils. Priced at $59.99, the nine-piece kit contains the “essentials” for home or dorm repairs, including several types of pliers, spring-loaded multi-purpose snips — a cutting tool which can be used on thin wire as well as light sheet metal — a curved-claw hammer, an 8-inch adjustable wrench, a 6-in-1 screwdriver, a Torpedo level and a 25-foot tape measure. It also comes in a rubber-bottomed, wide-mouth tool bag.

A variety of reasonably priced starter tools kits also can be found at Barbara K!, a line of tools designed for women created by Barbara Kavovit, who ran a construction company for 10 years.

Random House

Best bets for grads are the Bucket of Tools, priced at $29.99. The bucket kit comes in a shiny blue-and-silver bucket tote and contains a 10-foot tape measure, a 2-in-1 level, a 6-in-1 screwdriver, a hammer, long nose pliers, assorted hardware for minor repairs plus a “Guide to Simple Home Repairs.”

Of course, there is always the long-time favorite Dr. Seuss' "Oh, the Places You’ll Go" (Random House Books for Young Readers, January 1990.) The rhyming tome reminds graduates there are twists, turns and troubles along the way …but if “You have brains in your head, You have feet in your shoes, You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” Dr. Seuss' graduation speech offers some critical advice: “never mix up your right foot with your left.” He also makes it clear that each new graduate will succeed “98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.”