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Nicole Paitsel, Newport News Daily Press, Published May 23 2012

Money isn’t the only gift for graduates

Money.

It’s what every kid – and, heck, every adult – wants to see in that birthday, graduation or insert-celebration-here card.

But according to some college students, there are some other unique gifts your high school senior may not even know he wants, yet.

Here are their ideas for the perfect graduation gift.

GIVE SPIRIT

Nearly every college student we talked to suggested a gift that would reflect the graduate’s new alma mater.

“Tailgating is a huge part of Hokie Football in the fall, and it is so much fun to hang out with all your friends before a big game! I think a fun gift for an incoming freshman would be a tailgating kit: Plastic Virginia Tech cups, a Virginia Tech cooler, a small charcoal grill and a folding Virginia Tech chair,” says Rachel Kistler, a recent Virginia Tech graduate from Chesapeake, Va.

“I think a cornhole set would be a really cool graduation gift,” added Claire Fritz, a Chesapeake native who will graduate from Virginia Tech in May. “Virginia Tech is a huge football and tailgating school, and that would have been something I would have liked to have. It’s even better if you are crafty and can paint it in Hokie colors and make it unique.”

Other school-themed items mentioned: jacket, rain apparel, umbrella, T-shirts and sweatshirts and blankets.

GIVE IDENTITY

Many of the young ladies at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va., suggested personalized gifts.

“One of my friends got me a cute little shower caddy that had a monogrammed towel and flip flops, and I still use it today,” says Megan MacGregor, a William & Mary sophomore.

William & Mary freshman Maggie Byrd particularly likes her monogrammed towels and Tervis tumbler – a hot and cold cup that can be personalized.

Other items that can be personalized: Planners, totes, bags, suitcases.

GIVE PRACTICALITY

Alexa Stickles, a sophomore at Longwood University in Farmville, Va., says she would recommend “lots and lots of laundry detergent.”

Each year, she says, the college hosts “The Color Wars.” During the event, the students, all wearing white T-shirts, line up according to class and throw watered down paint on one another.

The idea is to mix the colors – red and green – on the T-shirts to demonstrate the fun spirit of the school and create a long-lasting memento.

The Hampton native also suggests a gift card to Pairet’s, a boutique in town, which she says “sells custom Longwood apparel for super low prices.”

And although it has been a few years since Williamsburg resident Ann Brown-Hailey graduated from William & Mary, she says she still uses the sewing kit she received as a gift before college.

“A friend of my mother’s put together a custom sewing kit for me,” she says. “She packaged needles, pins, a pincushion, small spools of thread and a small pair of scissors in a music box. All these years later, I still have and am using those items.”

Other practical suggestions: Luxury grade towels, hot tea sample with hot pot, rolls of quarters, and a fan.

“A desk lamp also comes in handy so you don’t trip over things after your roommate goes to bed,” adds Maureen Reed, a William & Mary senior.

The young men on your graduation gift list may be a bit harder to impress, however.

“I don’t know what would be a good gift,” jokes Wesley Thomas, who will graduate from Virginia Tech in May. “All I got was white bedsheets.”