Gifts for 20-somethings: We're so proud of you!

Note: "Gifts" was originally posted (briefly) on Tuesday due to a scheduling error. Sorry to those of you reading it twice!

A few ideas for graduation, wedding or birthday gifts as the season of young-adult occasions approaches.

I don't like to give money or its weasel relative, gift cards. Call me old-fashioned, but if I'm spending the best part of a Saturday sweltering through a convocation, I'm giving a real gift.

Here are some original but useful gifts, to please a spirited and adventurous young adult.
All prices are $100 or less.

Graduation, birthday, engagement

Pearls, first

Pearl and smoky quartz and knotted linen necklace: white pearls and rondelles of quartz fastened to espresso linen with sterling wire; a lighthearted, casual necklace, $46 from Etsy seller WillOaks Studio.

Your trekker will love the Freeloader Pro Solar Charger, with little solar panels (and a USB charger for cloudy days). Once he runs it for 7-9 hours in the sun, it powers any electrical device (laptop, mobile phone, e-reader, digital camera) for a good long time. Cool! Only about 6 x 8 inches, weighs 6 oz.; $80 from ThinkGeek.

Vintage black-and-gold button necklace, $70 from Esty seller randyberry. (But I would wear this myself!)

oung men have esthetic sensibilities too. A well-made pocket knife a useful, beautiful masculine object; the blade can be engraved. The Lagouile Le Sapeur (Firefighter's Knife; a helmet replaces the traditional bee on the blade) is about $100, engraving extra, from Lagouile France.

Wedding or housewarming gifts

Just when you thought it was safe to go to the table.
Shark salt and pepper shakers in grey ceramic, $40 from Up to You.

I Am Not
a Paper Cup: I am, in fact, a perfectly lovely porcelain cup with a silicone lid. $32.95 for set of two from

Hourglass: Black sand, handblown glass. Forty-five minutes of silent, meditative, softly-passing time.

Who need this? Well, who doesn't?

$55 from
Design Within Reach.

The great Samurai movies, "Sanjuro" and "Yokimbo" by Akira Kurosawa, for a rainy weekend. $56 for a two-film box set from Criterion.

Maybe add a bottle of sake.

Give some softness to snuggle under at the end of a long day. Garnet Hill's down throw comes in luscious hues, is machine washable and costs $98. (Also available in other sizes).

No one ever seems to have– or hang on to– enough glasses.

These La Rochere bee glasses, based on a set of Napoleon's, are from France's longest-operating glassworks. They are our favourites, because of their solid pedestal bottoms and embossed design. Six highball glasses are $50 from Target and; available in other sizes, too.

Congratulations to the next generation, and, now that I think of it, to this one. One of our dear friends will receive his Doctor of Jurisprudence degree this spring, well after his 50th birthday!


LPC said…
I love these ideas. And I have wanted some of those bee glasses for, I don't know, 10 years? Also those pearls. I love pearls with some kind of brutal material...
Mardel said…
I love jewelry with that kind of rough/polished combination, lovely choices. And yes, if I am going to give my time I want to give a gift too, there is too much that is impersonal already in life.
LaurieAnn said…
Thank you for turning me on to Randy Berry on Etsy. I've been looking for some fun, statement pieces that aren't too expensive; recycled is even better. All the gift items are excellent. DH will be receiving the solar powered computer do-dad (and a new laptop) for his birthday in July!
spacegeek said…
For graduates,I like engraved or monogrammed business card holders (for those who have a job!). And for housewarming/newlyweds who happen to be Jewish, a Mezzuzah (ornate scroll blessing the house) for the house is a lovely gift.
Duchesse said…
LPC: Brutal pearls; Lisa you are fantastic.

Mardel: Well, you little minx I think you have some pretty special pearls :)

Laurie Ann: Is that Berry piece for *you*? Lucky! Guys do love gadgets.

spacegeek: Used to give those too, but right now, all the grads I know are taking un-business cardy jobs or going back to grad school :0 As a person who is not Jewish, I hesitate giving Judaica but agreee Mezzuzah is a lovely gift.
Frugal Scholar said…
I love the pearls too. In fact, they look rather like the Chan Luu pearls featured in many pricey venues.

All your ideas are good, as always.
Tiffany said…
Fabulous ideas. Thank you!

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