Graduating from high school is a feat that should be celebrated – after all, that student successfully navigated the jungle of adolescence and survived. Mystery lunch meats from the cafeteria, fifty-pound textbooks, hormones, tests, and early morning starts – it’s an uphill battle for these kids. Especially if their next step is toward university and they have the added stress of applying to college. And then it’s a completely new territory to conquer – professors, red solo cups, and nailing down a major.

But before you wave them off to college life and shoo them out of the house, let’s take a second to pat them on the back and bid them a safe passage out of the nest. Graduating high school is the inaugural step into adulthood – so here are some of the best gifts for your newly minted adult.

Tech

What to give the Millenial or Gen Z-er that has everything? You could go the tech route and set them up with a laptop. How else are they going to stay up to date on the Kardashians or furiously keep up with note-taking during their multivariable calculus class? Or maybe a Roomba for the exceptionally messy kid because nothing says, “Congratulations on your graduation,” like presents that lead the gift receiver to question the giver’s intentions. (Clean your room, champ.)

Tech is great but it doesn’t necessarily have the warmth of other gifts – so we’ll move on

Cash

You could also go the easy route and pad the graduate’s pockets with a couple of bills and send them on their way. “Good job, son, here’s a fiver to buy a fidget spinner.” Cash is great because it’s completely up to the giftee what they’d like to do with their cash. However, this can backfire. Do you really want to give a teenager a lump sum with no strings attached? No. So let’s keep going.

Wisdom

Ah yes, pearls of wisdom from the older generation – that’s what a kid really wants when they’ve finally broken free of the shackles of high school. Here, have a lecture from an older person who “was a teen once too, you know” and a card with sparkles and script celebrating their cap-and-gown moment. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a sweet card – but let’s be real, if a graduate is opening that card, they’re going to expect something more in it besides well wishes and congratulations. A card is a great accompaniment to a gift but falls flat as the gift in and of itself.

Wheels

Maybe cash is a hard “no” as a gift but you could put those dollar signs on wheels. Because let’s face it, laptops and money are nice, but you have to think outside the box when you’re giving a high school graduate a gift that is worthy of their achievement and an acknowledgement of the road they’re headed down. Check out this used Volkswagen for sale in Spokane Valley, for example – you’re giving that grad much more than a car, you’re giving them road trips, summer night drives, blasting music with the windows down – you’re giving them an experience.

We all remember our first car and the memories associated with it. Freedom! A little bit of distance from Mom and Dad. Sure, we want our graduates to be close to us but now they’re ready to go off into the world with their own car instead of relying on the Mother and Father Taxi Service.

Eighteen is a formative age when we firmly leave our childhood behind and start to think more seriously about what it means to be a fully-functioning adult. Although, if you’ve ever known or dealt with 18- year-olds, you’ll know that “fully-functioning adult” is a term we should use lightly.

Dropping their high school lunch period for bills, children, and marriage? Maybe not quite yet as a high school graduate, but they’re definitely ready for something new. So give them more than a last-minute present, give them a little adventure. A reliable starter car will provide endless memories and a learning experience or two along the way.

So pump the brakes on the other gifts and let your grad drive off into the sunset toward their bright future.

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