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The Gracious Graduate
Graduation season is upon us and it's time to celebrate and recognize the hard work and success of our graduates. Let's take a look at some of the questions surrounding ceremonies, announcements, parties, and gifts.
Who is invited to the ceremony?
While it would be great to invite all your family and friends to see you "walk," it's more likely that audience space is limited and each grad will be given a predetermined number of invitations. At some schools it's limited to parents only, but if you have the option to invite other guests, consider siblings, grandparents, and anyone who was a mentor or contributed financially to your education before extending invitations to your wider circle of friends.
Who gets an announcement?
Printed and mailed graduation announcements, often included in a graduation package, can be sent to anyone who you think would like to hear your news - family, friends, former teachers. It's also likely that you'll post the news on social media. Announcements carry no gift obligation, although some recipients may choose to send you a card or a gift.
Do you bring a gift to a graduation party?
If you've been invited to a graduation party and you chose to attend, the best thing you should do is bring a gift for the graduate. As always, the option to give a gift is up to the giver, and the decision based on how well you know the honoree and your budget. If you don't know the graduate well, perhaps attending the party is not a correct option for you. If your finances just can't handle a gift, then do honor the occasion and the accomplishment with a card and include a personal note. Some graduation parties are group affairs, a celebration for several grads from the same class. In that case, bring a gift for the grad you know (if you choose to do so) and it is a nice gesture to bring cards for the other grads.
Gifts for Grads
Cash is king for most graduates. You can certainly give it in any form you choose: cash, check, gift certificate, gift card. But for those who want to give a physical gift here are some graduation gift classics: A leather (or other strong, elegant material) briefcase or tote, jewelry like a necklace, ring, bracelet, watch, hair clip or pin. Engraved picture frames are excellent for high school and college graduates. Cards with warm wishes for future, never go out of style.
The party's over, the gifts opened, the cards read and you've said your "thank yous." Now it's time to show your appreciation for all the love one more time. Send an email or text to those who sent you cards. Write a personal note of thanks to the hosts of the party and to anyone who gave you a gift. If those people are your parents, make a point to thank them with a note or a conversation dedicated to thanking them.
Show Your Appreciation
Set aside time in the next day or two to write a letter of thanks and appreciation to those who helped you succeed - a particular teacher, coach, dean, counselor, friend or family member. In particular, write to anyone who made a financial contribution to your education. Formally recognizing their support is a gracious, thoughtful thing to do and will mean a lot to your supporters and show that you value their efforts on your behalf.
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