Graduation: what a dubious accomplishment. But regardless of whether you worked really hard for your degree or skated on through hopped up on drugs and alcohol, a graduation marks both and ending and a beginning.
For high school grads, it's the beginning of staying up late and drinking beer and making terrible mistakes and wearing pajamas to class BECAUSE YOU CAN. Sure, you'll learn a little about yourself, but really, you learn more about how many beers you can drink without throwing up, and how to fashion a beer pong table out of the foam board and duct tape you bought at Staples.
For college grads, it's slightly more terrifying. In college, you were "on your own," if "on your own" means having no bills or job of any consequence. After college, you are on your own in all caps, meaning that your life will follow this pattern: move to a tiny apartment, get a job that pays you no money while you do work that you hate, cry more than once a month in front of an ATM or on public transit, repeat until you're 30.
And wayyyy on the other end of the spectrum, we've got the people who've earned graduate degrees. For the ones who have earned their degree while sleepwalking through a full-time job and a full-time course schedule while still trying to maintain some semblance of a personal life/personal hygiene routine, their grad degree doesn't signify change as much as it signifies sweet, sweet freedom. No more Sunday afternoons spent writing papers. No more passing on every single Happy Hour drinks extravaganza with your friends because you have night class. They don't even want to go to the graduation ceremony. They just want to go to sleep.
And so, with the summer of graduation parties in full swing, I've put together a gift guide for each of these types of graduates: the terrified high school grad, the terrified college grad, and the indifferent and tired master's degree recipient.
1. Beard Season iPhone Case ($35, Society6): A major rite of passage for college freshmen is not surviving the communal showers or the first time you get your stomach pumped—it's that terrible beard you grow for the first time. It's the same thing for every boy—your sweet little brother goes off to college, clean cut and bright eyed, and he returns home for Thanksgiving looking like the Unabomber. Actually, the Unabomber is more put together than your brother is. The freshman year beard is an anomaly that is typically an act that is 20% defiance and 80% laziness. He's in college now! He's a man-child! He doesn't have to shave or shower or wear real clothes! Whether you like it or not, it's beards and hoodies, 24/7 for this kid, until at least Junior year. Rather than fight it, embrace Beard Season for all of its gross, mountain man glory with this Beard Season iPhone Case.
2. I Can Grow a Mustache ($23.95, Solid Threads): See above. A boy asserts his fledgling manhood by three things: 1.) drinking, 2.) pumping iron, 3.) romancing ladies, and 4.) growing facial hair. It's not until later, when he's actually a grown man, that he realizes that being a man has less to do with facial hair and more about being able to handle all of the terrible shit that life throws at you without ending up on top of a mini-mall with a rifle. But until then, the college freshman is going to work on a bad beard/moustache, so he might as well advertise his new skill with this "I Can Grow a Mustache" t-shirt. It'll cover up his baby face and make him look like a child molester, all in one swoop! Convienient!
3. Worst Case Scenario Handbook: College ($14.95, Quirk Books): I've always been a big fan of the Worst Case Scenario Handbook series, mainly because they manage to be hilarious while providing advice and suggestions that actually turn out to be quite useful (JUST LIKE THIS SITE, RIGHT?). This book provides the newly-minted high school grad advice on things like how to sleep in class, how to pull an all-nighter, avoid the freshman 15, and more. The really in-depth advice, like how to avoid getting written up by your RD for drunkenly blasting "My Sherona" at 2am, can be dispensed by you and you alone.
4. Jefferson's Bourbon (Various prices, various locations): Never underestimate what the power of a good bottle of alcohol can do for a college freshman's social life. Think about it: he's underage, and even if he has a fake ID that will get him into the sketchy freshman bars, it's probably so shoddily made that it will get him laughed out of a liquor store. His small mini-fridge won't hold anything more than a six-pack, and a bottle of liquor is way easier to hide from the RA than a giant case of Natty Lite. What it comes down to: liquor is the way to go. The kid that comes into freshman year with a bottle of alcohol stashed in his bag automatically makes friends. Bonus? These tiny babies are such lightweights that a bottle of top shelf liquor is going to last them the entire semester. Who wants a shot?
1. Esquire's Eat Like a Man Cookbook ($30, Chronicle Books): While in college, you could get away with buying a crate of Ramen and a 10lb bag of rice and cooking nothing but those two items during your entire four years there. In the real world, not so much. No girl wants to date a dude that still eats and cooks like a six-year-old (chicken fingers, pizza, and french fries, please). So now that he's an adult, extoll the virtues of learning how to cook: 1.) It's cheaper to cook for yourself, and he's broke, 2.) It's healthier to cook for yourself, and he's developed a large beer-and-pizza gut, 3.) The best and easiest way to romance a girl is to cook a fancy meal for her. Translation? More money, less fat, more girls. He'll be totally in. This Eat Like a Man Cookbook is the perfect blueprint for him to follow.
2. Alarm Clock Docking Station ($39.95, Crate & Barrel): Remember all the times you congratulated yourself for building your class schedule and managing to avoid taking any classes before 12pm? Yeah, everyone else did that too (except for me—I took 8am classes and then went straight back to bed...it was like class was alllllll a dream), and so did he. But, as you know now, you don't get to make your own schedule. Now that this college grad is staring down a 9-5 job, he'll need to be awake before lunchtime. This could be a major problem. Save him from being that chronically late guy in the office with this alarm clock docking station. He'll plug his iPhone into the alarm-clock-shaped dock, set his alarm for 7am, and be at work EARLY (for the first three months he's on the job).
3. Chalk it to Me Piggy Bank ($85, Ladies & Gentlemen): Even if he's lucky enough to snag a job right out of college that offers benefits, clue him in on this tip, which is something that I found out the hard way: most companies that offer 401Ks don't start matching anything until you've been with the company for 3+ years. THANKS FOR NOTHING, GUYS. He's better off throwing his money into a jar—which is why this Chalk it to Me Piggy Bank will be the perfect gift.
4. It's Hard to Be Legit and Still Pay the Rent iPad Skin ($25, Society6): I've yet to come across a poet more profound than Tupac, who said the incredibly true statement emblazoned on this iPad skin: "It's hard to be legit and still pay the rent." TRUTH. Your guy may have big dreams to become a writer, but odds are he's going to end up in marketing, selling people shit they don't need rather than rattling off bestsellers. Unemployed friends—the ones fully supported by their parents—will poke fun at him, asking why he doesn't quit and do something more meaningful. This iPad skin is the perfect response to those self-righteous dbags. They'll see it while he's holding up his work-issued iPad, answering work emails on his day off. It's hard to be legit and still pay the rent. PREACH IT.
1. Not An Artist iPhone Case ($35, Society6): So, she graduated with a Master's Degree in Fine Art, or something equally as useless. Now she's on the market for a full-time job that will put her brand-new degree to use. She fancies herself as an "artist," so she doesn't want to settle for a job that will stifle her creatively. NEWSFLASH: every job will stifle you creatively LOL. Throw this Not an Artist iPhone case her way to make sure she knows the score.
2. Three Sheets to the Wind Flask ($25, Izola): When she was working and going to school at night, she had zero time for a social life. While all of her jerk friends were galivanting around the city, drinking every drink available, she was in her room, working on another stupid paper. So now that she's officially dunzo with school, that means her nights and weekends are free. While you probably shouldn't encourage her to catch up on all of the years of drunken debauchery she missed while pursuing higher education, your friends don't keep you around because of your sound and dependable decision making, do they? Obviously not. Pick her up this flask—she can pregame on the subway before she gets to the bar. She's got a lot of time to make up, and a lot of fresh brain cells to kill.
3. Brown Paper Bag Lunch Tote ($17.99, Perpetual Kid): Here's what happens to a girl once she gets her Master's Degree: 1.) She's overwhelmed with her accomplishment, 2.) She eventually gets a job using her degree; is overjoyed, 3.) She starts getting student loan bills; panics. Sorry, charlie, a self-indulgent Master's Degree ain't cheap, so she's going to have to be cheap in turn. This insulated Brown Paper Bag Lunch Tote is the perfect way for her to transport all of those PB&J sandwiches to work while she's trying to keep Sallie Mae at bay.
4. RoboCup Measuring Set ($10, Living Royal): Now that school is out of the way, she's got some extra time on her hands. After she's gone on her bender, FINALLY plucked her eyebrows, and started hitting the gym again, she'll need to pick up a hobby. Why? Because school has conditioned her to need to be busy ALL of the time, that's why. Cooking is a great (and delicious) project for her to take on. This RoboCup Measuring Set is the perfect gift for her now that she's spending less time with her nose in a book and more time with her head in the oven (not literally—she doesn't want to kill herself YET, her student loan payments haven't started yet).
Hey, you made it to the end, and you don't want to kill me for all of my presumptuous, insensitive comments. Fantastic—we're going to do your gift shopping for you. Do you want to win the RoboCup Measuring Set from Living Royal? Of course you do. Fill out this survey by Sunday, 7/1 at 12am ET (be sure to include your email when prompted at the end), Like Living Royal on Facebook, and you'll be entered to win.
Whether you want to keep it for yourself or give it to your favorite recent grad is entirely up to you. We won't judge.