Graduation is generally regarded as a happy time for millennials and their families. They get to be the stars for the day, and parents and friends get to sit through four hours of speeches and diploma presentations waiting for a single name to be called so they can leave. But with 66% of graduates leaving school with some education debt and job prospects bleak at best, there doesn't seem to be very much to celebrate once the ceremony ends.
That said, a new survey from the National Retail Federation shows that graduation gift sales will top $5 billion in 2013. With that happy fact in mind, here are ten gifts that will make that expense totally worth it for your favorite millennial as they begin the difficult transition from happy-go-lucky college student to "oh, so this is what being an adult feels like."
1. The latest edition of The Best American Nonrequired Reading
Despite the title's insistence that the contents of this fabulous annual anthology are "nonrequired," the anthology as a whole is absolutely essential. A fellow pundit commended reading as a highly effective use of one's time following graduation.
2. A trip abroad
So they can appreciate the world's beauty for the last time before even the gorgeous New York City skyline turns into "I can't look at that, it reminds me of work."
3. An acceptance to graduate school
You know, to put off paying those student loans for a few years longer while simultaneously accruing even more debt. Yes!
4. Oft-forgotten essentials
Flashlights. Silverware. A garbage bin. A new comforter and sheets. All those things you didn't think twice about in college will soon become things you wish you had when the power goes out or you're forced to eat homemade soup with your hands. Receiving them as gifts just makes things easier.
5. A new toy
Whether it's a new computer or a tablet device, grown-up toys are always sure to please. And then graduates can use them for ... you know ... work.
6. A one-year gym membership
Avoiding the "freshman fifteen" is one thing, thanks to your college's free fitness center, but now what? How ever could new graduates keep up their workout routines while swimming in debt?
7. A good cookbook
Because sooner or later, grads will have to learn to cook for themselves. No more dining hall, no more Top Ramen binges — you're above that now!
8. A new car!
Oh, come on. Can't a girl dream? Not in this economy? Fine.
9. Cold, hard cash
Even if it's just enough to get them started in a new place, millennials love money — especially when they don't have to pay it back.
10. A job
I can't imagine a greater joy in life than walking across that proverbial stage, shaking the dean's hand, and being offered employment effective immediately. Seriously. Why doesn't that happen?