6 Thoughtful Gifts for Your Favorite Grad


Sailcloth bags from Hooley are perfect for the graduate on the go. Image courtesy of ReSails.

It’s that blissful and bittersweet time of the year – graduation. Whether your (not so) little one is finishing up high school, college, or graduate school you are no doubt looking for a gift to congratulate her for all of her hard work. But at a time when you’re busy planning a BBQ, figuring out when you can wear white, or wondering if you can still snag tickets to Folk Fest, you probably don’t have time to browse from store to store. That’s where we come in. This gift guide is your sure-fire way to find a gift for the recent graduate in your life.


1. Sailcloth luggage from Hooley

If your recent grad has the travel bug or do you just want to encourage your “baby” to come home every now and then, give them the gift of travel with a Re-Sails duffel bag (pictured at top) from Hooley. Re-Sails makes waterproof duffel bags that can transport gear of all shapes and sizes. The luggage is made from a reused sailcloth, nylon, and vinyl making them as durable as they are good looking. Your graduate will be stoked to represent Newport in a subtle and understated way. Pick one off the shelf, or personalize a bag with a customized number (’16, anyone?) and stenciled name or initials.


2. Food and drink gift card

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A “caffeine card” from Empire Tea & Coffee can be purchased in-store or online to give your grad a boost. Image courtesy of Empire Tea & Coffee.

The idea may sound overdone and insensitive, but gift cards are actually amazing gifts for the younger generation. (Trust me on this one.) If you worried that won’t seem thoughtful, think about how much money students spend on coffee to pull those all nighters or how many snacks they’ve bought between classes. All that eating adds up, and some habits die hard. Lucky for us, places like Empire Tea & Coffee and A Market sell gift cards. Covering those little treats helps us save some money for the big stuff (like moving out of our parents’ basements).


3. House pet plants


Pre-potted herbs like these from Moore Blooms in Middletown are a bright addition to anyone’s home. Image courtesy of Moore Blooms.

If your newly emancipated student is begging for a pet, try giving them a house plant first. This may sound unconventional and a little weird, but hear me out. Not only do some plants (like peace lilies) help purify the air, they’re also a homey addition to an apartment and a great way for young adults to gauge responsibility. It can be hard for some to be a good plant mom or dad, believe it or not. You might even consider gifting a small herb garden, which can help grads save money and eat well when they’re out from under your roof. It doesn’t hurt that every time they see it they’ll think of you, too. More Blooms and The Water’s Edge both have a great variety of plants at reasonable prices.


4. Photo shoot with a local photographer


Photo by Marial Maher of Visual Manor.

In the era of the selfie, it may seem like the art of portrait photography is lost. Not so. Many professional photographers on the island offer their services and will produce photos that are frame worthy and will last a lifetime, even after they get posted to an Instagram feed. Get a package as a gift for your grad to take some shots solo, or choose a photo shoot for the entire family. Graduations are unforgettable, but wouldn’t it be nice to preserve the memories in color? Meg Heriot, Marial Maher of Visual Manor, and Jennifer Manville are all Aquidneck Island–based photographers each with unique style (and flexible schedules).


5. Monthly unlimited yoga pass


Down Dog, anyone? Image courtesy of Thames Street Yoga.

Let’s face it, we all need time to relax – but we also need time to exercise. It’s especially important to decompress after finals and then again to get into a new routine after school ends. Yoga is the perfect combination of relaxation techniques and calisthenics, which is, of course, why it has become so popular in Western culture. Consider giving your recent grad the gift of these benefits. With multiple studios on Aquidneck Island, there are so many styles to choose from. Whether it’s a Heated Power class at Newport Power Yoga or a Kundalini class at Thames Street Yoga, your graduate is sure to feel serene and fit.


6. Jewelry from J.H. Breakell & Co.


J.H. Breakell & Co. is a traditional jewlery shop where pieces are still designed and made by hand on site. Image courtesy of J.H. Breakell & Co.

Since 1972, J.H. Breakell & Co. has been creating unique, handmade jewelry in silver gold, including a variety of ocean-inspired pieces. From sweet charm necklaces to belts and buckles, there is something for guys and girls alike here. Their selection is vast, but they’ve curated a collection gift ideas online that you can peruse, or stop into their quaint flagship store on Spring Street in Newport, where the silversmithing actually happens.

Jillian Tullgren is a native of upstate New York, happily transplanted to Newport, RI. A natural born explorer, she enjoys green juice and a daily dose of yoga and is motivated by the idea of endless possibilities and inspired by everything and anything. You can find her at the beach sipping Yerba Mate and planning her next adventure. Follow her on Instagram @gypseachild.


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