Gifts for Graduates

For some, signs of spring include pollen-covered cars, blooming flowers and warm weather. For others, it’s the flood of graduation invitations that seem to arrive daily in the mail. While graduates prepare to make the transition from one chapter of life to another, family and friends have a special duty to provide support and encouragement. Consider these local gift ideas for the young adult in your life either heading to college or into the workforce.

 First things first when it comes to graduation – and that’s celebrating. To that end, Le Visage Day Spa (8110 Hampson St., 265-8018) is now offering a relaxing, fun “Girlfriends Day for Graduates.”

“Mothers and daughters or best friends can enjoy a Butter London™ Mani & Pedi and mimosas to celebrate the special day, and as an added bonus they go home with their Butter London™ nail color of choice,” says Le Visage co-founder, Marlen Almendares. With a spectacular line of modern colors, Butter London™ has established itself as one of the top brands for polish in the worldwide fashion industry.

Along with exceptional manicures and pedicures, Le Visage Day Spa offers an extensive menu of services at their elegant Riverbend location in Uptown.

For the student headed to college, Rachel Frank of Old.New.Blue (6117 Magazine St., 655-0863, recommends monogrammed items such as totes, towels and robes.

“The beauty of monogramming provides peace of mind, sense of self and basic hygiene when living in college dorms,” remarks Frank.

Pamper your graduate with plush, personalized towels or a luxurious robe. Colorful, monogrammed totes are perfect when packing for trips home on weekends or holidays.

Old.New.Blue also offers jewelry, purses and other gifts sure to wow the accessory-loving young lady. High school or college sweethearts may also be interested in their wedding consultation services.

Another thing to consider for the college-dorm resident is bedding. The Linen Registry (204 Metairie Road, 831-8228) carries an expansive selection of linens and bedding for the college student.

“We offer extra long twin-fitted sheets perfect for college dorm beds,” says owner Lee McKee. “Additionally, our primary focus is on washability, so we carry things that are largely indestructible, things that won’t necessarily shrink or be ruined in the wash.”

From bed linens, down pillows and fitted sheets to towels, robes and cleaning supplies, The Linen Registry will have your graduate dorm-ready in no time.

According to Vicki Moran of Orient Expressed (3905 Magazine St., 899-3060,, great gift ideas for the young woman headed to college are the Gingham Tools Set or an elegant and sophisticated faux leather Friends Photo Album.

“Our Gingham Tools Set is just what every college freshman needs: a useful tool set to hang photos, connect bunk beds, measure for window treatments or complete other small jobs required in a dorm room or apartment,” says Moran. The set contains basic tools with festive pink gingham handles, all tidily wrapped in a bright gingham check with green ribbon.

“Our Friends Photo Album allows graduates to bring their memories from home while continuing to add more as they enter a new chapter in their lives,” says Moran.

Nearby, Box Paper Scissor (3638 Magazine St., 891-4664, provides a one-of-a-kind shopping experience that focuses on the art of the gift. With a uniquely curated collection of gift-wraps, stationery, lifestyle and art books and other items, Box Paper Scissor emphasizes the function, exclusivity and individuality of each well-crafted gift.

Box Paper Scissor’s Jovan Jumpierre recommends a couple of eye-catching gift ideas for graduates. “Our acrylic curiosities box is a fantastic piece for men or women and can be used in multiple ways. For example, it can be placed on the coffee table and used to house one’s prized possessions in a very cool way,” says Jumpierre. “Another great gift idea is the book The Light of Paris, a great conversation piece that will make anyone aspire to travel and see the world.”

Visual art isn’t just the expression of the artist, it’s also the expression of the person exhibiting the work, whether it be in a dorm room, new apartment or home. From investment paintings to prints, works of art tell a story about someone’s interests and taste.

Lauren Leving, Gallery Associate at the Michalopoulos Gallery (Michalopoulos New Orleans Gallery, 617 Bienville St., 558-0505, recommends a piece by acclaimed New Orleans artist James Michalopoulos to set your grad apart.

“Michalopoulos Gallery offers a variety of gifts for every price range, including James Michalopoulos posters, prints and books, sterling silver pendants of the artist’s take on New Orleans architecture, as well as embellished giclées and original oil paintings,” remarks Leving.

“Each of these beautiful gifts shares the unique touch of locally-based artist James Michalopoulos and is sure to please collectors and fans of his iconic art and style, recognized world-wide as a true New Orleans original.”

View Michalopoulos’ work and consider making a selection for your graduate by visiting the gallery in the French Quarter.

For the graduate leaving home, Ken Rogers of Dunleith Designs (1804 Magazine St., 1804 Magazine St., 272-0879, recommends a reminder of New Orleans.

“Jewelry, art and gifts created by local artists are a great way to decorate one’s self or one’s room,” says Rogers. “For the ladies, we have a variety of fleur-de-lis earrings and necklaces designed by Diane Cimo, and for both young men and women art is a great way to make a statement in a new living space.”

Dunleith Designs offer several paintings by Evelyn Menge. Menge’s work depicts various familiar scenes, ranging from Brocato’s and Liuzza’s to images of Hubig’s pies and King Cakes. Another useful gift Rogers recommends is a set of water meter or fleur-de-lis coasters for a subtle and utilitarian reminder of home. To view these gifts and more, visit Dunleith’s new website.

Perlis (6070 Magazine St., 895-8661; 1281 N. Causeway Blvd., Suite 6, Mandeville, (985) 674-1711; has been a local retail favorite for generations and is well known for their Crawfish clothing styles and wide variety of knit shirts for men, including the popular brand Southern Tide.

“Outside of apparel, young men graduating high school enjoy our Mountain Hardware backpacks, which can be used as a heavy-duty day pack or for travel. Another great gift is our colorful needle-pointed Smathers & Branson belts. We have numerous designs, from fleurs-de-lis to SEC schools,” says Eley.

Needle-pointed belts offer a whimsical yet personal approach to the graduation gift and are perfect for guys who often wear solid pattern shirts and pants. For the graduate who’s hard to buy for, Eley suggests a Perlis gift card, which can be purchased in any denomination.

For the fashion-conscious female, Haute (725 Magazine St., 522-8687, offers accessories, jewelry and designer clothing.

Acclaimed lines carried by Haute include Mason by Michelle Mason, Tibi, David Lerner and Mara Hoffman.

This spring, owner Sanja Alickovic suggests a useful and fashionable way for your recent grad to stay organized with a Kate Spade Cardholder.

“This small, elegant accessory can be used as a mini wallet – perfect for credit cards – or it can also be used as a business card holder for the graduate beginning a new profession,” says Alickovic. At just $45, the cardholder presents an affordable yet stunning designer option for an item both handy and valuable to the young adult.

One of the first retailers to open in the Warehouse District, Haute has uniquely transformed an old parking garage into a chic and colorful retail space.

No matter the interests of your graduate, you’re sure to find the perfect gift among these cherished local businesses.

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