Find the perfect gift to send your grad off in style. By Lauren LaBorde
College seniors preparing to graduate are about to enter a turbulent workforce wrought by the current economy – why not send them off in style? Even for high school graduates heading for the insulated realm of college, moving into the dorms offers a wealth of gift-giving opportunities. These are the best bets for grad gifts, because anyone who survives (at least) four years of school deserves nothing less.
Linen Registry (204 Metairie Road, Suite 101, Metairie, 831-8228) carries special touches for a grad pad – whether that be a house or the college dorms. The Old Metairie store specializes in top-notch bed linens and towels, but also carries home accessories like linen sprays and lounge wear, plus decorative picture frames, wastebaskets and tissue boxes great for stocking dorms. The Sferra Brothers Grand Hotel sheet set includes crisp, ivory-colored sheets and pillowcases lined with double rows of silk stitching, available in nine different colors. They are great for an extra bedroom to make guests feel like they’re in a hotel, and not a tiny post-grad apartment. And because they also come in extra-long twin size, they also add some luxury to the often un-luxurious dorm life. Another gift that works equally well for high school or college grads is a set of monogrammed towels, especially the super-absorbent Turkish cotton ones. Having a nice towel set is handy in a new home, but also wards off any potential thieves in those communal bathrooms in college.
For those grads about to start the “9 to 5” life, Scriptura (5423 Magazine St., 897-1555; 3301 Veterans Blvd., Metairie, 219-1113; scriptura.com) is filled with countless ways to give even the most mundane desk job some panache. Although your graduate might still be a Bic kind of person, a rollerball pen desk set by Retro 51 will give him or her an air of professionalism at a new job. This sleek, rollerball ink pen sits in a tortoise shell-shaped holder, which is embellished with an art-deco-style metal plate. The brand also makes pens by themselves, including a new style that comes in a rich, eggplant hue. In addition, Scriptura carries traditional accessories for the workforce, such as leather portfolios and briefcases. For those wanting an updated take on those essentials, Bosca makes a brown, faux-snakeskin leather briefcase. It is roomy enough for a laptop, but has the look of a handbag. Equally stylish is the Audrey eight-file folder by Russel + Hazel, a dainty tote with an embossed exterior, containing eight durable pockets.
The peeks of gold on the straps, the corners of the tote and in the detailed pattern lining the inside gives it added style. And so your grad can thank you for your presents – and they certainly will – Scriptura has walls of stationary and note cards. The hand-engraved Crate & Co. fleur-de-lis note cards – which come in green or royal blue with embossed gold fleur-de-lis – are great for a New Orleans grad or for anyone else who might appreciate something regal. Scriptura also carries famed handbag designer Kate Spade’s whimsical note card collection. You can also get personalized stationary or invitations – great if you’re throwing a grad party – printed in the store.
Any grads that will be leaving New Orleans need a wearable salute to their hometown. The fleur-de-lis by itself has become too ubiquitous but a ring from Unity Jewelry (312-2101, nolaunity.com) is a fresh take on the New Orleans emblem. Each yellow gold, white gold or sterling silver ring says “NOLA” and is surrounded on both sides by fleurs-de-lis. The Poesey ring is a contemporary take on the rings popular in 15th, 16th and 17th century England and France, when those who were dating would exchange the simple gold bands as tokes of affection. Those rings often contained a sentimental inscription engraved on the inside. The Unity rings hearken back to their namesakes with their thin, simple design, and customers can even opt to have a message engraved inside. Another ring option – which is available men’s and women’s sizes – is a more robust ring with “NOLA” written in an Old English font, with fleur-de-lis ensconced in a rustic-looking background.
Since male college students will find themselves needing to shed their fratty garb upon graduating, Perlis (6070 Magazine St., 895-8661, (800) 725-6070) is a great gift spot for them. The store carries a variety of dress shirts and ties and, of course, the official fabric of a Southern Gentleman: seersucker. Vineyard Vines, the Martha’s Vineyard imprint known for its preppy products, makes some New Orleans-centric neckties, including ones with the city’s emblematic street tiles. For any grads going off to college, the Vineyard Vines canvas tote bags are en vogue all over campuses. Similar to the ties, the brand’s totes are lined with fabric bearing a pattern of tiny icons – Perlis’s include crawfish and fleur-de-lis. A grad at any age can also use some of Perlis’s signature items, like its Mardi Gras and crawfish logo polo shirts.
Anything from Hiller Jewelry (923 Metairie Road, 837-8200, hillerjewelry.com) would make a fine graduation present, but the store just saw a recent influx of jewelry that is perfect for younger women at high school or college age. Robert Lee Morris has his spring and summer collections at the store, which feature understated sterling silver pieces with slightly amorphous charms. Pieces from the Alexis Bittar make fun gifts for stylish girls. The line features a Lucite collection with bright cuff bracelets, earrings and necklaces, many of them inspired by the ocean with details resembling coral and anemone. The store also carries long strands of turquoise, garnet and pearl-beaded necklaces that are light and long enough to be wrapped around several times – a good choice for girls not into bulky jewelry.
Finally, a great way to send off a grad is with a new look that can give them the confidence to embark on their new lives. Pick up at gift certificate at Salon M (4336 Canal St., 304-6525) for a complete makeover, which can include hair color, cut or a chemical treatment. Any of the salon’s other services would make great gifts as well. High-quality hair equipment also provides a great foundation for a grad’s new life and new look. The salon carries the Paul Mitchell Express Ion Smoothing Iron and Express Ion Dry v.2. Both products use ion technology, which styles hair without leaving it frizzy or frayed.