Toss Your Cap, Not Your Wallet

Great gift ideas for high school and college graduates.

Whether You’re saying goodbye to high school friends or college memories, graduation also means saying hello to a brand new experience. For a high school senior, that new daunting experience could be college, while a recent college grad is likely looking to enter the just-as-scary workforce. Here are some great gift ideas to make the transition of graduation as smooth, successful and fun as possible. From dorm-room staples to the necessities of a new career (everyone needs a power suit!), these local businesses have it covered.

Boudreaux’s Jewelers (701 Metairie Road, Metairie, 831-2772, boasts several great options for graduation gifts that perfectly suit a university or professional environment. “Just the gift to help launch your favorite graduate on to college or the work force: the Concord Mariner, his or hers,” says Melissa Monaghan of Boudreaux’s. Monaghan says the watch features “clean, stainless steel styling, combining sport and dress look, timeless Swiss technical perfection and attention to detail.” The Concord Mariner is priced from $1,790, and diamond models are also available. Boudreaux’s also has classic favorites, such as diamond or pearl necklaces, gemstone rings and fleur-de-lis earrings, just to name a few.

When it comes to taking a piece of New Orleans with you into the next phase of life, The Historic New Orleans Collection (533 Royal St., 523-4662, offers a unique and timeless option for gifts. The collection is generally known for exhibitions of Louisiana history and art, but the gift shop is a perfect, albeit unexpected, place for graduation finds. “We’ve got a lot of items that are inspired by the city and done by local or regional artists,” says Teresa Devlin of The Historic New Orleans Collection.

The collection offers antique maps, photographs, books and artwork of historic New Orleans – the perfect piece of Louisiana history. “Give your graduate a piece of New Orleans with this reproduction of city surveyor T.S. Hardee’s ornate 1875 map,” says Annie Robichaux of The Historic New Orleans Collection. You
can also find more eclectic gifts, such as Cajun music CDs, Louisiana history DVDs, stationary and neckties
for the history enthusiast.

Isabella’s Gallery (3331 Severn Ave., Suite 105, Metairie, 779-3202,
is the perfect one-stop shop for decorating a high school grad’s new dorm room or a college graduate’s first apartment or home. From artwork to lightswitch covers, from decorative vases to glassware, Isabella’s offers beautiful handiwork with a New Orleans flair. And for a gift with a feminine touch, check out their jewelry selection that included Trollbeads and original designs by Kelly Colleen. Isabella’s now carries Vera Bradley products as well, including totes – which would make a great schoolbag – and wallets, another great grad gift.

When young graduates finally leave the nest, what better way to send them on their way than with the memories of their hometown. Judy at the Rink (2727 Prytania St., 891-7018) offers the perfect solution – an “I © NOLA” mirror with a personalized collage frame. The possibilities are endless: Choose photos of quintessential New Orleans landmarks, family photos, prom pictures and any other reminders of home. From Café du Monde to Jackson Square, graduates will love this daily reminder of the Crescent City, whether they stayed close to it or not.

Dorm-room life can be difficult – sharing a room, sharing a bathroom and sometimes sharing clothes. One thing that every college freshman will want to keep unequivocally for herself is her bath towel. The Linen Registry (204 Metairie Road, Metairie, 831-8228) offers the perfect solution: monogrammed towels and sheets in a variety of colors and patterns. “It’s a wonderful graduation gift,” says Lee McKee of The Linen Registry. “In fact, when I was a senior in high school, my mom’s roommate in college got me monogrammed towels with my name on them – I still have them! They were my towels; they weren’t anybody else’s. In dorms, there are so many people – it’s really easy to lose stuff.” If only you could get your side of the fridge monogrammed as well …

Nola Couture ( and is the perfect one-stop shop for gifts for college and high school graduates. “We actually have a lot of new products coming out in late spring,” says Cecile Hardy of Nola Couture.

“Really adorable little wallets that are silk, used for business card holders, are really cute and great for a grad gift.”

Nola Couture also features new tote bags that would be perfect for holding a college freshman’s books. “We have collegiate ties that could be fun,” says Cecile of Nola Couture’s Louisiana State and Alabama universities merchandise. And for parents looking to buy gifts in bulk for their graduate’s friends, Nola Couture carries fleur-de-lis key fobs. “It’s a great, fun, New Orleans-y gift to remind them of New Orleans.”

As recent college graduates look to enter the work force, nothing is more necessary than to dress for the job you want. “Rubenstein’s (102 St. Charles Ave., 581-6666, carries a variety of great gifts to give this graduation season,” says Whitney Guarisco of Rubenstein’s. “Our favorite this year is our ‘New Career Slim Suit’ for just $495. We will make sure that the recent graduate looks great for his upcoming interviews and new employer. At Rubenstein’s we are dedicated to building a relationship with the graduate to make sure he looks great for his new job and continue to work with him for years to follow.” High school graduates could even use one of these professional wardrobe staples for college entrance interviews. “We also have a lot of great gift ideas for graduates – ties, pocket squares, sport coats,” says Guarisco. “We have fun stuff too – sunglasses, pens and sportswear that’s fun for the high school grad for his summer vacation.”

Nothing looks worse in a dorm room than a bare wall, so give your graduate a stylish bulletin board or picture frame from Whimsy (1915-B Hickory Ave., River Ridge, 273-5900, to decorate her new room and showcase pictures from home. Whimsy also carries an array of freshman-year essentials: laptop covers, duffel bags and Vera Bradley note cubes to remind her of term paper deadlines. Another great gift idea is personalized stationary from Whimsy, perfect for the endless list of thank-you notes post-graduation.

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