Gifts for the Graduate

Tis the season for graduation announcements to arrive in your mailbox as young men and women begin a huge change in life!  You have the high school graduate who is leaving childhood behind and the college graduate ready to take on the world.


Besides receiving several announcements, this was a year in which we sent out a few for our own high school graduate.


We’ve been asked no less than 30 times what would be a good gift idea for MacKenzie as she is leaving high school behind and moving off to college in August.  So I thought it would be fun to put together a few ideas that you can use for celebrating and gifting your own graduates.

1.  Money.  I know, not very personal, but if your graduate is going to college in any form, money is needed.  They can use this for books, supplies, or even put it towards decorating a dorm room should they be going away.

2.  Gift Cards.  Yes, once again, not very personal but very useful.

Gift Cards

For example gas gift cards are perfect for a graduate whether they are commuting to school or living away from home on campus.

Department store gift cards.  These are awesome for high school and college graduates alike as kids will be looking to make a wardrobe change leaving behind the clothes of their teenage years or looking forward to a business wardrobe.

Restaurant or movie theater gift cards.  I went away to college 25 years ago, and while a lot has changed, being broke in college has not!   I appreciated the treat of leaving campus for supper or a movie upon occasion and I’m sure that has not changed at all for any student.

Bed, Bath & Beyond, HomeGoods, TJ Maxx, etc…. gift cards.  These are perfect for the student decorating their dorm room or their own apartment for the first time.  From bedding to wall art these are invaluable.

Barnes & Noble gift card.  So many college campuses have a B&N on them or use them as an option for students to purchase their textbooks.  This would definitely be appreciated!

3.  A bicycle.  Oh yeah.  This is the perfect gift for a high school grad who will be living on campus when they go to college in the fall.  Not only will they save gas, it’s a means of getting to class on time and exercise.

Well, maybe something a bit more mature ....

Well, maybe something a bit more mature ….

And don’t forget the lock!

4.  Anything monogrammed.  Of course this is more fitting for a young lady, but it would be something that would definitely make her smile.  From a duffel bag to an infinity scarf in school colors to a throw pillow or bath towels, options are limitless for ideas to make a girl smile.

Love this duffel!

Love this duffel!

5.  AAA Membership.  Just for a year, but if your graduate will be on the road a lot this would be perfect in helping them (as well as Dad & Mom) feel a wee bit more secure on the road.  They don’t teach kids how to change a tire in school, so if you haven’t done that yourself, this would be a real plus.


6.  Picture Frames.  Simple, yes and practical as well.  What better way for a young person to keep their memories close than to display them.


  And speaking of memories, a Shutterfly gift card is an awesome way for the graduate to make a book highlighting their senior year or print off pictures for those frames.


7.  Looking for sentimental?  How about a quilt made from T-shirts representing all those memorable events from high school or college?  Check out this one my mom made for MacKenzie.


Needless to say she now has a list of teenagers wanting their own.

Another sentimental gift idea.... This is one of my favorite gifts to give!

Another sentimental gift idea…. This is one of my favorite gifts to give!

8.  A high quality backpack, computer bag or briefcase.  Perfect for the grad heading off to college or the college grad stepping into the corporate world.

9.  Treat the recent grad to a trip to the salon.  A new “do” to leave your teen or fraternity days behind is a great gift to give.

10.  Gift baskets.  You can’t go wrong with a reusable basket full of bathroom/grooming supplies (shampoo, soap, razors, shaving cream, etc…), a laundry basket ( or monogrammed laundry bag) with detergent, dryer sheets & a book on how to do laundry, a bread basket with useful kitchen gadgets and towels, or a school supply basket filled with Post-it notes, Sharpies, highlights, a day planner, lead pencils, pens, college ruled notebooks, etc….

All of these are fabulous and useful for just about any recent graduate.

Hopefully a few of these ideas will inspire you as you try to come up with gift ideas for the graduate in your life.

I would love to hear your suggestions for gift ideas!


A Little Indoor Garden

After oh-so-many false starts, it seems spring has sprung bringing April showers and what appears to be hope for gorgeous May flowers.

While recovering from surgery I have truly missed playing in my gardens; pruning rose bushes, weeding beds and planting early spring blooms.  Audley has been a gem keeping me occupied and distracted from some of the things I would really rather be doing, and has even gone so far as to tackle some of my favorite spring activities himself.

But one of the sweetest things he did for me was to bring a little gardening in the house for me to enjoy.

Spring blooms for an indoor container garen to brighten someone's day.

Spring blooms for an indoor container garden to brighten someone’s day.

Choosing a few early spring plants that included miniature daffodils, primrose, African daisy and a silver leaf annual, I was able to play in the dirt and enjoy a bit of gardening without putting myself in a position that the doctor definitely would not approve!  Making an indoor garden box was super easy and fairly quick to put together.

Creating an easy indoor garden

For this little project I took a tool caddy that I assembled & stained from a kit that Home Depot donated to the attendees at last years Haven Conference in Atlanta.  Audley drilled holes in the base of the box for drainage purposes.

Creating a means of drainage in container gardening prevents water from remaining inside the pot/container and souring or causing your the roots of your plants to rot.  The stentch is ridiculous!

Creating a means of drainage in container gardening prevents water from remaining inside the pot/container and souring or causing the roots of your plants to rot. The stench is ridiculous!


First, I added Miracle Grow potting soil about 2/3 of the way full.


I removed the plants from their pots and broke up the compacted dirt and roots from their bases before planting them in the little tool caddy.

Breaking up the roots just a little to stimulate growth.

Breaking up the roots just a little to stimulate growth.

Finally, I arranged them in a way that I found appealing, watered well, and then placed them on my coffee table to enjoy the blooms for a couple of weeks.


By using a mixture of perennials and annuals, I can plant the daffodils to bloom out in the yard next spring, and add the silver-leafed foliage to other container gardens to last throughout the summer.

That’s it.


Easy, Peasy.

Bright and cheery.


And if your aren’t supposed to be doing certain chores, you can have your kiddos do most of the clean-up which makes it even more fun!


What I liked best about this quick little project was that not only was it easy and enjoyable, it would make a great gift for someone else to enjoy if they are having to stay at home and recover from an illness or surgery.  It’s a cheerful and lasting gift.

As for me, I was released from the doctor three days ago for light workouts and housework.  While I am sure my version of light and the doctor’s are not on the same wavelength, I do plan to ease back into the things I enjoy, including outdoor gardening!  Audley and I are planning to attack our raised beds this weekend, so stay tuned for a little herb and vegetable inspiration!

Happy Wednesday to you!


Fit Friday: 15 Gifts that will Build Fitness

The New Year has arrived and along with it comes more than half the people you know that have made the resolution to be more healthy and/or fit in 2015.  We all know that resolution; we’ve all made it at one time or another.  But for me, the New Year brings a whole lot of gift giving.  It’s not the 12 days of Christmas, but birthday season.  That means between now and June each of my nieces and nephews, as well as my own children, will have their birthdays.  I’m one of those aunts/moms that loves to find something useful or educational as a gift, so here are some great ideas for gifts that will encourage kids and adults alike to get out and get to moving!  WIth the help of a fitness-oriented gift, some of those New Years resolutions may become realities.


Here are several suggestions (in all price ranges) that are perfect for promoting fitness in children and adults alike!


1.  Toys that will get the kiddos moving… skateboards, ripsticks, bikes (with a helmet), scooters, hula hoops …. emphasize that fitness is fun!

2. Kids love music and kids love to dance.  Keeping that in mind, Shaun T’s Fit Kids Club DVD (Beachbody) with it’s popping music will have kids of all ages and stages dancing their booties off.

3.  If you don’t mind spending a little more for kids challenge older ones in your family with a home wall climbing kit.  You can find these as accessories to backyard playsets or construct one in a garage or basement.  Also, kids LOVE trampolines and will spend hours bouncing, flipping and flopping on one.  This is great cardiovascular exercise as well as good for their little muscles.

4.  A gift certificate for a class.  Think ballet or dance, karate, or even horseback riding.  Think of something that promises fun and adventure, but also keep in mind their own personalities.


5.  Paid registration fees for a Color Run 5K or other fun walk/run.  Register yourself as well and you’ll have a training partner on hand.

6.  Gift certificate for a sports store like Academy or Dick’s Sporting Goods.  If they like to run try a certificate to a running store like Fleet Feet so that they can be properly fitted for running shoes.

7.  FitBit activity trackers.


These are all the rage right now and will sync right up with a smart phone to track number of steps taken in a day, heart rate, sleep patterns, and other personal metrics. It also has an option so that you challenge others who use a FitBit and compete against each other.  A little friendly competition never hurt anyone!


8.  Stainless steel or BPA-free water bottles ( GAIAM, Klean Kanteen, CafePress)  reduce plastic in landfills and come in tons of fun designs to fit every personality!

9.  A small iPod shuffle is perfect for working out/running.


You can throw in an iTunes gift card so that they can download a few hip tunes and they will be ready to go!

10.  Earphones or ear buds that won’t fall off during a workout are always a welcome treat!

11.  Easy at-home workout equipment like resistance bands, a bosu or ball help with all over fitness routines without going to the gym.


12.  Indoor rock climbing adventure gift certificates (from for an afternoon of family fun (and often entertainment!) White water rafting is also a fun family adventure!

13.  SherrillTree offers tips and gear – like pulleys and snaps – for recreational tree climbing.  Both adults and kids would love this!

14. Family gift cards to a trampoline center like Gravitopia or Pump-it-Up (Different cities have different names for these places).

15. My all-time favorite Twister.


Surly you remember this fun game from your own childhood!  Imagine the laughs everyone would have with this!

A few guidelines for giving fitness related gifts; give them only to those you are close to, and those who would welcome and enjoy them!  Base the gift on what the recipient does or wants to do, not on what you would like for them to do.  Never give a fitness gift that suggests they lose weight or try a new sport, unless they are game.  When in doubt, ask.

Have you ever given or received a fitness related gift?  How did you enjoy it?