The Go-To Gift That EVERY Graduate Can Use


It’s hard to believe that graduation season is already upon us! It seems like grad party invites come in waves. Some years there are multiple invitations, and others pass by with no announcements.

Whether the year is heavy or light, it’s always good to have some go-to gift ideas at a variety of price points. There are the kids you may not know very well and the kids that spend just as much time at your home as they do at their own. Whether it’s a niece or a neighbor or the child of a colleague, it’s likely that you’ll want to acknowledge his/her accomplishment with a little (or a big) gift.

This leads to the conundrum of gift options at affordable price points.

As my, ah-hem, 30th high school reunion approaches, I’m drawn to the one gift I received that I truly still use to this day. No, it’s not the cool TV cart with a shelf for a VCR used in the dorm to house a squat and cumbersome tubed television, or the contraband microwave, or one of the other much appreciated-at-the-time offerings. Trust me, I was very thankful for the cash and checks bestowed upon me (gift cards weren’t really a thing back in the 80’s), but they have all been long spent.

The timeless gift was something that any graduate can utilize, no matter what direction life may take. Regardless of what economic status is achieved or what path is taken after flipping the tassel to receive that diploma, this gift will serve a purpose.

Ever parent out there knows that the struggle is real. It was a laundry bag. Sometime in June of 1989, I received a red laundry bag personalized in gray stitching, and I have used it ever since. Whether a graduate is moving to the dorms, a first apartment, or down to the basement, there will always be a need to collect the laundry. This oversized sack now accompanies my family on every single vacation or trip we take. It has truly stood the test of time and has now become my go-to gift for graduates.

How can a single item serve as a variety of price points? It’s all about the add-ons.

As a stand-alone gift, it works well. One can be personalized with a name, monogram, or college reference (i.e., Go Bucks!). These can be found on Etsy, Amazon, or other websites. The nylon bags are the most durable and can simply be tossed in with the laundry to create a clean sack for carrying the freshly-washed items. Bags in school or favorite colors can be found for around $20. Print a laundry care symbol chart on cardstock and the graduate will be set!

There are several options for adding more to the gift within the laundry theme. A change purse, a roll of quarters, a gift card or cash to fulfill any clothing replacement needs, drawer or shoe fresheners, etc. are all perfect add-ons. This is also a chance to get clever and creative with some tips and advice about the lifetime of laundry that awaits.

While this may not be the gift with the most “wow” factor, it definitely checks the practicality and longevity boxes. No matter how modern the world gets, there will always be laundry. Mamas everywhere can attest to this one!

Standing the test of time.

This bag accompanied me to Ohio State. It has traveled the country on road trips, girls’ trips, and family trips. It came to my destination wedding, and it goes with me every time I pack a suitcase.

Before we leave on a trip, my husband is always asking, “Did you pack the Lani bag?” On the trip, my kids with dirty clothes in-hand are always asking, “Where’s the Lani bag?” As I stand before the washer without having to track down all the dirties, I am always thinking: 

I’m so thankful for the Lani bag!

I didn’t realize 30 years ago that this bag would be such a timeless constant in my life. Some of the outfits it has contained, not so timeless, but the bag – a definite keeper and my go-to graduation gift of choice!

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Lani is relatively new to Cincinnati, and after living in Columbus for nearly three decades, she’s glad to be back in the Buckeye State! Keeping all wheels turning with her family of five serves as her full-time job, but she stays active with her teaching background by blogging and freelance writing for several education companies. When she’s not stealing some time at the keyboard, she enjoys exploring all Cincinnati has to offer through the eyes of her five-year-old. Cooking, traveling, and binge-watching a good drama series round out her favorites, but some of those happen much more often than others!


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