Ask an Expert // Graduation Gift Ideas and Ways to Say Thank You

GraduationWondering what to get that graduating guy or gal in your life? We’ve got some great ideas for you.

16 Gift Ideas for your Grad

It’s graduation time, and announcements will soon be arriving in mailboxes. Graduation often brings the question of what you can do for or give to graduates to help them take steps toward their future. Here are some gift ideas to get you started:

  • A toaster, blender, waffle iron or panini maker.
  • Wireless headphones or speakers.
  • A bean bag or banana chair.
  • A label maker.
  • A new journal to document all the experiences ahead.
  • A recipe book of favorite family recipes.
  • A gas card or car wash punch card near where they will live.
  • Car supplies, including oil, washer fluid, filters, air fresheners, window shields or an emergency car kit.
  • A new printer, since they are continually changing and becoming better.
  • Gift cards to favorite stores and restaurants where they will live.
  • An office supply kit for college or a future job.
  • A college survival kit, which can include things such as cleaning, kitchen or bathroom supplies, towels, bed linens or necessary treats and food items.
  • Work out equipment based on what they like to do, such as a yoga mat, pull up bar, adjustable dumbbells, free weights, etc.
  • Creative money crafts. One idea is to put money in place of chocolates in a chocolate box with a note that says “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.” is full of many ideas for crafty money gifts.
  • Games are great for social events and stress relief. Board or card games such as Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, Ultimate Werewolf, Uno and Phase 10 are good options. You can also check out Google’s top 10 best-selling games.
  • Books. One idea is to have friends and family sign the book with encouragement or advice. Great books for graduates include:
    • Be Happy! A Little Book for a Happy You and a Better World by Monica Sheehan
    • Reach for the Start: and Other Advice for Life’s Journey by Serge Bloch
    • What Do you Do with an Idea? By Kobi Yamada
    • How Big is the World? By Britta Teckentrup
    • Oh, the Places You’ll Go! By Dr. Suess
    • Yay, You! Moving up and Moving on by Sandra Boynton
    • The North Star: Ask Yourself Where It Is You Want to Go… by Peter H. Reynolds
    • The Treasure by Uri Shulevits
    • Only One You by Linda Kranz
    • Little Tree by Loren Long
    • The Knowing Book by Rebecca Kai Dotlich

Say Thank You

Now advice for the graduate: Don’t forget to say thanks! Ideas include:

  • The traditional hand-written letter, which is a classic way to thank others. This may be the most appropriate for grandparents and those who appreciate the tradition.
  • An e-mail. This is a very informal option but is still a great way to share feelings of gratitude.
  • A visit. For those living near enough, you can make a trip to say thank you in person. This is a great option for staying connected.
  • An e-card. ThankView is one that allows you to make personalized videos to send a thank you message to friends and family. Many other options are available.


By: KJ Lamplugh, Utah State University Extension family and consumer sciences program assistant,


The Crafty Blog Stalker: 20 Ideas on How to Give Cash for Graduation Gift –

ThankView –

The Most Unusual Item in My Purse

Purse.jpgWhat do you carry in your purse? Beyond the wallet, keys, lip balm and phone, do you have anything out of the ordinary?  Adding a few simple things to your purse could make a big difference— in your life and the lives of those around you.

Seems like ladies’ purses have gotten bigger and bulkier over the years – a variable black hole for losing keys, phones, kid toys and who knows what else. You might be surprised at what all can fit in one of those things! Recently, I began packing something unusual in my purse and it’s starting to change my life.

Blank note cards, envelopes, a pen, and some stamps. That’s it. I think of it as my heart warmer kit.

You might be thinking: That’s it?  That’s changing your life? Think of it this way…when was the last time you received a handwritten thank you note or friendly card?  Did you like the way it felt to know that someone took time to think about you and then personally reach out to you? What a great opportunity to pay that feeling forward and bring some sunshine to someone’s day.

In this day and age of electronic everything, the personal touch of a handwritten note is being lost in the immediacy of technology. While sending social media notes may be efficient and can be personalized, it’s just not the same.

Don’t take my word for it.  Try it out for yourself.  A simple place to start is to to build your heart warmer kit. The notecards don’t need to be fancy or expensive.  Don’t forget the stamps.  I heard one time that “feeling appreciation and not sharing it is like wrapping a gift but not giving it.” Mailing or delivering the card is crucial to the process. Writing notes anonymously is even more fun but can possibly be a little more difficult to deliver.

Next, find a quiet moment to think about who has done something you appreciate or admire.  The more practice you get at tuning into opportunities to show appreciation, the easier this will be.  You’ll find yourself part way through a day seeing someone struggle or triumph and you’ll have a twinge in your heart and a thought come into your mind to send them a note of encouragement, congratulations or thanks for their efforts. That’s why my cards are now in my purse.  When I started, it was a “do this once a week” type goal for me; now it’s like I’ve primed the pump of appreciation and I see the need around me often.

The amazing part is that this little heart warmer kit I carry with me warms my heart as I write, then someone else’s as they read, and sometimes, mine again if I get a sweet note of appreciation back. And that’s why the most unusual item in my purse is changing my life.

This article was written by Rebecca Mills, Extension assistant professor in family consumer sciences and 4-H youth development

Ask a Specialist // Perfectly Cooking Your Turkey

Turkey Talk Blog

Learn how to properly cook your Thanksgiving bird!

Avoiding FOWL Play

It is estimated that each Thanksgiving, more than 46 million turkeys are prepared and eaten in the United States. Because of the number of turkeys prepared, the incidence of food-borne illness also increases during the holidays.

If not prepared properly, turkey and all poultry can carry Salmonella, a common type of bacteria that can cause food-borne illness. Consider these tips for preparing a safe and tasty turkey this year.

* The first and most important food safety step is to properly thaw the turkey. The best way to thaw it is in the refrigerator. Make sure it is still in its original wrapper, and put a tray underneath it to catch juices and prevent cross contamination. You will need 24 hours of thawing time for every 4 to 5 pounds of turkey, so make sure you have enough time to properly thaw it. Once thawed, cook the turkey within 1 to 2 days.

* If you need to thaw the turkey more quickly, you can use the cold water method. Place the turkey in an airtight package or leak-proof bag. Submerge the turkey in cold water for 30 minutes per pound, and make sure to change the water every half hour so it remains cold. Cook immediately.

* If you purchased a smaller turkey, it may be possible to thaw it in the microwave. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for the size of turkey that will fit in your microwave, the minutes per pound and the power level for thawing. Roast it immediately after thawing.

* It is never safe to thaw turkey or other meat on the counter. This is putting the meat in what food safety experts call the danger zone, 40 to 140 F, which is where bacteria multiply rapidly. Under ideal conditions, bacteria can double every 10 to 20 minutes. That means one cell can increase to more than 16 million cells in 8 hours. For this reason, perishable foods such as poultry should never be held at room temperature for more than 2 hours.

* To roast a turkey, set the oven temperature no lower than 325 F. It is not safe to cook a turkey for a lengthy time, such as overnight, at a very low temperature. This encourages bacterial growth. To check for doneness, use a meat thermometer inserted into the thigh. Do not rely on the pop-up thermometer alone. Meat thermometers are available at reasonable prices in most supermarkets and variety stores. To be safe, the thigh meat should reach 165 F. If the bird is stuffed, the stuffing should reach 165 F as well.

* After the meal, promptly refrigerate leftovers in shallow containers. Some families leave turkey and other perishable items out all day for people to nibble on. This is not safe. Place perishable items in the refrigerator. If people want to snack, they can get the food out of the refrigerator.

For more information on turkey preparation or storage, contact your local USU county Extension office. You can also contact USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline at 888-MPH-otline (888-674-6854).

This article was written by Darlene Christensen, USU Extension associate professor, 435-277-2406,