Vintage-inspired graduation gift guide

vintage-inspired graduation gift guide

Say cheese!

It seems that once we flip our calendars to May everything is in bloom. Flowers and trees put on their best show and possibilities fill the air (bringing seasonal allergies along for the ride!). It’s only fitting that this season is when futures blossom too. The time for graduation is upon us once more and while the usual celebrations that mark this scholastic achievement remain quiet, the joy of gift-giving endures! Join us as we outline a few of our favorites in this vintage-inspired graduation gift guide…


As we’ve written about before, Lane Furniture launched a clever campaign during the 1930s targeting female high-school graduates. By gifting these recent grads with a miniature cedar chest, the company hoped to garner their business for years to come as they furnished their new homes. While the transition from high school to domestic life has changed significantly since those days, Lane’s core pitch remains valid. There is something really special about getting your first “adult furniture.” While IKEA’s offerings serve a valuable role, getting your first investment piece (like a sturdy coffee table or plush chair) gives you a unique sense of accomplishment. It’s as if you’re putting your stake in the ground, letting the world know you’ve made it. Now, you may be eating ramen noodles exclusively at the moment, but you’re eating them on a real table and that’s something to celebrate!

Consider gifting the graduate in your life with a signature piece of furniture for their new place. Mid-century design is always a hit and you can find many budget-friendly and unique treasures at your local vintage shop or online via sites like Etsy or eBay.  And if they’re getting ready for dorm life, consider something smaller in scale like a mini-cedar chest. Whether the calendar reads 1954 or 2021, every student needs a spot to store their beloved items.


One of my prized possessions is my grandmother’s suitcases. They are quite glamorous and embossed with her initials. While I don’t use them for travel, I do use them to store all sorts of trinkets and keepsakes. Sometimes when I’m missing her I’ll pop into my closet and take a spin down memory lane. She originally received these suitcases when she was a young lady, before she married my grandpa, and I think about how empowering it must have felt to go on a trip with such a grown-up set of luggage.

If you want to give your graduate a suitcase with some history, look no further than Samsonite. The company was founded in 1910 in Denver, Colorado by the Shwayder Brothers. Their mission was to create exceptionally strong luggage that could stand all manner of trials and tribulations. Check out their company slideshow here and you’ll see Samsonite was with soldiers as they went off to war, growing families traveling across the U.S. for the first time, and busy executives cashing in on the post-war consumer craze.

While we may not be traveling as much these days, when the skies open up again your graduate will be ready to embark on their own adventures. The gift of traveling with confidence never goes out of style…

vintage-inspired graduation gift guide

Onward to adventure!


One of my first memories of dorm life was the symphony. I’m not talking about Mozart, but the cascade of sounds flowing throughout the dormitory from every window and doorway. Something special happens when you leave home for the first time and don’t hear your parents say “turn down that racket!” Playing loud music is like a rite of passage for the young and there are so many new-fangled ways to absorb sonic nutrients these days. While high-tech solutions strike the right note with many 2021 graduates, I’m happy to report that the tried-and-true vinyl record is making a comeback. For the discerning graduate in your life, consider a record player. It can introduce them to a whole new world of musical experiences. Here’s an article on taking care of vinyl records to help them on their journey.

Cold hard cash

There’s nothing quite like having a little mad money – that extra twenty-dollar bill that has no strings attached. As a student or young adult it seems like there’s never enough mad money… it can be maddening! While giving cash might not seem as thoughtful as other options, it remains a perennial favorite. Historically speaking, there’s the line from My Fair Lady about starting life with seven and six. Then there’s the coveted dimes from the Great Depression. And if you’re anything like me, you received crisp bills fresh from the bank in your stocking from your grandparents.

Receiving cash as a gift gives your graduate another treat – responsibility. Now, that may not sound like a great bonus initially (because adulting definitely comes with its challenges), but being able to call the shots with your finances turns out to be a pretty cool perk. So whether you decide to give a card with some greenbacks stuffed inside, a chance to discover their musical taste, a way to explore the world, or an opportunity to set down roots – you can’t go wrong when you go vintage!

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