Graduation ideas for my brother?
January 17, 2012 6:08 PM   Subscribe

My brother graduates from high school this summer. I want to get him some fun gifts that will keep him entertained and might also help him navigate the post-HS waters. More about him inside. Gift ideas appreciated.

My brother is 18, and a bit directionless. His interests include:

- video games - plays them constantly. His current dream job is some sort of sound engineer for video games.
- music - he's in marching band/jazz band currently. He plays the trumpet and clarinet. He's also a self-described fan of alternative music. His faves at the moment: Jonathan Coulton, Weird Al, the White Stripes, Spoon, Robbers on High Street, The Strokes, CAKE... some others I'm probably forgetting, but that's the general vein
-writing short stories - or at least he used to. I don't know how into it he's been lately
-cooking/eating - less on the cooking lately and more into trying new foods. He loves craft sodas.
-general geekery and silliness
-his big sister (that would be me!) - not to brag, but he thinks I'm pretty cool. This is for context so that when you see some of my ideas below you don't roll your eyes and tell me no teenager wants to write letters to his sister.

Our parents, grandparents, etc. will be giving him cash. At this point, it'll be far more than he knows what to do with, and I know he'd enjoy a gift like this. Stocking stuffers are his favorite part of Christmas, hands down. This is also to discourage eye-rolling and suggestions to just give him cash.

I live about an hour and a half away from him, so close enough to see him every few months, but far enough away that it's a bit of a hassle. It's also next to impossible for him to stay with me for a weekend. He'll be staying at home next year, probably going to a community college to take GE classes and develop some discipline when it comes to school (his own words). He doesn't have a car/license.

My ideas for him so far:
-a couple of Mad Libs books
-some moleskine notebooks for writing/drawing story ideas, be they of the video game variety or otherwise
-a couple nice Zebra pens
-some gift cards for movie theaters, music stores
-lottery tickets, maybe $5 worth
-some sort of comic/letter, drawn by me
-since I don't know his taste in books as well as his taste in music, I was planning on including some books that I liked at his age (teen angsty stuff). I know he likes Wicked, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy... and I'm not sure what else, so if anyone has any ideas here especially..?
-some basic cards/envelopes so we can write letters/draw comics back and forth
-fun food things
-a mix CD. I pretty much have to.
-a card - maybe laminated? - with my phone number and email address, and a note that he can always, always talk to me. And maybe the number of a cab company in his area.

I was planning on including all of this in a messenger bag, and I've been on the lookout for a good one. I'd love for this bag to be absolutely stuffed of things he will find awesome, but my overall budget is around $200 - $300. Let your ideas flow forth!
posted by riddler to Human Relations (13 answers total)
My little brother is a lot like yours, it seems - he loved the multitool I gave him for Christmas last year. I got a shouted "this is awesome!" from across the room over the phone; a new record. He also loved the collection of multi-sided dice I gave him (he's big into AD&D.) I didn't get overflowing praise for the "how to survive being out of high school" books I gave him and our sister, but I still like that I gave them the stuff.

Things that are good for commuting students include a nice portfolio to carry papers in, a few thermal mugs (dishwasher safe) to discourage the buying of expensive coffee on campus, and stuff to decorate one's car with, since there's no dorm to express one's self with. Cute little buttons (for one's bag) are also popular - but only at some campuses, it seems. Anyway, Etsy is my go-to place for those.

I don't know how cool you are (and how cool your parents are,) and how much he actually listens to your advice, but you ought to consider a bit of "be a responsible man, here are phone numbers and stuff" to go along with your fun things. My understanding is that the overwhelming majority of 18-year-old boys have an unlimited store of terrible misinformation about sex, relationships, drugs, and peer pressure in their heads, and no clear sense of "I should probably seek out an authority on this before doing something stupid." I like the cab company idea A LOT.

Perhaps a gift membership to MetaFilter would also be in order. :)
posted by SMPA at 6:31 PM on January 17, 2012

if he likes the hitchhiker series, had he read the Dirk Gently books? they are also awesome, and the first one has a really neat subplot that's all about music
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 6:31 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Maybe something like these two books from the listography set which allow someone to create a list about things that they have experienced in the original listography book or things that he would like to experience in the future listography book. There are also cool pictures on each page.

I also think he'd like this Moleskine weekly notebook-12 months-black large softcover planner .

I also saw this idea on askme a while ago, but it would be cool if you created a book with very good advice for someone that is in their late teens/early 20s or just generally good life advice or anecdotes that you've liked.

Perhaps even give him a Metafilter account as a gift and a giftcard to either Starbucks (if he likes going there) or a nice cafe near the college.

When it comes to books, I think it would be nice if you tied together the Catcher in The Rye and another coming of age novel. Or, if you bought him three short story books (or a short story anthology) about coming of age.
posted by livinglearning at 6:32 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Consider the book "What Color is Your Parachute?" to help him find his direction.
posted by maurreen at 8:51 PM on January 17, 2012

Awesome bottle opener - may depend on local drinking laws, I guess.

A keyring penknife/multitool like a leatherman micra - a super useful thing to have around.

Ditto for a Microtorch.

The conclusion to the Wicked Years series has just come out.

And here's the AskMe about the best Askmes for a graduating high school student.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:58 PM on January 17, 2012 [3 favorites]

Oh, for general geekery stocking stuffer type things, ThinkGeek is your best friend.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:01 PM on January 17, 2012 [3 favorites]

For when he eventually leaves home: Crockpot.
posted by brennen at 11:19 PM on January 17, 2012

A set of fun wood pencils and a pencil sharpener. I don't know what it is about a dead-tree pencil but it makes me want to write.
posted by Heretical at 11:21 PM on January 17, 2012

You can't see him often because of distance? A lot of people commute for an hour and a half. See him.
posted by Yowser at 3:24 AM on January 18, 2012

When my big sister was in college and I was in middle school, she let me visit her at college for a week during winter or spring break. It blew my mind. My classmates were cruel, uninteresting people. The college kids I met at my sister's school were great people and made me feel welcome despite our age differences.

Everyone on the dorm floor seemed to get along, people left their doors open and I could wander in to hang out, my sister and I exchanged funny notes with some of the students during one of her classes, I got to go with her to the computer lab and learn new things there, I had a bit of pocket money and could go eat by myself if my sister was busy, and of course I was exposed to plenty of interesting music. It was truly life-changing for me. Can you do anything like that for your brother?
posted by germdisco at 3:52 AM on January 18, 2012

netflix subscription?
posted by saraindc at 7:43 AM on January 18, 2012

Can't find it right now, but in a similar thread someone suggested (basically) a "get out of jail free" card. He screwed up in a way that would normally involve parents and punishment but doesn't have to? He can call you, instead.
posted by inigo2 at 9:39 AM on January 18, 2012

Ah, here's the comment I was thinking of.
posted by inigo2 at 9:40 AM on January 18, 2012

« Older Dirtbag climber wannabe, looking for somewhere to...   |   Insider look at life as a city bus driver? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.