What are things to get a college grad
October 31, 2012 4:42 PM   Subscribe

What are presents/things I don't know I want?

I am making a Christmas/birthday list for my parents/family for probably the last time since I'm a senior in college. What I'd really like is Amazon gift cards but barring that, what are specific items that are really useful but you didn't realize exist/that you need them? I feel like every time I think of something, I either buy it or forget about it.

For example, when I started living in an apartment a year ago, I only found out after months that if you don't have a dishwasher, having a drying rack is fantastic. I got a nice jacket that goes with dressy clothes a year ago and almost returned it, but I ended up wearing it all the time because I didn't realize how useful a nice coat is instead of just a skijacket. Basically, adult stuff that I probably will need once I graduate.

I have basic apartment stuff and I will probably be moving to teach English in Korea, so bulky stuff like a vacuum cleaner is out. Stuff that costs $20-40 at most is better, but I'm interested in anything really useful.
posted by raeka to Shopping (20 answers total) 45 users marked this as a favorite
The best college graduation gift I got was a nice carry-on sized rolling suitcase
posted by kbuxton at 4:44 PM on October 31, 2012 [7 favorites]

One of those pocket-sized multitools (e.g. Leatherman Juice). Seems cliched, but those things actually are very handy.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 4:53 PM on October 31, 2012 [3 favorites]

The first two suggestions are excellent. I am dying for one of those lightweight suitcases with the four wheels. Also I have a small rolling duffle that's pretty awesome.

And yes the Leatherman Juice is great, I keep it in my car and it seems to come in handy all the time!

Well if you're moving to Korea I guess kitchen stuff is out? Because I'd suggest a crock pot and a food processor.
posted by radioamy at 5:00 PM on October 31, 2012

This may be small potatoes, but a nice set of salt and pepper grinders really improved my life. $30 compared to $10. Nice knives or pans likewise.
posted by shownomercy at 5:00 PM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

A nice leather wallet or small clutch. (Lots of different examples/styles from one brand here.) Bonus: a real leather (not faux leather) purse. The faux-leather always winds up cracking and looking cheap; a leather bag, even if it's not particularly expensive, will still look more pulled together even as it gets banged up.
posted by scody at 5:00 PM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

A drill and a selection of bits. A multitool. A powerful, pocket-sized flashlight. Awesome pillows. An excellent (for you) kitchen knife. The softest, warmest socks you can find. A cast iron pan. An LED headlamp. Good sunglasses. Truly, these are among life's little grown-up pleasures.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:24 PM on October 31, 2012

a battery charger and a selection of those good rechargeables, the kind that hold a charge for a year or more. Or hell, just a few 10 or 20 packs of double a's and triple a's. it's not a cool gift but it's one you'll use the heck out of.
posted by lemniskate at 5:44 PM on October 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

A nice chef's nice will seriously improve your entire cooking experience. I recently bought a Victorinox chef's knife (this one), and it's a huge improvement over the crappy knives I was using before. They're fairly inexpensive too, Amazon usually has the 10-inch for $25-30.
posted by yasaman at 5:45 PM on October 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

I find the OveGlove superior to all other pot holders and oven mitts.
posted by soelo at 7:10 PM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

One of my most life-changing purchases was a garment bag, especially if you're going to do a lot of traveling. If you get some sturdy hangers, you can hang a full day's outfit on each one (shirt, pants, underwear in one pocket, socks in the other), and so bring 3-4 days worth of clothes in a single, easily handled parcel rather than wrestling with a suitcase. And it keeps your clothes looking nicer than cramming them in a duffle bag or backpack.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 8:12 PM on October 31, 2012

Get a laptop (and maybe cell phone) charger for every place you hang out. Home, office (or locker at school, if you have it), SO's house, car, etc. Relatively cheap, and makes life SO much easier.
posted by miss_kitty_fantastico at 8:17 PM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Decent pair of scissors.
posted by oceanjesse at 9:46 PM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

A really nice ruler.

Amazon has them.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 10:08 PM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also on the theme of small things that make a big difference in the kitchen: a garlic press that presses the whole clove clean through, a veggie peeler that doesn't suck, and a microplane grater.

Also, a collection of sizes of Pyrex, to make dealing with leftovers easy without worrying about microwaving Tupperware later.
posted by ootandaboot at 11:48 PM on October 31, 2012

You might also find this previous AskMe thread useful, specifically geared to sub-$50 things that can be ordered from Amazon: Small but good?

My answer for you is the same as I gave there. If you drink wine at all, a vacuum wine saver is super worthwhile.
posted by daisyk at 2:53 AM on November 1, 2012

Oh, something else for the kitchen that massively improved my life: a rice cooker with a steamer insert. Ours broke the other day and we rushed out to get a new one as soon as possible. That'll be something to buy once you're in Korea, though.
posted by daisyk at 2:56 AM on November 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

I did not know I needed a Lifeproof case for my iPhone until my husband gave me one. Now my phone is mil-spec shockproof and completely waterproof; I can now take pictures like this for fun and carry my phone on rainy dog walks and lake hikes and motorcycle trips and not worry about it.
posted by workerant at 7:06 AM on November 1, 2012

I don't know how cold Korea is, but wool socks and silk long underwear are the BEST THINGS EVER. Mine are SmartWool ($15) and Land's End ($40) and if I had to choose between those and my iPhone, I'd really, really hesitate.
posted by desjardins at 11:36 AM on November 1, 2012

I didn't know how much I needed a waterpik till I got one.
posted by BoscosMom at 10:27 PM on November 1, 2012

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