In a few short weeks, many parents will be shedding bittersweet tears of joy and sadness as their young adult children toss their high school graduation caps in the air. The official countdown to an empty room has begun. The summer that follows will be a whirlwind of activity. Parties, planning, packing, attending orientation – and finally, saying goodbye. 

high school graduation hats high

When you give that last hug and leave your new college freshman at his new campus home, you will certainly see a capable, bright, accomplished, eager college student. But you will also undoubtedly see the baby who needed to be rocked to sleep, the toddler who wrapped his teeny fingers around your pinky, the nervous kindergartener who pretended to be brave, and the awkward preteen who struggled to find his path.  Oh, how that goodbye messes with us parents! We want our kids to launch – but how did it happen so quickly?

And then, you will come back home – feeling slightly off-balance. Your headcount at the airport and in the car will be off by one. Your kitchen table feels off with that empty chair. And the first time you walk by that bedroom – – the one that is perfectly clean perhaps for the first time ever – you may need to take a moment. It hits hard – that feeling that when your child is far away, you can no longer protect them in the same way. You will no longer know instantly if your child is sick or late getting home. And of course, you can’t just reach out and give or receive a hug. Give yourself the time you need to grieve. Of course, you are proud of your child – and you are excited about the future that awaits. But you also have to come to terms with a new family dynamic that has been thrust upon you. So, it is perfectly okay for you to cry when it hits you, or to spend some time in the empty bedroom. While your child is adjusting to college life, you will need to adjust as well. 

But before your young adult children pack up and head out after graduation, here are some wonderful and creative graduation gifts, at varying price points, that will make their lives richer, easier, and safer while they are away:


1 – Because they will miss their furry friends

While we may not want to admit it, our kids will often have a harder time leaving their pets than leaving us. They’ve counted on their fluffy companion for years – many of our children literally grow up with four-legged siblings.

If they can’t take their pet with them, show them you care by giving them the next best thing. Cuddle Clones uses quality faux fur to create a custom stuffed animal handmade to look just like your pet! By capturing all of the physical details and unique features of your dog, cat, rabbit, horse, etc. – your child will have some comfort even when they can’t cuddle with the real thing. And if having a plush version of your pet may be a little more than your child needs, Cuddle Clones also makes blankets, mugs, pillows, pajamas – all featuring your beloved furry friend.

2 – Protect their instruments

So many students head off to college with their guitars in tow, whether or not they are majoring in music. Having a guitar displayed in a dorm room can open up the strings and fretboard to potential damage. Enter the String Sling.

The String Sling is the most comfortable guitar strap on the market thanks to premium Japanese elastic which provides just the right amount of give for maximum comfort without sacrificing strength and security.


In seconds, it converts to a protective sleeve that shields guitar strings from oxidation, greasy hands and environmental wear by using a premium microfiber cloth, which can also be used to wipe down and dust your guitar, and it leaves no residue or fuzz behind. The String Sling’s design allows you to keep your strings and fret protected from the elements without taking away from the beauty of your guitar. It also features a custom compartment to hold your capo and the hidden pick pouch can hold all of your picks without the need to dig around. The String Sling has been available for regular guitars for a few months at $42.95, and now – by popular demand the company is proud to offer one specifically designed for the bass for $74.95. So, no matter what axe your graduate plays, String Sling has you covered.


3 – Help them hydrate

Some of us have kids who have always needed friendly reminders to eat or drink at regular intervals. New college students can often find themselves overwhelmed and as parents, we want to make sure they are staying healthy and hydrated. Standard water bottles are nice, but what if your child prefers coffee, smoothies, juices, iced tea or soda? Frost Buddy, which was founded by a college student, is the world’s first and ONLY universal, Five-in-One can cooler for all of your oz cans, slim cans, bottles, and 16oz cans and bottles! You truly never have to switch can coolers.


Its patented lid and internal design allow you to switch drinks seamlessly– no other cooler on the market can do this. Frost Buddy’s Double Wall Vacuum Sealed Stainless Steel design ensures that your drinks stay cold 12+ hours, and there’s an additional lid for hot beverages, which will keep beverages hot for 6+ hours. A non-slip bottom ensures their books and laptops stay dry – this is key. Students can bring their Universal Buddy anywhere —from the library to the quad, and they’ll have every drink covered and cold (or hot) until the last drop! Available in a wide variety of colors and designs and customizable, Frost Buddy starts at about $24.99 and can be purchased Amazon.


College Tracker4 – Organization is key 

College students have complex schedules and need to juggle classes, projects, work, a social life and self-care. Having the right planner can be instrumental in a student’s success. While many prefer apps on their phones, it has been proven that writing things down on paper helps to commit it to memory, and makes you feel better. Class Tracker planners are designed to help students feel prepared and productive at all points along the educational journey and beyond by writing important things down! College can be overwhelming. Staying organized and spreading out what you need to do over multiple days and weeks makes assignments and goals seem less ominous. The Class Tracker Ultimate Student Planner College Edition is definitely not your ordinary mass-produced daily planner. This unique paper planner makes it a breeze for college students stay on top of assignments, key deadlines, daily tasks, and extracurricular activities. It has weekly pages designed specifically for a college student’s overly-scheduled life including pages to record class schedules, set goals, take notes, and keep track of self-care, which is such a critical part of a college student’s ability to thrive. Available in a dated or an undated version, the Class Tracker retails for $28.99 and can be purchased at  on Amazon.


5 – Decorate that dorm

Dorm décor has certainly been elevated over the years. What used to be just bare necessities, has been replaced with Instagram-worthy lighting, bedding and accessories. The one item that is a staple in every dorm room is LED string lights.


But if you want your student’s room to have added elegance and sophistication, you will want to consider giving Twinkly Dots, a miniaturized, flexible LED string that can be controlled via app and vocal assistants. Dots feature 0.28-inch LEDs specifically designed with a flat matte head to reach impressive brightness levels and perfect color tones. Twinkly Dots combines the versatility of classic LED strings with the refined look and feel of premium interior decorative lighting, bringing new frontiers to domestic illumination. Perfect for the dorm room, Twinkly Dots start at $49.99 for a 60 light string. 

6 – Safety first

In addition to other fun and functional gifts you can bestow upon your high school graduate, it is important to send kids off to college with everything they need to be safe. The number of fires that occur on college and university campuses across the country continues to be a growing problem. While fire extinguishers themselves will not prevent these fires from occurring, their proper use could be instrumental in limiting injuries and preventing small fires from becoming big ones!

Lifesafe Technologies StaySafe’s 5-in-1 is a revolutionary, small and easy-to-use, portable fire extinguisher that is no bigger than a can of hairspray.  This extinguisher does not require complicated removal of pins, or time-consuming directions.  Users simply point and spray to extinguish a fire.  The StaySafe 5-in-1 is compact and lightweight. This recyclable plastic aerosol extinguishes electrical, cooking oil, textile, petrol/diesel, paper and card fires. StaySafe 5-in-1 is easily stored in any dorm room or apartment where space is a premium. Being extremely portable, light, and quick to deploy – StaySafe 5-in-1 is perfect for travelling too.  StaySafe 5-in-1 is small enough to fit into car glove compartments, cup holders and door pockets making it ready for use in the event of a fire.  Plus, LifeSafe Technologies‘ patented fluid is one of the most eco-friendly extinguishing solutions available on the market.

To decide to have a child is to decide to forever have your heart go walking outside of your body. Watching our children grow into productive, independent members of society is equal parts rewarding and heart-wrenching. Give yourself grace as you enter this new chapter of parenthood. Treasure your upcoming FaceTime relationship with your child.

And remember that their room may be empty, but they will always be your babies.


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