Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,
My family has been invited to a graduation party for two sisters who are graduating from different colleges. We are a family of four. These are my cousin's daughters. How do we handle the gift giving? Since this is one party for both girls, we're not sure of what to do.
Dear Too Much,
Keep in mind, an invitation to a party is not supposed to be a solicitation for gifts. However, most people will feel awkward not giving something.
If there wasn't a party, would you still be getting these relatives a graduation gift? If you were planning all along to give a gift, then give them that gift, and it can be from your family.
If you hadn't planned on a gift, but now need to come up with an idea, then here are some suggestions. Since it is one party for two people, each sister would get her own gift, but a less expensive gift than if it were two separate parties. Their gifts should be equal in value or one will feel slighted. It doesn't matter that they are graduating from different colleges. Each sister could receive one gift from your family as a whole, not from each individual family member.
You could give one gift for both sisters if they live together and could use something for their apartment. Otherwise, keep the gifts separate.
Other than cash gifts that are always appreciated, some other graduation gift ideas are 14K or sterling silver jewelry with their college mascot or seal, leather portfolios, writing instruments, memory albums, keepsake chests for memorabilia, nice watch, frame for their diploma, books, or gift certificates to their favorite store. Will they be starting a new job? Then a gift certificate to a clothing store would be useful.
Often new graduates will take a trip before settling into the job routine. If they don't already have one, and depending on how much you plan to spend, a camera would be great for priceless memories of their trip or a versatile piece of luggage such as a rolling carry-on. Less expensive, but practical travel items would be money belts, travel-size hairdryer, travel iron, book about their country of destination, or electrical plug adapters.