Cash and gift cards always work, but here are a few ideas if you want to give a gift that's a little more personal.

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As students prepare to graduate from high school and college in the coming weeks, family members and friends are beginning the search for graduation gifts. Though money may seem like the obvious choice, giving a physical item can make your gift stand out among a stack of cards. Here are five potential gifts for high-school and college graduates:

  1. Business cards: As college graduates enter the “real world,” business cards can help them look professional at career fairs and job interviews. If you don’t know what design your grad would prefer, sites like Tiny Prints and Zazzle offer gift certificates. Complete the gift with a business card holder.
  2. Book journals: Without homework, college grads have a lot more time to read for pleasure. One of my favorite gifts I’ve ever received is this book journal, which includes space to write the name and author of the book, when you read it, the rating you give it and comments. Other companies that sell book journals include Moleskine and Barnes and Noble.
  3. Q&A journals: High-school graduates might like this Q&A a day for college journal, which provides 365 questions for them to answer during each of their four years in college. Questions range from “What did you eat at the dining hall today?” to bigger questions about goals and relationships, and the writer can see how answers change over the course of their undergraduate career. For college graduates, the five-year Q&A a day journal provides a similar experience.
  4. Letters to the graduate: From the makers of letters to my future self (also a great gift), this book of 12 prompted letters helps friends and family share congratulations and advice with their graduate. The letters are sealed in envelopes inside the hardcover book.
  5. Stationery: Both high school and college graduates will have many thank-you notes to write, and finding nice stationery is the first step. Names or initials add a personal touch, and companies like Crane & Co., American Stationery, and The Stationery Studio offer customized cards and letter sheets. Card boxes like this one, in which guests can put cards at graduation parties, are another good gift option.