FARGO - Ditch the cliche card and personalized mug. Save money on the flowers.
When your grad walks across the podium to accept their diploma, smile knowing that the gift you chose is useful. Instead of $20, you took that one extra step to give the gift of financial security, improved health, knowledge or a new skill.
This year, rise above the norm and give a your grad something purposeful.
Investing in stock
Thanks to companies like Stockpile, you can now give the gift of stock in increments as low as 99 cents.
"We have nearly a thousand different stocks, ETF (exchange traded funds) and ADR (American depository receipts) to choose from, so you can choose a brand that resonates with the recipient,"says Avi Lele, co-founder of Stockpile.
Among the most popular choices with millennials are Apple, Tesla, Snapchat, Amazon and Disney. Recipients can trade stock or even opt out and take a retailer gift card instead.
For those that choose to keep the stock, the app allows them to track its progress, buy more or cash out whenever they want.
"The gift of stock can set grads on the path to financial stability," Lele says. "There are lots of don'ts when it comes to investing ... but one 'do' is to start early. If you invest the same amount of money five or 10 years earlier, it makes a huge difference in terms of how much you'll end up with."
For new grads, developing a budget, allocating savings, managing investments and financing students loans can be overwhelming. Thanks to financial planners, they don't have to do it alone.
By choosing a fee-based registered investment advisor, gift givers can purchase a session without having to worry about recurring payments.
You can search for a fee-only advisers at the National Association of Personal Finance Advisors or the Garrett Planning Network.
As years pass, resume styles change. Lifeless objectives are ditched for punchy personal brand statements and designs are livened up with color. If grads want to get noticed, their resumes are expected to be powerfully potent and concise.
For some grads, the task is intimidating. Luckily, dozens of resume services exist, costing anywhere from $80 to $1,200-plus, depending on urgency and desired services.
The prices at Careers Booster, Resumes Planet, Resume Writing Service run on the lower end, and the good news is entry-level resumes typically cost less than C-level or executive resumes.
Several companies also offer cover letter and LinkedIn profile writing, interview coaching, job board posting and other career-related services.
Speaking of being more marketable, proficiency in foreign languages isn't a bad skill to add to the resume (or to have in general). Websites like Rosetta Stone and Fluent in 3 Months offer courses, video tutorials, guides and live tutoring.
(Although for those looking to save the money, Duolingo offers a more basic program, teaching French, Spanish, German and 20 other languages for free.)
Cooking with ease
Though they're an easy last-minute dinner, Ramen noodles or mac and cheese won't suffice forever. However, diving into cold water to perfect a soufflé is easier said than done.
For grads wanting to explore the depths of the kitchen and try their hand as a chef, adult cooking classes are available throughout the Fargo-Moorhead area, including Family Wellness, Square One Kitchens and Moorhead Community Education.
At Family Wellness, classes are 90 minutes long, ranging to $10 to $17 for members and $18 to $25 for non-members. The adult summer cooking calendar includes several courses, such as healthy grilling, summertime side dishes and freezer-to-grill meals where attendees walk away with four meat marinades. (In the winter, freezer-to-Crock Pot classes are a hit.)
"It's a lot of prep work and then you get that final product going home with a Ziploc bag," says healthy cooking coordinator Nicolle Aukland. "It's a nice way to get a whole weeks worth - or maybe months worth - of recipes. I think they'd walk away with a lot of different skills to bring into their own kitchens."
More unique gifts
For those that want to get even more creative, here are a few more ideas:
• Food subscription services. Blue Apron, Plated and HelloFresh are among several companies that can ship ready-to-make meals right to your grad's doorstep.
• Gym memberships or class passes. At Family Wellness, you can purchase monthly or annual memberships. Personal training sessions and class passes are available at a variety of gyms in the area.
• Clothing subscription services. Companies like StitchFix, Bombfell and Trunk Club offer monthly subscriptions for formal or informal clothing that can be rented or bought.
• Gift card registries. By encouraging your grad to set up a gift card registry on CardAvenue.com - or the like - you can purchase gift cards that go toward airline companies, gas stations, grocery stores and more.
• Online funds. Sites like Plumfund.com and Tendr.com give high school grads a way to set up accounts that gifters can contribute to, raising funds for moving costs, car down payment, weekend getaways, etc.