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Grad Gift Guide: How to Ditch the Squalor and Embrace the Good Life

Grad Gift Guide: How to Ditch the Squalor and Embrace the Good Life: © Andres Rodriguez / Alamy

© Andres Rodriguez / Alamy

For most coeds, college boils down to studying, sleeping, and mingling as much as possible with the opposite sex. And, of course, being dead broke. (You can’t afford much when books and booze suck up your paltry reserves of cash.)

Of course, anyone who’s been out of school for a few years would gladly embrace the squalor if they could go back and do it all over again. But for new grads, moving beyond the financial and material deprivations of college life is the reward they’ve been working toward for four years.

Get your new grad started off right with these upgrades to the hand-me-downs he made due with the last four years. He’s earned them.


Blanton

Photo courtesy of Blanton’s/Facebook

BIG-BOY BOURBON
Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon
$50, buffalotracedistillery.com
He’s been mainlining cheap beer and Beam the last four years, so his taste buds aren’t ready for something truly high-end. Save the Pappy Van Winkle for when he has his first child, and gift him a bottle of Blanton’s. The world’s first single-barrel bourbon is smooth and complex—but not inaccessible.

001 Shun

Photo courtesy of Shun

ONE BADASS CHEF’S KNIFE
Shun Classic 8-inch Chef’s Knife
$175, shun.kaiusaltd.com
If he actually cooked himself a meal in college, chances are good the only tools at his disposal were a George Foreman, a microwave, and maybe a dull knife a previous tenant left behind in his rental. Foster his nascent culinary interests with this “super steel” chef’s knife from Japanese blade-maker Shun. Crafted in Seki City—a place known for producing samurai swords—this knife will quickly become the most indispensible tool in his kitchen. As attractive as it is functional, the Shun handled a variety of tasks and food types with ease in our kitchens.

004 Sonos

Photo courtesy of Sonos

SUPERIOR SOUND
Sonos PLAYBAR
$700, sonos.com
TVs are cheap enough these days that he probably had a halfway decent HD model at school. But compared to the tinny, underwhelming speakers built into his set, this sound bar from Sonos will take his entertainment experience to a different level.

003 Carnivore Club

Photo courtesy of Carnivore Club

GROWNUP TREATS
Carnivore Club Membership
$50/month, carnivoreclub.co
He’s been subsisting on ramen and shitty cafeteria eats. Help reinvigorate his neglected palette with this meat delivery club. Every month, he’ll get four to six cured, artisanal meats delivered to his place—things like duck breast prosciutto, French charcouterie, and Italian salumi.

008 Shinola

Photo courtesy of Shinola

A TIMELESS TIMEPIECE
Shinola Runwell
$550, shinola.com
Tell him to toss whatever POS he’s currently wearing. This gift says, “Welcome to adulthood.” Shinola’s made-in-Detroit timepieces combine classic looks with contemporary sizes and movements. And at this price point, he won’t look like a spoiled asshole if he wears it to his job interview.

006 Suunto

Photo courtesy of Suunto

A BOLD, VERSATILE ACTIVITY TRACKER
Suunto Ambit3
$550, suunto.com
Apart from keg stands and the occasional campus gym visit, exercise probably wasn’t his top priority at school. Even if he was working out regularly, he was probably keeping tabs on his sweat sessions using a free phone app. From monitoring his heart rate to recording mileage and pace, this matte black beauty is the ultimate activity tracker.

007 Kindle Voyage

Photo courtesy of Amazon

AN ELEGANT E-READER
Kindle Voyage
$200, amazon.com
He spent college squinting at his laptop and stapled-together course packs. While getting him to pick up an actual book is probably hopeless, his love of technology and gadgets means you can at least pique his interest in literature with this sleek device. With a battery that lasts for weeks and a high-resolution display, the Kindle Voyage is the ultimate e-reader without the distractions packed into other multifunctional models.

009 Fairdale Bike

Photo courtesy of Fairdale Bikes

SLEEKER WHEELS
Fairdale Weekender Drop Cycle
$1,250, fairdalebikes.com
He’s been cruising campus on an old Schwinn beater. This sleek hybrid performs just as well meandering urban streets as it does on longer touring rides. With comfortable geometry and a 10-speed drivetrain to suit most any rider’s needs, this is a gift he’ll have and enjoy for a long time.

019 Weber-Grill

Photo courtesy of Home Depot

ONE HOT LITTLE NUMBER
Weber Genesis S-310 Propane Grill
$849, homedepot.com
He and his housemates probably had a dented old kettle grill behind their place on campus. Charcoal is the best for lazy summer weekends or tailgating. But for everyday grilling, gas is just a lot more convenient. While many gas grills don’t get hot enough to char steaks or sear burgers, that won’t be a problem with this stainless steel bad boy.

010 Microsoft Surface

Photo courtesy of Microsoft

A DYNAMIC TABLET
Microsoft Surface 3
$500, microsoft.com
He’s had to lug around a bulky laptop for four years. And while he still needs Office applications to assemble his resume or take care of a little business at home, he also wants a light, portable tablet to hang out with on his couch or on the go. The Microsoft Surface 3 provides the versatility of a notebook with the size and ease of a tablet.

011 Satch and Fable Laptop Bag

Photo courtesy of Satch and Fable

A CLASSIC CARRIER
Satch and Fable Leather Flap Bag
$160, satchandfable.com
He’ll still use his old backpack for hikes or sports. But he needs something more professional for workdays. This durable, classic leather satchel will never go out of style, and looks as good with a suit as it does with sneakers and a T-shirt. It also comes in different sizes to accommodate whatever work or leisure device he’ll have to tote around.

014 Bonavita

Photo courtesy of Amazon

A BETTER CUP OF JOE
Bonavita 8-Cup Brewer
$180, amazon.com

There are a thousand countertop coffeemakers out there—many of them junk. This is one of only seven home brewers certified by the Specialty Coffee Association of America. This brewer offers the perfect combination of simplicity, customizability, quality design, and excellent coffee. It’ll also pair really well with that grinder you bought him.

015 Tempur-pedic

Photo courtesy of Tempurpedic

A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP
Tempur-Pedic Cloud Prima
$1,699, tempurpedic.com
You picked him up a cheap mattress when he moved out of his dorm after freshman year. Now that he’s preparing to join the workforce, he’s going to need a better night’s sleep to handle the stress and uncertainty of adulthood. Help him rest easy with one of the most comfortable, supportive mattresses you can buy without spending a fortune.

016 Restoration Hardware Linens

Photo courtesy of Restoration Hardware

CLEAN SHEETS
Restoration Hardware Heathered Cotton-Cashmere Bedding
$299, restorationhardware.com
You don’t want to think about what he’s done to the sole set of Wal-Mart sheets he slept on in college. Help him put his scratchy, stained hookup years behind him with this clean set of linens. This is something he’d never think to buy for himself, but he’ll immediately appreciate. Any “guests” he invites back to his apartment will be impressed.

017 Moore-Giles-Wallet

Photo courtesy of Moore and Giles

A BOLD BILLFOLD
Moore & Giles Bi-Fold Wallet
$225, mooreandgiles.com
Now that he has a job—and more than two bucks to rub together—he needs a proper place to stash his cash and cards. Give him one that will go as well with his business suit as it does with his Levi’s. Lynchburg, Va.-based Moore & Giles have been making quality leather goods for more than 80 years. You could get him a basic brown or black model, or go bold with an orange or alligator wallet.

018 ABC Home Chair

Photo courtesy of ABC Home

A STATEMENT PIECE
ABC Carpet & Home Augusta Velvet Chair
$1,195, abchome.com
This gift will be wasted on a lot of new grads. But if your man is an architect, graphic designer, or just a guy with discerning tastes, this is a gift he’ll cherish. It’s the kind of piece that can elevate an otherwise boring space, and these lines won’t go out of style any time soon.

Libratone

Photo courtesy of Libratone

STYLISH SOUND
Libratone Loop Bluetooth Speaker
$500, shop.libratone.com
The ultimate gift for guys who love music, this handsome speaker will look great in his new apartment or office. While not as portable as many other Bluetooth offerings, this Scandinavian-designed speaker is meant to stay put and deliver high-quality sound that will fill almost any size room. You won’t find better looks or sound quality in this size or price range.

012 All-Clad

Photo courtesy of Williams Sonoma

PEERLESS COOKWARE
All-Clad Stainless Steel Cookware
$800, williams-sonoma.com
He almost certainly doesn’t deserve pots and pans this swanky. But if he’s shown an interest in cooking, and you want to replace the dinged-up, Teflon-coated crap he used to cut his teeth, All-Clad makes some of the best cookware available. This five-layer, 10-piece collection will last him decades.

002 Briggs and Riley

Photo courtesy of Briggs & Riley

LUGGAGE FOR A LIFETIME
Briggs & Riley Wide-Body Carry-On
$500, briggs-riley.com
He may not have rocked a Tommy Boy-style garbage bag sealed with duct tape. But this roller is a serious step up from whatever duffel he was using during his trips home for the holidays. A built-in compression system allows you to fit 34% more gear, and then easily squeeze the bag back down to size. It easily held enough clothes—including a tux and patent leather shoes—for a three-day weekend trip. The handle, closures, and stitching details are all high quality. You won’t find a better roller, and this one’s guaranteed for life.

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