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Sharon Schweitzer: Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide

Sharon Schweitzer shares her tips for graduation etiquette.

It's the time of year when students across the country are celebrating years of hard work! The month of May is filled with many graduation ceremonies and sometimes it's hard to know how to appropriately honor the graduate. Austin-based cross-cultural Consultant and International Protocol Expert, Sharon Schweitzer, is back with etiquette advice. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter @WeAreAustin and find us on Facebook at We Are Austin Lifestyle Show.

Sharon Schweitzer's Gift-Giving Tips for Graduates

May and June are the months of college, high school, nursing, trade school and university commencements. A time filled with exams, finals, papers and bells ringing freedom. Graduation parties and open houses are common as students celebrate meeting their goals, after years of hard work, and begin preparations for the next phase in the journey. Let us help answer your puzzling ponderings about how to be gracious during graduation gift giving season.

Do I Attend the Graduation Ceremony?

Friends and family may attend the ceremony if they receive an invitation. Many times graduates receive a very limited number of admission tickets for the ceremony due to size of the graduation class, facility limitations and other factors. In other circumstances, graduates may invite many guests. Always RSVP within 24 hours.

Should I Send Graduation Invitations?

Depending on the graduate, some families mail printed invitations only to very close family members due to limited seating. Historically, the invitation is issued by the college, university, trade school or graduating class. Each graduate orders social cards with their names printed on them and includes one in each invitation so guests know who has invited them. A graduation party invitation is mailed separately.

What is the Difference between a Graduation Announcement & Invitation?

Due to graduation ceremony seating limitations, some families send announcement cards informing friends and relatives of the new graduate's accomplishment. Announcements may be ordered through the school, or creatively printed with a local stationer. These cards mailed on the day of the commencement announce the graduation, however, an invitation to attend the ceremony is not included. There is no obligation to send a gift, although some recipients may depending on their relationship to the graduate.

Gift Giving Reflects the Significance of the Graduation

It is important to weigh your relationship with the graduate, their parents and family, your budget, resources and time to determine your gift giving. If you have genuinely connected with the graduate, express your genuine pride. If you're not sure, send a thoughtful card.

What If I am a Fellow Student Graduating?

As a fellow student who may or may not be graduating, handcrafted gifts serve as a wonderful capstone to your friends. A small card, a homemade video filled with your college adventures, or framed photos of college memories are special gifts.

What is a Good Gift for a Graduate?

Coming up with the perfect gift for a new graduate can be a challenge, even when you have known them for years. Is your grad finishing a PhD, nursing degree, trade school certification, or obtaining their B.S. or M.B.A? Gifts that may assist them as they take their next steps include:

Crane monogrammed stationery / initial note card

Universal chargers for graduates on the go

Industry tools

Fine pen & pencil sets

luggage

Investor's Business Daily on-line subscription

Briefcase / leather portfolio with school logo

Tiffany's desktop gift

Waterford desktop clock

Mont Blanc business card organizer

Is it appropriate to give money or a gift card?

Yes, both are appropriate and it is important to stay comfortably within your budget. A Hallmark study highlighted appropriate giving amounts:

95% believe money is an appropriate graduation gift for high school or college.

Many would not give a gift for a not-so-close friend, but might give a card.

Monetary gifts can be paired with, or substituted by, a good book fitting for the grad. For example, Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Guide, may be the choice for an aspiring international business or MBA grad. The Defining Decade is an excellent choice for an undecided undergraduate.

If I am Giving Money, What is a Generous but Sufficient Amount?

The sum given depends on the amount you are comfortable giving, and your connection with the recipient. Hallmark study found the average monetary gift amounts:

$25 is average for a close friend (or child of a close friend).

67% believe that $50 or more is appropriate for a close relative.

$20 is the average for a not so close friend.

Remember the graduate will be pleased to receive your card, stay comfortably within your budget, and you can pair funds with a thoughtful card containing your sage advice.

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