Whether your favorite 20something is heading for another year of college or he's off to grad school, his laptop will need protection. There's a slew of possibilities out there ranging from solid color Neoprene padded sleeves, to versions that look like a Van Gogh, an interoffice envelope or an old leather-bound book. The latter, dubbed the BookBook, is made by Twelve South and it looks so very real, even the zipper tabs resemble bookmarks. Still, it's best not to leave even a disguised laptop unattended at the library. It might get stolen. Or reshelved. Prices? $20-$80.
Coffee and grad school go together as naturally as exams and exhaustion. So give that new grad student a nice coffee press and an insulated travel mug, plus a pound or two of great coffee. Or pair the travel mug with a well-loaded gift card for Starbucks, Peet's or any coffeehouse near campus. Price? $17-$30 for the coffee press, $8-10 a pound for the coffee. (If you like the look of the Bodum coffee press pictured, you can compare prices here. And the best, most insanely detailed instructions for using one can be found at INeedCoffee.com.)
3. TLC for the Shoulders
Hard-working grad students get neck and shoulder aches. It comes with the territory - all that hunched-over studying. So consider a gift certificate for a shoulder massage at a nearby spa, or a lavender-filled neck roll, which can be microwaved to soothing warmness, then wrapped around aching muscles. Price? $27-$30 for an aromatherapy neck roll, $50-$150 for a spa gift certificate.
4. Crinkly Green Bills
Fancy pens are nice and leather attache cases splendid, but after four or more years of undergraduate work, chances are your 20something has very empty pockets. So cash is the most welcome gift of all. Money may not be a very exciting thing to present, but there are some very clever ways to package it, including rolling a check inside a prescription bottle, filling a personalized piggy bank or tying it with a graduation-style tassel. You'll find a few ideas here.
If you have a child heading for med school, an internship or residency, there are plenty of quirky, fun, useful gifts out there, ranging from big ticket items like a stethoscope ($100-$300) to anatomy books, posters and a "Magic: The Gathering"-like game that pits antibiotics against the Lords of Pestilence. This list of a dozen gifts for med students should get you started.
If you have a child heading for law school, a clerkship or (shudder) the bar exam, there are plenty of quirky, useful gifts out there besides leather attache cases. That list includes a board game (pictured) tailor made for bar exam crams, engraved gavels, law-themed books and movies, and more.
Got a prospective MBA? If you have a child heading for business school, this gift list may be just the ticket. It includes accessories for the office, as well as entertaining books, movies and tongue-in-cheek gifts for that future CEO. Donald Trump will be so jealous.