Excitement and nervousness, relief and apprehension.
Those are just some of the emotions that soon-to-be high school and college graduates are no doubt experiencing as their school days come to an end. And you, being the caring parent, sibling or friend, want to help them through it and show them you are proud and supportive.
How do you do this?
Well, the graduates would love it if you bought them a car. Or maybe paid for a trip to Europe. But some things are just above and beyond the call of duty and the bank account.
That's OK. There are smaller trinkets out there that express the same sentiment.
Last week we visited party-supply and stationery stores to see what they had to help celebrate graduation. What we found can, for the most part, be divided into two categories: gift items and party items.
Let's start with the gifts.
Our favorite item was "The Graduate's Book of Lists," which we found at Megan's Hallmark at the Buenaventura Mall. The book offers valuable tips such as "3 Skills You Will Never Need in Real Life: 1) Standing very still in a straight line; 2) rope climbing; 3) duplicating your mom's handwriting." Price: $4.95.
If you don't want to get that, how about a teddy bear? After all, what's an occasion without one?
We found graduation bears at a couple of stores. Parties Galore in Oxnard had a bear with a graduation cap and scholarly eyeglasses priced at $4.50. Larger bears, carrying diplomas, were going for $8.99 (marked down from $9.50). At Megan's Hallmark, a teddy bear wearing a cap was also $8.99.
Lapel pins with sayings also appear to be popular for graduation. Party World in Oxnard had a pin in the shape of a hat and diploma and another with the phrase "I did it." Both are priced at $1.06.
At Parties Galore, there were pins that read, "The tassel was worth the hassle," "Miracles do happen," "Thank God I'm finished" and "I'm outta here," going for $1.25 each.
Then there are coffee mugs. We found a Class of '95 mug, with a ceramic cover in the shape of a graduation cap, at Megan's Hallmark for ($6.95); Parties Galore, ($6.95), and Party World, ($4.49).
Finally, there are shirts. Parties Galore had T-shirts with a variety of phrases on them for $14.95 each.
And at Eastland Stationers Hallmark in Ventura, there was a nightshirt showing someone sitting on the edge of his bed, his hair sticking up on top and flat in back. The caption: "Bedhead is the sign of a well-rested student." Regular price: $18.95. But, as of last week, the price was 30% off as part of the store's going-out-of-business sale.
Now, on to party supplies.
Banners: At Parties Galore, a plastic banner (21-by-63 inches), saying "Happy Graduation," was $3.98 and a "Congrats Grad" (20-by-65 inches) was $3.38. At Party World a "Congrats Grad" (21-by-72 inches) was priced at $3.19.
Hanging mobiles: Party World had metallic graduation mobiles for $5.79. At Parties Galore, metallic mobiles were going for $6.98.
Centerpieces: Parties Galore had a variety of attractive, specially designed centerpieces priced at about $15 to $20.
Assorted other items: Megan's Hallmark had a decorative gift bag with a picture of a computer. On the computer screen is a pie chart (in the shape of a graduation cap) breaking down the graduate's future. The chart is divided into happiness, fun, success, adventure, love and pizza. Price: $3.95.
At Parties Galore, there was a roll of toilet paper with red, blue and yellow graduation caps for $3.18.
And at Party World, they had tassels in metallic gold or silver for 59 cents each.
Any of the aforementioned gifts should help your graduate through this emotional time. But if you can somehow manage to locate a cheap but flashy car, it wouldn't hurt.