Top Ten Gifts for Brides and Grads

If you’re like most of us, you have a list of wedding showers and graduations to attend this spring and summer. And, like most of us, you’re probably rushed for time and can’t spend hours hunting for that elusive “perfect gift.”

At Nell Hill’s, we wait on lots of young people who are just starting out in life, whether they’re heading off to college for the first time, they’re new college grads moving into their first place or they are newlyweds building a home together.  So we know what they love – and what they hate – when it comes to gifts.

To help you in your quest for a present that sends them over the moon, I’ve pulled together my short list of never-fail gift picks. Here’s to short but successful shopping expeditions!

Best Bets for Brides and Grooms

Matelasse Quilts. I’m in love with matelasse quilts and so are the newlyweds I wait on at Nell Hill’s because these darling coverlets can be used so many ways in their new homes. You can toss a quilt on the end of your bed, drape one over the back of a sofa or even use them as tablecloths when you entertain. Our matelasse quilts are affordable, attractive and easy to launder – the more you wash them, the softer they become.

Trays. In my book, you can never have enough trays because they are incredibly versatile. Newlyweds can use them as serving pieces when they entertain. They can hang them on the wall as artwork or employ them as the base or backing of a tabletop tableau. They can also be placed on a coffee table to corral the remotes or on the kitchen table to hold the day’s mail. The tray pictured here is from my Mary Carol Home Collection and is available right now at Nell Hill’s Online.

Cake plates. These gotta-have decorating pieces can be used to serve the delectable dishes the new bride and groom cook up in their first home, or as a base for seasonal decorative displays. For even more drama, stack them on top of each other. I love cake plate in glass, metal, china … who am I kidding – I love them all!

Pitchers. Another essential for newlyweds, pitchers are not only practical for everyday purposes, filled with iced tea or o.j., they also make wonderful vases for flowers. Or, use them to hold kitchen utensils or linens. I also love to cluster collections of creamware pitchers atop kitchen cabinets.

Bookends. Bookends are the kinds of things that everyone can use, but they rarely buy for themselves. We have a great collection at Nell Hill’s, from the traditional to the fun and funky, like Buddha hands made of cast iron.

Lanterns. I’m crazy about lanterns because they are one of the best year-round decorating tools you can find.  For a spring display, fill it with a fern and you’re done. In summer, fill it with a battery operated candle for outdoor dining. In the fall, toss in some bittersweet and gourds and you have a great display. For winter, try pinecones or Christmas tree bulbs.

Aluminum serving pieces. Whether it’s a serving plate, bowl, chip and dip or cake plate, aluminum serving pieces make ideal gifts for newlyweds because they are affordable, attractive, versatile and so easy to care for. The young couple can use them to serve or as decorating tools—fill an aluminum bowl with fresh limes, and you have a darling centerpiece!

Kitchen gadgets. Even though I can’t cook, I still can’t pass by a really cool kitchen gadget. Shannon has stocked Nell Hill’s Atchison with tons of fun and cute gadgets and gismos. For a cute shower gift, select a few gadgets then package them in a mixing bowl or apothecary jar the bride can use as well.

Kitchen linens. You can’t go wrong when you give kitchen and table linens to newlyweds. What young couple doesn’t need cute dish towels, tablecloths, placemats and napkins to go with all those dishes they’ve just received?

Ice buckets. While a young couple may get a plethora of toasters, can openers and salad sets, they rarely get an ice bucket. But an attractive ice bucket is essential for parties, chilling wine for everyday dining or even to be used to hold cooking utensils. We sell a million aluminum ice buckets because they are so attractive and so affordable.

Gifts for Grads


Nylon bags. Girls heading off for college love, love, love brightly colored bags and accessories. At Nell Hill’s Briarcliff, we have a new line that includes luggage tags (essential for those study abroad trips), laundry duffels, backpacks and more. She can monogram them with her initials, her college name or sorority letters. You can’t miss with these.

Lamps. Today’s dorm rooms are not like the dorm rooms we remember – cold, sterile and institutional. Today’s co-eds are decorating their dorms, sorority rooms and student apartments to the nines. Grads love interesting accent lamps that are idea for studying and that add style to their space.

Wall hooks. I love wall hooks and use them in my bathrooms instead of towel bars to hold wet towels. They would be a perfect addition to a dorm room or first apartment, holding backpacks, coats – you name it. We have some fun hooks at Nell Hill’s that double as a tiny shelf, just right for holding car keys or a dorm ID.

Glass jars. Organization is key when you’re living in a small space, whether it’s a dorm room or your first apartment. I can’t think of a better way to hold your stuff than in an array of attractive glass jars, from small lidded jars to larger apothecary jars. The grad can use them to corral stuff like spare change, pens and pencils, candy for late-night study sessions and hair accessories. Look for my trio of too-cute jars on Nell Hill’s Online – they are perfect for the part.

Artwork. One of the last things the new grad will invest in is artwork, yet nothing warms up a dorm room or first apartment like art. Pick out a set of inexpensive framed art prints they can hang in a grid or display in an easel on a bookcase. Nell Hill’s Online features several sets that would be ideal – check them out.

Bedding. In a dorm room or studio apartment, the bed is often the focal point of the room. So treat the grad to some stylish or funky bedding, like washable quilts, accent pillows or duvets. We’re carrying a brand new line at Nell Hill’s Briarcliff that’s bright and fun and very affordable.

Picture frames. Starting out at a new college or at a job in a new city can be a bit scary at first. So give the grad some picture frames to fill with photos of friends and family.

Votives and scented candles. Have you ever smelled a boy’s college dorm room, frat house or first apartment?  If so, you know why scented candles are a must.  They add a bit of style and a much-needed breath of fresh air.

White pots. Live plants are a perfect way to bring color to a dorm room or apartment. And there’s nothing better to put a plant in than affordable pots, like the wonderful line of white pottery we carry at Nell Hill’s. If plants aren’t your grad’s thing, they can use these pots to house any number of things, from granola bars to classroom assignments.

Great glassware. Young people are crazy about the fun bubble ware glasses we sell at Nell Hill’s Atchison. These goblets and tumblers come in a variety of colors and are so affordable, you can get your grad a set.

Stop by Nell Hill’s Briarcliff, Nell Hill’s Atchison or Garrity’s in Atchison, and our talented team of present pickers will help you knock off every name on your list (the same goes for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, birthday and anniversary gifts!). You can also shop right now at Nell Hill’s Online. Just click the “shop online” button on my Web site home page, and you’re there!  Or, call Kathleen, our personal shopper, to help you find and ship items in our stores, toll free at 1-877-367-1986.

Next week …

With the warmer weather, I can’t wait to get back onto my screened porch – the most used room in my home during the spring, summer and fall.  Next week I’ll blog about how to make your outdoor rooms every bit as inviting as those inside. Come back and join me!