Gifts for Grads

It is that time of year, and generous folks are searching for great gifts for grads. To assist your efforts, we have collected a handful of items that will delight your favorite new graduate.

Epson Expression Home XP-440 Small-in-One

One of the many rude awakenings graduates face after they leave the leafy campus is the lack of easy printing facilities. This Epson is a great solution. It is compact, attractively priced ($99, often lower) and full featured. I found the setup rapid, intuitive and simple. The built-in scanner produces crisp reproductions. I can print from my laptop, smartphone or tablet. Epson promises the ink cartridges are ‘affordable,’ which is a bonus after years of feeding the HP ink machine. For those grads that are going to do more than print resumes and cover letters (yes, those are still successful strategies!) the printer offers a bevy of photo printing features. You can edit images from the printer’s LCD screen, and a mobile app lets you tweak the image before sending it wirelessly to the printer. By grabbing images from the Instagram platform with which your graduate is intimately familiar, he will promise to send you collages of his post-grad activities. The printer takes a variety of media / paper stock, including glossy and matte, so you can expect some great prints via snail mail. Just give your grad a few envelopes and stamps along with the printer.

More information at

Epson Expression Home XP-440 Small-in-One

Putumayo Italian and Cuban Collections

In case your graduate is planning some traveling, you can give him a great preview and long-lasting memento from the Putumayo label. Long-noted for their thoughtful collections, this New Orleans based company has been assembling thematic CDs. Most are programmed geographically, and their recent batch is no exception. “Vintage Italia” gathers gems from the 1950s and 1960s (singers such as Nicola Arigliano, Fred Buscaglione, Jula de Palma), as well as contemporary artists. In the latter category is the delightfully eclectic Pink Martini. The renewed focus on Cuba includes the timely pair of CDs entitled “Cuba! Cuba!” and “Cuban Playground.” Both continue the tradition of melding vintage and contemporary tracks. The label is also partnering with a travel company to provide a curated tour to the island in November. With any luck your graduate will be gainfully occupied and unable to take a vacation so soon into the new job, but it is probably time for you to take a break.

More information available at Putumayo Cuba! Cuba! Tour.

Tenzing Skincare for Men

If your grad is a guy, start him on the road with some quality skin care products. I had a chance to chat with the founders of Tenzing, who met in Orlando several years ago. John Crescenti, Preston Hage and Dan Pettit were studying a gap in the male grooming market, between what sold well and what is natural. The founders wanted a healthy, great shave. They wanted to incorporate anti-aging aspects, and use aloe vera as a central element. Men generally want the benefits, but are hesitant to use quality emollients. With companies like Dollar Shave and Harry’s, men are becoming less hesitant to use products like Tenzing. The founders reverse engineered their product, by starting with natural ingredients. This is not your Dad’s Barbasol. Tenzing (named after the famed Nepalese mountaineer Tenzing Norgay) is a perfect cocktail of healthy ingredients and a great shave. I am not as young as many graduates, but I enjoy the fresh healthy feeling of these products. The ingredients are sourced globally, but manufactured in the USA. Because the founders were seeking purity of the ingredients, it required looking beyond the border. Next month the company rolls out their All Over Body Wash and Daily Face Wash, with natural ingredients including aloe, green tea, Canadian willowherb, guarana, charcoal, bamboo, apple, coffee, orange, lemon, eucalyptus, peppermint, rosemary, and the like. Tenzing is run by experts in skin care, but it is a company that promotes the conversation to get men talking about taboo topics like skin care.

With a slow, discerning rollout to retail, you will need to find their products online at

Tenzing products

Driftaway Coffee

Your graduate is undoubtedly familiar with both fine coffee and the subscription-based business model. Driftaway Coffee combines both. I recently spoke with co-founder Suyog Mody. He had been living in London, and was moving to NYC. He was using a great coffee subscription service in England, but could not find a satisfactory equivalent in NYC or even in Brooklyn. The subscription services available were hit and miss. His partner / wife wanted to get into a subscription based enterprise, so they tested their concept for a couple months with friends and family. Mody did not want to be a mere distributor of coffee.The company relies on three or four importers, who bring in the coffee beans. Body undertakes lots of sampling to maintain taste profiles, based on origin, crop, freshness, varietal and similar factors that Driftaway uses in deciding to proceed. The company’s goal is to roast and ship within 12 hours weekly. In order to acknowledge the a spectrum of tastes in the marketplace, the first Driftaway delivery provides four different coffees to help gauge customer’s preferences. In a nod to the cohort inhabited by your favorite graduate, Driftaway offers an app that addresses a few coffee-related issues.  The app provides Driftaway feedback, to better address and match future shipments. An individual’s coffee personality is thereby developed, and the app provides functional tips when at a café.


Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.