What to get the Grad - 2017 Pen Gift Guide

A graduation gift marks the achievement of learning. It gets us ready for the next step while acting as a sentimental memento to honor how far we've come. As we prepare to celebrate the Class of 2017, let's set them up for future success with gifts that are practical, expressive of their individuality, and fun for them to use.

pen gifts for grad 2017

The Goldspot Staff has curated the following list from thousands of pens, inks, notebooks and writing accessories we personally recommend. Leaning on our 15+ years of experience in the fine writing world plus the feedback from our loyal customers, you can use these hand-picked gift suggestions to easily find your best gift for your graduate.

To get started, take a look at your graduate and figure out what kind of individual they have become. If this is a gift for someone who you are not as close with, you may have to ask a parent, friend or family member about their likes & dislikes. Find out about their writing & organization habits. Do they prefer writing with gel pens? Have they dipped into writing with fountain pens yet? Are they interested? Do they already have a bunch of pens? Once you have an idea of their current productivity habits, you will have a clearer idea of which way you would like to proceed with the following list of items.

Getting Things Done with Journaling

Much can be said about the positive mental effects of putting pen to paper. Guide your graduate to savor the act of writing on a regular basis by providing them with a high-quality journal to achieve insight and perspective in their lives. You can also point them in the direction of the popular Bullet Journal system to help achieve their goals and aspirations.

Many are familiar with the Moleskine brand of journals, which seem to be available everywhere now, but for true pen enthusiasts who need better quality paper for their writing instruments, there are several great options we'll share here:

Pilot Metropolitand and Leuchtturm 1917 bullet journal starter set

Leuchtturm 1917 dotted hardcover A5 notebooks. The Bullet Journal Edition is especially useful for those getting started in Bullet Journaling. We've also written a companion article on how to make Bullet Journaling a productive habit.

rhodia rhodiarama range of journals

Rhodiarama A5 & A6 journals. Rhodia's French-milled vellum paper has a beautifully smooth texture and a sturdy, yet stylish build to these books. Available in their favorite color!

Catching Inspiration "On the Go"

If your graduate is an adventurer, planning to study abroad, or never wants to stay in one place for too long, let them chronicle their adventures with a more portable writing solution. Send them on their way with an assortment of items below:

field notes sweet tooth limited edition notebooks

Field Notes Memo Books. Carrying a pocket notebook is convenient for being able to log various important bits of information like workouts, class supply lists, schedules, to-do's, emergency phone numbers and so on. Field Notes has a wide variety of styles that are hip, colorful and addictive to collect.

clairefontaine roadbook group

Clairefontaine Road Book. If you're looking for a pocket notebook that also has exceptional paper for fountain pens, check out the 3.5" x 5.5" Clairefontaine Roadbook. It's filled with 90gsm lined paper that is produced in France to the highest quality standards.

retro 51 coffee pen layout

Retro 51 Tornado Pens. The Tornado is one of our favorite pens around here at the Goldspot office because of their portability, the variety of designs and their convenient, twist-action mechanism. There are dozens of designs, from solid lacquer colors to metallic, etched finishes to limited editions that are highly desirable with collectors and pen enthusiasts. For future doctors, we'd recommend the Dr. Gray. For those entering the military, a Tribute would be a great pick. If they fancy something thinner, the new Retro 51 Tornado Slim is a better-suited pen.

Getting Started with Fountain Pens

Has your grad been eyeing your fountain pens and expressing interest? If so, introduce them to the world of fountain pens with some of the best options get started. 

A word (or several) on selecting a first-time fountain pen for someone. 

Start off with ink cartridges. This day in age, not many people have experience with fountain pens, let alone filling one up using a converter and bottled ink. Ease them into using one by starting off with ink cartridges. These plug-and-play cartridges allow the writer to easily change them out when the ink has been finished.

As far as nib size is concerned, try to gauge their writing style. Is it large and quick or small, tight and deliberate? If they prefer writing notes that are small enough to fit on a grain of rice (slight exaggeration), opt for an extra-fine. If they can fill a page of notes with looping letters that can be mistaken for graffiti at first glance, a medium or broad nib would be able to keep up with their bold writing style.

Lastly, spend a few moments to show them the ropes of how to use their new pen. Show them how to fill the pen. Give a few pointers about how to maintenance and care for it properly. Show them the proper writing angle of the nib to the page. Give them a few suggestions on different inks to try out.

lamy dark lilac group set

Lamy Safari. Over the years, the #1 starter fountain pen that we've recommended time and time again is the Safari for several good reasons. 1. The pen is made of sturdy ABS plastic and can withstand being beaten up a bit by new users. 2. The price point makes it a low-risk investment with a high return on quality. 3. The selection of nib sizes (extra-fine, fine, medium, broad & calligraphy style nibs) gives the writer a choice of how this pen will fit their writing style.

pilot metropolitan retro pop fountain pens

Pilot Metropolitan. Available in a wide array of colors and style, the Metropolitan (MR) has easily become one of the favorite starter fountain pens in recent years due to its superb, Japanese nibs, sturdy aluminum construction, included converter and entry-level price point. 

A Timeless Gift that will make the Grandparents Proud

Certain gifts can make a statement that spans generations. The parents or grandparents may remember the time when they had used a Pelikan in the classroom. Or, that time they received a Parker pen for an important milestone. We suggest looking at these pens that have a long history and have been cherished for several generations.

parker sonnet matte black fountain pen with chrome trim steel nib

Parker Sonnet. Adorned with the classic Parker "arrow" clip, the Sonnet has a sophisticated look that has been refreshed over the years, building on Parker's tradition of affordable, everyday fine writing instruments.

Waterman Expert. Much like Parker, Waterman has been manufacturing pens for over a century and started as an American company. Waterman has since shifted its headquarters to France, but still maintains a high standard of quality with their writing instruments. The Expert is the quintessential pen for professionals. The elegant, cigar shape profile is a pleasure to hold and available in several elegant styles including the traditional black with gold trim and black with silver trim.

pelikan souveran 800 renaissance brown

Pelikan Souveran. Over the years, little has changed in the perfected design of this German-made pen. The Pelikan Souveran is the company's flagship pen, available in several sizes, from the petite 400 to the oversized 1000. The fountain pen uses the patented, internal piston mechanism that operates flawlessly to fill up using a bottle of ink.

Take them with you

If your grad already has an overwhelming number of pencils, pens and other writing instruments, they may be in need of a way to organize them all and safely bring them along in their new daily commute. There are different solutions based on the number of pens they use regularly.

nock co brasstown pen roll case

Nock Co Brasstown Pen Roll (6-pen) and Sinclair Pen Case (3-pen). Made of sturdy nylon, these portable solutions are perfect for on-the-go students and artistic creative professionals to carry their essential tools. 

regal pen case folio

Regal 24-Pen Case Folio. If your budding writer/artist has a multitude of writing & drawing instruments, then having an assortment of them available at hand is a necessity for future creative projects. The Regal 24-pen case folio is sized like an A5 journal and safely stores up to 24 pens using elastic loops with a fabric divider to keep them separated safely.

Monteverde Zippered 36-Pen Case. For those who already have a pen collection started, it can be hard to manage all your writing instruments in one place. This 36 pen case allows instant access to all their favorite pens and pencils held in place by elastic bands and kept protected inside a velour interior.

Because You'll Make Mistakes

We do talk a lot about pens in this magazine, particularly fountain pens, but the unsung hero of the writing instrument industry is the hard-working pencil. You can remind your grad that it's okay to make mistakes, that we learn and grow from them.

rotring 800 drafting pencil

rOtring 800 mechanical pencil. With a brass body and knurled grip, this precision mechanical pencil performs at a high-level and is the preferred pencil of architects, draftsman, and illustrators.

Caran d'Ache Metal 844 pencil. The hexagonal-sided, aluminum body of this Swiss-made pencil is lacquered in a variety of bold and beautiful colors and operates with an easy, push-button mechanism.

cross tech 3 multifunction pen with capacitive touch stylus

Cross Tech 3+ multifunctional pen, pencil, and stylus. This multi-function pen features a .5mm mechanical pencil as one of its modes, along with two ballpoint ink color tips and a capacitive stylus for use with touchscreen mobile devices.

pilot metropolitan fountain pen engraved

Engrave it for a one-of-a-kind gift

Many of the writing instruments mentioned above can be personalized to create a cherished gift. Put their name, initials, "Class of 2017," and/or graduation date on the gift to add sentimental value. Or, get creative and come up with your own unique phrase or nickname that you would like to have engraved. Over the last 15 years that we've been personalizing writing instruments, we've seen it all!

Based on our experience, we've selected a collection of recommended pens that are suitable for engraving. The personalization request adds only $9.50 to the cost of each pen but adds a lifetime of remembrance to the value of the pen.

Lastly, you can always let them make their own choice with a gift card. These are great in a pinch, as we e-mail them electronically and are available in a variety of denominations.

We'd love to hear about any pen gifts that you've received, whether it be for graduation or for any other occasion. Please feel free to comment below with your own story about a pen that you had received as a gift, or if this article had helped you make your gifting decision. 


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