10 Classic Gift Ideas for UVA Graduation

picture of UVA graduation


Spring has definitively sprung, the Lawn is green and freshly re-sodded, students are frantically finishing off their final papers, projects, exams, and painstakingly decorated mortarboards, and Charlottesville is readying herself for the yearly assembly of celebrating parents, friends, and family members. Graduation time is almost here, and with it, the pressure of finding the perfect graduation gift. To take the pressure off, here’s the Charlottesville Guide’s top ten Classic UVA Graduation gifts—and where you can find them.


#1 A Jefferson Cup from Tuel Jewelers

The iconic Jefferson Cup may be the most UVA graduation gift of all. First created by Jefferson himself in 1810, these silver cups are ubiquitous in UVA alumnus households, and no graduate should be without one. Traditionally engraved with the University seal, the graduate’s name, year, and school, the Jefferson Cup is an ideal gift because it serves every life stage. You’ll see recent graduates sipping celebratory drinks from them at their graduation parties; you’ll see them on bedside tables holding jewelry or cufflinks, or collecting change; there’s one on my mantelpiece housing a small succulent. Point is, Jeff cups are versatile, and they last forever—much like Tuel Jewelers, whose family-owned Downtown Mall storefront has been serving Charlottesville’s fine silver and jewelry needs through three extremely skilled generations. 


#2 A Lasting Taste of Charlottesville – Various

Whether your graduate loves wine or whiskey, a pair of glasses etched with a map or memory of Charlottesville will always remind them of their college days, and maybe remind them to take it easy. Charlottesville glasses can often be found at Darling Boutique (like this rocks glass) or on Etsy.  Pair them with a tasting certificate to Jefferson Vineyards or Veritas for wine, or Vitae Spirits for locally made liquors. 


#3 A Gorgeous Grad Card (and a little cash) from Rock Paper Scissors

Everyone loves cash. Make a donation towards your graduate’s student loan payments without feeling like it’s a lazy gift by pairing it with a locally made, heartfelt card from Rock Paper Scissors.


#4 Their Own Personal Rotunda – Pour la Maison

Pour la Maison is a hidden gem in Townside Shopping Center on Ivy Road. Owner Winifred Wegmann hand-selects her stock from France, Italy, and beyond but this graduation gift comes from a UVA-educated artist. Lucy “Clare” Spooner’s original Rotunda watercolors are delicately presented in a white wooden frame, and each painting is unique, just like your grad’s UVA experience.


#5 A Power Suit for the Big Leagues – The Men’s & Boy’s Shop

Whether they’re interviewing for jobs or graduate programs, every college grad needs a good suit. For men and masc dressers, the Men’s & Boy’s Shop downtown is the place to go. Expect an eclectic blend of posh brands, traditional cuts, and classic service. Owner Mike is the best kind of anachronism—in a time of fast fashion and cheap shortcuts, he sells quality goods with honest, bespoke service. 


#6 Custom Leather for their Favorite Tech – Foytik Leather

While a watch might be a traditional graduation gift, the rise of smart watches means less time-telling wrist candy and more casual sport bands, which can be an eyesore in a more formal outfit. Upgrade your graduate’s Apple watch with a custom leather band from Alice and Daniel over at Foytik Leather on the Downtown Mall. They also do camera straps, iPhone covers, wallets, and even dog collars. 



#7 The Scent of Home- Various

Homesick Candles might have sparked the market on the “candles that smell like places” trend, but several Charlottesville retailers are now carrying portable scents of home, including this “Blue Ridge Campfire” candle by Commonwealth Provisions. With notes of pine, hickory, and campfire, this long-burn candle will remind your graduate of the good old days, when they had time to go camping. Available at O’Suzannah on the Downtown Mall.


#8 Car Swag from Mincers 

Hoos love to recognize other Hoos, and what better way to do it than on the highway? Spruce up your graduate’s getaway vehicle with a UVA alumni license plate frame and a window sticker or two—both available at Mincer’s, located on the Corner and at the Shops at Stonefield. Pro tip: Have the plate cover installed during graduation! 


#9 Diploma Framing 

Diploma framing comes with a bit of sticker shock for recent grads—especially because it’s important to frame diplomas properly so they don’t break down over time. You can order diploma frames from the UVA bookstore, but for grads that would prefer a custom look,  The Great Frame Up (located in Rio Hill Center) has got you covered. They’ve been operating in Charlottesville and framing diplomas for 50 years now, so they know what they’re doing!


#10 A Kitchen Upgrade from the Happy Cook

If you can have one pan in your kitchen, make it a dutch oven. Nearly indestructible, dishwasher safe, and available in Orange and Blue (Flame and Marseille, respectively) the le Creuset Dutch oven is the perfect gateway tool into a lifetime of excellent meals. Pair it with a few live or prerecorded cooking classes from the pros over at Happy Cook, and your graduate will be thanking you with a dinner invitation in no time.