DEAR HARRIETTE: I just got invited to my neighbor's high school graduation party. I do not really know her that well, and I have never been to a graduation party before as an adult. Should I bring a gift for her or the family? If so, what should I bring? -- Clueless, Seattle
DEAR CLUELESS: It's lovely that you get to celebrate this rite of passage with your neighbors. And, yes, it is appropriate for you to bring a gift for the graduate.
Inspiring the graduate to think outside the box is a great gift. So ask yourself what might be an unusual gift that a young person could appreciate now or in the future.
Often high school graduates are headed away for college. A lovely gift could be a gift certificate to a popular restaurant you think the graduate would enjoy, either in your city or near the new campus, in an amount large enough for a few people to attend. You could create the party after the party!
Practical items for college that you may want to consider are gift certificates for the college bookstore, a gift certificate to buy items for the dorm, or even a gift certificate at a favorite clothing store to buy clothes for college.
Financial gifts are always welcome. Think of gifts that could have long-term impact, such as a safe U.S. Treasury bond or a few shares of stock in a promising company.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I just finished school for the year, and I now have the whole summer off. This is the first time in as long as I can remember that I have no job, internship or trip planned. With nothing on my schedule, I am afraid that I will just end up watching TV and wasting these next few months. What are a few things I can do to stay busy? -- Bored, Jackson, Miss.
DEAR BORED: You are wise to be thinking about this, because it is true that time can slip by if you aren't paying attention.
I'm a big believer in dreaming big and writing down a plan to make those dreams come true. Take a moment to imagine what you might be able to do this summer. What interests you? What about your community inspires you? If these questions spark ideas, write them down and do your best to figure out how to make them become reality.
Service is always a compelling way to spend your time. You may want to volunteer to help at an assisted living facility where older people live. Often they don't have a lot of visitors and may be lonely. A visit from a young person could bring sunshine. Same goes for your local hospital. You could ask about visiting the children's ward and spending time reading to the patients or playing with them.
If you have a friend or neighbor who has a job that appeals to you, ask to shadow the person at his or her workplace for a day or even a week. In other words, create a mini-internship for yourself.
You may be able to resist the TV by going to the library and exploring books that are of interest to you. Challenge yourself to read 10 books before summer is over. Consider creating a book club with other friends who may also be bored.