Nothing says ‘welcome to the real world’ like a graduation gift supporting the local startup community. The United States Small Business Administration released a study recently showing that 23 million small businesses in America make up 54 percent of all sales in the U.S. and have added just about eight million new jobs since 1990, stats that prove buying local has a significant impact on the local economy. So rather than purchasing similar products from larger retailers, why not give back to the tech and entrepreneurial folks who have been fostering the growth of innovation here in the D.C. area for countless years. Plus, purchasing a gift from a startup will likely lend for a more creative present idea than you ever would have thought of yourself. Think local, buy local, get one of these nine graduation gifts from startups in the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia area below:

  • Beer Gift Card – Made in Baltimore, BeerGivr was created by Sean Kennedy to allow users to virtually send beer gift cards. You access, enter your graduate’s name, telephone number, amount of money you want to send them (depending on if you want to purchase a full round of Blue Moon or three shots of whiskey), and a personal message of your choice. Your graduate then receives a text message with a gift code on their phone that they can show to the bartender at any participating bar (check those here) and have the stipulated amount of money taken off their bill.
  • A month of Free Coworking Space – If you have a graduate that is interested in starting their own business or already has one, this is the gift they’d love to receive. Check out Canvas, Affinity Lab, 1776, Uber Offices, and PunchRock for some examples of great coworking space in the area. Know that this might be fairly expensive, but your kid will really appreciate the gesture. And, fair warning, most, if not all of the above coworking spaces require you to partake in an application process.
  • Personal Style Consultation from Fortique – Fortique is the best place you can buy some of the most creative services available locally. I  highly recommend you purchase a personal style consultation for your new grad who’s no doubt entering the real world with sweatpants and ill-fitted suits. If you’re looking for advice on which personal stylist to contact on Fortique, check out Grant Harris of Image Granted, LLC. His style is spot on.
  • Buy a Homemade Meal Via Feastly – At some point or another, you know your kid is going to miss out on your home cooking, so why not give them the opportunity to feast on some delicious homemade meals by local cooks. Great for food-lovers, Feastly is all about the experience, a welcoming group of people all sharing their fondness for amazing  cuisine while gorging on empanadas a la Cubana or meat-stuffed plantains.
  • Book Trip Accommodation Through Airbnb – If you’re thinking about sending your college grad to Europe or even on a road trip cross country, use Airbnb, a trusted marketplace, to book accommodations. Just find your space, book it, and let them travel with ease.
  • A Subscription to Vinolovers – Perfect for the wine enthusiast, purchase a subscription to Vinolovers where a certified sommelier will take into account your personal tastes and preferences through a series of simple questions and then create a wine profile for you that provides a vast amount of suggestions for what wine would work best for you. The wine buying experience is extremely tailored to the user, a great way for a new grad to figure out which wine will become their “adult” drink of choice.
  • Purchase a Couple of scratchDC Bundles – With prices ranging from $21 to $27, you can buy a couple of unique two serving bundles of fresh, locally sourced, organic ingredients that are chopped, measured, marinated, and packed with an easy to follow recipe and delivered to your door ready to cook. If your kid is pretty horrible in the kitchen, this is a fool proof, simple process that allows them to eat well and fairly cheaply.
  • Give the Gift of a Sleek, Cool Ride – Uber, the iconic black sedan, on-demand car service, has gift cards you can purchase for your new grad to ride in style for a day. They’ll look classy, just like the rockstar they are for finishing off their four years of higher education.
  • Be Green, Get Nourishmat – Like a garden blanket, but much, much better, Nourishmat is a backyard fixture that fosters the growth of healthy food no matter the outdoor conditions. It eliminates the need for pesticides while simultaneously warding away the pesky weeds most hate to deal with. Nourishmat lets you grow your produce easily and efficiently. As long as your kid has some space outside of their apartment or town house, Nourishmat is the perfect ‘welcome to the real world’ gift.