There is no denying it; the evidence is everywhere. What is it? Its graduation season! From pre-school to graduate school, it seems everyone in our area is celebrating someone’s memorable rite of passage. Bright futures abound!

There is not a dry eye in the house when a 4-year-old crosses the stage in a handmade mortarboard, stepping gingerly in a pinned up gown. Fast forward 14 years to high school commencement, rejoicing in the culmination of four years of growth and dedication. Next stop: college graduation, when generations of family and hundreds of Facebook “friends” applaud and congratulate our newly minted baccalaureate recipients. Graduate, business, professional and even trade and certificate programs all may follow, bringing more reasons to honor and reward achievement.

So, how to acknowledge this accomplishment at any age? There is no question that cash is king (or gift cards, and pre-payment of almost anything). However, if you’re like me, and want a diversion from the big box stores, malls and online retailers, you might try getting your creative juices flowing and personalize your remembrance with the help of the experts at a few of my favorite local boutiques:

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Bella Home, Ridgefield

This darling shop has the perfect gift for the graduate of all ages. Carefully curated and beautifully styled, it is truly a feast for the eyes. The vast array of accessories for the home, desktop, travel, pet, hostess, new baby, holiday—every occasion—is trumped only by their signature customer service and stunning gift wrap. The staff will attend to your every need and ensure that your gift is unique and personal. 90 Danbury Road, Ridgefield

Why I love it:

Because this shop is fun! There is so much packed into this little oasis that you have to walk through several times to take it all in. The latest trends, classic finds and all those things you never knew you needed! Old fashioned customer service includes by-appointment after hours shopping. Located next to Starbucks—the ideal shopping fuel—and the staff will gladly guard my chai at the counter so I can browse—it doesn’t get better than that!

Sacred Heart Gifts & Apparel, Mahopac

If you think this shop is only a resource for religious gifts, accessories and vestments, then you need to think again. Plan on stopping in for an inspirational graduation gift this season. While this is the premier location for every imaginable Catholic and faith-based product, there truly are non-denominational gifts for everyone and every occasion. Featured items for the grad are 14K gold and sterling silver jewelry, charms, inspirational books, plaques, statues and tabletop accessories. This is an experiential store; not only is there so much to browse through, but it is a spiritual space filled with music, incense and warmth. 926 Route 6, Mahopac

Why I love it:

Because Grace, the proprietor, is always good for a cup of Italian coffee and a dose of inspiration. Leave yourself plenty of time, of course, as the gift selection is enormous and the vibe is so peaceful.

Carmel Flower Shop, Carmel

Flowers are a classic graduation gift if you are actually in attendance at the ceremony. If you are celebrating at a party or just commemorating the event, this shop should be on your short list of places to find that unusual and personal gift. A gift basket can be hand selected and personalized, there is a broad range of unique all-occasion cards and the staff is patient and full of suggestions that will ensure that your gift won’t be duplicated. 1908 Route 6 (Putnam Plaza), Carmel.

Why I love it:

Because they have so much to choose from and the prices are very reasonable. Don’t go if you’re like me and have no willpower; their collection of one of a kind jewelry, home décor, lotions, soaps and even apparel will entice you to buy one as a gift, one for you!

Wishes, Yorktown Heights

Drive the speed limit and you may miss this little gem. The glittery window, always decorated for the season should catch your eye. Here you can commemorate every occasion, especially that special female graduate of any age! What you won’t find here: anything ordinary! At Wishes it’s all in the details. Memorable mementos include: jewelry, scarves, trinkets, glassware, artwork, signs and accessories galore! 1811 Commerce Street, Yorktown Heights

Why I love it:

Because I cannot leave empty-handed. A gift in one hand and a little something for me in the other. As with my other faves, Wishes features customer service extraordinaire. Gift wrap, custom gift baskets, you know the drill. Worth the trip, every time.