Holiday Gift Guide: College Budget Edition

This story was originally published in the Nov. 24 issue of Fourth Estate.

Jevette Brown, staff writer

Illustration by Laura Baker

Illustration by Laura Baker

As the holidays approach and the Secret Santa sticks are drawn, college students everywhere are on a budget and struggling to find decent presents for their friends and family.

With the end of the semester also looming near and finals on the mind, time is of the essence. Here’s a quick fix to start the inspiration wheel rolling for all of your gift-giving needs. A good place to begin is knowing the interests, hobbies and likes of the receiver of your gift. Yes, this means no socks, scarves and hats as a cop-out; lets save the clothing presents for our parents.

For a music lover, you can put together a care package complete with something simple.  A good buy for this type of person are earbuds from the 5 and Below store and a mixtape CD, filled with all of their favorite holiday songs. If they can appreciate a more old school style, vinyl records from Goodwill or other thrift stores is another option. These can also work as both decoration or collectors items, so its a twofer.

Photographer wanna-be’s can appreciate a well thought out scrapbook; this works especially well if you can add a personal touch with photos like inside jokes to personalize it. If you’re feeling creative, buying a frame, decorating it yourself and putting a picture of the both of you inside of it is a simple and super cheap way to show that you care.

“Foodies” are a little harder to find gifts for and can be more expensive too. However, sites like allow you keep it original, but inexpensive to customize your own candy bar. First, you choose a base chocolate flavor and from there you can add toppings from various categories like Nuts or Fruits for around $0.70 per topping.

Another idea is to go off the concept of a mixtape playlist, except for recipes, and fill up a book of some yummy holiday dishes. You can never go wrong with a gift card to their favorite spot like Dunkin Donuts, or Panera Bread; this is simple and everyone’s happy when they decide to bring you along for the treat.

If you want to make it really personal, small gift baskets are always a winner. You can go Movie Themed; with a couple packets of popcorn, their favorite candies, and a DVD or two. Or a “Girls Night In” with nail polish, magazines, movies, and cookie dough. If you are truly in dire need of crafting help, my motto is “When in doubt, Pinterest always has a way out”.

Hopefully at the end of the day we keep the holiday spirit in mind; remember it’s about opening our hearts, not our presents. But let’s not kid ourselves, gifts are pretty awesome too.