Shopping for College: The Holiday Edition

We’ve all had busy semesters, and we’ve all been going about our classes, extracurriculars, and social life, when—BAM—it hits you. Not only is it finals time, but it’s Christmas. Or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or [insert other winter holiday here]. In any case, regardless of what you celebrate, it’s gift-giving time. And you’re a broke college student that doesn’t have time to get presents (not to mention you totally forgot about all this after Thanksgiving, when you could have shopped for all of this on Black Friday). Now there’s only two weeks left and you’re hearing your friends say that they’ve already bought your presents… so what do you do?

No need to panic—some of the best gifts don’t require a lot of time or money. Sure it’s cliché, but it really is just the thought that counts. Here’s some ideas to get you going:

Look for Simple Things with Meaning

You don’t need to spend a lot of money to give a thoughtful gift. By looking toward random shared memories or inside jokes for inspiration, you can find gifts that are not only less expensive but more creative. Got a friend who you always compare to a certain kind of animal? Find a household object, like a clock or a salt shaker, themed after that animal. How about a friend who’s always scrambling to do laundry at the last minute? Get them a basket of laundry supplies—cheap, yet funny (I actually know someone who did this). The best part is that these oddball gifts stand out, and your friends are much more likely to remember them later.

Give Services, not Goods

This one’s pretty straightforward. Are you really good at cooking, haircuts, or massages? Let that be your present for the year. This can be done immediately, or offered in the form of a coupon—but the key is to not make it seem lazy or meaningless. If you’re going to cook them a meal, make it the best meal they’ve ever had.

Remember, There’s Always Next Year

So what if you screw up one year? Everyone’s got those off years where things just don’t seem to fall into place. It’s okay! College kids are notorious broke, lazy, and forgetful—so you’re in good company. If you find yourselves giving one Hershey’s Kiss to each of your friends this year, don’t worry. You’ve always got next to make it up. So get out there, and get your holiday presents ready. You still have plenty of time.

Hema is a junior at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and is passionate about the environment, technology, media, the arts, and of course, writing. She's pretty good at making people believe she actually knows what she's talking about, even if she doesn't. Follow her on Twitter!

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