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BLOG: Festive and frugal – holiday gifts for college friends

5 December 2012 No Comment


Can you feel it in the air? Its that time of year at colleges around the country. Classes are ending, finals are coming up, and the holidays are coming up quickly.

In between packing up your stuff to trek home for a month and cramming 15 weeks worth of class material into a few nights of studying, you might also be stressing about what presents to buy for those holiday parties. Hanukah begins this weekend, and even though Christmas is still three weeks away, most college students celebrate a little early due to leaving for break.

There’s also a question of money. College students aren’t known for their loaded bank accounts, especially at the end of the semester. While you fill up on the last of the Ramen noodles left in your room and try to stretch your dining hall dollars for just a few more meals, read below for some gift ideas that are fun and inexpensive:

For your roommate: Maybe you weren’t super close, but you want to get them a little something to say that you enjoyed sharing a small space with them all semester. How about a key cap, a plastic covering for their dorm room or apartment key in a fun shape or

Example of key caps. (Courtesy of vat19.com)

character you know they like. Stores like Hot Topic and Claire’s often carry these. Online, ThinkGeek.com, ModCloth.com and Vat19.com all feature a variety of key caps, some for $5 plus shipping.

For a new friend: Did you hit up a fun party together? Maybe you bonded during meetings of the club you both joined this semester. Decorate a frame with something that showcases your unique friendship and stick in a photo of the two of you doing something fun together. Frames and decorating supplies can be found at Wal-Mart, and a few dollars and some creativity can make for a meaningful and memorable gift.

For your “Secret Santa”: If you don’t know the person well, or if you need a gift to bring for a random group exchange, it can be tough to pick something that virtually everyone would enjoy. Gift cards aren’t overly imaginative, but are pretty flexible for those hard-to-buy for gifts. The other downside is that often, gift exchanges have a limit of $5 or so. A gift card to a store like Wal-Mart or Sheetz won’t buy many groceries or and would only cover one gallon of gas. Instead, try a gift card to the Shippensburg University bookstore, where a $5 gift card will buy a favorite magazine and a candy bar, or few “Blue Books” and a pack of #2 pencils for final exams.

For that guy or girl you’ve been checking out all semester: Maybe you spotted them across the room of that super boring General Education class you got stuck with at 8am, or perhaps they live in your dorm and you felt a possible spark during an elevator ride. You just haven’t gotten up the courage to approach them, and now you’re almost out of time. You won’t see them for a whole month, and possibly not at all next semester. Slip a card under their door before they leave for break or on their desk before the final exam. Write that you wish you had gotten to know them better over the semester and are hoping to see more of them when classes start in January. If you’re feeling extra bold, jot down your e-mail address and hope they keep in touch. Good luck!

Next week we’ll continue talking presents with holiday gift ideas to put on your own list. Until then, good luck with those final exams!

Sarah Gilbert is a 2011 graduate of Shippensburg University. She lives and works in Chambersburg, Pa.

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