College Student Gift Giving Guide

It’s a pretty well-known and widely accepted fact that the majority of college students experience very tight finances during at least one semester of their college career.  Between tuition and textbook costs, school supplies, and general everyday expenses, being able to add holiday gifts into a college student’s budget can be a daunting task.  Here are five tips for still being able to provide some holiday cheer to your loved ones without inflicting a big hit to your wallet!

Don’t Underestimate Dollar and/or Bargain Stores

In recent years, stores like 99 Cent Only and Dollar Tree have really upped their game on the products and brands they carry, especially during the holiday season.  Browse through the aisles and it’s actually pretty easy to come up with some very economical, yet still thoughtful, quality gifts.  The great thing about stores like these is the value of your dollar can be stretched pretty far. For instance, assembling your own gift basket or small gift stocking with items from a dollar store (ex. bath products, office supplies, makeup, treats, etc.) not only has a more personal touch from being able to choose each item yourself but could also end up being a fraction of the price of an already assembled gift basket from other higher-priced retail locations.

There’s Absolutely Nothing Wrong with a Gift of Necessity

Some kids dread clothing or socks or other necessities as gifts – for them, it’s all about toys, toys, and more toys! Yet as we grow older, many of us now actually get excited for gifts of necessity and have come to really appreciate those little things like shirts and socks, kitchen utensils and gadgets, toiletries like lotion or shaving kits, or makeup; Items that we actually use on a day to day basis and won’t have to figure out where we’re going to put it or when on earth we might actually use it. 

There is nothing wrong with playing into practicality when giving a gift, and more often than not there is an economical version that won’t dent your budget too hard.  Taking the extra step to know what brand, style, scent, or size the person typically uses can also add an extra touch of meaningfulness.

Personalization Can Go a Long Way on a Small Dime

A gift of a picture frame is nice, but what if that picture frame held a treasured photo of you and the other person?  A tree ornament can be a beautiful gift but what if that ornament commemorated the year, or a special date, event or memory between you and the recipient? A little extra thought to bring in personalization to a gift can go a really long way, and it doesn’t have to cost any extra or require any kind of artistic abilities or technical knowhow.  Even just knowing and choosing the person’s favorite color for a simple item like a coffee mug or scarf adds that extra layer of a personal touch.

Don’t Be Afraid of Gift Cards!

The debate always seems to surface every holiday season of whether gift cards are a thoughtless, generic, “cure-all” gift.  This can certainly be true if no real thought is put into where the gift card is from.  However, if the gift card is for a place you know the person truly enjoys, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a gift card of any amount to somewhere you know that person loves going – it shows the connection you have with that person in knowing their favorite places or experiences. 

You can easily and economically take it to the next level by packaging the gift card in a creative way. Giving a Starbucks gift card? Ask for an empty cup at the store, or find a nice travel mug at a bargain store to place the card in.  A beauty store card can go in a new make-up bag, a restaurant card can go in a small to-go or takeout container, or any new card can be presented in a simple new wallet or id case; all it takes is just a little thought and some creativity.

When in Doubt – DIY!

The idea of arts and crafts can sometimes send someone into a panic, especially those of us who don’t see ourselves as particularly artistic or creative.  However, of the thousands and thousands of DIY (Do It Yourself) and craft tutorials that can be found all over the internet nowadays, many are truly, honestly very easy, and quite often very economical by either using just a few common items or repurposing everyday materials.  Even homemade baked goods can make very thoughtful gifts if you enjoy baking and experimenting in the kitchen.  Other simple projects like a hand-mixed hot cocoa mix in a decorated mason jar or a box of handmade tea bags are both not only extremely easy, but also inexpensive to make, practical so they probably won’t go to waste, and incredibly thoughtful and personal.

At the end, when it comes to gifting on a budget, it really is true that “it’s the thought that counts.”  Just a little extra thought of, “how can I make this meaningful to them” can take a simple, inexpensive gift to the next level of being truly memorable and cherished.