Keep gifts cheap and fun this holiday season


Christmas Cookies by OakleyOriginals
Christmas Cookies (OakleyOriginals / Flickr)

Story by Jane Horne // Arts & Entertainment Editor | Photo by OakleyOriginals // Flickr

It’s the end of the semester, cash is running low and finals are on the horizon when you suddenly remember that you need a way to tell your closest friends you care before you leave for the holidays.

It’s already a feat to find presents for the parents and rest of the family, but finding ways to show other people in your life you care is just as important. It’s the season of giving, but what do you give when you have little funding? Thankfully, the Internet and Pinterest have provided countless ways to discover creative gifts to share with your friends. So take a few minutes to create something unique for those friends you won’t see for a month or so. After all, it’s the thought that counts.

Candies and other goodies

This is the perfect opportunity to introduce all of your college friends to the wonderful, amazing and oh-so-tasty holiday recipes that you love going home to. Just give mom a call, and have her email you the recipes to your favorite homemade goodies. This might be an issue because moms do this thing where they just make things without following recipes. Just go with it. It’ll work out for the best, promise.

The best part about making baked goodies is you can buy in mass quantities and can just make it all at once. Dollar Tree can be depended on for cute, holiday-themed ways to package the goods because you don’t have to worry about getting the plates back. And, let’s face it; everyone likes food – especially at the holidays.

Gift baskets

Doing a gift basket is the same concept of making baked goods, since you buy in mass quantities and give them out to several groups of friends. This is also another instance when places like Dollar Tree, or even Sam’s and Costco, will come in handy. For example, head to Dollar Tree to buy a few coffee mugs, decorate them with permanent markers (there are tutorials for this online), and then fill with hot chocolate mix, marshmallows and other all-around cutesy things.

For a large group of close-knit friends, buying baskets and filling them with funny or memorable foods, knickknacks or pictures can be sweet and memorable. If it makes sense or you can afford to individualize each gift in someway, then do it. Find a tutorial online on how to turn your Instagram pictures into magnets, and pick your favorite picture of you and each friend. A pack of magnets and glue from Wal-Mart or Lowe’s will only cost a few bucks, and what better way to say “Happy Holidays” than with something that will help remind your friend how awesome you are on a daily basis? Other DIY gifts like Christmas ornaments, homemade beauty products or personalized wall art are other easy and fairly cheap ideas.

Gift Cards

OK, so these might not be the cheapest idea, but think about it. The majority of college students would love to receive a five dollar Starbucks gift card from one of their closest friends. No one says “no” to free coffee.

If your friends are one of the few who can survive without caffeine on a daily basis, look into more of their favorite places to eat and shop. Their favorite ice cream place, beer store or any specialty shop shows your friends that you pay attention to the little things that they care about. Five dollars might not be a lot to you, but a little goes a long way toward showing friends that you care.

When it comes to Christmas gift for friends, the important thing here is to not stress and keep it thoughtful. And if money is extra tight, you can’t go wrong with a party where everyone brings treats and you all play Dirty Santa, Chinese Christmas or whatever they’re calling it these days. Keep it fun, keep it simple and Happy Holidays.

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To contact the Lifestyles Editor, email lifestyles@mtsusidelines.com.

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