Monday, December 12, 2016

Gift Ideas For Financially Challenged College Students

OK, Christmas is looming and you want to give people something. Anything. And your bank account says:
 

 
You don't have time, you don't have ideas, but mostly you don't have money. What to do....
 
Here are some ideas you might find helpful.....Most of these should be well under $5.00
 
  • A really large bar of chocolate or any kind of sweets, or nuts, or gum, or chips. Imagine if you got an entire bag of Kisses or M&Ms that was all yours.
  • Any kind of small container like a mug or a big measuring cup full of small candies.  Wrap the whole thing up with plastic so the candy doesn't spill. Nuts are another good filler.
  • *Be considerate of friends who are trying to lose weight or have health concerns, as to what foods you give as gifts.
  • 2 liter bottle of soda and a small bag of chips. Believe me, it will be consumed happily.
  • Coloring book and colors or pencils. Yes, for adults. Some days adulting is hard.


  • A $1 vase with a single red carnation (maybe 2, if you're feeling wealthy) and some greens. Tie a ribbon around it to make it festive. Have at least a little water in the vase when you give it.
  • A nicer pen than you might normally buy, something colorful or with soft grips.
  • CD of great music you've made yourself. Make an interesting looking sleeve or jewel case insert that gives the tracks.
  • Stocking cap. Everyone tends to lose them, and if not, can always use a spare.
  • Small package of really good coffee. Alternately, hot chocolate or tea. You can get powdered apple cider, as well.
  • One Christmas tree ornament
  • A vase or a straight-sided glass full of candy canes
  • A bar of really lovely soap. These come wrapped in an attractive box already and cost about $4.00.
  • Calendar--desktop, blotter style, small to hang up, large to hang up, mousepad
  • Planner for next year


  • Air fresheners, for the car or the home.
  • A pair of socks, maybe two pair.
  • Magazine and a snack.
  • Book. There are so many types of books, there's bound to be something they'll like (See what I did there?)
  • "Sample size" lotion, hand sanitizer, or other items, maybe in a cloth bag
  • Small zippered bag for pencils, coupons, keys
  • Key chain or key chain ornament
  • Cleaning cloth for phone or Ipad screens
  • For someone who lives in another state, a pile of postcards from your hometown. They're about 30c apiece. These have been seen at Hallmark.
  • Candle, or for safety's sake, some battery operated tealights
  • Batteries--who hasn't run out of these?
  • Print out some recipes for food you've always gotten compliments on, tie with ribbon. There is a template for recipe cards in Publisher, or you can download one.(Bonus: if you search 'Index Cards,' they also suggest flash cards. Can you use those for studying?)
  • New deck of playing cards, possibly with something to play for
  • For a fellow student, simply think of things you'd like or can use: a small package of hand wipes? Fresh supply of decent pencils or pens? Snacks for studying? Paper clips? Lanyard?
  • Journal and pen
  • Small frame with a poem or small symbol in it, or a tiny drawing you've done
  • Puzzle
  • Sheet of 10 stamps
  • Make handmade cards-with a bit of imagination you can make several for not much money
  • Print some of your better photos at about 20c apiece at the 4x6" size.  Frame one or use it to make a card.


Where, one may ask, does one find such items?
 
  • Dollar Stores--and use them for wrapping and ribbon as well
  • Goodwill: Containers for treats, and also books, decorations, candle holders
  • The grocery store--you'll be surprised what you can get for under $5, even under $3 
  • The grocery store will often have single flowers for under $2.00.
  •  Half Price Books: Their clearance area is a feast of great books, many of which are under $5 and often under $3. They also carry magazines, CDs, and movies at reduced prices.
  • Barnes & Noble always has displays of books for under $10, and sometimes under $5.
  • Drug stores can often have simple and inexpensive items you can give others
  • Look in the 'Travel Size' bins, many stores have them. A little bit of something nice is a good treat.
  • Bullseye's Playground at Target (formerly their Dollar Spot) has items for $1, $3, and $5.
  • Michael's has bins of small items for $1.50 apiece--they might be helpful in making or wrapping small gifts
  • You can order photos online or using your phone and then pick them up at Target and other stores
Don't forget, part of your gift is presentation. Without spending much, you can dress up almost anything with a colorful box and/or bag, and ribbon. Simply tying a bow around something can make it seem more like a gift. Making a "to and from" tag to hang from the ribbon adds a nice touch as well. If you have a shredderful of paper, you can use the shreds to cushion a gift. You can use strips of fabric instead of ribbon, or wrap an item in a kitchen towel for a gift wrapped in a gift.
 





But remember: it really isn't about the gift, but the gesture. And if nothing else, you can simply tell your friends and family that you can't afford to do gifts this year but you would love to spend time with them. They'll be fine with it. Really. They're your friends and family.


 
 




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