Giving Great Gifts

By Madge Slack

It’s almost Christmas, and that means the annual present shopping drama. No one likes to give gift cards at Christmas, even though they are great to receive. There is so much pressure to come up with the perfect gift that is specific to everyone on your list and unique, fun and personal, but not too personal of course. As college students, no one really has the money to go all out. So how do you give a gift that is everything it could be and more, but on a budget?

Well, the first option is do a themed gift bag, box set, whatever you want to call it. Put three or four items into a cute little box and it feels like a more expensive gift. But if the box is a dollar, check Dollar Tree, and the items are only a few dollars each, your pretty gift set only costs around $10. What should you put in the box? This is where the theme comes in.

Have a friend who loves movies? Do a binge box with a bag of popcorn, their favorite candy, a DVD and a can of soda. The candy, soda and popcorn can be found at Dollar Tree and Walmart sells DVDs in giant bins for $5 each.

What about a friend who loves cooking? You can find a cool recipe online and do a box with all the ingredients. Most baking supplies are on sale at Smith’s. As long as you don’t get too fancy, it won’t be very expensive. Most basic cookie recipes require a bowl, measuring cups and a spoon or fork, but most people own those things already. If that seems lazy to you, a great gift is to make a batch or two of cookies and put them in holiday bags and hand them out. I generally make a few different kinds, like chocolate chip, snickerdoodles and sugar cookies, and then I put an assortment in each bag. Easy, cheap and thoughtful. Besides, what monster doesn’t like cookies?

Is it your mom or girlfriend you are shopping for? You might not have noticed, but Utah is a desert and it’s pretty dry in the winter. Give them a spa package with a candle, body lotion or shower gel and a face mask, all of which can be purchased at Smith’s in the beauty section. If you feel confident in your color taste, you can even throw in nail polish to go with.

Now, let’s talk about shopping for men. They all seem to already buy whatever they want. Besides, what stock gift is there for men, grilling tools? Beard oil is a lifesaver, if they have a beard. A lot of men don’t use it but it really helps their skin stay moist and tames the hair so it is soft instead of bristly. I recommend Shea Moisture’s conditioning beard oil for $8.95. If they don’t have a beard, they probably shave. Jack Black is a super popular shave line with really nice, reasonably priced products. The Beard Lube is a popular shave conditioner.

If shaving isn’t your guy’s cup of tea, don’t worry. Xbox live subscriptions are $10 for a month, $25 for three months or $60 for the year and nearly everyone enjoys video games. Otherwise, a lot of Utah guys love the outdoors. Camelbacks, ski/snowboard gloves or nifty camping tools are all pretty easy to find and often affordable, under $20.

If you really want to get personal, you can craft your gifts. It is often cheaper than buying something and it’s a fun pastime. Trinket boxes are already assembled and just need to be painted. You can make a fun mug set with Sharpie paint pens and the oven. Box signs are also really popular and they couldn’t be easier. You just paint your box a base color and then paint the letters over it in whatever color you want: an inspiring phrase, initials or a name. The stenciled look is most common, so you don’t have to worry about an unsteady hand. When it comes to crafting, when in doubt, Pinterest it out.

Another cute and easy idea if you are giving gifts to a lot of people is a Christmas ornament. You can just frame a picture, create tiny snow globes or even decorate a basic shape, like a star or square.

Christmas does not need to be a stressful time, and gifting is really more about the thought than the price or accuracy. Real life fact: Everyone loves fuzzy socks. Be brave and get creative — your friends and family will love it. Most will be happy just to get a gift at all. Happy holidays and happy gifting.

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