Have you ever seen the Tweet that says, “Mother’s Day is hard when your mom deserves an island, but you can only afford a candle?” This question does not exclusively apply to Mother’s Day; however, it applies to many times of the year but especially the upcoming holiday season. Whether you’re shopping for your roommate, other friends on campus, a family member or a significant other, finding a gift that is both thoughtful and affordable can serve as a highly difficult task on a college budget. Listed below are five easy, cheap ideas that will be sure to make anyone smile and won’t break the bank.
1. A batch of cookies
Above all else, food is always the answer. Bake someone a batch of cookies in your dorm’s barely functioning kitchenette! Who doesn’t love a beautiful platter of Christmas cookies that someone took the time to make? People always appreciate receiving gifts that they can use instantly, and in this case, they can devour their gift upon opening it!
2. A pair of pajamas
Although buying someone a pair of pajamas might sound like a random and fairly expensive endeavor, the chilly weather around the holiday season makes pajamas the ideal gift. Stores such as Old Navy and Target sell holiday-themed pjs that will last for years — I’ve had a $20 pair from Old Navy since 2014! Even though the designs are often cheesy and over-the-top, they still make for thoughtful gifts and can even work for a White Elephant gift exchange, especially if you go all out and buy some onesies.
3. A tote bag
Amazon offers thousands of adorable bags that will make a perfect present for a busy Stanford student. This $10 one from Baggu includes a cute pattern of white elephants, which would also be a great literal addition to a White Elephant exchange. Tote bags are inexpensive and also offer ample space for textbooks, laptops, water bottles or anything else that a college student might carry.
4. A mug
A coffee cup is bound to bring happiness to anyone receiving it because they instantly think of coffee, which provides energy to millions of people around the world every morning. This clever one from Amazon ($10.99) is ideal for the comedian in your life, and this classic design from Pottery Barn ($8) is perfect for someone who appreciates simplicity.
5. A letter
This gift doesn’t require spending any money — instead it requires spending some time and energy, which is usually even more thoughtful, especially around the busy holiday season. Writing heartfelt letters to the people who matter in your life is a worthwhile activity that people will appreciate. My younger twin sisters wrote me the sweetest card last year, and it’s the gift that I treasure the most.
Contact Alexandra Chang at alexandrachang ‘at’ stanford.edu.