Holiday season gift-giving guide


With two days remaining until Hanukkah, 22 until Kwanzaa, and 21 until Christmas Day, this year’s holiday season is in full swing.  Lights are lining the buildings and neighborhoods, Christmas songs blare in every store, candles and trees shimmer in the windows, ABC Family’s “25 Days of Christmas” plays on televisions and the faint scent of chestnut, peppermint, and firewood fills the chilly air.  But amidst the warmth and exhilaration, there’s another emotion lingering in the air: chaos.

The holidays are a time for family and friends to gather together and share in love, joy, and blessings. One of the most traditional ways to do this is through gift-giving; and this is where the panic begins. “Finding a good gift is important because it shows how much you care about the other person and gives you the opportunity to pick gifts for them based on their interests,” said sophomore Lexi Vaughn. Here’s the perfect opportunity to show the people you love how much you care, and yet suddenly, your mind goes blank.  The pressure is on to find the perfect gift, and you have no idea what that gift could be, where to find it, or how much to spend.  The good news is that there are plenty of high value gift options to satisfy both the gift-receiver, and your budget.  If you’re someone who has experienced the pressure of giving the perfect gift, here are a few ideas and tips to narrow down the best gift options and lessen the holiday stress.  

If you’re gift-buying for someone you don’t know well or someone who is unbelievably picky, you can’t go wrong with food.  Everyone loves food!  If you want to be more sentimental you can cook a meal to share with them or take them out to eat at their favorite restaurant.  If you don’t know the person quite as well or want to do something more simple, you can compile a basket of their favorite snacks, or give them a gift card to a restaurant or food store they like.  No matter which method you choose, you’re sure to make someone’s day with the gift of food.

What if you’re on an even tighter budget, or feel like something is still missing from your gift?  If this is the case, acts of service are a great solution.  You never know what difference it could make to someone to grant them your help cleaning and making repairs around their house, helping fix their car, or running errands for them that they don’t enjoy . “I think having someone do work for you is more meaningful than if they buy a gift because it shows how much they care about you and want to do something to make your life easier,” said freshman Rebecca Lindley.  A helping hand is a very effective way to demonstrate how deeply you care for someone, and it won’t cost you a dime.     

Verbal gifts are another example of practical and meaningful gifts.  A kind letter, quality time, sincere conversation, or daily compliment, mean more to most people than materialistic gifts.  If you like someone’s sweater or the way they do their hair, let them know.  If you want to tell someone what you love about them as a person, write them a letter as a gift.  Meet with the people you care about for coffee and just listen to all they have to say. Never underestimate the power of compliments and good conversation.

If you’re feeling traditional and want to stick to buying a gift for a friend, family member, or significant other, it’s important to pick up their cues on what they like.  It doesn’t always work to simply ask someone what they want because often the answer is, “I don’t care, you pick.”  “You have to look for subtle hints people give when considering gift ideas,” said junior George Gipe.  Odds are, if you pay enough attention to this person and the things they like, you’ll be able to pick up on the perfect gift idea.

 Look for subtle comments, things that make them smile, or what seems to catch their attention when they’re in the store or online. If you’ve been observing them for a while and you’re still stumped, the best idea is to go with your gut.  During the chaos of the holidays, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with negative energy and stress.  Keep in mind that the holidays are designed for celebration, love, joy, and togetherness.  Gifts are a wonderful tradition of the holidays, but they should never be considered the most important aspect. There is no reason to allow yourself to be so flustered by finding the perfect gift that you forget what the holiday season is about.  Gifts should be used to enhance the experience, not distract from it.