A Survival Guide for the Holidays: Gift Edition

By Leslie Hamilton, Features Writer 

Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/learnvest/2013/12/23/i-dont-buy-holiday-gifts-and-its-not-because-im-a-grinch/

Gift-giving is a difficult, expensive, awkward and time consuming process, and that’s without adding the stressors of being a broke to semi-broke college student trying to buy reasonable and thoughtful gifts for your family, friends and possible significant other. As a rule of thumb, always prioritize your immediate family and significant other when it comes to gift giving; but also realize that if you can’t afford a gift, your immediate family will typically be the most forgiving about a lack of gift reciprocation on your part. As for friends, typically only your closest friends will purchase a gift for you and by default, you will probably do the same. If unsure if your friend group is doing gift exchanging this year, ask for clarification so that you are not alone in purchasing or not purchasing gifts; the same could be applied to significant others. That being said, most parties would appreciate a homemade gift if you are short on money this holiday season, regardless of their relation to you.

Firstly, you should ask the recipient about what they are wanting this holiday season or take note of anything that you could see them needing or anything that they have complained of needing. Now this could become very awkward, but the best method of inquiring about their wants and needs, is casually talk about your own and who you might ask to get it for you (i.e. parents or siblings). This allows for a natural flow of conversation into their own and you can also ensure that you are not getting them a gift that they are likely to be already receiving. If you choose to go this route, make sure you include the receipt in the case that they do not like it or already own it.

At this point, if you are still unsure of a gift, socks are a fool-proof gift to give anyone. There is no such thing as having too many socks. Think about all the socks you lose each year, all the socks that you don’t have properly matched, or all the socks that you have worn to their demise and now have holes in them. Receiving a new pair of socks (or several pairs if you’re really lucky) is like getting a second chance at turning your life around and actually pairing your socks after you wash them instead throwing them in your sock drawer, creating of an abyss of mismatched socks. In the end, everyone loves a pair of fuzzy socks and not spending 5 minutes frantically searching for the matching sock.

If this person is one of the few in existence that have their life so together that their socks are all properly sorted or you really just don’t trust your own judgement, gift cards are always a good alternative. While most people view gifts card gifters as being lazy, they are the most efficient gift form as it allows the recipient to have the freedom of picking out a gift that they would like and with the added personalization of you knowing their preferred spending habits, which is something that a written check or cash gift can’t express. Give that special someone a gift card to their favorite store or restaurant or even treat them to a Visa gift card giving them even more freedom with their money. Beware, Visa gift cards have a surcharge for the user so they do not truly have the full value of the gift card.

If all else fails, directly ask them what they would like for the holidays, volunteer your services to them to complete a task, or give them a bunch of stocking stuffers. In the end, it’s the thought that counts, right? Best of luck.