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A holiday gift guide for students

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Giving presents to everyone isn't necessary this Christmas, keep it simple and fun.With the gift-giving season upon us, it’s time to make that horrible decision: do I spend money on my friends or do I buy that new pair of shoes that just went on sale?

Yes, presents are fun to receive but they’re a bitch to give. However, there are ways to avoid spending a fortune on all of your friends and still make them feel loved.

Don’t worry about getting everyone a gift. Not everyone on your floor will be exchanging presents so stick with a few friends (and family) before spending a whole month trying to think of a proper gift for 50 people.

First off, buy a few $10 gift cards to Starbucks…two or three will suffice. Keep them for when someone gives you a gift you hadn’t planned on. If that doesn’t happen, you have money dedicated to coffee, which isn’t really so bad, is it?

Once you’ve chosen the people who will get gifts, think hard about something meaningful to give them. It doesn’t have to be expensive, the key is to make sure they know how much you care. A CD by a local band given to a girl who loves finding new music is much better than a $20 gift certificate to Best Buy.

All of these gift ideas are meant to be cheap, and we’ve divided them up into “personalities” so you can decide whether or not the gift you want to hand out is appropriate or not.

The Boyfriend

Boyfriends are technically the easiest to get gifts for, but you don’t want to write them off as someone who doesn’t care about getting something meaningful. Of course, giving them flowers won’t really strike their fancy either. Everyone sees those retro posters with phrases like “Beer: give your brain the night off!” and guys think they’re hilarious. You can find them for less than $10 at any joke shop or gift store usually, but they’re really cheap online. Also cool for guys? A mixed CD. Well, today you might as well put it on a zip drive, but make a playlist of songs they don’t have and give it to them. Stay away from sappy stuff, but maybe include some of their guilty pleasures to show you really get them. Shot glasses or a lifetime supply of beer is always good too.

The Girlfriend

Gents, welcome to the wonderful (and treacherous) world of buying gifts for girlfriends. While some girls are pleasant and are mystified that you even realized it was Christmas, others will cut off your balls if they get another gift card or flower delivery. Do something that involves time together, like a special dinner or two tickets to a concert. These don’t have to be expensive, it should be about the memories you are sharing. Trust me, fellas…time is money. Flowers are great to go with these events, but they definitely shouldn’t be the main event. If you feel like splurging, an overnight to somewhere secluded like a mountain cabin or beach cottage are also perfect, but they need to happen around Christmas time, not after you’ve come back from spring break.

These suggestions are for serious couples, fyi. If you’re just starting to hook up, condoms or dirty limericks are fun.

The Best Friend

Best friends are the ones who are always there for you no matter what. Show them how much you care by giving them something like a photo scrapbook. Keep it simple and use only pictures that have both of your bright shining faces. Joke gifts are always a hoot too. We’ll never forget the time we got our friend a vibrator a few weeks after she got dumped, but she really appreciated the fact we knew she needed to get laid.

The Gay Best Friend

Everyone in college has them (even straight guys) and most of the time, you owe them. Whether it’s because they showed you how awful your boyfriend was or hooked you up with the hottest girl on campus, gay best friends are always there to help you out. Sometimes, however, the divide between gay and straight can be alienating. Get them something that will make them feel that it doesn’t matter what their orientation is, proving you love them for who they are, not what they do. Stereotypical gifts are always good (Christina’s newest album, a day trip to the spa) but the best ones show you know them better than they realize. A Christmas ornament from a place traveled together, a trip to a museum featuring their favorite artist or even a surprise movie night with just the two of you is perfect.

Roommate

These people aren’t always your best friends, but it’s always good to show the person you share a living space with that you care. Things like a board game (Apples to Apples or Trivial Pursuit make a good choice), a box of their favorite foods or an item of clothing with your school’s logo are all good choices.

While these gifts are great for certain people, we have some ideas that will work for everyone, including family so if you’re not completely sure what to get someone, stick to basics and they’ll love you just as much come New Year’s.

Cheesy coupons like “This entitles (name) to a free happy hour” are always great because it encourages spending time together and it’s free booze. Everyone loves free booze. Don’t be stupid and give this to someone under 21 years old, it will just make them feel awful.

Homemade goods are not only good gifts, they’re fun to make! Bake a batch of cookies or make a friendship bracelet to give people and they’ll be so glad you even thought of them. Be careful of allergies, though, no one will send you a thank you card if you put peanuts in cookies and they wind up in the hospital.

Cheap gifts are everywhere, what really matters is how much thought you put into the present that counts.