It’s already that time of year! In some ways, I hate it. Call me contemptuous, but the holidays are slightly miserable. Seasonal depression exists, gifting is financially straining, and the months of November and December are simply too chaotic for me. My biggest struggle is conjuring up a gift idea that is actually meaningful. Here’s some advice (and a few gift ideas) for the most wonderful time of the year!
Set your budget
Budgeting is hard. I personally don’t know of one college kid who actually budgets, apart from myself. It’s a tedious task and it will make you cringe, but it’s definitely worthwhile. Before each holiday season or birthday, I skim through my bank statements and note what I have and what I’m willing to spend. It helps to write out all the people you need to gift for — be sure to include friends, family, significant others, and gifting events. My family does a white elephant exchange, so I’m always sure to set aside $25 for that. This list comes in handy for both budgeting and shopping; you’ll never forget a gift for your loved one this holiday!
Tap into the giftee’s hobbies
If you’re lost for gift ideas, take a moment to consider what your giftee does with free time. If your dad enjoys bicycling, consider buying him a speedometer for his bike. If your girlfriend likes sketching, buy her a set of paints so she can test out her skills with new media. Personally, I’m sick of receiving bath bombs and perfume and, ladies, I’m sure you are, too. If you want to step up your gifting game, be sure to put yourself in your loved one’s shoes.
Consider NonTraditional Gifts
My favorite gift is the one I didn’t expect. Sure, I appreciate a good pair of cabin socks, but who doesn’t like a good surprise on Christmas morning? I don’t know about you, but my heart feels so full when my friends make playlists for me. If someone were to gift me a playlist, I’d probably cry. If your budget is tight, you can get creative with free or low-cost ideas like this. A playlist, a DIY coupon book or an upcycled piece of clothing from a loved one who passed can go a long way this holiday season. If you have a wider budget, consider other options like gag gifts, floral arrangements and edible arrangements.
Keep in mind: It doesn’t have to be tangible
It’s so easy to skip over experiences while shopping for gifts. Everyone is eager to have something physical to wrap, but experiences are a great option for your loved ones. Sporting events, outdoor activities (like skiing or white water rafting) or pampering (like a spa day or a mani-pedi) are always a great way to treat your favorite giftee after a stressful holiday season. Studies show that people who value experiences over materials are statistically happier; give the gift of happiness this season!
DO your research
Girl, get your shovel — it’s time to do some digging. Some of my most successful gifts ideas have come to me through the art of social media stalking. Check out your mom’s Facebook and Pinterest, your bestie’s VSCO republishes, and your brother’s following on Instagram. With a little stalking, you can find out what gifts they’ll love!
Shop Small, Shop Local
I think shopping local or with small businesses is super important year-round, but Christmas is an especially great time to check out some new stores! Whether shopping on Etsy or at a locally owned business, you are helping the economy with just one purchase. I’ve also found that custom gifts from small businesses or Etsy are so well crafted, personalized, unique and authentic. Keep the wealth circulating in your own community! Support your neighbors!
Gifting is a stressful time, but it’s also so rewarding to spread a little joy during the holiday season. Be sure to take care of yourself during this process! All of your hard work will pay off soon.