Holiday gifts that require more effort, less money

Daily Sundial

The holiday season is here and for many students on a budget, finding that special gift for friends and family can sometimes mean having to spend way beyond your means, however, great gifts do not always have to break the bank.

Once the stress of exams are over, baking a batch of cookies or other holiday treats, can be an inexpensive and impressive gift idea sure to bring a smile to anyone with a sweet tooth. Baking alongside a friend or family member can also be fun and a great way to get you in the holiday spirit.

If baking is not your thing, but you are computer savvy, then making a personalized CD, can be a great and cheap gift for anyone on your holiday list. With the freedom to choose songs, whether they are symbolic or simply just a collection of favorite songs, this is a rather simple yet useful gift for anyone who enjoys listening to music.

Another great gift giving idea is creating a scrapbook, photo collage, or photo calendar of special times. These keepsakes, although sometimes require a little more time, are fun and creative ways to highlight the good times shared with your loved ones.

For that special someone in your life, making a coupon book can be a thoughtful and fun gift for both the giver and receiver. This can be as simple as walking the dog, cooking a full course meal, or giving a foot massage. Usually, these coupons can be redeemed at any time, with no questions asked. However, an important rule of thumb is not to promise anything that you can’t follow through with.

Being college students, many of us have family out of state that we go home to visit each year. A great way to make your parents, siblings, or friends feel like they are part of the university experience, is to buy them some university clothing or merchandise to share in the campus pride. Often times, the Matador Bookstore, has clothing and other CSUN merchandise on special, which is sure to satisfy any holiday budget. Buying hats, T-shirts, sweatshirts, and coffee cups are useful items that are sure to be appreciated.

A sure and often perfect gift idea is giving someone a gift card or gift certificate to a store. Many people argue that giving gift cards can be impersonal and sometimes expensive, especially if you have a large family or holiday gift list, but you can still be thrifty and personal at the same time. For example, if you have a friend or family member who loves coffee, you can get a Starbucks gift card and put just enough money on it to buy a couple of those non-fat lattes. Another great thing about gift cards is how great they are for those people you simply do not know well enough. For example, if you’re in a new relationship, a gift card can be a great way to avoid the awkwardness and stress of having to struggle buying that first gift. Additionally, many fast food restaurants sell booklets of gift certificates usually ranging from $5 to $20 each, specifically for the holiday season.

Keep in mind, that no matter how much a gift costs, as cliche as it sounds, it really is the thought that counts. Most likely, your little sister would not mind if you bought her that new Coach purse she’s been eyeing and your brother the new XBOX, but buying something equally useful and thoughtful, even if on a tight budget, can be just as special and memorable.

Renee Hassija can be reached at