Christmas shopping, college-kid edition

Consider these Christmas gift ideas for loved ones that are cheap but still sentimental

Jenna Erickson

More stories from Jenna Erickson

Eau Claire eats
April 2, 2020

Photo by Submitted

Pictured is a small gift being handed to a loved one.

Although we haven’t even reached Thanksgiving yet, I busted out my Christmas socks and started listening to my favorite Pentatonix Christmas album the day after Halloween.

From gorging myself with way too many sweets, listening to Christmas music on repeat and enjoying the warm company of loved ones, this is my favorite time of the year.

While all of these aspects of the holiday season are wonderful, giving to those who I love most has always been the highlight of my Christmas, as cheesy as it sounds. I have never been one to spend a whole lot of money on gifts, but I always do my best to make them as meaningful as possible. 

As I have been brainstorming some gift ideas for loved ones, I’ve also been dreading checking my bank account. I don’t have a stable job and am paying for tuition and I know many college students are in the same boat, so this holiday season I’m trying to save even more money while still getting gifts for my friends and family that still hold sentimental value.

Here are some gift ideas I’ve thought of that are inexpensive but still thoughtful. You can give any of these things to your boyfriend, girlfriend, mom, grandpa, best friend, etc…

  • A care package
    • Think about some little things that person loves: chapstick, lotion, candy, perfume, colorful pens, ect..
  • A picture frame with a picture of you and the person
    • A lot of stores sell super cheap frames that are still visually appealing.
  • A nice holiday-scented candle
    • Once the aroma of the Christmas cookies and pine of the Christmas tree’s scent leaves the home, a good-smelling candle can always freshen the air and remind one of the memories they made during the last month of the year.
  • A playlist 
    • Create one on Spotify or whatever music app they use with all of the favorite songs you love listening to together or songs you know they love.
  • Box of cake mix
    • Getting a gift that is hands-on always makes a simple recipe into a fun bonding experience and memory with a friend or family member. Maybe even buy some fun frostings and toppings! 
  • A recipe to that person’s favorite meal or food with some of the ingredients to get started
  • A homemade loaf of bread
    • Can’t go wrong with some carbs, plus baking is always fun. It’s much more rewarding when you bake something and give it to someone. Make cookies or brownies even.
  • Mason jar memories
    • Grab a mason jar and write down some memories or things you love about that person on slips of paper. This jar can sit right next to their bed or on their desk, which can always make them smile.
  • Socks
    • Amazon sells fuzzy socks for super cheap in large bundles and you can’t go wrong with socks, especially Christmas themed ones.
  • A handwritten note with a homemade gift card that says “one free drink” to their favorite coffee shop you both love going to together.
    • You’re essentially just offering to buy them a coffee and share some time with them, which is always thoughtful.
  • Mugs with their favorite candy or hot chocolate mix
  • Thrift them a funny Christmas sweater
    • You can get a good laugh out of this one if you make them wear it on Christmas day.
  • A self-care kit
    • Grab a couple of face masks from Target and share a self-care day with each other. These are always fun to do with your entire family

Erickson can be reached at [email protected]