The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The gift of giving

With the season of giving already under way, one very important question arises. Have you saved up for everyone on your list? Get a grip on the holiday expenditures with some suggestions that won’t turn you into a shopping victim.

“When people are motivated to make a certain kind of impression, they’ll use a gift as a way to send a message and become very anxious about how much money they spend,” said David B. Wooten, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Michigan who published a research paper on gift-giving in The New York Times.

For most students, holiday splurging can be a financial burden on their wallets. Students can barely afford weekend outings, let alone shelling out dough for everyone on their list!

“I don’t have money because I just quit my job, so any money comes from an allowance I get from my mom,” said junior Mahalya Schwadron. “When shopping for gifts, go for more of the memorabilia type, which can be more affordable.”

One suggestion for stretching your money is getting out of the too-busy mentality and trying a homemade or semi-homemade gift. They can make great presents too and are a terrific way to showcase how much time and effort you dedicated for that special someone. Craft stores sell 16-inch square pillows for no more than $10. Grab your favorite pictures with that person and, using photo transfer paper, you can make a cherished picture frame pillow will last for years.

The photo transfer paper can work also on bags, t-shirts, table covers, and more. Let the creative juices flow and keep the person’s personality in mind, i.e., an energetic and bubbly aunt might love a colorful handmade purse! Choose from all of the pre-made supplies, including various stickers and festive ornaments. Add them to a cheap picture frame for an instant upgrade.

Gather a basic scrapbook that ranges in price from $15 and up, depending on preference. They come in various shapes and colors, like a heart for your sweetheart. Insert as many pictures as you can to highlight the times you two have shared.

Gift certificates are also a great idea. Choose a store that the person wouldn’t mind shopping in. Values range from $5 up in various stores such as Target or Macys, which sell an array of different things. That way, they will have more options to choose from. Macy’s offers a personalized “design your own gift card” special. Add your own photo or personal message to make it one of a kind.

A rising trend in internet buying is the e-gift card. Available within hours of purchase, the recipient will receive the e-card in their e-mail. It works just like a regular gift card. Take note, however, that they will be only allowed to shop using the store’s online catalog, not in the actual store.

Simply spending quality time with the people you care about most is priceless and also another idea.

“As a student, I would never buy my girlfriend something worth more than $300,” said junior Pharmacy Major Andy Choi. “I give her a nice dinner, and something she really needs, not what she wants.”

If you can’t afford a pricy restaurant, try the local pizza parlor where you first met or the diner where your friends spend countless hours. Make reservations and ask for special seating arrangements ahead of time to make it memorable. Bring along some candles or a poem to set the mood.

With some extra time, personalize a handmade invitation to give to your loved one or friend beforehand.

Insert coupons that entitle the person to a massage, a cleaning of their dorm room or car and even a special gourmet meal cooked for them.

Also, why not opt for an eco-friendly gift if you can afford it? Many Web sites offer products that are not only innovative ideas, but also supportive of the “green movement.”

Gaiam.com, a lifestyle company, has a special section for their products that are $25 and under. Friends that need to release the stress of finals or extra-curricular activities can find comfort in a “Relaxation CD Set” for only $24. They can have almost three hours of calming thoughts and music.

The company also has recycled glass sun catchers and even books on global warming. Instead of engaging in the stress of wrapping presents, purchase a set of 12 plastic gift bags made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled plastic with festive swirl designs. The bags are only $15! You’ll be making someone else happy, as well as taking one step further towards improving the environment.

Those who can afford to splurge, be smart and check out the holiday sales to see what special promotions are going on, especially for student discounts! You should first determine how much money you have available and make a list of a reasonable amount you can afford to spend on each person in order to have the funds for everyone on your list.

No matter what ends up on the gift list this year, one cannot substitute what comes from the heart. Realize that it is giving and receiving the love and affection from the special people in your life that matters in the end.

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