Perplexed Over Presents

Christmas is coming up, and, as usual, it’s making me super stressed. I’m a terrible shopper. I’m really bad at coming up with gift ideas, but it’s extra tough having to balance a college schedule and budget! I obviously can’t afford a personal shopper or anything like that. I feel like gift cards are impersonal. I’m guessing I’ll just need to go walk around the mall and see if I get inspired. Do you have any ideas?

Written by Nancy Pearson, President of Nancy Pearson Design.

You’re not alone in the land of perplexed gift-buyers; one survey even revealed that one-third of people would prefer a root canal over Christmas shopping! The average American spends nearly $900 dollars on Christmas presents, but a college student budget doesn’t allow for anywhere near that. Fortunately, there are tons of ways to give that are both unique as well as easy on the wallet, and there are free services out there that will help you come up with ideas.

Even though you don’t have the big bucks to hire someone to shop for you, you can still get professional, personalized recommendations for gifts. This is such a famous problem that there are companies specifically designed to help you come up with unique and meaningful Christmas gifts. Niche company Unique Christmas Gifts stresses the importance of finding a gift that is tailored to the recipient’s needs, wants, and values–and that any such company that knows its stuff will have already picked a selection of high-quality, out-of-the-ordinary possibilities. Many companies are expanding their online customer service centers and are employing new technology to help speed up the process of answering questions and solving problems. The professionals at Digital Genius emphasize the success of such tools in making the customer service process easier on both the agents as well as the consumers, so it’s worth contacting a company directly for suggestions.

You can also start planning today for next year’s Christmas. There are plenty of 26- and 52-week plans out there to help you start stashing your funds, so that by next year, you at least have your budget taken care of. Keep a journal or a Word document, and if you hear someone mention that they need or want something, or if you see an item (or service) that you think someone you know would appreciate, jot it down.

Remember that your friends and family know that you’re in college–most of them have probably been there, too, and they understand the limitations of time and money. They won’t fault you for small or inexpensive gifts. Anything highly personal to you or your college experience could be a strong possibility. Find a book written by a campus author, or create a scrapbook. Research nonprofit or charitable organizations that align with your and your family’s values, and make a donation on behalf of everyone. You might also offer a deep-clean on your parents’ house (or a friend’s apartment). If you can simply give something meaningful and personal, it will mean the world to your friends and family.

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