Shopping in a Winter Wonderland

Shopping in a Winter Wonderland

By Bessie King

It is expected the average American will spend $681 on gifts this holiday season, according to a Newsweek article Nov. 28.

This may make budgets necessary, but they aren’t easy to keep track of with all the different family members and friends who can find their way onto holiday lists. However, there are some affordable options to keep wallets from shrinking and even the pickiest gift receivers happy.


Students may wish to thank their folks for all they gave them this year, but who wants to buy another pair of slippers or add to Dad’s tie collection? Buying presents for parents can be a difficult task.

“I don’t really know what to get my mom yet; I’m kind of waiting for my sister to see if she has any ideas,” said Ian Phillips, a senior business major.

Although it may be tough to buy for the ‘rents without having to worry about what they’re already getting, there are some pretty safe bets this holiday season.

Thanks to Internet wish lists like, popular products around and under $20 can be found. If Mom is into beauty treatments, visit for gift set specials. Browse through the site’s “Holiday Boutique” section to find sets that arrive next day or within one week of purchase, like the Planet Spa African Sea Butter set. Inside a medium-sized vinyl bag, which can later be used for makeup, the buyer will find foot and elbow cream, a moisture mask and a cuticle cream for only $12.99.

Head over to Crate and Barrel in case spa treatments are not Mom’s favorites. The store’s Professional Cookie Press Kit, selling for $24.95, is packaged in heavy duty stainless steel and comes with a recipe book, storage box and nine different cookie designs.

But there is another person to remember: Dad. Even though he may be more old school than new wave, there’s still a chance for finding a good gift. Most prepared individuals would value the Victor Deluxe Emergency Road Kit, and if Dad is into car care, he will too.

The kit includes gloves, booster cables, road flares and other emergency essentials packed up in a waterproof carrying case and is on sale at Ace Hardware stores for $21.99.

When all else fails, give hand-made and heartfelt gift baskets a shot. Pat Vervetto, Frugal Living newsletter writer for, said handmade gifts are a hit for holiday gift giving.

Some of the suggested gifts include a stash of seeds in a hand-painted container for the gardener, a gift basket with office supplies bought at the dollar store for the office worker, a recipe box filled with organized family recipes for the cook and a personalized book divider for the reader. Whether it’s store-bought or homemade, parents may just be happy knowing they were remembered.

“I don’t think there’s a limit on how much money to spend, but most parents know students are on a budget, so it’s more of a sentimental value than of a monetary value when receiving a gift,” Phillips said.


With Dora the Explorer, Batman action figures, Game Boy Micro and the latest Paul Frank fashions, having to buy a gift for the brother or sister makes it easy to go for a gift card. Even though toy, clothing and video game prices may stress the budget, there are other gifts siblings can enjoy.

Those gifts include Mr. Potato Head for toddlers, on sale at for $8.99, as well as the Play-Doh Fun Bucket that comes with different molds, figures and jars of Play-Doh in a convenient ready-to-go bucket for $10.

Seven to 10-year-old brothers can have creative fun with Lego’s Bionicles Special Edition Guardian Toa set, which includes two convertible figures and sells for $17.99. Young sisters can also use their imagination with the Disney Dress Up Costume Set, complete with 23 pieces and other accessories for $17.99 at Toys R Us.

“My brother wants a game, I don’t even know which it is, but I’m not a big spender so it’s all about being creative with what you have to get presents for everyone,” said Kayne Bordes, a middler biology major.

Tweens and teenagers can be given one of the many DVDs on sale right now at Target and, like “Madagascar” or “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” each for $15.98. If music is their preference, get them a custom iPod cover at Best Buy for $15.99.

Older siblings may also like the humor-filled Holiday Survival Kit, with fresh mints, earplugs and eggnog shot glasses, on sale at for $12. Or help them stay warm this winter with a pair of gloves or a scarf from Gap, with prices ranging from $14.50 to $19.99.

Pals and Partners

The bank wasn’t broken when buying gifts for the fam’ and it doesn’t need to be for friends and dates either.

“I’ll probably give my friends small little things, cute gifts and such,” said Gabriela Gibb, a middler music industry major.

Small gifts are a safe bet for everyone from roommates to best friends. When looking for a present for a girlfriend, visit Bath ‘ Body Works, where gift bags are a specialty. Some, like the Santa Baby Bag, have lotions, sprays and shower gels starting at $12.50. For a gift for a “boy,” look no further than Uncle Bob’s Turbo Snow Tube at Dick’s Sporting Goods stores for $19.99.

“I don’t think money matters; I think it depends on the relationship,” Gibb said. “You can give more than the present, and that’s the important thing.”

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