Holiday gift giving with meaning — and a budget

Angel Mack

Sydney Palek and her boyfriend started dating five months ago. When he complained about getting cold in his room, she decided to make him a quilt for Christmas.

“I just thought of something he wouldn’t [expect] me to get [for] him,” she said. “I just thought it’d be different because I’ve already done tie blankets [as gifts for others], and this is our first holiday together.”

Palek, sophomore integrated health studies major, said handmade gifts are a good choice to save money and give something special.

According to the National Retail Federation, the average holiday shopper will spend about $750 this year, which is up by about $10 from 2011. Students may buy or make gifts for the holidays, but the goal is the same: To give something personal.

Demetrius Adams, excercise/leisure and sport graduate student, plans to spend between $50 and $100 on his girlfriend’s holiday gift. He recommends buying something that shows you listen because “anyone can buy a TV.”

Gift ideas and prices

Pandora Charm bracelets: $40 – $200, not including charms

No sew fleece fabric from JoAnn Fabric and Crafts: $22 – $32, makes one blanket

Cardmaking kit from Home Shopping Network: $19.95 – $39.95, makes more than 20 cards

A Spice Girls CD, another classic CD or DVD from Walmart: about $5

“You get a charm bracelet,” he said. “You get charms that tell a story about what she likes … Let her know you’re paying attention to her.”

Palek and her boyfriend agreed to share a $150 budget. Palek got her cloth and materials for just about $25.

Friends Emily Ross, freshman visual communication design major, and Emma Hanby, freshman exploratory major, both like to make gifts for birthdays and holidays.

Ross makes jewelry out of wire and beads, while Hanby makes personalized cards. This year, Hanby made Ross a card for her birthday.

“You’re a very interesting person,” she said to Ross, “so [the card] was very colorful.”

Making cards and jewelry — the friends explained — is cheap because they can make a lot with a little.

“You can buy someone something,” Hanby said, “but if you make it, it’s more personal, it’s creative and you can tailor it to the person you’re making it for.”

Claire Dieringer and Miranda Harig, both freshman dance performance majors, like to buy gifts for friends. With five or six friends to buy for, they said they aim to spend as little as they can to still get a good gift.

The quilt Palek is making is “Mario”-themed because she and her boyfriend played the video game together over the summer. Palek still has to piece the quilt together with her grandmother’s sewing machine.

“It’s going to be time consuming,” she said, “but I figure he’s worth it.”

Contact Angel Mack at [email protected].