Thrifty gifts: A to Z

Adam Griffiths

Short on cash this year? Here’s 26 gift ideas for $20 or less

The holidays are right around the corner. It’s no secret many college students are strapped for cash, so this list may make gift shopping a little easier.


If you and your friends are 21, alcohol is really what people want. Be classy. Bailey’s or alcoholic eggnog are good for the holidays.


Sarah DeWitt, freshman nursing major, said fleece throws are fun to make and give.

“It takes a little while, but it’s worth it,” she said. “You can get kits at places like Jo-Ann Fabrics, and you can usually find them on sale for less than $20 around Christmas.”


Starbucks gift cards are a great last-minute pickup. Small coffee makers for residence halls or apartments usually cost less than $20 at Target or Wal-Mart.


Talk about one-stop shopping. Find out favorite movies and make one trip to Best Buy or FYE. Most titles are less than $20, but make sure to give a gift receipt in case your guess is off.

Energy Drinks

Red Bull. Amp. Tab. With so many different varieties, no one on your list will sleep for weeks.


More likely to be enjoyed by the ladies on your list, a bouquet is a guaranteed hit. Plus, flowers are easy gifts for all the moms and grandmas in the world.

Gift cards

Many argue gift cards really aren’t gifts, but who cares? It’s the gift of choice, pun intended.


With Kent’s first heavy snowfall yesterday, hats, gloves and scarves are what everyone is searching for. Old Navy has men’s and women’s coordinating fleece accessories available two for $10 so you can stay warm and look good while braving the wind.

iPod accessories

iPods are everywhere, and so are accessories for them. Look for the “Made for iPod” logo; it guarantees compatibility with the popular MP3 player.


Jelly Belly. Bernie Botts, from the Harry Potter movies. With so many different varieties and combinations available, it’d be hard not to find some for everyone.


Often these cute and cuddly companions are free, but make sure the person you’re giving it to actually wants a pet .

Love Lottery Tickets

Available at booksellers such as Borders and Barnes and Noble, these sets of scratch-off cards reveal PG-rated acts of affection for those in relationships.

Magazine subscriptions

Hearst magazines is offering $5 subscriptions online until Christmas Eve. Get subscriptions to periodicals such as Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Marie Claire and Popular Mechanic at


They may not appreciate it, but you’re in college. Who expects a gift from you, anyway?


Find your friends’ favorite character or hobby on an ornament at Hallmark. If that doesn’t work, buy supplies at a craft store and make one yourself.

Picture frames

For close friends or significant others, get a cheap frame from Target or Michaels and make it your own. Add a photo and decorate the frame.

“It’s decorative and adds a personal touch to a usually impersonal gift,” said Kate Misconish, junior early childhood education major.

20 Questions

This game keeps people who can get their hands on it occupied for a while. The real question this handheld device won’t ask is how it knows exactly what you’re thinking every time you play.


“I’m a broke college student,” said Rachel Box, junior psychology major. “Everyone needs razors, and they’re pretty cheap.”

Not the most orthodox of gifts, but razors are the cheapest of toiletries. Find out which brand your friends use, and buy them all a pack of replacements.


Along the same line as the picture frames above, generic scrapbooks are available for between $10 to $20. Take some favorite photographs, jazz it up with the myriad of accessories available, and a scrapbook makes a gift that gives memories for a lifetime.


Movie passes and tickets for small venue shows make great gifts and are something you can share with your friends.

“They can also be used for whatever they prefer, rather than maybe getting them something they may not use or like,” Misconish said.


Thanks to global warming, there could be five inches of rain next week instead of snow. And because everyone knows campus is the next best thing to a wind tunnel, it’s easy to go through a few umbrellas every year.


Videos and playing equipment have significantly dropped in price since the dawn of DVDs. Some movies are still only available on VHS, so if there are some true cinephiles on your list, track down some of their favorite classics. EBay and secondhand shops should be good places to start.

Wii Points Cards

The hottest item on everyone’s list this year isn’t cheap, but this accessory for it is. Give your friends who were lucky enough to get their own Wii 2,000 points so they can buy classic Nintendo games online for $25.

Xbox Games at Burger King

Burger King has jumped on the video game bandwagon with three offerings for the Xbox and Xbox 360 for $4 each.

But as Wired Magazine reported yesterday, “If you need Burger King game points to impress people, you’ve made some poor choices in your life.”

Yellow Kent State T-Shirt

Take a trip to the University Bookstore for this cheap gift for any of your Kent State friends.

Trip to the Zoo

Only an hour from campus, admission is $3 per person to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. For a little more, visitors can also explore the zoo’s rainforest exhibit.

Contact features reporter Adam Griffiths at [email protected].