Holiday Gift Ideas that Won’t Break the Bank


Catherine Galliford, Staff Writer

It’s the holiday season, and of course that means it’s time to break the piggy bank and figure out what on earth your friends and family could possibly want for Christmas. No matter how well you know them, holiday shopping is always a challenge, especially since high schoolers aren’t exactly making a steady income. No matter what, though, it’s important to remember that the receiver will always be touched that you thought of them at all (but really- get them something cool).

Secret Santa

If at all possible, this is a fantastic idea. Instead of worrying about every single person in your friend group, it’s up to fate as to who you have to shop for. That way, you can put more time, thought, (and money) into their gift. Essentially, Secret Santa means that everyone writes their name on a slip of paper and places it into a hat or bowl, and each person participating picks a name at random. Whatever name you draw, that’s the person you’ll be shopping for, with no worries about everyone else! Oftentimes, groups will set a spending limit so no one goes overboard, and overall it’s a very fun way to get your gift-giving done this year.

Gift Cards

Everyone loves gift cards. It’s like cash, but more personal. Try and subtly find out where your friends like to shop or where they like to grab a bite after school, like Target, Forever21, Starbucks or Panera Bread, etc. Some stores like Costco or BJ’s will sell gift cards in big packs, or you can pick up a different card for each person you’re shopping for. Another big hit is an iTunes card, which allows your friends to finally buy songs for their library instead of dealing with Spotify’s constant commercials. Either way, a gift card and a personal note is a big hit and a good way to not worry that one gift is more thoughtful than another.


If your budget just isn’t allowing it this year, well- it really is the thought that counts, as tired and cliche as that is. If you’re the creative type, a short story or maybe a drawing of something your friend is interested in is really an awesome gift to receive. The recipient will be so flattered that you took the time to work really hard on making something totally unique just for them, and it’ll last longer than a new lotion or Dunkin’ Donuts gift card. If the arts aren’t your forte, there are still plenty of thoughtful, low-budget ideas. Make them a playlist, or a simple DIY craft, like an ornament. If possible, try to make it related to one of your inside jokes- it makes it all the more thoughtful, and your friend will feel jollier because of your effort.

Bundle Ideas

One big worry many shopper have is that one gift will seem more personal than another. One way to get around that is to buy your friends the same item, but with variations. For example, scarves. Lots of people love scarves, and picking out different designs for each friend is one way to make it more personalized. More ideas include body spray/perfume/cologne, wallets, makeup or a nail polish, and more. For shoppers with a bit more cash in their wallets this year, phone cases are always a necessity for butter-fingered teenagers. Whatever it is, make sure that it’s something everyone would enjoy and that there’s enough different kinds so each is unique to your friends.

No matter what, gift-giving is just a way to celebrate the holidays and have fun with your friends. Don’t stress- your friends will be happy that you thought of them, and giving is always more exciting than we give it credit for. Holiday shopping really isn’t as painful as we make it out to be – unless you’re shopping for your boyfriend or girlfriend, though. With that, I can only wish you luck.

Happy Holidays!