Top Five Gifts to Give on a College Budget

By Emily Clark ‘15

In just three short weeks, final exams will be over. Yep—we’ll type that one more time: in just three short weeks, final exams will be over. There will be no more papers, no more books. No more tests or review sessions. No more cramming, chugging coffee, all-nighters, or mad dashes to the printers. We’ll all be home, basking in the sweet sound of Netflix and the undeniable comfort of our own beds.

And as blissful as that sounds, there’s something else that accompanies winter break: gifts. Yes, gifts to receive, and those are undoubtedly wonderful. But there are also gifts to give. In our experience, wrapping up a pack of ramen noodles and sticking it under the tree for your parents usually doesn’t go well, no matter how broke you claim to be.

So here’s the guide for everyone who missed Black Friday, slept through Cyber Monday, and spent all their disposable income at 3am buying espresso shots for everyone in the Middle Ground during Finals Week.

 1. For your uncle from out of town: Central (or Rendezvous, or Corky’s) BBQ Sauce

When you lack the funds for an awesome gift, you can always bank on your awesome city. Specifically, the awesome BBQ in your awesome city. Pick up your uncle (or grandpa or father) a bottle of Memphis-specific BBQ sauce or dry rub. It’s something to start a conversation about school with, and gives Uncle Jim a reason to look forward to the next family cookout.


2. For your parents: Framed Parents Weekend Photo

Remember that moment during Parents Weekend, when your mom made your whole family pose in front of the Lynx for at least 15 minutes while she figured out how to turn on her camera, and then proceeded to take approximately 100 photos? You need to find one of those photos. Parents love nothing more than a heartfelt gift, so why not frame a shot of your whole family on campus? For under $10, you can preserve a memory and tug on their heartstrings.


3. Your roommates: Basket of Dorm Friendly Food

It’s not as if you don’t like your roommates; it’s more like you don’t like spending money on your roommates. Luckily for you, most college kids speak the same language: food. Why not set your roommates up with the best back-to-school goodies basket ever? A pack of gum, some instant coffee, and a few packs of Ramen? Cheap, but oh-so-appreciated.


4. Your significant other: Dinner and a (free) Show, or Concert, or Event

This one is tricky. Here at the Communications Department, we all stared at each other for a bit before coming up with any conclusions. But luckily, with a little help from the ilovememphisblog, we’ve come up with your solution—pair dinner with a free event, for double points for the price of one. Every magazine says couples that spend money on activities are happier than couples that spend money on things. Capitalize on that, and find a free event in Memphis you’d both enjoy. Art show at Crosstown? Movie at Beale Street landing? Trip to the zoo on Tuesday afternoon? Splurge for lunch before or dinner after, and you’ve got hours of gifted entertainment for the price of a meal. It’s cheaper than that watch you were looking at, and more fun too.


5. Your siblings: Smart House on DVD

For this one, we suggest you tap into nostalgia, and all those childhood memories. Did you have a favorite board game when you were five? A beloved Disney Channel movie in grade school? A quirky stuffed animal you fought over until Middle School? Get on Ebay—or Amazon – and hunt it down. You’d be surprised just how many childhood shows have made it on to DVD. Give a gift that invokes nostalgia, and then relive your childhood by using it together. Saving money and recreating memories? Holiday joy.