The broke college students’ gift guide

by Christine Whitman

Valentine’s Day creeps up on us every year, and it seems to be the overly expensive holiday that no college student is ever prepared for. The life of an average college student is comprised of inhaling coffee, studying and eating large amounts of ramen noodles, not gift giving. Most college students are perpetually broke, making the prospect of buying gifts that much more intimidating. With only one day before Valentine’s Day, I expect to overhear from both men and women alike, “What do you think I should get for so-and-so?” Luckily, I have some ideas, because no one wants to give, or get, a terrible gift on Valentine’s Day.

For women:

1. You can never go wrong with the traditional presents—her favorite flowers, candy, jewelry, etc. They’re classics for a reason. While they may seem expensive, raid the dollar candy bin at Wal-Mart, pick your own flowers or scout out some funky, vintage jewels from a thrift store.

2. Take her out to her favorite restaurant, bar or club. You already know she loves it, and chances are her favorite spot isn’t a five-star, fancy restaurant.

3. If you’ve been together for some time, print out a hard copy of her favorite picture of the two of you, date the back and frame it.

For men:

1. If he’s a sports fan, consider buying him a T-shirt featuring his favorite team. He’ll love it, and every time he wears it, he’ll think of you. Is a T-shirt too pricey? Printed accessories such as key chains, bottle openers and pens are useful and cheaper.

2. If he’s a bookworm, raid your local discounted bookstore and look for pieces written by his favorite author. Better yet, find a book by an author you know he’ll love, but hasn’t yet discovered.

3. Give him something he really needs. If he was complaining last week about how his phone charger isn’t working, buy him another. He’ll find it comforting to know you’re listening, and you’ll feel better knowing your money isn’t going to waste.

For the couples:

Put your money together for an experience you’ll both love.

1. Go to breakfast or dinner together, and specifically pay for your partner’s meal while he or she pays for yours.

2.  Stay local. Big name concerts can be expensive; find a local concert, musical or poetry reading that’ll be cheaper, but just as enjoyable.

The most important thing about giving a Valentine’s Day gift is that it’s personal to whoever is receiving it. The recipient will love whatever you get him or her as long as you put thought into it. Gifts don’t have to necessarily be expensive as long as they’re thoughtful.