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The Sangfroid’s Quick & Dirty Gift Guide

December 14, 2010

Are you a twenty-something college-ish modern American living roughly paycheck to paycheck because who needs a 401k anyway? Fear not, my years of being a poor college student with a slightly creative side has helped me survive the holidays time and time again. Compiled below is a handy-dandy list of do-it-yourself creations, low-cost but full of instant-gratification gifts, and even some stuff that’s just plain free. With only 10(!!!) days until Christmas, everything here is ideal for last minute gifts too!

1. Food
#1 because it’s so obvious but so often forgotten. Plates of cookies or brownies for your office mates, a home-cooked 3-course meal with cosmos for your Sex and the City group of friends, and personalized giftbaskets of yummy treats for all the so-and-so’s. If you’re really feeling festive, red and green jell-o shots for your other poor college roommates are always welcome.
Peppermint Bark
Pasta, pasta, pasta
Jell-o shots

2. Giftcards That Don’t Suck
As The Hating Expert so blatantly put it, giftcards say, “I like you exactly this amount of money’s worth”. Seriously, how lame does a Target giftcard look? The trick to giving a giftcard that doesn’t suck is to make it personable. If your friend is a craft hound, get them a gift certificate to an Etsy shop they love. Bookworms, a Kindle e-book voucher or a simple Barnes and Noble card. Combining gift cards too with memberships is good too, should the store offer it.
Victoria’s Secret (for the lingerie lover)
Think Geek (for your nerdy dad)

3. Wall Art by You
Those with “no artistic ability”, don’t skip over this! Though the first thing that comes to mind with homemade wall art is generally an elaborate painting, its not the only option. Collages (made from magazines, photos, or mixed mediums), pop art made from objects, and even plain photos you took are all wall art.
Collage tutorial

4. Free Services
I’m not talking about “IOU one steamy night of hot tub sex” coupons (though I suppose…), but genuine services that your friend has to deal with all year. Babysitting, dog walking, simple car repairs (I still can’t change my own oil), massages, and yard or house work are all unexpected but much appreciated gifts. It seems cheap (because it is) but in economically tough times, it can be a load-off to know that for the next 3 months, you won’t have to pay for a babysitter.

5. Magazine Subscriptions
I’m one of those dummies who pays $5 every month for a copy of a magazine I could easily subscribe to all year for $10. If you have a friend who does this, please slap them upside the head and get them a subscription.

6. Stocking/Basket Stuffers
A lot of times when Christmas shopping online, I run across approx. 1,000 cute and clever things in those “under $10!” sections, but know they are all super lame by themselves. Combine those items into a stuffed stocking or decorated basket for a neat mish-mosh (is that a word?) of trinkets.
Forever21 Stuffers
Think Geek Stuffers
Etsy Stuffers

7. Crocheted, Stitched, or Knitted Items
Though it may require a bit of work if you’re a beginner, fancy needle work is ultimately not very hard, and allows a lot of creative freedom. My friend is crocheting a pair of dog booties for her dog so she can go outside without freezing her paws off, and even my poor knitting skills have managed a few scarves. Even just stitching quotes or simple pictures into pillows isn’t very hard, but it does show you took the time to truly put something unique together.
Knitting Tutorial
Crocheting Tutorial
Stitching Tutorial


8. Booze
Because really, that’s usually when you have the best times with your friends.


9. Any Of These Crafts
Seriously, I think I’ve utilized at least 1 or 2 things off this list ever year. Everything is relatively easy to make, personalize, and create in a short amount of time (or long if you want to dedicate more to it).

10. Time
“Oh Tegan, shut up, that is such a lame gift”. No, you shut up. Time is an awesome gift. We have limited amounts, yet we often choose to spend it on crappy things like jobs and getting enough sleep. Spend a night, a day, a weekend with a person and actually do things. Explore a new restaurant (or visit a favourite), play in a park, people watch, just do something together and make that person the focus. Stop worrying about work the next day, or if there’s something you should be getting done at home. Creating memories is a lot better than another sweater vest in a package.

Other Tidbits:

For those with a large group of mutual friends, organize a holiday event with gift exchanging or gift games like Secret Santa or White Elephant. Just spending a bit of time celebrating the holidays with people is more fulfilling than sending a package through the mail and not seeing the person until February.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. jeanine permalink
    December 14, 2010 9:41 pm

    Awesome ideas!! I’m going to use these ideas. Looking off of those websites gave me ideas of my own!

  2. December 15, 2010 3:46 am


  3. December 24, 2010 5:36 am

    Booze, gift cards, food and magazines are all something I can go for. But I don’t want any knitted items, especially not socks or underwear.

    P.S. — YOu must be one of the last people under the age of 30 in the country who still reads actual magazines. I’m impressed.

    • December 24, 2010 7:19 pm

      Haha, I love magazines! They’re transported easily and are a nice break from the computer screen. Plus when I’m done with them I like to clip helpful articles out and keep them, and make collages from pictures. Useful stuff.

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