Op-Eds Opinion

Best places to find affordable holiday gifts for college students

By Tirzah McMillan
Lifestyle Editor

With Christmas right around the corner, and various family birthdays soon approaching, it is critical I find convenient places to buy gifts that won’t break my bank. As a college student, being “broke” is not a foreign concept, but saving money wherever you can, whenever you can is not always feasible.

Take food for instance. Most of the quality grub is off-campus, which requires money for gas and to eat. When given the opportunity to skip Cheney for Red Rose Pizzeria, do the majority of us go? Uhm, yes. Should we really be spending that extra change that could be going towards student loans? Absolutely not, but I’m not here to judge. We all have to survive finals week somehow. Thank you, next.

Nonetheless, whether you are celebrating Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, or anything in between, here is a list of places to buy gifts within everyone’s price ranges!


  • Amazon.com


In today’s day and age, everything is digital. Going to the store to shop has become a hassle, but with Amazon, any item can conveniently go from your online shopping cart, to your doorstep in days with a single click.

With thousands of items between $5-10, you can purchase gifts for everyone on your list for a price well within your budget.

Additionally, with a student Amazon prime account (which has a free trial for up to six months) you will have access to exclusive items and deals with free two-day shipping.

Lastly, all purchases fulfilled by Amazon or selected from Amazon merchants can be sent directly as a gift. A packing slip will allow the recipient to know who it is from, prices can be hidden on the packing slip, a personalized gift message can be included, and Amazon provides the option for the item to be gift wrapped. It doesn’t get much easier than that.




If you are interested in unique goods and like to support independent businesses and craft-makers, Etsy is the place for you. Each item on Etsy is listed and sold by an Etsy seller who creates their own goods or curates their own shop. Depending on the seller, for an additional fee items can be gift-wrapped, or an offer for a free gift may be included with the purchase.

Items can be found for as low as $5.99, and may range from handmade jewelry and crochet scarves, to cute mugs, pillows, leggings, and more. Shipping and handling is unique to every Etsy seller, and for any questions, concerns, or customization ideas, sellers must be contacted directly. Make sure to do some research on the company or curator before making purchases to ensure financial security and product quality.




Goods, goods, and more goods! With tons of items under $25, you can purchase anniversary gifts, birthday gifts, home goods, crafts, art, and more. Any items you can think of that are both useful and creative can most likely be found at Uncommongoods.

Unlike most large name-brand companies, Uncommongoods is independently owned and advocates for impacting the world in a positive way. Through their Better to Give program, for every purchase made, $1 is donated to a non-profit organization of the customer’s choice.

Since 2001, over $2 million have been donated in an effort to improve the planet and support those who believe in the same mission. Uncommongoods provides the gifts that keep on giving.


Christmas Tree Shops


For those of us who still enjoy going outside of our homes, and are unbothered by pushing carts while amongst other consumers, 3-D stores are still a thing. If the smell of cinnamon brooms and peppermint candy do not lure you inside when you are passing by, walk in anyway.

Christmas Tree Shops pride themselves on their ability to bargain, and with their eclectic collection of festive decorations, home decor, food selection, and toys, they are hard to resist. In one stop for under 20 bucks, you can find a coffee mug for mom, new hat for dad, a game for your younger sibling, and a snack for yourself because shopping is so tiring.

Taking a look inside is totally worth it, and you may come out of the store with more than you thought for less money than you expected.


Five Below


Did someone say stocking stuffers? Because I didn’t. Candy, fuzzy socks, nail polish, phone cases, headphones, face-masks, T-shirts, pajama bottoms, everything you truly don’t need but really, really want — Five Below has it for under $5.

It is a super efficient place for anyone on the go, or in a crunch to find last minute gifts for Secret Santa. If the elves won’t do it, sometimes you have to.

Disclaimer: all individual items are five dollars or below, but please, don’t throw everything you see in your basket because it adds up QUICK. Believe me, I’ve been there. During checkout. It hurt when I pulled out my cash and realized I didn’t have enough and had to use my card. You live and you learn.




This store seems really adultish and is best utilized when grown-ups go on their lunch break. But guess what? We are grown-ups (kind of). Time to start adulting in style.

This department store is a small scale Burlington Coat Factory. It has sweaters, jewelry, shoes, home goods and appliances, skin and hair care products, books, bags, and all the in between.

T.J.Maxx successfully takes my money on any other weekday, so I might as well throw them some coins for a good cause — the joy of my companions and family in the name of Christmas cheer. With frequent sales and low-priced items, it is a great place to find elegant gifts without the hefty price tag.


With this in mind, enjoy time with family, friends, and loved ones this holiday season. For those who are fortunate and have the time to give, try to spend a small portion of your free time to give to people or a place that need some extra love, such as homeless shelters, food drives, churches, or even just try to perform one act of kindness! It will make a huge difference.

Also, for those shopping until they drop in 3-D stores, try to bring or buy reusable bags! Plastic bags were cool when Drake and Future came out with What a Time to be Alive back in 2015, but it’s almost 2019. The Earth needs our help just as much as we need it. Let’s get this bread in an ethical, eco-friendly fashion my friends.

Happy Holidays!

Photo courtesy of AP News

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