Holiday Gifts for Your Broke College Friends

by Alice Hindanov

Finals season is drawing its curtain of gloom over college campuses across the world. Students down gallons of coffee,  break out the sweatpants and hole up in the library in a mad rush to make up the half-point difference between between a B and a B+. Then, suddenly, it’s over, your friends start to leave, someone hands you a neatly wrapped package with a pretty bow and you realize in horror that you completely forgot about the holiday season and to get any gifts.

Never fear! This year, you’ll be prepared with Embodied Magazine’s list of cheap, easy-to-buy-at-the-last-minute holiday goodies your friends will definitely appreciate

  1. Consumable goodies. Fuel your friends’ all-nighters and stretch their food money with a little help from our best friends chocolate and peanut butter. Delicious, nutritious, and any time your friend is drowning their sorrows in food they’ll think of you and hopefully calm down. Remember to be a responsible friend by opting for dark chocolate (over 72% cocoa) – rich in antioxidants without the added fats and sugars – and choose peanut butter with no additives or preservatives. We love Trader Joe’s Pound Plus bar of Belgian Chocolate ($4.99) and the Belgian Dark Chocolate Bars ($1.79 for a pack for three). Drugstores also tend to sell the infamously orgasmic Lindt truffles and Ghiradelli squares up by the register for less than a dollar a piece, so there’s plenty of choices for any taste and budget.
    Tea and coffee are the other staples of the student diet. Buy your friends a box of Celestial Seasoning’s “Sleepy Time” or “Tension Tamer” tea (just under $5 a box), Starbucks Via ($7 for a pack of seven) or a jar of cheap instant coffee. If you’re generous and environmentally friendly, opt for all-natural, responsibly packaged and chemical-free free Numi Tea, or head to your local tea shop to pick up some unique loose-leaf blends to share over final papers. NYU locals – Argo Tea and Davids Tea are prime locations. Just make sure your friend has a strainer! Bonus: Argo Tea takes Dining Dollars for everything, so stock up before the money expires!
    revlon colorburst lip butter

    Revlon Colorburst Lip Butter

  2. Cosmetics. Whether they like to wear make-up or like to put it on other people, cosmetics are a great, cheap gift for your all of your stylish friends. A visit to your local drugstore puts the world at your fingertips. For nail-art lovers, we recommend OPI ($8.50-$9 each) and Sally Hansen’s Hard as Nails line ($1.99 each). Not sure what color they’ll wear? Go with neutral, shimmery pinks or a dark, sultry red. For friends who like to make a statement with their lips, try Revlon’s ColorBurst Lip Butter ($7.99). Soft, buttery colors layer subtly over any skin tone, and the added moisturizers are great for winter skin. For a wealth of quality beauty supplies at unbelievable prices, try the E.l.f Studio store on Broadway and online. Our make-up artists love their crème and mineral eyeliners ($3) and bunny-soft brushes (starting at $3). They often have great discounts, so check out their site frequently or sign up for the email list.

    Warm & Cozy Fuzzy Socks!

  3. Winter accessories. A pair of these lovely, unbelievably fuzzy plush socks is the way to go. Seriously. No one has ever rejected fuzzy socks, especially those of us living in the cold north, as they can be layered under boots for a cute look or worn around a no-doubt under-heated apartment building. If you’re brave enough to make style choices for your friend, there’s a wealth of cute hats and scarves for under $10 at supermarkets, like these from K-Mart. If you’re in New York City, try actually approaching the street vendors selling hats, gloves and Pashmina scarves for $5. They make stylish and useful gifts. For the crafty among us, skeins of yarn are only a few dollars; knit or crochet a few scarves or hats to help alleviate finals panic and make a truly special gift for your friends.
    valentino revives the pendant

    Valentino and its Pendant Revival

    panton colors spring 2013

    Pantone Spring 2013 Trend

  4. Jewelry. As long as you’re at that superstore looking for hats and tea, make a detour to the jewelry section. There’s treasures to be found for under $5 there, as well as at H&M and American Eagle. We’ve found a few unbelievable 79 cents-plus-free-shipping deals on Amazon, too. Get your friends ready for spring fashion with geometric jewelry in unusual pastel colors and thick chains with simple, unique pendants attached.
  5. A book. If you and your friends understand one another’s interests and love sharing knowledge, buy them a cheap, used book that you know they’ll love. Amazon is a great place to start looking. If your friend isn’t the type to read Anna Karenina, novelty gift books are always a cute, cheap pick-me-up that’s nice to have on the shelves. Bonus: they can be regifted indefinitely. Here’s some we picked up at thrift stores and garage sales for less than a dollar! New Yorkers, hit up the Strand’s “outside books,” or any cute used book store in your neighborhood for some $1 – $3 finds.

Remember to make a list of all the friends that need gifts and head out on a relaxing, day-long shopping adventure. With these tips, you’ll get your holiday shopping done before you can say “I’m going to fail that final!”


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