Philanthropy for the Procrastinator: Your (Late) Holiday Gift Guide

The sound of Mariah Carey’s 1994 hit “All I Want for Christmas Is You” on the radio means it’s officially the holiday season. It’s that time of year when you finally get to relax and spend time with the ones you love. This break, however, comes at a price.

For many college students, money is tight. Whether it’s tuition draining your bank account or minimum wage not filling it back up quickly enough, it may be hard to get that perfect gift for your special person.

Another prime aspect of being a college student is procrastination. Don’t try to deny it, Christmas is less than a week away and instead of hitting the mall, you’ve been binge watching Netflix–I know I have. I may be late to the party but wow, Breaking Bad is good.

Luckily, you have me: the college student who has procrastinated to the point of currently being presentless. Below are a few suggestions of gifts on a budget while facing a time constraint:


A Framed Poster

There’s a poster for everything. From movies to music albums, you can easily find a poster for under $10. Wanting to look like really impressive? Slap it in a frame.

These days, a plastic poster frame can cost anywhere from $7 to $15 depending on its quality. It’s tradition to have a college dorm room strewn with poorly taped posters. Having a nice frame is the difference between living in a hostile and living in an art gallery.

You can get posters and frames at about any specialty or big-box store, also check Amazon. Just know that since it’s so close to Christmas, you might only find Minecraft ones.


Vinyl Records

Vinyls, according to hipsters, supposedly sound superior to digital files. They’re lying to you and to themselves in order to justify the insane price of a stereo system. However, with that being said, they do look pretty damn cool hanging on your bedroom wall.

Vinyls are nice decorative pieces that can show off your musical tastes. Often they include a section of pictures, a poster (again–frame this) or other paraphernalia from a band.

A lot of single disc records are around $20, but be careful as multiple disc and special editions can get quite expensive. Record stores often have larger selections than commercial stores and offer used sections, which are much cheaper.

Barnes & Noble and Target are great places to find vinyl records for a good price. However, if you’re going to buy a record, try to get it from a local store. In my experience, their employees tend to be friendlier (and you may just help prevent the corporate control of the United States).


A Book

You might say, “But it’s 2018, no one reads books anymore!” Well, you’re wrong. Books are a great inexpensive gift that can be highly personal. Introducing someone to a new book or author can open a bounty of possibilities for exploring genres, series, ideas and more.

To those that say digital books are cheaper and better, let me just ask you this: Why would clicking a button be more satisfying than turning a page? It isn’t more satisfying. Also, books smell better.

If you’re finding it difficult to pick the perfect book, try getting a gift card to a local bookstore. However, it’ll be a little less personal and you’ll forever be remembered as the person who just doesn’t care.

Barnes & Noble is the obvious choice for this one, but check to see if you can support a local business.


A Polaroid Camera

Continuing with the trend of items being brought back to life, Polaroid cameras have made big strides lately. They’re a little more expensive than other items on this list, but they have more of a functional purpose.

Remember that, along with the camera, you might want to get some extra film as either a small amount or none is included in the box. What’s the fun of only being able to take 10 pictures? It’s like a 5-year-old getting a battery operated toy without the batteries. A disappointing tease.

These cameras can be found online or at just about any electronic store. Even places like Meijer and Walmart have them stocked. Make sure to check brands as prices do vary.



A plant is a great gift. Not only is it cheap, it’s great for kids because it teaches them to take care of a living organism. And hey, if the kid has sociopathic tendencies, it’s a lot easier to deal with a dead plant than a dead cat.

There’s an endless amount of plants to choose from, so it won’t be hard to find the perfect choice. Succulents are a great choice, for example. Everybody loves the way they look and they’re super easy to take care of. They only need water once every couple of days.

Head on over to a local flower shop or grocery store for this one. Make sure you pick fresh because you don’t want to give a pile of dead leaves.

But in all seriousness, Christmas is a special time of the year and it’s meant to be spent with family. Presents don’t matter as long as they’re personal and given with love. And if this helped you out at all this holiday season or if you have an idea for a gift not on this list, let us know.