The holiday season comes with mixed emotions for college students. On one hand, you’re forced to stretch the $39.74 in your checking account into enough money to buy presents for each family member, even the weird cousins you only see once a year. On the other hand, the thought of receiving presents from your family thrills you, mostly because you haven’t bought anything besides Easy Mac and mechanical pencils for yourself in months. Students, get ready to tweak your Christmas wish list and parents, listen up: Here’s CM’s list of the presents that students really, desperately need.
1. Car Repairs
Not all college students experience the luxury of a car, but those of us lucky enough to have our own know how expensive maintenance can be. Tires, oil changes and regular repairs regularly run up a bill. The last thing you need is your car breaking down, stranding you on campus. If you’re crafty enough, you just might be able to talk mom and dad into covering these charges for you.
2. Gas Cards
Plain and simple: Cars need gas. Despite the steadily declining price of gas, filling up your tank takes a serious chunk out of your wallet. Plus, gas cards buy you more than just gas. “My parents unknowingly buy me beer and wine all the time with these things,” Florida State University junior Gordon Jackson said.
Instead of letting that huge hamper full of clothes sit and stink up your apartment, just ask mom and dad to throw down a few bucks for laundry detergent and some dryer sheets. Trust me when I say your roommates will be grateful when your laundry basket stops engulfing the entire apartment with the smell of your dirty underwear.
“I definitely didn’t appreciate having socks enough when I was younger,” Florida State University junior Sabrina Peterson said. We couldn’t agree more. Socks transformed from the childhood equivalent of coal into one of the best stocking stuffers for a budding adult. You’ll never have too many socks, especially because you wear the same mismatched striped and solid pair just about every day.
Hiking across campus in nothing but your worn-down Target flip-flops sends unbearable throbs to your feet. Ask for a good, new pair of Nikes from mom and dad this season; your feet and wallet will thank you. “I can’t afford shoes that have good arch support, and though I can’t afford to invest in preventing future back problems, my parents sure can,” Florida State University senior Monique Boileau said.
6. Grocery Store Gift Cards
Try bringing home groceries on the drive back from school; your car will reek like spoiled milk and bad eggs and your stomach will growl at the thought of your empty fridge. Instead, ask the fam for gift cards to your favorite local grocery stores. Even if you only get $15, think of all the ramen that buys.
You’re relaxing and enjoying the holidays with the family, but that little voice in the back of your head keeps warning you that next semester is rapidly approaching. You know what that means—a whole new set of books and supplies coming out of your paycheck. Use your college intellect and put down a gift card to Amazon or Chegg on your Christmas list. Sure, one gift card probably won’t cover the cost of the gigantic biology manual you’ll lug around next semester, but every penny helps.
8. Travel Funds
“I don’t make enough money to take myself on vacation, so I’d like my dad to do that,” Florida State University junior Samantha Stalnaker said. Whether your trip is a quick weekend getaway to Panama City Beach with friends or your upcoming study abroad semester in Germany, traveling anywhere requires money. If you’re able to master the “I want to get life experiences while I’m still young” speech, mom and dad might just fund your little vacay.
Buying your whole family Christmas presents will wipe your account clean. To make matters worse, January bills lurk right around the corner. Paying rent feels horrible, but paying rent after the holidays is even worse. Begging and pleading with your parents might convince them to cover your rent next month.
10. Cold Hard Cash
Simple and sweet, nothing beats the feeling of having real money to spend, especially when your bank account has remained at a steady $5.24 for the past month. You’ll always need money, you’ll definitely always use it and you’ll always feel better spending it if it isn’t really yours.
Stressed AF about Christmas presents? Us, too.
Written by Valerie Siu.
Every year without fail, I have a conversation with one of my best friends that goes something like this…
“So, what would you like for Christmas this year?”
“ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU.”
Funny? Oh yeah. Helpful? Not in the slightest. If that sounds familiar, you probably find yourself stressed AF over what exactly to gift your friends this year, or you just don’t know what to put on your wish list. Let’s eliminate the guesswork.
If “what should I ask for Christmas” leaves you tearing your hair out, you’ve come to the right place.
Take a look at the moldy health hazard you call a shower curtain currently hanging in your bathroom. Now crumple it into a ball, toss it into the garbage and don’t look back. You don’t need to die before you retire. To avoid splashing water everywhere like a hyperactive toddler as you shower, ask for a new one this holiday season.
12. Tuition money
If paying your tuition each semester makes you cry a little (read: a lot), this one’s for you. Sure, it’s a bit pricier than, say, that iPad you’ve eyed since last February, but maybe this year your bank account will stop hovering right over zero. Don’t feel comfortable asking your parents to cover the entire bill? You could suggest they help you pay half or maybe a third. Anything helps.
Forget what they say about money—it’s food that makes the world go round. “I always ask for gift cards to my favorite restaurants, or straight up cash. Chipotle is always a winner, same goes for Starbucks, Outback, Carrabbas or even local places are a good way to go,” said Florida State University sophomore Kim Monahan. Or even just plain old groceries will work great. Take it from FSU sophomore Ben Blakesburg: “[We need] food please because [we’re] poor.”
14. A Massage
That kink in your shoulders hasn’t gone away since you first started sixth grade, and you regularly find yourself yanking your hair out with frustration. Or maybe your stomach is permanently in knots at the mere thought of finishing your readings, applying for internships, paying rent…yikes. You need to chill out, like yesterday. “Maybe [ask for] a free massage,” suggested Boise State University junior Mariana Princz. “Something to help us relax.” Can’t you just feel your worries floating away?
15. Money for Textbooks
Ugh, $120 for a heavy psych book I’ll use only once? I can’t even. You don’t really need new headphones or plane tickets to Cabo (you really don’t), so why not kill two birds with one stone? “I think it would be useful because that’s personally what I spend a lot of money on especially with the new semester coming right after Christmas, money will be tight,” said Boise State junior Victoria Lantz. Beyond books, you’ll likely need other supplies, such as canvases if you’re an art major. That works as a great gift, too. “Paying tuition right after the holidays is tough, [so] a small gift towards books, and supplies are a great help. Many students such as myself are very thankful for any help towards supplies after paying tuition,” said Boise State University senior Crystal Villanueva.
16. Kitchen Appliances
You know those memes on Facebook where you see college students taping pens together as “forks?” They’re no joke, people. Appliances come in short supply, especially on our budgets, but unfortunately you actually need them. “[Ask for] an electric can opener or even just a good quality hand operated one. I’m in my first apartment and the one that came in my kitchen utensils starter pack doesn’t open anything,” said FSU sophomore Amelia Flores. “Also a microwave. We only have one because my roommate went out and bought it.” From leftover Chinese food to soggy pizza, you don’t need to me to tell you that a microwave is a godsend.
17. Snazzy #Adult Clothes
I have a cute blouse and slacks that I’ve set aside as my “interview” outfit, and I pull out that combo every time I need it. Now, what happens when I actually have to wear business casual clothes everyday? If you said I’d be screwed, you are correct. Don’t put yourself into that dilemma. We know those professional blazers and heels cost a pretty penny, cash that you don’t have to spend. But you know who does? Every well-meaning family member who asks you what you’d like for the holidays each year. Take from that what you will.
Remember the pain you felt when How I Met Your Mother was taken off Netflix? What about Friday Night Lights? Too soon? Ease the pain by asking for DVDs of your favorite shows. TV shows may not last forever on Netflix, but that DVD in your hand will. That is, unless you accidentally scratch the crap out of it. But then that’s on you.
19. Any toiletries you may need
First of all, if you’ve been out of toothpaste or shampoo since the semester started, go jump into the shower, STAT, ya filthy animal. But it happens to the best of us, including yours truly. Even if you aren’t a disaster and a half, you’ll probably still need other toiletries. “[Ask for] cute portable beauty supplies like nail kits, mini hair straighteners/curlers and quick makeup,” said FSU sophomore Shelbey Pol. Even if you feel like a hot mess on the inside, no need to let your admirers (or your roommate) know.
20. A Chromecast or Apple TV
Again, this lies on the pricier end of the spectrum, but there’s just something about binging Stranger Things on a screen larger than your laptop or, worse, your phone. If you happen to have access to a TV, you’ll appreciate this so much you’ll find yourself glued to the couch 24/7. Your dry eyes will thank you.
21. Concert Tickets
You know what they say about gifts catered towards experiences being better than actual objects. Whether you hope to go to Coachella or Taylor Swift’s next concert in 2018, concert tickets will hit the spot better than that third helping of mac and cheese after not eating all day. Now you’ll have something to look forward to next semester, beyond another long, dreary series of research papers and internship rejections. Make sure to thank your generous benefactor.
Updated on November 27, 2017 by Valerie Siu to include gifts 11-21.