I know the holiday season isn’t just about exchanging gifts, but it’s a widely recognized part of it. Buying gifts for the people in your life — gal pals, parents, siblings, boyfriend — is fun at first…then you realize you’re struggling majorly and running out of ideas, time, and possibly money. Ah, don’t you just love shopping for people? I started thinking about the fun gifts that I’d want to buy for my friends and family and then realized that some of these ideas might also be perfect for other peoples’ friends and family. Thus, this blog post was born! If you’re totally stumped on gift ideas, hopefully this gift guide will give you some inspiration.
~For your friends + sister~
the sporty girl
water bottle ~ yoga mat ~ cellphone armband
If you have a friend or two who love working out at the gym, get them some cute workout essentials they’ll surely love. Personally, I’m a huge fan of reuseable water bottles with funny or sassy quotes — they make the gym so much more fun! A yoga mat is perfect for taking to the gym even if they aren’t into yoga because they can use it to lay on when doing crunches or planks. I have been meaning to treat myself to a cellphone armband for a really long time now! If your workout clothes don’t have pockets for your phone but you still want to listen to music while you workout, this is a must!
kate spade journal ~ pen gift set ~ magazine subscription
Okay, they probably already have too many journals to count but I doubt they’d complain about these ideas! It’s so great to have so many places to get your thoughts out when you need to, so you can never go wrong with these ideas. A pretty pen set will probably make your friend cry tears of joy, especially if they’re a major stationery junkie. If they like to write, they may also like to read, so get them a subscription to one of their favorite magazines. Seventeen magazine subscriptions are only $10 for one year!
the beauty queen
liquid lipstick ~ makeup sampler ~ beauty subscription box
Colourpop is a great pick for liquid lipsticks — they’re only $6 each and there are so many shades to choose from! Check out my swatches and review of some of Colourpop’s lipsticks and eyeshadows. There are so many cute makeup samplers available at places like Sephora and Ulta. This is a great gift for the up and coming makeup guru of your group, or that friend who’s just really into makeup. I’m currently obsessing over beauty subscription boxes! There are so many cool services out there, so you can find one that suits your budget and get them a couple of months worth of boxes.
makeup mirror ~ nail polish set
A makeup mirror is a perfect gift if your friend is away at college — it allows you to get your makeup done in the comfort of your room rather than trekking to the bathroom on a busy morning! You can never go wrong with a nail polish set — there are so many cute ones. And if you want you can buy a nail file, nail decals, and other nail art supplies to create a DIY nail art bundle.
blanket scarf ~ sassy sweater ~ jewelry
Blanket scarves are literally the best things right now! I don’t know what I would’ve done without mine in today’s weather. This is a super cute, affordable gift that your friend or sister could use all winter long if she doesn’t already have one. And if she does, I’m sure she’d appreciate the growth in her collection (just avoid getting her one with a pattern she already has). A college girl’s closet isn’t complete without a sassy sweater! Like, come on, you need to have at least one of those. You can never go wrong with cute jewelry. Icing and Claire’s have some really adorable pieces at very affordable prices.
phone case ~ wristlet
Get her a phone case that matches her aesthetic. There are some really cute ones that have pockets on the back so you can hold your ID card, some money, a credit card, etc. A wristlet is a great idea for those nights out when you don’t quite want to bring a large bag but also want to make sure that you have all your essentials that are inside your wallet with you.
the adorable techie
instant camera ~ portable charger ~ laptop case
Instant cameras are the cutest things ever!!! Seriously you’ll be the world’s best friend or best sister if you give this is a gift. I have an Instax Mini 70 and it is just so darling and so perfect for college. You can read all about it (as well as other cool college things) in my post on 9 Things You Need To Make College Life Easier. A portable charger is Godsent. You will be a lifesaver if you gift this item. Sometimes we forget to charge our phones but we rush out of the room or house with 40% battery. With a portable charger, you can charge your phone no matter where you are. Laptop cases are an essential college tech accessory if you don’t want a dirty laptop. Laptops are expensive, so treat them right!
the girl who’s always busy af
spa set ~ planner ~ insulated thermos
You can DIY a spa set with a couple of cute things from Target. Grab some bath bombs, face masks, bath salts, and nail polish and put together an adorable little bundle for your workaholic bestie. Planners are EVERYTHING to someone who always has a million things to do. There are so many cute ones, too. Does your sister seem to never have the time to sit at the breakfast table and enjoy a cup of coffee? Get her an insulated thermos so she can have her morning tea or coffee on the go.
Related: 6 Handbag Essentials For The Winter
luggage tag ~ travel tote ~ books for the plane ride
Adorable luggage tags are great for spicing up your suitcases, and it makes it so much easier for you to identify your belongings. If your friend is studying abroad this upcoming semester, get her a cute travel tote to carry all her essentials in style. A good book is a great way to not be bored on long trips, and they’re especially handy if there’s no wifi on your train or ferry. Find out what’s on her reading list and gift it to her.
beauty travel bag ~ compact mirror
A travel makeup bag is essential for keeping your beauty products in one, neat place. If your friend doesn’t have one yet, this is a fantastic gift. And if she doesn’t use makeup, she can still use it for storing essentials such as lip balm, cotton balls, Q-tips, and more while she’s on the go. A compact mirror is a great travel essential for checking yourself from the comfort of your airplane seat, which means no having to get up and walk to the bathroom!
the girl who just loves her bed
bedroom slippers ~ a warm throw ~ decorative pillow
Bedroom slippers are a must in college dorm rooms, especially when you have to go from your carpeted dorm room to the cold tile bathroom in the hallway. A warm, fuzzy throw is really going to come in handy this winter season. You’ll probably get bonus points if you throw in a hot chocolate kit, too (a mug, marshmallows, cocoa mix). And who doesn’t love decorative pillows? There are so many that fit a wide range of personalities and aesthetics, so picking one out will only be half the fun.
~For your momma~
cooking bundle ~ mason jar dessert set ~ recipe book
You honestly can never have too many spatulas, spoons, and adorable measuring cups (especially because when you need them the most is when you can’t find them). This is a great gift for mom, especially if she’s always complaining about not being able to find the kitchen timer. Mason jar recipes are, and always will be, the cutest things ever! They’re so simple but so pretty and they turn into something even prettier. You can never go wrong with a recipe book, especially if your mom is the adventurous cook type of person. And if she isn’t, getting her a recipe book might motivate her to step outside her comfort zone.
a photo frame ~ a bathrobe ~ art canvas
Are there just too many pictures cluttering your family photo albums? Show them off with photo frames. My mom always has a picture for a photo frame. You wouldn’t find a single unused frame at our house. A bathrobe is the perfect, everyday gift for literally anyone — not just mom. Bonus points if you get her a monogramed one. Art canvases are another great way to decorate the home and add personality.
throw pillows ~ scented candle ~ coffee maker
Does your mom have a not-so-secret secret throw pillow collection? No? That’s okay. Just like in a dorm room, having decorative pillows give personality to a space. This makes throw pillows a super great gift. My mom lives for scented candles, and there are so many pretty ones that smell AMAZING and (quite literally) brighten up a room. Getting your mom a coffee maker is your excuse for spending hours gazing at beautiful Keurigs. There are so many models to choose from!
selfie stick ~ activity watch ~ ipad cover
Seriously, what dad doesn’t want a selfie stick?? Selfie sticks aren’t as “basic” as society tries to tell us they are. My dad has one and it has made large family photos really easy (and more fun!). There are so many really inexpensive ones, too. If you want to encourage dad to pay more attention to his exercise habits, get him an activity watch. This may be a bit pricey, depending on your budget and the kind of watch you get, but if you can swing it this is a great gift. If dad’s ipad cover is literally falling apart, this is a great time to treat him to a brand new one.
sunglasses ~ touchscreen gloves ~ puffer vest
For my dad’s birthday back in October, I got him these great sunglasses that were designed specifically for outdoor use and can reduce any glares and protect your eyes from the sun, and he loved them! He wears them when working on his hobbies outdoors and when driving (and they’re very stylish if I do say so myself). Everyone should have touchscreen gloves this winter because it’s not fun trying to use your phone with your bare hands when it’s brick AF outside. A puffer vest is a great cold weather gift that he can actually use over and over again.
the dad whose closet needs some sprucing up
fun ties ~ a scarf ~ a belt
If your dad has that one jacket that you wish he’d get rid of, this is a great way to find him a replacement (and hope that he gets the hint). There are so many men’s style items you can get him.
You can never go wrong with getting either parent (or both parents) apparel from your university’s shop. My college has a bunch sweatshirts, half-zips, t-shirts, and hats that say “Stony Brook Mom” and “Stony Brook Dad” on them, so those make great gifts!
~For your brother + bf~
game controller ~ book of cheat codes ~ video game
If your brother or bf has been in the market for a new game controller, this is a great opportunity to gift him one (and show that you’ve been listening to his complaints of not being able to find his old one). A book of cheat codes would also be very much appreciated. When my brother and I would play video games, we were always scouring the internet for cheat codes to unlock cool things. Of course, you can never go wrong with just getting him a new video game he’s been eyeing.
concert tickets ~ portable speakers ~ headphones
Gift your brother or boyfriend tickets to their favorite band (so you don’t have to listen to them enjoying their music at home). But they might need some quick concert tips so don’t forget to check out that post! Portable speakers are so great, especially if your brother is off to college or if your boyfriend is already away at college. Headphones are perfect for when you don’t want to disturb the entire library, or when the entire library is disturbing you. I also have a post on great music to listen to while you study!
the sports fan
wall clock (of his favorite team) ~ sports jersey ~ duffel bag
Get your boyfriend something that’ll make him think of you every time he looks at it — like a clock! If he goes insane over merchandise from his favorite sports team, this is definitely a great idea. A sports jersey is also a cool gift if he doesn’t already have one (or six). I think that everyone needs a duffel bag because they hold a lot of stuff so it makes carrying your belongings so much easier. I use my duffel bag whenever I go home so I don’t have to carry four different bags.
waffle maker ~ cooking classes ~ shot glasses
Giving your boyfriend a waffle maker will make it so much easier for him to make you Saturday morning waffles! Ah, nothing like breakfast in bed. It doesn’t have to be a super fancy one; you can probably find one for around $30. Cooking classes would be a super cute thing for the two of you to do together. This place in New York City lets you make your own chocolate so that would be a really cool option. If your brother’s dorm room needs some sprucing up, get him cool shot glasses he can use for decoration, or something like that. But mostly for decoration!
You can never go wrong with…
mug ~ bag ~ journal
Personalized items such as monogrammed mugs, bags, and journals always make fantastic gifts. Plus, the little personal touch is very much appreciated! One year, I got one of my closest friends a t-shirt with her name designed on it and she absolutely loved it.
kate spade ~ kohl’s ~ addidas
I know this one isn’t very creative but it still works great because it’s something they can use everyday. There are definitely so many great brands out there, too. And who knows, maybe you might find a cute one for yourself, too!
Cards Against Humanity
cards against humanity
Any board game is a cool gift, especially for a college student who wants to have fun with friends while staying in on a snowy Friday night. But Cards Against Humanity is seriously one of the best games you’ll ever play.
~5 fast tips for giving gifts~
1. Always find out if they already have something before you decide to give it as a gift.
Does your friend already subscribe to Seventeen magazine? Does your boyfriend already have Rock Band 3? Try to find out in a sneaky way so that you can avoid wasting your money on something they don’t need a duplicate of.
2. Save up in advanced if you need to.
The money you have in your piggy bank right now may not be enough to get dad a fit bit, so you might have to save up in advanced. I know some people may not think about gift giving months in advanced, but if there’s a gift a family member or loved one has really been dying to have and you need to do a bit of saving up for it, it’s pretty worth it. Put away $10 per week if you need to; save every $5 bill you see — whatever works.
3. Avoid buying shoes for someone.
I avoid buying people shoes because first, something I think is cute is DEFINITELY not always cute to my mom. Essentially, your taste might be completely different from someone else’s. And second, sometimes a person’s shoe size ranges depending on the brand and width of the shoe, so you can’t always be too certain unless you see them try it on first.
4. Picky person? Get them something they use a lot of.
You already know that they clearly like it and use it often, so you don’t have to worry about them not being satisfied with the gift. If they’re running low on something they really love, this is the perfect gift idea.
5. Include gift receipts where necessary.
If you get someone something like perfume or a bath set and you don’t know if they’ll love the scent, include the gift receipt so they can return it if they need to. If you bought them a purple duffel bag but you don’t know if they’ll like the green one better, include the gift receipt.
What’s on your holiday shopping list?
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