Holiday shopping guide for students

By Brett Berry
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, November 29, 2004

Thanksgiving has come and gone. Sadly, the nice four-day break from class is over. I hope everyone got their fill of all the wonderful food and uncomfortable conversation with family during the holiday.

Thanksgiving always gives students a nice break from the everyday stress of school, replacing it with the stress of dealing with crazy family members. Today, though, our focus turns back to the time-honored tradition that portends the end of every semester.

It's time for all of us to start freaking out over our dangerously low grades and to start cramming for our final exams. That's right, it's time for sleep, partying and personal hygiene to get pushed way down on the list of priorities.

Finals time is always an especially trying time for college students, but the end of the fall semester carries an even greater burden than the end of spring.

For those of us who celebrate our respective commercialized religious holidays, there is the added stress of trying to find the perfect gifts to give to our friends and family.

It can be extremely difficult for students to be able to go out and buy that perfect present for everyone we love. Usually, we simply do not have the money to be able to purchase the things we'd like to get for everyone. So what can we do?

Don't fret, my fellow cash-strapped students. There are a few tricks we can use to help make what is left in that wallet stretch a little farther this holiday season. Tricks that go well beyond the sale-shopping that we pretty much all do regularly anyway.

One of the more ignominious strategies that we can employ in our quest to find cheap gifts for everyone on our list is "re-gifting." Those of you who are "Seinfeld" fans likely recognize this expression. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, "re-gifting" is the practice of giving someone a present that was previously given to you as a present.

If you choose to "re-gift," you run the risk of getting caught, either by the person you gave the gift to or by the person that had given it to you in the first place. It's best to only pursue this approach when there is considerable distance between the person from whom the gift originated and to whom you plan to give it to. It's a tricky thing to get away with, but, if done correctly, you can cross one person's name off your list without spending a cent - so go ahead and try to give your friend that label-maker your aunt sent you last year.

A spin-off of the "re-gifting" approach is the practice of using gift cards you have received over the course of the year to pay for presents to give away. This is one strategy I plan on employing extensively this year.

Just like in "re-gifting," the monetary cost to you is zero. However, in this case, there is no real chance of having an embarrassing encounter involving the other members of your "re-gifting" triangle. Plus, the person whom you bought the present for would never know it was purchased with a gift card. And even if the person who gave you the gift card in the first place found out, they can't really be too upset. After all, if they were so lazy as to only buy you a gift card on a previous occasion, then they hold no moral authority to criticize your own gift-purchasing habits.

One of the most effective ways to find some more last-minute gift-money requires that you to wait until finals are done. When your classes are completed and you go to sell your books back, take that money and use it for presents. When your parents ask you where the money is that you got back from your books, tell them that the bookstore was ordering new editions of all of your books and wouldn't buy them back. If they then ask where the books are, that's when you pull out the shiny new watch for Dad and the gold necklace for Mom. Hopefully, this will distract them enough to make them forget about the books.

Ultimately, your family should be happy just to see you - no matter how crappy your presents for them are. And if any of them give you crap for the case of Gatorade you bought for them from the U-Mart using your CatCard, remind them that it's the thought that counts.

Brett Berry is a regional development senior who hasn't done any shopping yet. He can be reached at