Gifts on a ShoeString
There are two steps. First, determine the nature of your relationship with the recipient and tailor the present accordingly. Second, decide what your budget is and find gifts within your likely limited means.
For Your RoOmmates
If the answer is "No. They are the WORST," don't get them anything. Check.
However, if you are generally a fan of the people you live with, consider the following gift options:
- bake cookies, fudge, or homemade peppermint bark, wrap, and distribute
- offer to buy them dinner before you both take off for the break
- knit a scarf, mittens, or hat in their favorite color
- make them a CD with your mutual favorite songs (or bands you think they should be listening to)
[Are burned CD's a thing of the past? Is this the same thing as me suggesting making a mix-tape?]
For Your Significant Other
If the answer is less than 3 months, may I suggest you don't do anything that could be conveyed as artificially accelerating your relationship? As in, maybe hold off on giving your boyfriend a $200 watch, or your lady a diamond bracelet. That's...a lot for someone you are still getting to know.
Instead, consider gifting:
- 2 or 3 of their favorite movies and watching them together
- cooking their favorite meal or treating them to a restaurant where the food takes more than 6 minutes to prepare
- a little something you remember them mentioning they like or need, but haven't bought for themselves yet (like a new book from their favorite author or a big bag of their preferred coffee)
If the answer is more than 3 months but less than a year, any of the above still work, plus something that reflects attention to their preferences and requires a little more investment:
- A bag of their favorite coffee AND a one-cup brew system, complete with travel mug
- Cooking their favorite meal AND sending them home with a nice bottle of olive oil or a box of specially-ordered steaks
If it's a year or more, you're off the hook. You don't have to worry if your gift says TOO MUCH, TOO SOON. Go ahead and buy whatever you think your partner would like or needs, without too much concern about how the present will be interpreted.
By the way, if it's been, like, 2 weeks since you started dating, and perhaps you have yet to even define the relationship, do something anyway. At least a card. You're setting the stage for a potential relationship, and even if it doesn't work out, you won't regret being thoughtful.
For Your ProfessorS
If yes, you can just gift those who you are especially fond of. If you're not even sure if your professor knows who you are apart from the other 78 students in your lecture, don't feel obligated to make him cookies.
However, if you are in a small class where everyone, including the professor, is friendly, you might want to give a little something. And if you are a graduate student, chances are you interact closely with most of your professors, and especially with your advisor. In which case, appropriate gifts could include:
- A small office plant
- Dropping off a tray of baked goods to their office
- A simple card thanking them for the semester
- A pack of their favorite pens
- Their favorite food or candy (like a pack of Twizzlers)
Avoid anything absurdly expensive (let's cap it at $20) to avoid looking like you are trying to buy a good grade. You might even time giving the gifts so that it does not coincide with them grading your final exams and papers. But don't worry too much about that; most instructors will appreciate the gesture for what it is.