By Mariah Nichols

If there’s one thing we college students have in common it’s that our energy is high, but our bank accounts are low, making Christmas shopping for friends and family a challenge. To many, that can lead to grumbling a “bah hum bug.” But go ahead and blast those Christmas carols, drink some eggnog and watch “The Grinch That Stole Christmas” on repeat because there are plenty of innovative ways to give great gifts, even if you’re watching every penny. The Southern is here to help as we give you some fresh fun gift ideas that even Santa didn’t think of.

DIY It!  Nothing makes your family members happier then a handmade gift. Use your creativity whether it is drawing or painting and make a beautiful picture to frame. If you enjoy photography take some really cool pictures and display them in a photo album. The list can be endless with all the amazing gifts you can create. A wonderful source to use for anything crafty is of course Pinterest for more great ideas. Just remember by making it more personal it is truly a priceless gift.

Yes to gift baskets! The fastest and easiest gift you can pull together on a tight ramen noodle budget is a basket full of goodies. What makes this so cool is you can make it a theme of that person’s favorite things. Load that basket with girly lotions and nail polish or for the gamer on your list, collect tasty snacks and combine them with the hottest game on the market. You can tailor it specifically to the person you are giving it to, which is guaranteed to be a huge hit!

Personalize it! Sometimes the best gifts are the ones that have a personal touch. For example, surprise your significant other with a cozy valentines blanket that has your names embroidered on it. Or, gift your mom a customized mug with a heartfelt message. You can also personalize a phone case, a piece of jewelry, or even a set of coasters. The possibilities are endless, and with a little creativity, you can give a gift that shows how much you care. Plus, with online retailers offering a wide range of customization options, it’s easy to find something that fits your budget. So, skip the generic gifts and add a personal touch to make your loved ones feel special this holiday season.

Make it an experience! A gift doesn’t have to just be a pretty wrapped box with a bow on top sitting underneath the tree. Why not make any present an awesome and fun experience by creating a fun scavenger hunt for your friends and family in which to partake? Have them work on finding their gifts by hiding clues in unexpected places and have them take a selfie with each find! This unique game is a goldmine for great laughs and the best holiday photo ops for your Facebook page.

It starts in the kitchen! Google is full of easy and yummy holiday treats that you can make in the comfort of your kitchen. Look for recipes that are beginner friendly such as fudge, cookies and chocolate covered pretzels to name a few, and put them in festive packaging for that added touch. It’s fun to find great holiday tins to give your baked goods a homey feel. Your loved ones would be so impressed they will beg for more on their Christmas list for years to come. Goodies made with love are often a favorite family tradition!

So skip the worrying and stress as Dec. 25 draws near because with these ideas you will make Christmas brighter then the hanging lights on the tree. Always remember, the holidays are about being thankful and spending time with those you love. Sharing thoughtful gifts made with care and straight from the heart is the true meaning of the season….no elf can top that.


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