Dear Santa…

From digital cameras to trips halfway around the world, GW students know what they want this holiday season. For many students, the end of the fall semester means more than final exams and papers. The winter months also represent the heart of the gift-giving season and the joy of the receiving side of the season.

Gadgets and gizmos are found on many wish lists for this year’s holiday season, with high-tech retailers like the Sharper Image offering everything from wafer-thin, upright stereos for $119.95 to a robotic massage recliner for $1,499.95.

Freshman Julie Dodero said she’s hoping for a digital camera for Christmas.

“Since I’m away at school, it would be really convenient,” she said. “I’ll be able to take pictures, upload them to my computer and send them home over the Internet.”

On many students’ holiday wish lists is the Apple iPod, $299, a portable digital music player that is now compatible with both Apples and PCs. The device, which plays mp3-formated music, can reduce the contents of a 400-CD collection to the size of a deck of cards, ready to be carried anywhere.

It can also be used to store phone numbers and contact information.

Also attracting many busy and especially disorganized students this year is a wide range of personal digital assistants. Palm recently released a less expensive reprisal of its popular Palm Pilot line. The new PDA Zire, retailing for about $100, includes features such as a combination date book, note pad, calculator and address book.

Some students are not asking for anything electronic this year. Sophomore Bryan Ferretti said that as a kid he used to want all of the latest video game systems, “but when I got to college I just wasn’t interested in them anymore.” Since then, his interests have gained a more practical slant. So what does he want for Christmas this year?

“Just clothes,” he said. “From Abercrombie. I need some new jeans.”

Even if they are not all interested in the latest technological marvels, GW students still have a taste for some high-priced items.

Junior Dan DiCisso said the top item on his Christmas wish list this year is a trip to Thailand, which he expects to cost about $2,000, and, like many students, he hopes to receive his largest gift from his parents. DiCisso said he felt the best way to ask for this gift was to be up front and to ask his parents to help him with the cost.

“I know (the cost) is pretty large, and I’d subsidize it as much as possible,” he said.

He said that he could ask for something less expensive, like Nintendo’s Game Cube, and have a greater chance of receiving it.

“(But) it’s just not a high priority for me,” he said. “I love to travel.”

The only thing that freshman Sam Farber asked for for Hanukkah was a trip home to California. He said he is looking forward to seeing his family and friends during his three-week visit. Farber said he told his parents that if they got him nothing else, the plane ticket would be enough.

Some students are thinking less about receiving gifts than about giving them. Freshman Lauren Wells did not even consider asking for her ideal gift, the trip to Japan she’s been wanting since she was an exchange student there in high school.

“I know my dad,” she explained. “With all the money (my family is spending) on tuition here, he’d have a fit.”

Wells said she is concerned with getting gifts for her friends more than with creating her own wish list.

“(Gifts) need to be really good – not anything that they would expect,” she said.

Iin getting gifts for friends, many agreed that the gender of the friend is an important factor to consider.

Wells said she will have an easier time buying gifts for her female friends.

“I’m a girl. I know what girls want,” she said, admitting that guys are less picky when it comes to receiving gifts.

Farber agreed.

“Guys are harder to shop for, but no matter what you get them, they’re OK with it,” he said. “With guys, you can just get them whatever. With girls it’s different.”

Dodero said she finds shopping for girls to be harder because they pay more attention to style. Her proven gift-giving strategy?

“Picture frames – you can’t go wrong with that,” she claimed. For guys, Dodero said nice neutral-colored shirts from Gap will do the trick.

All this gift selection can mean a lot of pressure to get things right. But, according to freshman Liz Fretwell, “giving them is fun. It’s picking them out that’s hard.” In the end, though, she said, the whole holiday season is worth the hassle.

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