Holiday Guide: To give or not to give?

For penny-pinching college students who are stressing about finals, holiday gift-giving often becomes one extra pressure in their already time-crunched lives. Added to that, most of the holidays fall during finals or when students go home for winter break, so traditional gift-giving among students can be pretty rare.

That is the case for first-year graduate student Nicolas Worden. In the past few years for Worden and his friends the chief criterion for determining the worth of a gift was not the amount of money spent on it. Instead it was the comedic value the gift provides.

“The gifts we gave weren’t really serious because, number one, we all knew we didn’t have money and, number two, we all appreciated the humor in it,” Worden said.

But refraining from giving gifts didn’t take away their holiday spirit. Instead, for Worden and his roommates, these kinds of gifts were still satisfying.

“I don’t know if there’s like some kind of real etiquette for it, but as far as roommates go, we didn’t really expect gifts, we expected jokes. And that was more than enough for our Christmas,” he said.

Worden’s experience is emblematic of the trend among students to turn away from traditional gift-giving and find other ways to express holiday cheer among friends. For those at GW, holiday parties and gag gifts are among the top ways to express their holiday affections.

Another way to remain connected to the spirit of the holidays without going overboard on spending is to give something homemade.

“College students don’t have money. I can’t go out and buy everyone a gift,” said sophomore Jaclyn Escudero, who is opting to create handcrafted cards and scrapbooks for her friends this year.

But perhaps it was sophomore Aly Arbron who found the most creative way to save money during the holiday season. Arbron plans to spend on gifts, but she is financing it with money she earns from GW for taking notes for students in need.

“I’m the notetaker for my economics class, so I’m getting $100 from the bookstore at the end of the semester, so my friends are pretty much getting stuff from the bookstore,” she said.

For those with significant others, gift-giving practices are no so easily categorized.

“I’m kind of a fan of less materialistic things, partly because I’m so bad at picking gifts,” sophomore Nate Perkins said about shopping for his girlfriend. “I like putting together a fun experience instead of going to the store and buying a simple present.”

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