The ultra-budget gift guide for the ultra-thoughtful

You might break your friendships, but at least you won’t break the bank

By Caroline Ho, Web Editor


The Christmas party invitations are rolling in, the Black Friday flyers are proliferating, and the mall Santa’s are suited up and ready to indoctrinate small children. Holiday shopping season is definitely here! However, your paycheck is not.

Let’s be real, you’re a broke-ass student who has no money or emotional energy for holiday gift-buying, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still share in the gift-swapping spirit—otherwise how will you reap anything in return? Instead of buying presents, consider creating them out of what you already have, giving your gifts an unmistakably personalized touch. Your loved ones will be speechless at your thoughtfulness and creativity! If anyone accuses you of being a cheapskate, just accuse them right back of being consumerist sheeple.


Illustration by Janis McMath

FOR THE COCKTAIL-LOVING FRIEND: A single can of Coors Light

Well, it’s not like you or anyone else was ever going to open that can that’s been in your fridge since your first year. Tell them that it’s a testament to their skill as a mixologist that you think they can make something drinkable out of it. They should be flattered, truly.



You know they’re very conscious about picking up garbage every time they go for a hike. With this gift, you can show them how much you care about the planet too! If you’re really feeling fancy, wrap your garbage bag in… a second garbage bag.


FOR THE SOCIALIST FRIEND: Your moral support

I.e. give them a card that says “F*** CAPITALISM” written on the back of a communist newsletter that someone handed you at the SkyTrain station.


Illustration by Janis McMath


Younger siblings, niblings, and all other child-folks in your life will love this retro, old-fashioned form of entertainment. It’s a relic of your own youth spent poking things with sticks while wandering the desolate streets of suburbia. Teach those spoiled, technologically dependent tykes that it’s still possible to have fun without such bougie crutches as fancy electronics and disposable income.


FOR GRANDMA: The sweater she knitted you last Christmas

How thoughtful—a present that shows you’re truly thinking of her! It’s made out of her favourite materials and you figure it must be already in her favourite colour… because it’s not like puce is your favourite colour. Plus, even if she does get upset, she’ll probably just mix you up with your cousin again anyway.



Nothing could be more personalized! It tastes like you, it smells like you, and it’s obviously not a last-minute-emergency present because you’ve been working on it for months in advance. Now, when you guys make out, your partner will be so reassured knowing that you have (or had, at least) good dental hygiene.


Illustration by Janis McMath

FOR MOM: An all-expenses-paid, all-inclusive guilt trip

A trip with you, her favourite (or at least second favourite, right??) child, down the path of self-reproach. One free opportunity for her to guilt-trip you about literally anything—including not calling home often enough, forgetting her birthday that one time, and not making it into Harvard. You promise that this time you’ll nod along meekly and not protest that your sibling, who is more financially and socially successful than you, doesn’t get treated this way.