The holiday season is the season of giving, but that tends to lead to awkward situations and stressing over gifts. The end-of-term cram sessions for finals often leave us very little time to peruse Boston during the week prior to the winter holidays, and gifts, and stores accessible to campus are often sold out of the gifts students want to buy. Coming up with a gift idea at all is difficult, especially with the expansive list of recipients many of us have. This season, try to beat the holiday fever rush, but still give memorable gifts. For family, friends and teachers, replace the usual impersonal, generalized present with the perfect gift. Compiled by: Natalie Cheng, Rachel Coleman, and Nathalie Sun == Siblings == For siblings, shirt.woot.com can be a lifesaver. It’s a website that sells cleverly designed t-shirts for only $10 each. Shirt.woot.com is updated daily at 2 a.m. with a new design, so log in every day and you’re bound to find the perfect gift. UGG sheepskin boots can work for everyone. If your sibling does not yet have a pair, this holiday season is the time to give them a gift they will wear everywhere. Another way to keep your siblings smiling during the holidays is to buy them an Andover sweatshirt or hat. Music is an easy option; whether it comes in the form of an iTunes gift card or a new iPod Shuffle, music is well received on any occasion. Depending on your budget, you can get an iTunes gift card for as little as $15, whereas the iPod Shuffle is $79. If your sibling has told you that he needs the iPod Shuffle and you cannot afford it, why not pass on the message to the grandparents and contribute to buy him the perfect gift? == Male Friends == For a guy friend, a t-shirt or posters from a favorite band or even a video game is always easy and appreciated. In relation to band or gaming fan-gear, it is often simpler to order online than attempt to navigate countless stores. If your friend has a penchant for winter accessories, a furry logger’s hat or warm patterned scarf are both winter-friendly, simple holiday gifts. For a different approach, there is an online community website called Threadless (www.threadless.com) that features witty, artistic and modern designs. After browsing for mere minutes, you are bound to find a perfect tee for anyone. If you know which video game console they have, because most boys have at least one, video games can be a fun time-waster for them this break. Also, places like Walmart sell DVDs in bulk for incredibly cheap prices— that way, you can knock a bunch of names off your gift list all at once! == Female Friends == For a guy friend, a t-shirt or posters from a favorite band or even a video game is always easy and appreciated. In relation to band or gaming fan-gear, it is often simpler to order online than attempt to navigate countless stores. If your friend has a penchant for winter accessories, a furry logger’s hat or warm patterned scarf are both winter-friendly, simple holiday gifts. For a different approach, there is an online community website called Threadless (www.threadless.com) that features witty, artistic and modern designs. After browsing for mere minutes, you are bound to find a perfect tee for anyone. If you know which video game console they have, because most boys have at least one, video games can be a fun time-waster for them this break. Also, places like Walmart sell DVDs in bulk for incredibly cheap prices— that way, you can knock a bunch of names off your gift list all at once! == Parents == For mothers, a massage at the local spa is a relaxing break. A comfortable bathrobe or sweatpants could be a useful addition to their wardrobes. For fathers, a new iPod can help them get beyond CD players. A good place to look for fathers’ gifts is the Andover Shop, which has a vast selection of ties and cufflinks. Collectively, all parents enjoy it when their children help out around the house. A coupon specifying the amount of time you’ll work for them free of charge will please them and save them some time. If there is a Starbucks in your town, gift cards are easy to pick up and fun to use. Most importantly, your parents want to see you succeed. If you really want to make them happy, show them your involvement and commitment at Phillips Academy. They will be prouder than you could ever make them with a gift. == Love Interests == When buying gifts for a particular guy or girl interest, stick to the general guidelines of what you would buy for a friend. Splurging on expensive jewelry or gift certificates can present too strong of a message; it’s important to be subtle. Although everyone is different, opt for a simple gift that represents you with a cuter gesture. A hand-made card coupled with an inexpensive gift adds an element of sweetness and sincerity. Whatever you do, make sure you don’t go overboard. Save those poems, teddy bears, chocolates and flowers for February. If you find yourself leaning towards these potentially embarassing options, make a compromise and burn them a mix CD. As long as its not too sappy, it can be a cute way to show your feelings. == Grandparents == Grandparents are a wonderful gift giving resource, but they need thoughtful gifts too. A scrapbook filled with pictures of you and your family will make any grandparent feel loved and connected. If making a scrapbook takes too much time, a new digital photo frame can be a practical yet innovative gift. It is shaped like a typical picture frame, but instead of holding one photograph, it digitally displays the photographs you load onto its memory chip. The digital photo frame currently costs $62.99 for a “seven” by “nine” inch frame and changes pictures every ten seconds, letting your grandparents view all your favorite moments. Most importantly, when you see your grandparents this winter, spend more time with them. It can be difficult to maintain a close relationship with them at this busy time in your life, but if you do, it will be worth it; they have much knowledge and many stories to share. == All Friends == For either a girl or guy friend, if you are willing to dedicate more time to making a gift, a scrapbook is a great option. You can collect pictures from your escapades at Andover and mix them with a wide array of memorabilia combined on themed pages. The time spent collecting, organizing and laying out photos and other funny items will add an endearing touch to the gift. A mixed CD compiling meaningful songs is another perfect present. You could burn CDs for each of your close friends, incorporating songs that the two of you like or that have a special connotation for you. For example, if your hall had spontaneous dance parties, you can add songs that were highlights of those dances. A CD is a simple present, but a quick, easy one that is reminiscent of fun times together. Also, a cute, humorous card is a cute accent to any gift. == Roomates == For your roommate, you can have a little more fun. You live together, so there are some things you know about your roommate that his or her other friends might not pick up on. For example, if you know your roommate is late for first period every morning, or you find yourself often having to wake him or her up, you could give him or her a new, louder alarm. If you know your roommate’s fuzzy slippers are getting worn out you could buy them a pair of Happy Feet Slippers. You could get a decorative present for your room like a poster, lamp or a giant pillow. You could also get him or her a new set of headphones, DVDs or a little more creatively, either something from a movie you watched together or you know he or she particularly enjoyed (i.e. a red Swingline stapler from Office Space). A simpler gift for a roommate would be something like a cute pair of socks, a belt, a wallet, or maybe earrings. == Teachers == For the adults on campus that you’ve developed a pretty good relationship with throughout your PA career (or one who might write you a good college recommendation) it would seem appropriate for you buy a holiday gift to show your appreciation. But what do you get them? There are definitely some differences in what to get a teacher and what to get a parent or friend. It’s probably safest to steer clear of personal items and go with something a little more professional, but there’s no reason to go overboard—something reasonably small should suffice. Depending on how much money you’re willing to spend, a nice pen can work. Though a little on the pricey side, a quality pen is sleek yet not too personal. If you’re looking for something less expensive, a planner, calendar, stationery kit or book you enjoyed (as long as it’s teacher-friendly!) works well as a small appreciation gift. == House Counselors == A gift to a house counselor doesn’t have to be so professional. House counselors are always making food for the dorm, so in return, you could give him or her a nice package of edible holiday treats, store-bought or homemade. Any kind of holiday-related trinket like a snow globe can also serve as an appropriate yet thrifty gift. Or, if there’s something you know your house counselor collects, you could buy him or her an addition to that collection. If you’re looking for something a little more expensive, you could give him or her a decorative yet functional item like a nice candy bowl or a set of bookends. A gift certificate to a bookstore can be very useful and thoughtful for house counselors as well; it is difficult to choose the right book for someone as everyone has different tastes, but a gift certificate will give them the option to choose their own. This way, they can expand their personal library and are more likely to enjoy what they choose. == Get Creative == The holidays are based on more than materialism. Now could be the time to give a gift that will have a broader impact. Organizations like World Vision and Heifer International provide support for needy families around the globe. Instead of adding to the pile of stuff lying around your house, choose an alternative way of giving and donate in a family member’s name. For instance, if you were to give $18.53 to World Vision, you would provide ten fruit trees for a struggling community. Or, fifty dollars given to Heifer International will buy a calf for a family and supply them with milk. Good Magazine, founded in part by an Andover alum, is another good way to make a broader impact- not only is it an interesting read, but you can buy a subscription for a friend or family member and all of your subscription money for the first year goes to the organization of your choice.
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