Follow these do’s, don’ts of gift giving this holiday season

By Haley Bickelhaupt, Staff Writer

The Christmas season is typically known as one of the busiest times of the year. As the holiday bustle begins, students cram for finals and prepare to relax after a grueling hybrid online semester. After turning in the last final exam of the year, one last stressor remains: Christmas shopping. Although buying gifts for family, friends and distant relatives can be a fun experience, this task is often met with obligation and apprehension. As a college student, gone are the days when parents smile at the sight of macaroni necklaces. Instead, expectations have risen for meaningful and personal gifts. For assistance in finding the perfect gift for each of your family members, here are some do’s and don’ts and a Christmas gift-giving guide.


First on the gift list is mom. This year, avoid buying her anything that may result in more work. Stay away from frying pans, vacuum cleaners, kitchen utensils and most importantly, a towel brush. Although these gifts may seem useful and practical, instead gift her with a present she wouldn’t buy herself. Treat her with a spa day, massage or a trip to her favorite coffee shop. Personalize these gifts with a meaningful note or quality time spent with you or her friends. Christmas gifts that encourage rest and relaxation are perfect for mothers this season.


Dad is one of the hardest people to shop for. Throw out the typical gift idea of a tie or underwear. Unless he specifically asked for either of these items, he almost certainly has an abundance stored in his closet. Instead, buy him something useful such as new power tools or a technology gadget. Research gifts related to his hobbies and find something he will use and enjoy. If it is still difficult to find something for dad this year, buy him a gift card to his favorite store. This will guarantee he likes what he picks out and will take the stress off of you to find the perfect gift.

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    This year do not buy your brother board games, snow gloves or a sweater vest. Despite good intentions, these items will seem boring, lame and unexciting. One of the best gifts for boys of any age is athletic gear. Whether you are buying for your brother of 10 or 30 years of age, comfortable clothing is something all brothers enjoy. Some popular items include Under Armour sweatpants, a Champion sweatshirt, Nike Air Max shoes or even socks. Brothers may also like the latest edition of their favorite video game or a gift card to their favorite restaurant. Keeping gifts simple and slightly trendy is the safest route to picking a Christmas gift your brother will enjoy.


    Shopping for your sister may seem like an overwhelming task. With many options and brands available, there are numerous ways to pick the right or wrong present. A few items to stay away from this season are room decorations as well as cheap jewelry and perfume. At first glance these items may seem like a great idea but are better left for her to pick out. Instead, buy her a few stylish shirts from her favorite store, a gift card to her favorite coffee shop, Apple AirPods or a new pair of Air Force 1s. If none of these items seem to be a good pick for your sister, buy her a flannel or a comfortable sweatshirt. With school, meetings and work online, trendy loungewear is now a top choice on every girl’s Christmas list.

    If all else fails, don’t forget one of the best gifts that can be given: Illini gear! From sweatshirts, hats, polos and bibs, there is an item for every family member. Not only does it make the best present for alumni in the family, but also serves as a great gift for younger brothers, sisters or cousins. Who knows? Maybe it’ll encourage them to be a student at the University of Illinois one day, too!

    Although present giving may seem like an overwhelming task to accomplish, reflect this year on the joy that comes with giving gifts to those you love. Be generous with your time, money and affection, and focus on the true meaning of the Christmas season. As the atypical online semester ends, take the time to relax. Feel proud of the accomplishments you have completed, and celebrate areas of new growth created from the year of 2020.

    Haley is a sophomore in ACES.

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