Every year our “tradition” is to do a themed Christmas. My favorite was the year we had to shop at “used” stores. ie – Goodwill, Save & Serve (a second hand store) garage sales, etc. We had a limit of 15 per person. You cannot believe the new stuff with tags still on it that we found for 1.00 – 2.00 or 3.00. My best buy was a set of 10 wood cut houses like FJ Designs that were brand new still in the box for 2.00 each. They still had the price tags for anywhere from 12.00 to 40.00 on it. A store had cleaned out their inventory and we benefited. You can find a lot of things like this at second hand – goodwill type shops and makes your gift giving a whole lot easier on the pocket. I also got a terrific buy on two handmade tall wood stools with swivel tops at a garage sale. I told them what we were doing and that I only had 15.00 to spend and they let me have both stools (oak by the way) for the 15.00. They loved the idea and my son loved the stools. He still has them. 🙂
Lynn O'Shaughnessy is a best-selling author, consultant and speaker on issues that parents with college-bound teenagers face. She explains how families can make college more affordable through her website TheCollegeSolution.com; her financial workbook, Shrinking the Cost of College; and the new second edition of her Amazon best-selling book, The College Solution: A Guide for Everyone Looking for the Right School at the Right Price.
Start with a block of 4x4-inch wood, and sand it to smooth the rough edges. Once sanded, paint the top a color to coordinate with your friend's workspace. Cut the bottom of the block at an angle to tilt the base, then measure the sides of the block to determine the length of decorative paper needed to cover them. Soak the paper in water to make it pliable, then use a thin layer of watered-down decoupage medium to evenly attach the paper to the sides of the block. Line up the paper with the block's painted top; if the paper is too long at the bottom end, neatly wrap it around the base. Seal the paper with a top coat of decoupage medium. On the top of the block, measure and mark pencil holes in an evenly spaced pattern; drill holes into the top at a 90-degree angle using a 1/2-inch bit.
A new camera would be a great gift for an aspiring filmmaker — or just a student who’s excited to share their study-abroad experience with family and friends. “I love making videos, so having something smaller and easier to transport would be awesome,” says Howard Lin, a senior at University of Florida. “My dream would be the Sony Alpha A9, but it costs quite a bit so most likely not. I think a Sony Rx100 Mark V.”
When it comes to selfies, these lenses for smartphones significantly up that game. They clip right onto your phone and produce shots that look like they were taken with a professional camera. This set comes with three separate lenses, including a wide angle, 180-degree fish angle and 10x macro lens to get the perfect shots every time. They work on most models of smartphones and tablets, and countless satisfied customers say they’re a great way to improve the quality of your pictures for a small price.
It’s natural to want to ply your college-bound child with gifts, but one thing to consider is that everything he or she brings to college “must fit in a space slightly larger than a Mini Cooper,” says Harry H. Harrison, Jr., a New York Times best-selling author of parenting books and books about preparing teens for adulthood, including “1001 Things Every College Student Needs to Know.” For that reason alone, it’s best to choose items that are beautiful, practical or a combination of the two .
The commercialism of Christmas gets more and more out of hand each year. When it becomes difficult to know what to buy someone, that is when you focus on those who have nothing and give to shelters and charities. For families and friends, think of what they like to do and their hobbies. From there, give $10 to $15 gift cards to their favorite restaurant, coffee shop, or retail store. Also, a gift card to a movie theatre is always great because the movie outing has become ridiculously expensive and I can’t imagine anyone not appreciating this idea for a gift.
The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best women’s jeans, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, ultra-flattering pants, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.
Have you found yourself a guy not ready to step into the mature world of cologne? Then a video game is perfect for him. But have you really payed any attention to what he’s playing? Saint Joseph University senior suggests getting Call of Duty Black Ops 2 or one of the Fifas. Not only will this make his day, but it will give you the perfect chance for some space. Want to have a girls’ night? Just remind him that he’s so close to that next level up, and you can say goodbye to clingly texts.
I love to give a nice batch of homemade cookies or candies. Truffles are easy to make and well received. I like to make biscotti because they are cheap, easy, and most people really like them. They are expensive to buy ready-made, so people seem to think they are extra good. Most people love them and you can give an assortment of flavors if you have a lot of people to give to.
Your mileage on something like this is going to vary based on who you're getting it for and how much stuff they like. Might work better as a one-off care package for starving college students rather than how I did it, a subscription item for my teenagers' school lunches. In my case the kids pick through just what they like, leaving behind what they don't until the next box comes, and I'm left with a growing mountain of those radiant orange peanut butter cracker sandwiches.

Think of the Amazon Echo Dot like the ultimate study companion. Ask the hands-free, voice-activated device any question, be it study questions or what the hockey score is, and Amazon’s Alexa AI will search the web to get you the answer. Plus, with a few simple words, the Echo Dot can control any lights in your house, set an alarm, notify you of your schedule, quiz you on homework, or Google your study qualms.

Gifts for college guys are tough to buy because they seem to bounce from one favorite pastime to the next and even from one fad to another.  Who can blame them?  They’re learning a lot of new things, not just from their studies, but also from their friends.  So the best gifts for college guys are gifts that will stand the test of time and won’t be tossed just because they aren’t the flavor of the moment.
The Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones edge out the crowded pack of over-the-ear headphones through deep, powerful sound (provided by proprietary Bose-engineered designs), a pillow-like headband and precise rotating ear pads, alongside an almost excessively long cable with inline remote. Factor that into pretty serious noise isolation, and these are the perfect “chilling in a dorm bed” headphones. There's a 20-hour battery life per charge (and 40 in wired mode) and they weigh just 10.9 ounces.
Need a memorable Christmas gift for that special woman in your life? We have the top Christmas gifts for women already sorted out for you. She'll love our personalized jewelry, clothing, gift baskets and home decor. And she'll love you for taking the time to find that special something just for her. From truly heartfelt to romantic to silly, we have everything you need to make this Christmas morning truly memorable.

Never lose your keys or wallets again. With Tile, you can easily track the location of your most valuable possessions right from your smartphone. Just click the “Find My Tile” button on the app, and your tile will start beeping until you can find it up. Can’t hear the beeping? A real-time map will show you where your keys are. Can’t find your phone? Press the tile and it will put out a locator symbol on your phone.
This mirror is great! I use it for shaving every time I take a shower. It stays relatively fog free, I just take my detachable shower head and spray the face and back of the mirror with hot water right before I start shaving. I have noticed it will still fog up from my breath, which is why I docked it a star, but that only happens when I try to get close to the mirror near the end of my shave.
You wouldn’t think, but an engraved flask is a really thoughtful gift that your boyfriend will enjoy. Alcohol and thoughtfulness? Pretty uncommon pairs,  but an engraved flask is a gift that your boyfriend will enjoy. He’ll know you really care about him from the individualized engraving, and he’ll be able to get his drink on at the same time. Perfect for those BYOB parties and date functions you always get invited to.
For students who need to take a break from the books, the Breathe app offers guided deep breaths to assist with meditation or just winding down. Offering all of the same benefits and apps as its predecessors, the Series 4 boasts improved health features, including an ECG monitor which can help the wearer monitor their athletic performance — perfect for helping students remember not to neglect their wellbeing in the midst of midterms — while also alerting them about any heart abnormality, from a low heartbeat to an irregular rhythm. To ensure you can always get in contact with them, the LTE compatibility results in better cellular reception. 
College students have a lot on their plates, from meeting deadlines to managing their schedules to remembering to exercise, and the new Apple Watch Series 4 can offer the wrist-based assistant they didn’t know they needed. With a 30 percent larger display than past models, the Series 4 band comes in three aluminum or three stainless steel finishes, and the watch will also work with any of the previous bands.

If there was one thing I often went without in college, it was new clothes. I loved getting new clothes, but I couldn’t always justify the expense. Most college students will be THRILLED with any type of clothing. Stitch Fix is one of my favorite creative ideas for a college student – you can give them a gift card to get styled. Stitch Fix sends you a box of personally curated clothes for the recipient. It’s like having your own personal stylist!


Kids are taking over the kitchen! Deanna F. Cook presents more than 50 recipes designed for the cooking abilities and tastes of children ages 6 to 12. Basic cooking techniques are explained in kid-friendly language, and recipes include favorites like applesauce, French toast, popcorn chicken, pizza, and more. Full of fresh, healthy ingredients and featuring imaginative presentations like egg mice, fruit flowers, and mashed potato clouds, Cooking Class brings inspiration and confidence to the chefs of the future.
At college, when the stress gets high, sometimes you just need to kick back and let life rush on around you and there is no better way to do that with an All-In-One Happy Times Parachute Hammock.  It can be used either as a two-person double hammock swing or a one-person single cocoon hammock bed.  It comes with everything you need to quickly and easily hang this beautiful hammock between two solid anchors (like trees) up to 18 feet apart safely and without damage to the anchors (trees).  They are so simple to use it will only take your student a couple of minutes to wrap the straps around the anchors and pull them tight. Available in 7 great color options, you’re sure to find one they love.  Included in the bundle are a single parachute hammock, polyester 10-loop tree strap, paracord extension ropes, and steel carabiners. It’s not just for the dorm courtyard either.  Weighing only 2 lbs., it packs up easily in its storage bag for travel to any adventure like camping, backpacking, hiking, boating, hammocking, cycling, motorcycling, and many more.  It comes with a money back satisfaction guarantee so you can rest assured that they will love it or they can return it.  Each hammock is completely safe thanks to a tested 450 lb. capacity provided by its interlocking triple stitch seams.  Hammocks feature quality construction with quick-dry, breathable nylon that is mildew resistant and machine washable.  College students need to recharge and this gift I a great way for yours to do it.
I've been using Roku devices for many years starting with a Roku 2 XS. I'm not a fan of Apple products and want a neutral streaming device that covers all major streaming services so Roku was the natural choice. There have been software issues here and there over the years but they have been minor and swiftly dealt with. When the Roku 4 came out I bought it without question. Sure my Roku 3 is still running just fine but I'm a sucker for the latest and greatest. Just as I expected the Roku 4 is a little faster, doesn't crash, there are no software glitches and has the same simple and functional interface. Unfortunately I appear to be one of the few that received a less than quiet fan. I must admit that not having a fan was a huge plus on the previous units. Hopefully a future hardware revision will substitute with a larger heat sink or more energy efficient processor to eliminate that failure point. Luckily it turned out to be easy to upgrade the heat sink myself although not very... Read more
When you’re on the go all day, it’s a bummer when your phone battery can’t keep up with the action. This portable power bank is one of the smallest available—it’s about the size of a tube of lipstick—and it will charge smartphones up in a snap. It recharges in just three to four hours, and it comes with a travel pouch as well as an 18-month warranty. That means no more excuses that they’re not responding to your texts because their phone battery died!
You have to admit: after a spaceship, this really is the mother of all gifts. And unlike the spaceship, they’ll know how to use a laptop. From paper writing to research to visual design, a laptop is an indispensable piece of equipment that will get constant use. If they don’t give you a sincere, wholehearted thank you for this, you have strict permission to never talk to them again.
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