When you were at home, your brother and/or sister may have driven you up the wall. Or, conversely, you may have been incredibly close with your sibling(s). Either way, finding the perfect gift for a sibling can be a challenge -- especially when you're operating with a college student's budget. So how can you find a gift that shows you care without breaking your bank account?
Fortunately, family gifts allow for a little more creativity than, say, gifts for your boss. And with a little pre-planning, your sibling gift can be one your brother or sister cherishes for a long time.
Gift Idea #1: Something from your campus gift shop. You might see sweatshirts, t-shirts, and running shorts with your school name and logo all day, every day. But your sibling back home doesn't. Consider finding some kind of swag from your campus gift shop that you know your brother or sister will just adore. If nothing else, it gives them a chance to brag about what school you attend when people ask about their clothing! (And if a sweatshirt or t-shirt isn't in your budget, consider something cheaper, like a key chain.)
Gift Idea #2: Something you've learned about at college that you suspect they might like, too. Are you both chemistry geeks? Grab that new biography of a famous chemist that you think sounds really cool. Do you both love to write poetry? Head to the "campus authors" section of your campus bookstore to see if any of your professors have published poetry collections recently. (Added bonus: You can ask your professor to autograph your copy!)
Gift Idea #3: Invite them up to spend a weekend with you at school. If you miss spending time with your brother or sister, don't wait until you head home to see them; give them the gift of a weekend with you on campus. You can use your meal plan to treat them to breakfast, lunch, and dinner while showing them all the fun and funky parts of your college life. (If you're staying in a residence hall, however, just make sure it's okay to have someone who might be under 18 stay with you.)
Gift Idea #4: Items that helped you prepare for your time in college. If your younger brother or sister is planning on heading to college soon, too, consider giving them the things that helped you the most. Were there books that helped you adjust? Websites that helped explain things you were too afraid to ask about? Prep. books that helped you ace things like the SAT? Put together a collection of things you found most valuable as a gift that your younger sibling will undoubtedly find valuable, too.
Gift Idea #5: Time doing things together. Even if you catch up online and on the phone, it can be hard to be away from a sibling with whom you're emotionally close. And even if neither of you have much money, there are things you can do to spend time together. Consider going for a hike, walk, or run; going holiday shopping for your parents; or even volunteering together. Turn the time into your "gift" to your sibling by presenting a special invite in an envelope and offering to treat for something fun while you're out, like coffees or slurpees from your favorite convenience store. Sometimes, it's the little things that mean the most!
Gift Idea #6: Give a time-based gift that reminds you of your time growing up together. A lot of candy shops offer "decade-based" boxes of candy that bring back the candy you grew up with. Additionally, you can put together a collection of your favorite movies or Saturday morning cartoons that you used to watch together when you were younger. Even a silly toy that you both coveted -- even one that is considered super old and obsolete now -- can make a great gift. Think back on the things you both cherished the most as you grew up and see what you can do to recreate something similar for a great present.