Shopping during the holidays is hard. And shopping for an important male role model in your life -- whether it's your dad, grandfather, uncle, family friend, or someone else -- can be especially difficult. But if you'd like to branch out from the traditional (and boring) tie or wallet, just what are your options?
Fortunately, even though shopping during the holidays is chaotic and many students' bank accounts are at or near empty, finding the perfect holiday gifts can be easier than you might think.
1. Holiday gift from the campus bookstore. You may not venture into the campus bookstore very often because it's so expensive. During the holidays, however, the bookstore can offer some unique gifts that you'll be unable to find anywhere else. Head to a seasonal display to find holiday-themed gifts, like Christmas ornaments, that also have your school logo on them. Your dad will be impressed with the personal nature of the present and you'll have a gift that will remind both of you during your college years each and every time the holidays come around.
2. One-up the traditional tie present. When you think of holiday gift for your father, for example, you may automatically think of all the ties you've given him over the years. Why not make a little joke out of it and give him yet another tie ... but with a special twist. See if your campus bookstore carries ties with your campus logo or mascot on it or see if you can find one online. Added bonus: Your dad will have the perfect reason to brag about you whenever someone asks him about his unique neckwear.
3. Something that connects to his hobby. Is your dad an avid golfer? Get him a set of golf balls with your -- or even his -- college log on them. If he enjoys doing things outdoors, like running, hiking, or playing basketball, get him a college-themed baseball cap. You don't have to spend a lot of money to get him something that will remind him of you while also being functional during the activities he loves the most.
4. A book from your favorite professor. If you enjoy talking with your male role models about the things you are learning during your time in school, consider buying them a book by one of your favorite professors. Your uncle, for example, will get something interesting to read and you'll both have something to discuss next time you meet up. Added bonus: Consider talking to your professor and asking him or her to autograph the book for an especially personal touch.
5. A movie you watched for a class. One of the best things about college is the opportunity to be exposed to all kinds of things that you otherwise wouldn't have even known about. If you've watched a really cool or super thought-provoking film for a class, consider buying a copy for your male role model(s) for the holidays. You can get someone else's perspective on something that resonated with you. Additionally, if you present the DVD with a bag of homemade popcorn, you'll have a ready-to-go fun way to spend some time with someone who is important to you.
6. Tickets to a sporting event on or near campus. Even if your grandfather lives down the street, chances are he doesn't have access to the same campus events that you do. Your student ID provides you access to all kinds of sporting events (and seating and discounted prices) that even the most seasoned fans can't get. Take advantage of your access as a student and hook your grandpa up with some fun seats for a sporting event you know he'll love.
7. Make a donation to an organization or cause that's important to him. You're probably well aware of the social causes that matter most to your dad. Make an online donation to a non-profit that values the same thing he does for a thoughtful, personal, and helpful gift. Added bonus: This can be a great idea for those who are short on cash. Simply make a card that says "a donation to ABC Organization was made in your honor for the holidays this year." You don't have to state how much money you donated, and even if you only gave $5 or $10, it can still make a difference.
8. Go in with your siblings on a gift. If you're old enough to be in college, you likely have older siblings, too. Which means that your range of potential gifts is much larger than it was, say, 5 or 10 years ago. Consider posing together for a kids-only family portrait that you can frame and give to an important male family member. Or plan an activity for everyone to do together -- where the kids drive, pay, and coordinate the details. You'd be surprised just how much fun it can be to give a gift together as well as to see the look on your dad's face when he see this kind of holiday gift!