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THE SCORE—Nine Creative Holiday Shopping and Gifting Tips

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Everyone has their favorite part of the holiday season. Some people look forward to the sweet treats; others look forward to the ugly sweaters. My favorite part of the holiday season? Gifting.

Sure, I like receiving a good gift as much as the next person. (I am human, after all.) But what I truly love is giving gifts. And not just any gift—the perfect gift.

I have been known to have knack for giving a great gift in my day. And while some think it is an innate talent, it really comes down to some skills and tips I have learned over the years.

As my gift to you the reader, here are nine creative holiday shopping and gifting tips to kick off your season!

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1. Make a list—check it twice (or three times). With all the loved ones in your life, it is easy to overlook someone important you want to get a gift for. So before you begin sit down and write out an actual list of people you will be shopping for and check off as you go. That way you won’t be scrambling to pick up a scarf that screams, “last minute.”

2. Nancy Drew your way to the perfect gift. During the next few weeks, be extra perceptive. Perhaps you notice your mom is still using bakeware from the ’80s for Thanksgiving or your sister talks nonstop about the Jenner sisters. Use these tidbits to purchase a thoughtful gift. That way the new cookie sheets or skirt from Kendall and Kylie’s Topshop collection will mean so much more than the items themselves.

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3. It’s not all about Black Friday. In fact, some of the best deals actually occur the week before Thanksgiving (aka right now!)—especially online. As if you needed another reason to do some online shopping, the early bird gets the worm—and to sleep in the day after Thanksgiving.

4. Get personal. There is nothing better than a one-of-a-kind gift. Whether it is a personalized piece of art or jewelry with the GPS coordinates of somewhere special, everyone loves a unique gift. Not only does it show tremendous thought, but who doesn’t love having something that no one else has?

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5. Less is more. Have a large family? Need to get gifts for all nine of your roommates? Instead of buying little things for all 83 people on your list, suggest doing a secret gift exchange. Each member of the group pulls the name of one person and is in charge of buying one awesome gift for that individual. Besides saving everyone money, being responsible for one person will allow you to really focus and select the perfect item for your lucky gift recipient.

6. Work that student status. While being in college on a budget usually doesn’t bod well when shopping, there is one major benefit to being a student shopper. Many of your favorite retailers offer a student discount. Everyone from J.Crew, ASOS, Topshop and even Apple offer a percentage off just for being you (and by “you” I mean a student with a valid ID).

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7. Don’t shop hangry. Sure, by now we have all learned that grocery store on an empty stomach usually results in overspending on copious amounts of unnecessary chips and baked goods. The same can be said to shopping for non-food items, too. Research shows that you will spend more shopping when hungry. So, be sure to have a healthy breakfast before you set off on your marathon shopping trips—and don’t forget to pack some snacks for the road!

8. Because everyone loves a good theme. In college, you attend so many theme parties, why not carry over the idea to your gifting style. (No, I am not talking about giving everyone a bed sheet for the next toga party.) Consider a theme across your gifts. For example, give each one of your family members a book that you think they would enjoy based on their interests. Inscribe the front cover with a nice message. That way, each time the recipient picks up their book to read, they will think of you.

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9. Wrapping it up. You spent all this time and effort planning, seeking and purchasing the perfect gift. The final step? Wrapping it all up. Don’t just throw your gift in a shopping bag and call it a day. That’s like not running the last quarter mile of a marathon. You can be both creative and eco-friendly in packaging your gift as well. Use either brown paper bags or even the pages from that textbook you couldn’t sell as wrapping paper. Use twine to attach some fallen pine needles as a bow.

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Voilà! The complete package (pun intended) for the perfect holiday gift!