Save big on holiday shopping


Thoughtful, creative, affordable gifts for $25 or less
text: Jamie Ramirez / images: Basil Sar, Thyra Phan

With college expenses breaking the bank, it is important to find holiday gifts at affordable prices for everyone in your life. When you are all done playing Santa for everyone else, this holiday gift-giving guide will leave you with a little extra money to get something for yourself.

For the true Spartan at heart: Pair this SJSU travel mug, which comes in an array of colors, is perfect for coffee or hot chocolate on brisk winter mornings. Pair this $12 mug with a $10 lanyard and you have the perfect gift for a proud Spartan for $22.

For the proud Spartan: About half of the T-shirts and tank tops available for purchase at the student bookstore cost less than $25. There are plenty of colors to choose from, including gold and yellow, blue, white and different hues like teal and pink. Sign up online for an email code and get 10 percent off your first purchase.

For the classic college student: Help your fellow Spartan cure their “Thirsty Thursday” hangover with “The Hungover Cookbook” for $7. Pair it with an electric pigs-in-a-blanket appetizer maker for $18 for a total cost of $25.

For a coworker, acquaintance or white elephant party: Pay a visit to World Market and purchase a “Good Morning” mug set of two for $10. Fill each of them with a single Ghirardelli cocoa packet at $1.50 and Ghirardelli peppermint bark at $4. The final cost for this gift is $21.

For the camera junkie: For $16, any photographer would appreciate a clever, quirky mug shaped like a lens. It comes complete with a lens cap — I mean — rubber lid.

For the photo lover: Buy a keepsake box that doubles as a picture frame for multiple images, such as this one from Target for $17. Place four of your loved one’s favorite photos on the front, put more pictures inside the box and add a sweet note. A single 4×6 print is $0.12 at Walgreens. Together, the frame and printing the photos cost less than $20.

For the memory keeper: If you are in a pinch for a last-minute thoughtful gift, visit the Walgreens photo webpage and put together a photo book for less than $20 and pick it up the same day. If you are lucky, Walgreens frequently has online discount codes for as much as 33 percent off on photo books.

For the concertgoer: A Ticket Stub Diary from Amazon for $11 allows the receiver to collect and save tickets from concerts, shows, movies and more. The diary is designed to place ticket stubs on a page with a photo and write a memory from that event. Personalize your gift by putting in a set of saved tickets and filling out the first page for your loved one.

For the camper: Visit REI for a Victorinox Swiss Army knife for $23. It has multiple tools including a small blade, can opener, screwdriver, wine bottle opener and more.

For the avid traveler: For the friend who loves to travel the world, get this unique scratch map for $20 from It allows the traveler to scratch off places he or she has been to, like they would a lottery scratcher card by revealing a color underneath. For $5 more, the map can have a magnetic back.

For the coffee addict: It is a French press and a travel mug all rolled into one. This travel mug can be found at World Market for $20 and is the perfect gift for the on-the-go caffeine addict in your family. Add a couple of vacuum-sealed ground bags of coffee in different flavors for $2 each and you will not break the bank at a total cost of $24.

For the wine connoisseur: Get a wine journal from World Market for $20 for the wine lover in your family. Tuck in a $5 gift card inside the book to go towards a bottle of their choice. For $25, it will be happy hour every hour for the wino in your life.

For the tech-saavy cat and dog lovers: offers tablet sleeves, each with a cat or dog splayed across the front and back, for $25. Each is adorned with either the face of a brown and white tabby kitten or an adorable pug. Help that loved one keep their tablet safe with a cover with lots of personality.

For the sports fan: Kohls sells beanies for your loved one’s favorite sports team for $25, including the following teams: Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianapolis Colts, Green Bay Packers, Denver Broncos, New England Patriots and Chicago Bears. With Kohls’ endless coupon offerings, free rewards points program and $10 cash back on all purchases of $50 or more, you will be able to buy more than one.

For a cause: If you are looking to give a unique gift, make a donation to a charity supporting a cause that is close to your loved one’s heart. Foundations for breast and prostate cancer, diabetes, domestic abuse and children’s hospitals all accept donations. Dress up a donation by placing a check inside a decorative card with a ribbon.


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