Deck the halls with lots of folly: a gift guide for college students

By Julianna Pedone | December 6, 2023 12:00pm
by Lexi Buckner / The Beacon

As the fall semester swiftly comes to an end, students are focused on three things: finishing their finals, seeking comfort in their warm beds and finding the perfect gifts for friends as the holiday season draws near. 

The last task can be particularly stressful — tight budgets and looming burnout can make it feel nearly impossible to devise creative, yet budget-friendly, gift ideas.

As our holiday gift to you, The Beacon has curated an assortment of items with varying prices that are guaranteed to please everyone on your list — after you've checked it twice, of course. From a customizable bookmark for your literature-loving roommate to an astronaut desk pad for your friend who spends the day immersed in video games, this list serves as your cheat sheet for a successful, festive season.

by Julianna Pedone / The Beacon

Kettlebell Protein Scooper ($13)

Instead of opting for a basic weight belt or water bottle for the fitness enthusiast in your life, purchase this adorable, handmade kettlebell protein powder scooper. Crafted from premium ceramic and available with pre-gift wrapping options, this unique and distinctive gift is sure to bring a smile to your friend's face as they attempt to secure a new PR.

Portland Gear Rose City Socks ($12)

Each year, you end up buying fuzzy socks from Target for the person you're not sure what to get. But this year – THIS year – you're raising the bar by opting for vibrantly embroidered socks from Portland Gear. These socks make for delightful stocking stuffers for everyone, featuring intricate yet simple designs. Even better, they are crafted by a local business in Portland. It's a win-win!

Personalized Hand Embroidered Bookmark ($13)

For the literature enthusiast on your list, this vintage, monogrammed bookmark is an ideal choice. Crafted from recycled cardboard and soft felt, this bookmark will serve as a constant reminder of you every time the recipient picks up their favorite novel to resume where they left off.

Ice Ball Mold Tray ($14)

Nothing is cooler, literally, than spherical ice. So, consider gifting the mixologist in your life this ice ball mold tray to infuse a dose of festive spirit into their creations. Whether they enjoy concocting cocktails or mocktails, this ice tray is bound to make them feel like they've achieved mastery as a skilled drinks artist. 

by Julianna Pedone / The Beacon

Handmade Crochet Positive Potato ($16)

If your friend enjoys adorning their desk with charming, loveable trinkets, this handmade positive potato is the ultimate gift for them. Not only will this little guy keep them company as they tackle their lengthy to-do list, but it's adorable uplifting message hopes to bring a spud-tacular smile to their face.

Loose Leaf Tea Sampler Pack ($17) 

For the tea connoisseur in your life, this tea sampler pack is something straight off their wish list. Whether they’re sipping in solitude or spilling the tea with you, this thoughtful gift provides your recipient with the opportunity to explore five distinct types of tea, ensuring they stay warm and cozy throughout the cold winter season.

Lana Del Rey Brass Pill Case ($25)

This Lana Del Rey brass pill case offers your friend a convenient storage space for their Vitamin D supplements, helping them ward off wintertime sadness. Combining practicality with style, this gold, cursive-engraved pill case is a functional and fashionable addition to anyone's daily routine.

by Julianna Pedone / The Beacon

Alice the Axolotl ($33)

This Jellycat plush is the ultimate gift for a friend with a penchant for collecting distinctive stuffed animals. Dubbed as "lovely luminous," this axolotl stuffed animal stands out from the abundant squishmallows commonly found at Fred Meyer, adding an extra layer of uniqueness to this special holiday present.

Jellyfish Lava Lamp ($45)

It's comeback season for the early 2000s classic lava lamp – but with a fun twist. This jellyfish lava lamp is a gift for a friend in need of a new nightlight or looking to infuse some life into their decor. And, its 16 different color modes are sure to make your recipient light up when they unwrap their present.

Salt & Pepper Gift Box ($45)

From lemon rosemary salt to tellicherry pepper, this gift box is a seasoning dream for your culinary-savvy friend. While it won't turn them into an instant Gordon Ramsay, this gift box provides your recipient with the chance to enhance their culinary skills, experimenting with various sustainably gathered seasonings to create layered flavors for the meal of their dreams.

Strange Planet Mouse Pad and Desk Mat ($40)

Crafted for gamers, writers and those who spend extended hours at their desks, this astronaut desk pad is an out-of-this-world gift (pun intended). This handmade masterpiece is water and slip-resistant, featuring a vibrant color palette ranging from bright oranges and reds to soft blues and purples. Not only is it a functional addition to any workspace, but it also stands out as a visually striking piece.

by Julianna Pedone / The Beacon

Boxed Chocolates – Black Box 16 ($52)

While no chocolate lover would ever decline a See's Candy chocolate box, gifting them the Recchiuti Confections’ Black Box 16 will make them question if they've ever experienced a true chocolate confection before. Recognized as the New York Times' Wirecutter Best Chocolate Box, this 16-piece assortment offers flavors ranging from ginger heart to rose caramel, ensuring it delights anyone with a taste for finer things in life.

Custom Neon Sign ($60)

For those with a higher budget, this custom neon sign is the perfect gift for a friend looking to personalize a new space. Crafted from high-quality LED flex, these signs offer safety advantages over traditional glass signs while maintaining a striking visual impact. Overall, give this distinctive statement piece to illuminate anyone's holiday.

Lounge Bean Bag Chair ($60)

While sitting on the floor of a dorm room or apartment is a canon event for college students, you can help your friend elevate their entertaining ability by gifting them a lounge bean bag chair this holiday season. The one featured here is a classic bean bag, but if your friend has a love for unicorns or dinosaurs, Target's website offers a variety of options for more adorable animal inspired furniture.

Julianna Pedone is a reporter for The Beacon. She can be reached at