A&E gives favorite gift ideas

By Staff Report

With the holiday season in full swing, The Pitt News A&E staff has some suggestions for… With the holiday season in full swing, The Pitt News A&E staff has some suggestions for gifts college students can give.

Although buying gifts on a student’s salary isn’t impossible, it takes some thought and creativity. For the women in your life, try gift cards to a local nail salon or a mani-pedi package. This can be a great thing you can do with your sister, mom or best friend over winter break. It’s affordable, thoughtful and the perfect way to forget the stresses of the holiday season.

—Bethie Girmai

The perfect gift for any friend or family member is as close as your local coffee distributor. A nice bag filled with freshly ground coffee can warm anyone’s heart throughout the cold holiday season.

Paired with a decorative mug, a bag of coffee seems thoughtful. Coffee shops such as Starbucks and Caribou have special products, like the Christmas (or Holiday) and Reindeer blends, specifically made for gift-giving. There are also snacks like chocolate-covered espresso beans and graham crackers that go great with a cup of coffee.

Coffee is affordable, thoughtful and many people enjoy the extra caffeine. The endearing aroma of freshly ground coffee is only the beginning of this great gift.

—Anna Weldon

I believe that books are the perfect things to give around the holiday season. There are millions of books on just about every subject — from cooking to cryptozoology, and the history of xylophones to puppy rearing, to name a few. Friends or family members with obscure or bizarre hobbies and interests that make you cringe at the thought of gift giving will always appreciate a book on their particular love, whether it be llama farms or Australian rugby teams, and these can be easily found on sites like Amazon or at your local Barnes & Noble.

—Sara Pecora

If money is no object, Beats headphones serve as the perfect holiday gift. Adorning the likes of LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, Beats headphones are sure to make your hip-hop loving friend’s holidays. Boasting superior sound quality and a sleek streamlined design, Beats headphones are more than your run of the mill Skullcandy earbuds. They allow you to experience music on an entirely different level, so much so that HP has used the technology in its laptop speakers. The music lover in your life will be sure to thank you as they blast My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy through their new Beats.

—Jeffrey Ihaza

If you’re looking for something unique and hoping to make a larger-scale impact than just the one on your gift’s recipient, consider buying something from Ten Thousand Villages in Squirrel Hill. The store stocks exclusively fair trade items, meaning that all of the profits generated go back to the artisans around the world who created them. Every item is marked with its country of origin and literature about the materials used, and the cultural significance of the art form is available as well if you’d like to include it with your gift. The store has a large array of jewelry and home décor items as well as clothing, journals and other things that could make great gifts that give back.

—Sarah Simkin

A great gift would be ChapStick. It’s a gift that anyone can have and enjoy whether they’re a boy or a girl or 10 or 80. They are cheap, and there is a variety for all seasons. There’s SPF 15, cherry, strawberry, original — one for every taste. They make great stocking stuffers and great Secret Santa gifts that are affordable on a college student’s budget. So next time you are walking by a Rite Aid and don’t know what you’re going to get your roommate before the holidays, do him or her a favor and buy them some ChapStick.

—Caity Garvey

Some would argue that Facebook has rendered the traditional, paper photo album obsolete, but I disagree. Scrapbooking is fun, and it’s easy. It’s heartwarming to look at photos of yourself having fun with your loved ones while you’re putting the scrapbook together, and it will be just as heartwarming to look back on it a few years from now.

There are a lot of different ways to do this gift. For someone you know who is about to go on a long trip or study abroad, a cute, empty scrapbook can be a great gift on its own. For someone you’ve known for a very long time, a scrapbook of your adventures together can be even better. You can get the best of both worlds by purchasing a large scrapbook and filling in the first half of the pages, leaving the second half blank for your friend to keep filling in as your relationship goes on.

A twist on this idea  — if you have a friend who is a player, you can give them a real, physical Little Black Book in which to chronicle their exploits. I did this for a girlfriend once and she loved it.

— Tracey Hickey

With a chaotic and expensive time of the year approaching, it’s hard to get together enough cash to buy amazing gifts for everyone you know. But, if you’re on a budget, one option is to give your friends homemade gift cards. Rather than put $25 on a card to Panera or Macy’s — this sort of expense adds up very quickly between your friends — offer your own services to your loved ones — preferably legal ones. Offer to give one of them a free ride or buy them lunch. Those of you with artistic talent might offer to draw a picture of anything your friend asks for. They don’t even have to be serious — you could make one for “one free hug” or “a fantastic night out.” Get creative and think of something that your friend would love. They’ll probably love the personal touch more than the normal gift card.

—Larissa Gula

If there’s a film buff in your life, The Criterion Collection’s latest gift to cinephiles is a no-brainer. “America Lost & Found: The BBS Story” is a lavish box set that collects seven films produced between 1968 and 1972 by BBS Productions, an offshoot of Raybert Productions funded by the success of “The Monkees.”

With their attractive combination of capital and open-mindedness, BBS became the ideal patron for aspiring New Hollywood filmmakers like Dennis Hopper (“Easy Rider”), Peter Bogdanovich (“The Last Picture Show”) and Bob Rafelson (“Five Easy Pieces”). The movies are a mix of the canonical, the bizarre and the sorely underrated. The set is worth it for “The King of Marvin Gardens” alone, a slow-burning study of fraternal discord set in off-season Atlantic City. Plus, Jack Nicholson is everywhere: He stars alongside Tuesday Weld and Orson Welles in “A Safe Place,” directs “Drive, He Said,” toasts D.H. Lawrence in “Easy Rider” and delivers a morbid monologue about choking on fish bones in “The King of Marvin Gardens.”

—Ryan McGinnis

The Paris Review Interviews, Volumes 1-4

The Paris Review has a storied literary history rivaling that of The New Yorker: Founded in 1953 in its title city, the journal has slowly but surely catalogued some of the best short stories, essays and most famously, interviews of the 20th and 21st centuries. Corresponding with virtually every famous writer of the postwar period onward — from Ernest Hemingway to Stephen King — the interviews are unmatched in their ability to probe deeper than authors’ surface level personas. They’re also journalistically unprecedented: In a move that might rile traditionally trained reporters, featured writers are given access to the interview before publication and allowed to make edits. Needless to say, unconventional, idiosyncratic — see the wry back-and-forth with Kurt Vonnegut — and often brilliant conversations await the recipient of this box set.

—Andy Tybout

When in doubt about a holiday gift, go for the homemade. Remember that ornament that you made in school of you at age 8 surrounded by puzzle pieces that’s on your tree annually? Your mother loves that — certainly not because of its artistic value, but because you made it. Friends will appreciate homemade presents with similar — if not exactly the same — kind of enthusiasm. Try knitting scarves, making jewelry or painting ceramics — think ceramic mugs, not ceramic kittens — and you’re on your way to a one-of-a-kind gift made with your loved one in mind. Or, if all else fails and you’re in a crunch, I’ve never met someone who would turn down baked goods.

—Natalie Bell

It’s freezing out and while you’d like to keep your hands warm with gloves, you’d also like to listen to music on your iPhone or text a friend on your Droid. But, wait, you can’t, because you’re wearing gloves that seem to exist only to prohibit your finger’s infrared heat from reaching your touch screen. Luckily, Echo Design (www.echodesign.com) has developed specialized gloves for both men and women that enable your hands to stay super warm while switching playlists or catching up on gossip. Coming in 11 colors, the Echo touch gloves are both attractive and functional, and though gloves are a little cliché for Christmas, these are perfect for the tech-friendly person, particularly one that has cold hands.

—Kayla Sweeney

For those of you who are at a loss for what to get the ladies in your life without breaking the bank, have no fear. A scarf is an easy and relatively cheap gift idea for any girl, be it your mother, girlfriend, sister or crazy aunt you got stuck with in the family Secret Santa draw. Depending on the lady in question’s style, there are many different options, from the funky, patterned scarves on display in many of the stores in the Strip District, to one of the more classic knits available at shops such as Aerie, Banana Republic, or J.Crew. Other options include the simple yet classy cashmere pashmina, which can get a little pricey depending on the quality, a simple neck square for a mother or grandmother or even one of the circular styles, sure to keep anybody warm in the coming winter months.

—Liz Keeney

This year’s best holiday gift idea is the must-read “Autobiography of Mark Twain.” One of America’s greatest social satirists, Twain believed that people would only be ready to hear his most dear and honest opinions 100 years after his death. This year, his volume has been published. Twain was always a master at sustaining audiences — his autobiography is no different. At 736 pages, the work is brimming with insight, creativity and wit. Act quickly, however, because this book is flying off the shelves. Only 50,000 copies were published in the first print run, and many bookstores have already run out.

—Ben Labe

It’s hard to decide what gifts to get for people when you’re, well, broke. This holiday season, the most intimate, personalized gift for family, friends, and/or loved ones is a mixCD. The best part is — it’s basically free. With the options to personalize the mix with favorite songs of the receiver, to compile the mix with your favorite songs, or maybe some of both, the possibilities of a successful mixCD are endless. So this holiday season, if you find yourself without cash, give the gift of new music through a customized, intimate compilation.

—Christina Ranalli