ABOVE: Every year for the holidays Terri Anderson, track and field throwing coach, makes some sort of hand crafted gift with her friends and family. This year, Anderson and her friends decided to craft small, holiday inspired lantern scenes. (Contributed photo)

Taylor Rodriguez
Staff reporter

Every year, the holiday season rolls in at the behest of our daily lives. For some, it is a festival of lights, for others it is to celebrate the birth of their savior. In other cases, it is all about being with your family. For many, however, it is all about the gifts.

According to the National Retail Federation, the average American will spend nearly $700 on gifts for the 2019 holiday season. For many college students, that can be a lot of money, and not part of the budget.

What does a tightly budgeted college student, like myself, do if they do not have the funds available to purchase presents, but still want to exchange gifts with friends and family? The obvious answer is to create them.

I have gifted many handmade presents to others throughout my life. From pre-k to college, I have always thought there is much sentimental value that a handcrafted gift can hold.

For example, I have sculpted clay in the shape of my parent’s favorite animals as gifts in my elementary years. They are still on the bookshelf in our living room.

In high school, I have folded origami bouquets and sketched portraits for many of my friends. Recently, I have had a friend reach out to me to do another for them and their fiancé.

I have made it a point to try and hand make my gifts whenever possible. I am not the only one who has found enjoyment in creating gifts for their friends and family.

Terri Anderson, track and field throwing coach, has made a hobby out of creating gifts for her friends and family every holiday season.

“My best friend and I, we try to make gifts every year. I try to make my grandma an ornament to put on the tree still because she sets up the big tree for family Christmas. We get out all the ornaments that her kids have made so I always try to make her one for her tree. Last year we made these triple pane, etched glass ornaments and we did a lot of paper crafts in layers last year as well,” said Anderson.

However, those that are not as artistically inclined can still make simple, but sentimental gifts.

“We made these little guh-nom-ees, or gnomes. They have beans in them and are made out of socks, which are pretty easy to do. We’ll leave them around and put little ‘take me,’ tags on them so other family members can take them home,” said Anderson.

Others prefer to just buy gifts rather than make them. JC Fuentes, communication senior, prefers buying gifts to making them since he has not made a Christmas gift since he was a young boy.

Fuentes is a big fan of the Pokémon franchise and shares that same enjoyment with his significant other.

“So, last year for Christmas I got Bronte this little Bulbasaur planter. It was easy to pick for her since she likes Pokémon too. Bulbasaur is her favorite Pokémon and she really liked it,” said Fuentes.

When considering what to get someone as a gift, you should consider his or her interests too.

Currently, I am working on an acrylic painting of my girlfriend and me at Niagara Falls from last Christmas as a present for her. I find that there is more sentimental value in hand made gifts compared to purchased gifts.

This year, Anderson is working on a similarly sentimental gift with her friends and family.

“We are doing lantern scenes. So like, in the lantern you could have a forest scene with deer. The one that I am making for myself is just a living room scene. It will have a little teeny tiny plate of cookies and a three-inch tall tree,” said Anderson.

The miniature scenes are made in one-twelfth scale sizes when compared to regular furniture.

Anderson made a lantern with a Nightmare Before Christmas theme since her favorite holiday season is Halloween, with Christmas as a close second.

Anderson wanted her gifts to have sentimental value with a bit of utility as well.

“Usually there is more sentiment to a handmade gift but there can be sentiment in a store bought gift too. I would say it is more about how much you think about the other person you are giving the gift to, regardless of whether it is handmade or store bought. For example, my grandma has a little yorkie dog. So, we got a little yorkie to put into her lantern scene,” said Anderson.

Even if you are unable to buy the number one thing on someone’s holiday gift wish list that does not mean you care any less about them. Anderson has a word of advice for giving gifts for the holiday season.

“Think about what the other person might like or might use. My best friend, she always asks for gift cards and we get mad because we want to give her something, but she is not going to use it. Really think about what the other person would like and, or use. Give a gift from your heart, not because you are obligated to but because it’s something you enjoy to do.”