Smart Spending for Secret Santa

The holiday season: a time for turkey and ham, a time for gifts and giving and exams. While things may be busy on the academic front, the end of the Fall semester marks the beginning of a few too many Secret Santas and White Elephants that have the student body frantically buying gifts on a budget. Whether you are buying gifts for friends or for family back home, knowing what to buy can be difficult. Luckily The Emory Wheel is here to help with your festive season gift buying, which will hopefully alleviate the burden.

Festive Edible Treats

No Kappa Sigma, not that  kind of edible.

Nothing says thought more than a gift that you didn’t mindlessly purchase by entering Daddy’s credit card number on Amazon. The beauty of the holiday season is that you don’t even need to make anything particularly different. You can just bake some cookies and put in some green food coloring and presto — christmas cookies. Some icing work — be it a smiling snowman or a reindeer — can add a lot of character to the final product. Just make sure to give yourself enough time to bake, as you’ll likely have to vie for space in residence hall ovens around this time of year.

Video Games

If your gift recipient owns even a weak PC, certain games on Steam can be cheap and fun ways for them to procrastinate studying for their finals. Standouts include The Jackbox Party Pack, which is currently on sale for $13.74. The series is a bundle of party games that can make a chilled hang-out session at Clairmont far more lively. As for single-player games, you can buy every single game made by Valve for 89 percent off at a mere $22.34 this week, including the Portal and Half-Life series, which include some of the finest games ever made. For a more vintage, indie type of game for the hipster gift-receiver, the cathartic “Rakuen” is one of 2017’s sleeper hits and a steal at just $6.99 as of press time.

Potato in the Mail

Don’t know what to get your high school friend who is miles away in California or New York? Let Potato Parcel remedy your problems. The company will send a single potato with a message inscribed on it to a person of your choice. Other than the sheer meme value, the potato can be representative of how “organic” your bond is if you really, really squint hard and force yourself to wring something out of nothing.

Smart Speaker

The smart buyer purchases a gift they know the recipient will use. The smarter buyer purchases a gift that both the recipient and the buyer will use. Enter the Google Home Mini, Google’s latest addition to its lineup of smart speakers and a solid Christmas present for a suitemate. Cyber Monday has passed, so the speaker bargain won’t retain its bargain price of $29 for long, but it still sits at a reasonably priced $49 without any discounts. The speaker’s uses range from checking on the temperamental Atlanta winter weather to buying groceries using nothing but your voice — on one hand useful, and on the other hand just really cool.

The biggest criticism with the Home Mini is its relatively weak audio quality, which means that you probably won’t want it to double as a daily driver for your tunes. If you are willing to dish out a little extra cash, the larger Google Home was $79 on Cyber Monday and may still see a lowered price until the holiday season ends. While the sound quality still won’t appease the audiophile, it is a more than sufficient speaker for the casual listener.

If Google doesn’t catch your fancy for some reason, Amazon’s Echo ($99.99) and Echo Dot ($49.99) make for just as good — if not better — alternatives.

Holiday Season Apparel

This one is a bit of a no-brainer. Be it an ugly sweater or a penguin beanie, people often appreciate some festive fun in their lives. Etsy, an online forum where independent people sell usually handmade items,  is a particularly good site to peruse if you want apparel from specific franchises like “Game of Thrones” or Pokemon, but beware that some vendors will stretch the typical budget of a Secret Santa event. Target also features a good variety in its line of ugly sweaters, including references to “Star Wars” and “Stranger Things,” and given its close proximity to the Atlanta campus, it may be just the present for the last-minute gift buyers.


No matter person you are buying for, at the least consider all of your options before just spending $15 on CVS chocolates. Remember, it’s the thought that counts, but please do not cite me if your boyfriend or girlfriend don’t appreciate the potato you got them for Christmas.