Under the Button is part of a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.

Dear Abby: How Do I Handle This Holiday Season?

I went to boarding school (in response to your immediate thought, no, it was not a punishment) in a pretty isolated part of Connecticut. Though I consider myself a relatively proficient Internet shopper, my desolate location was a big hindrance on my ability to purchase the perfect Christmas (and/or Hanukkah, Kwanzaa) gift for each and every person that I love. Adding to this problem were the domains concerning who I actually should have been purchasing gifts for: hall faculty, neighbors, friends who may awkwardly be giving me something even though I only pretended to like them because their moms sent the best care packages? The lists are endless.

This holiday season, those lines are growing continually more difficult, especially considering the current economic state of turmoil. I’m here, after a brief sabbatical, to impart some wisdom in terms of who actually deserves presents this year, and what they should be getting.

In terms of the “who”: family, closest friends and significant others all deserve at least a token something. For professors, housemates you don’t like and the general masses with whom you have a fairly tenuous relationship: If you truly feel the need to give something, make it homemade (we’re thinking cookies, not collages here, people). After all, it is the thought that counts.

I’m going to make a fairly generous assumption and presume, or maybe the correct term is “hope,” that all of my loyal readers have at least three friends. If this is the case, organize a Secret Santa gift exchange: It’s economical, practical and lends an air of mystery that has been lacking since the truth about Santa was revealed. Additionally, in a Secret Santa it is perfectly appropriate to impose guidelines for how much to spend, for both a minimum and maximum limit.

With a significant other, why not suggest you two do something romantic or special, instead of shelling out big bucks for something they will probably hate? I certainly would have rather taken a walk to see the lighting of the tree at Rittenhouse or gone ice skating than received that creepy bobble-headed turtle from a boyfriend last Christmas.

For siblings, parents, grandparents and other random relatives: Bursar was invented for a reason, and that reason is hereby declared as acquiring Penn-themed apparel and/or mugs for all members of the family. It may be unoriginal, but at least it’s light on our wallets!