The holidays are quickly approaching and your gift list is still far from complete. You’re on a budget. You love too many people and you want to surprise them. We at TCP sympathize, so we decided to put our thinking caps on and come up with some creative and affordable gift ideas for your loved ones.

Radina Papukchieva: Nothing says “I know you” like a good book.  A book is personal and inspirational.  And it’s the-great-gatsbywinter, if we can’t go on adventures out in the freezing cold, we are certainly capable of using our imagination to reach currently unreachable destinations.  I think it’s a great gift for a best friend, someone whose interests you share and admire.  A used book is arguably even more precious (and for students, also more affordable) because it has history; it has inspired someone else before.  Montreal is rich in used book stores, like The Word, near McGill campus, L’échange (where you can also find used CDs, records, and movies) on Mont Royal, S.W.Welch on St. Viateur, and Cheap Thrills on Metcalfe.  Not only do they sell rare books with vintage covers (I can hear a thousand hipster hearts rejoice) but some of them also have a great selection of cool postcards, posters, and other cute gift ideas.

Bianca Puorto: Thoughtful gifts generally get a bad rap for being on the less expensive side. Macaroni necklaces and popsicle stick picture frames are cute when you’re eight, not so much when you’re 28. Taking the thoughtful gift to the next level, however, is what Christmas is all about. Instead of trying to find the perfect necklace or pair of cufflinks for your significant other, who not develop pictures of a trip or a similar good time and put them in a multi-picture frame? Most people have hundreds of pictures on their computer that never see the light of day. Pharmacies can develop pictures in a matter of minutes and stores like Winners or Home Outfitters sell beautiful frames at a great price. Instantly you not only have a thoughtful gift, but one that doubles as home decor with a story!

0023b176Chris Hanna: Whenever I hear anyone say “it’s the thought that counts” about Christmas gift exchanges, I always think it’s a cop-out for some cheapskate to regift something terrible, or scour the sale racks for something generic.
I don’t think I’m an expert gift-giver, but if you’re special enough for me to buy you a gift, then I’ve known you long enough that I should be an expert at what you like and what you’re like.
Anyone who’s worth befriending should agree with the following statement: Magazines are amazing.
Find out what your friend is into and find that niche magazine that caters to that hobby. Believe me, it exists. Health, news, fashion, food magazines, yeah, yeah, we all know them, and chances are your friend already gets the magazines you’ve heard of.  Got a knitter on your list? Crochet Today. Horror movie fan? Fangoria. Hunter? Runner? Cyclist? If you have a human on your list, chances are there’s a magazine they’d love to get everything. And they’ll think about you every time they get a new issue in the mail. It’s the thought that counts, remember?

Sophia Trozzo: All I can think about this winter is cozying up under a warm blanket with a good read and a cup of teacupscoffee.  I guess that explains why I fell instantly in love with this vintage inspired set of tea/coffee cups at Boutique 1861 (Location St. Catherine).  Delicate china and romantic floral patterns combine to make a perfectly charmed gift for the holiday season.  Personal and timely, this set is so visually appealing it will have you playing “tea party” by yourself just for the heck of it. Aside from cups, the set also includes tea kettles, small bowls, trays, and jars for milk and sugar. Trop mignon!

Owen Nagels: Since cash is a little tight for everyone these days, my family and I are going to take it easy on the gifts this year. We used to get a gift for everyone, but we’ve decided that instead of busting our wallets open and breaking our budget, we’re going to buy one gift and have a Secret Santa. Since we don’t know who will be picking our gift, we all have to get something gender-friendly. I had an idea to make a gift-basket full of homemade goods. For example, environmentally friendly cleaning products are effective and inexpensive to make, and you can put them in nice bottles and have a whole array of different products.
Another idea is to make a gift-basket full of edible and drinkable preserves. Pickled vegetables are great because they’re easy to make, they’re tasty and they last a long time. Or, get a bottle of vodka, portion it into smaller bottles, put a couple of vanilla beans and you’ve got homemade vanilla extract. Also, you can put different kinds of candy in a jar (lemondrops, candy canes, cinnamon hearts), fill it with vodka, and you’ve different flavoured vodkas, perfect for making all kinds of drinks. Either way, whoever ends up picking my gift will have a great time drunkenly  cleaning their house!

110_JeremiahKetner_SleepyOwl_500-whiteSophia Loffreda:  We’ve all heard the expression “a great gift is something you’re going to use.”I know, it sounds lame, but I always appreciate gifts that I can either wear or use everyday. Firstly, because it makes you think of the person and secondly, because the guilty feeling that accompanies throwing a mediocre gift under a pile of junk is not fun for anyone. So for the cell phone addicted joys in your life (everyone), give a gift that keeps on giving by checking out the affordable and awesome website With a few clicks you can choose one of hundreds of phone stickers (14$) or hard cases (34$), for any kind of phone on the market. The stickers won’t protect as well as the hard cases, but they are easily removeable and can be reused as many times as you like. From Claude Monet paintings to Biggie album covers, there really is a design for every tech lover on your list. In fact, I’m always surprised by their variety of stunning artwork. Best of all, if you have a particular image in mind, you can skip the pre-made designs and upload a picture of your own. Since your gift recipient will be staring at their phone (and your wonderful phone case) quite often, it’s probably best to save those strip poker pictures for another time. But feel free to get creative and come up with something personal that you know they’ll love. Cases are also available for tablets and laptops, and usually ship in 5-7 days. We promise that when done right, this gift is sure to score you a few brownie points… or maybe even a few real brownies, if you’re lucky.


About The Cafe Phenomenon

"The Cafe Phenomenon" refers to a situation, specifically in a cafe, where you are sitting with a friend and engaging in conversation with them, but you suddenly find yourself unable to listen because the background noise of the cafe distracts you from what they are saying (the background noise could be any thing: the gossip at the next table for example). It happens that, from time to time, in certain contexts the background noise is stronger and more defined than our personal and private one on one conversations. Our blog, made up of a group of friends from Concordia's journalism program, can serve as the background noise penetrating the intimate discussions of our virtual cafe dwellers (hopefully adding insight, relevant coverage, and interesting ideas). Or it can be the friend with whom you are deep in conversation. This, our dear readers, we leave to you.

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