Students find ways to give creatively

By Joseph Guzy | The Duquesne Duke Holiday shoppers visit the Christmas market in Market Square.

By Joseph Guzy | The Duquesne Duke
Holiday shoppers visit the Christmas market in Market Square.

By Carolyn Conte | The Duquesne Duke

Many Americans celebrate the Christmas season by giving gifts, sometimes spending hundreds of dollars to do so. The National Retail Federation reports that this year the average American will spend $765 on Christmas shopping, up from $700 in the 2014 season and the highest average in five years, according to the CNBC All-America Economic Survey.

In the midst of this, college students facing ever-increasing tuition costs are finding creative ways to provide gifts for family and friends.

Pharmacy major Amanda Leswig uses Pinterest for a lot of her do-it-yourself gift ideas.

“[But] when I go out to shop. though,” she said, “I pick days like Monday when other people don’t go.”

Leswig said she also uses apps such as RetailMeNot to help her find coupons and shopping deals. She called shopping “part of the giving spirit of Christmas.”

Physical therapy major Bruce Stropko agreed, saying that he likes to create homemade gifts for relatives.

“My family loves music, so sometimes I make a CD,” Stropko said.

Mora McLaughlin, communications and political science major, waits until December and does her shopping “all in one shot.”

“I always go to T.J. Maxx because they have good deals and a good assortment,” McLaughlin said, “I don’t mind it, I enjoy gift-giving — I think I do a good job. I think if you keep an ear out [for deals and ideas] the months before, it’s a lot easier.”

Some members of the Duquesne community were able to offer tips for students who may not be willing or able to spend that much.

Debbie Byerly, an employee in the Father Hogan Dining Hall known to many as “Ms. Debbie,” insists that cashback retail website eBates is the most efficient way to shop.

“You get a percent back for everything — all kinds of things,” she said, “Put in your favorite store [in the search bar] … it costs nothing.”

Byerly also advised students to remember to give generously to their parents.

“I always spoil my mom,” she said.

However, she added that the best gifts are ones made in the Christmas spirit, and it is important to remember the less fortunate during the Christmas season.

“I like to do things like Toys for Tots,” Byerly said.

Gail Beatty of the dining hall’s main line emphasized that the Christmas season is about more than just shopping.

“Christmas shopping is not Christmas,” Beatty said. “Christmas is supposed to be in the heart.”

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