10 Gift Ideas From College Students to Parents

Students, even if you're short on money, here are some gifts your parents will enjoy.

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Whether it's for the winter holidays or for a birthday, buying a thoughtful gift for your parents always seems to present a challenge. College students are often short on time and money—two of the very things often needed if you're going to find a great gift for your mom or dad this year.

Fortunately, some of the best gifts college students can give their parents don't require a ton of money or time. They do, however, require some forethought. A small, personalized gift can be much more meaningful than something larger but generic. Instead of thinking big when it comes to parental gifts, think individual. What do your parents love most? What are the little things in life that make them happy? And how can you incorporate those things into a gift they'll cherish?

[See photos of 10 gifts that are perfect for parents.]

Take a moment to think, too, about what resources you have at your disposal. True, your bank account might be limited, but you likely have at least a little time to dedicate to making a unique gift this year. You also have access to resources on your campus that can help you find a perfect gift: a great bookstore, for example, and beautiful natural resources that can be used for things such as photography or scrapbooking.

Additionally, you may have learned new skills while away at school—like cooking with your sorority sisters—that you can transform into a great gift once you're back home. With a little creativity and planning, you can come up with some great gift ideas your parents will love (without blowing your budget!).

[Read about big and small ways to save money on college.]

From creative ways to save money when taking your parents out to handmade gifts that your parents can proudly display at home, here are 10 gift ideas from college students to their parents:

1. Passage-of-time picture: Take and frame a picture of yourself as a college student alongside your baby picture. Also include a personal note of thanks.

2. Day off from cooking dinner: Treat your parents to a night where you do the cooking and cleaning up. (Remember: if you can read, you can cook!)

3. Dinner gift certificate: Know your parents' favorite restaurant? Give them a gift certificate so they can spend a romantic night out together.

4. Personalized volunteering: Donate your time—perhaps even with your folks!—at their favorite community organization. If you're short on time, consider making a donation instead.

5. Sibling family portrait: Head to a local department store or photographer's studio for a portrait of just you and your siblings.

6. Weekend of free babysitting: Offer to take care of your younger sibling(s) over the weekend so your parents can go on a romantic getaway.

7. Campus author book: Find a book in your campus bookstore written by a professor on an issue your parents (or you) care strongly about.

8. Personal scrapbook: Put together a collection of essays or creative works that you made in college and are particularly proud of, such as paintings, poetry, music, or photographs.

9. Breakfast out: Treating your parents to breakfast out can be a fun way to spend a morning—and easier on your budget than going out to dinner.

10. Movie night in a box: Grab some packages of microwave popcorn, licorice, and a copy of your parents' favorite movies on DVD. Extra tip: present everything in an empty movie popcorn bucket.

[Parents, get gift ideas for your college students.]