It’s rough getting that perfect gift for Mom and Dad when you’re a broke college student or recent grad.

Luckily, your parents will understand why you’re broke as a joke, but that doesn’t mean you can skip out on getting them gifts!

Here are some ideas that don’t cost a lot but still show you care:

Make a scrapbook
One of the biggest complaints my Mom had when I was in college was that she never got to see pictures of me (this was before she got a Facebook), especially since I didn’t have the funds (or time) to go and get prints made for her. This could be a cost-effective keepsake that you can give to your parents to show what you’ve been up to this semester in college. Did you travel across the country to all of the away football games? Did you get an A on that project you worked on for months? Display things like that to make them feel like they are part of your experience. Check out this example for some ideas.

Convert home videos
One of the most thoughtful gifts I’ve ever seen was from a friend of mine to his parents. He took the time to convert all of their home videos (from VHS, of course) and make a DVD where they could easily access all of their footage from back in the day. Not only does this help them out (finally, they can throw all of those old tapes away), but it also shows that you care enough to take the time to do this. While you might need to cough up some dough to buy a converter, it will be worth it to keep your family’s memories in a digital format!

Give out coupons
As lame as this sounds, this is something any parent would really appreciate. This is a great idea, especially if you’re really broke and have some spare time over the winter break. Figure out what your parents need help with — do they complain about having to shovel snow every day? Loathe taking out the dog for a walk? Need a designated driver so they can take a night out on the town? Once you narrow that down, make coupons that promise you will help them out with these tasks. This could be particularly helpful if they have been wanting to undertake a long-term project at the house but haven’t had the time to do it yet.

Harness your talents
Are you a budding artist? Are you an inspiring songwriter? Take whatever your talent is and figure out how you can turn that into a gift for your parents. If you’re an artist, maybe you can take the time to paint them something that could fill the empty spot on the living room wall. Or maybe you could write a song about them, thanking them for what they’ve done for you. If you’re more of the athletic type and you have a parent who wants to lose weight, you could help set up a training regime for them and become their coach/mentor. Depending on what you’re good at, the sky is the limit on gift ideas here.

Remember, when giving gifts, it is the thought and effort that counts. Buying someone something expensive doesn’t automatically mean you really care or love about someone. More than likely, your parents want you to save your money so you can afford to keep yourself afloat down the road. Really think about what your parents love and what makes them tick, and you can’t go wrong!

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