Newswise — Here's an inside scoop for the college student on your Christmas gift list: I-Pods, CDs and money are a sure bet, it's sometimes the little things that count, and while most students have a preferred list of gifts they want, they'd really enjoy a surprise under the tree.
Hendrix College senior Marli Kaufmann of Weaverville, Calif., recently quizzed 1,100 fellow Hendrix students via an email survey asking what they wanted for Christmas or Hanukkah, if they tell their family what they want for Christmas or would prefer to be surprised and what's the most meaningful gift they've ever received.
While items like an I-Pod, DVD boxed sets, digital cameras, warm winter clothing and money and gift cards topped most students' wish lists, many of the 54 students who responded to the survey were most excited about reunions with loved ones.
"I want nothing more this Christmas than to see my family," said junior Lizzy Price of Little Rock, Ark. "I've been studying abroad since September, so it's been a few months since I've seen them."
Sophomore Alicia Owen of Tulsa, Okla., said she will be happy just to be out of school and with her family.
Still, gift-giving is a big part of their holiday season, and most students have very specific wishes.
"I want cowboy boots, books, a warm coat and some DVDs and money," said sophomore Liz Blackman of Dallas, Texas. Freshman Rita Rein of Mountain View, Ark., wants clothes, shoes, an I-Pod (the original) and a new cell phone.
Junior Chris Kreitlein of Russellville, Ark., who is asking for "a pair of jeans that will make me look like I have a butt," among other things, said he doesn't always get what he asks for.
"Well, you can tell them what you want until you are blue in the face, but I always get disappointed whether I tell them or not. I got a dust buster last year."
Sophomore Jenni Robinson of Scrappoose, Ore., is hoping for "cash, a bicycle, and gift cards"¦I also need some art supplies for next term."
Even though most students had in mind exactly what they want for the holidays, most still wanted to be surprised.
"My parents always ask for a list of things I want, but they're usually more creative and end up finding other things they think I'd like," said junior Lori Ann Holt of Conway. "My siblings and I especially like to make gifts for one another, and that's not usually something you'd write on a list or request specifically."
Junior Jennifer Merritt of Houston, Texas, mentions the big things she wants or needs to her parents, but everything else is a surprise. "It's more fun that way."
Sophomore Zac Ceigler of Chandler, Ariz., agreed: "Good surprises are the best gifts. My parents have me fill out a Christmas list, but they always surprise me anyway, and my girlfriend is great at surprises as well."
"I prefer gifts that show somebody's listening to what I want, and I like to give gifts that meet someone's needs," said senior Brandon McClinton of Conway.
Many students said the most memorable gifts they had received in past years were gifts from family and friends who had put a lot of thought or work into them.
"The most meaningful gift I have ever received came from my grandmother," said senior Megan Faulk of Monroe, La. "She sewed a beautiful quilt that had pictures of me growing up scanned on to certain pieces of fabric. That was a surprise and it honestly brought me to tears when I opened it."
Senior Jillian Gilbert of Katy, Texas, said her most memorable gift also came from her grandmother. "It was the first ring my grandfather ever gave her."
Senior MariRuth Petzing of Portland, Ore., cherishes a bike she received for her 11th birthday. "My dad helped me pick out exactly what I wanted and customized it. I still use it."
While it's easy to go out and buy a gift in the mall, freshman Kayla Vaughan of Kingwood, Texas, appreciates "hand-knitted anything."
For Amanda Brooks, the annual gift of an angel from her godmother (she now has 20) has the most meaning.
"My best friend gave me an anthology of literary theory last year, and I found it very touching," said senior Christine LeBlanc of Hammond, La., "even though I never read it."
Among some of the other memorable gifts mentioned: an engagement ring, a first car, original editions of records, a trip to New York, a day bed handcrafted by dad and great-grandmother's lace tablecloth and china set.
Perhaps senior Kyra Shachmut of Conway summed it up best: "Creativity is the best surprise and meaning you can put into a gift."
Knowing that many students believe that gifts are not the most important part of the holidays may allow some parents and family members to breathe a little easier as they search for that perfect, one-of-a-kind item.
"It's the thought that counts," offered freshman Christine Faubel of Little Rock. "Seriously!"
A highlight of the holiday break for many of the students will be the chance to get away from the books, hang out with friends and do some traveling, including snow skiing.
"We normally stay in town for Christmas, just mom, dad and siblings," said junior Bonnie Garrigan of Dallas, "but this year we are going camping in Florida. It will be different and hopefully warm."
"I'm going to go to Dallas over the break to see a friend of mine, do some shopping, and relax after finals!" said senior Jessica McNeil.
Others students, like freshman Bradley Fogleman of Forest Hill, La., anticipate "a lot of sleeping and hopefully a short-lived, well-paying job."
While it may be confusing to hear that some students want specific gifts, others like to be surprised, and still others want only to see their family, most students have faith that their loved ones will figure it all out in time for the holidays.
"In all, I trust that my family will surprise me with something wonderful," said senior Ben Rugg of Fort Worth, Texas. "As long as it is the exact video game I want."
Hendrix, founded in 1876, is a selective, residential, undergraduate liberal arts college emphasizing experiential learning in a demanding yet supportive environment. Selected this year by the Princeton Review as the nation's No. 4 "best value" college, Hendrix is a member of Project PericlesÂ®, an organization that promotes civic engagement among college students. Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. For more information, visit http://www.hendrix.edu.