Sleigh bells ring… are you panicking?

Maybe you’ve contemplated selling one of your kidneys. Or maybe you applied to become an “exotic dancer” at a “nightclub”-just to make a few bucks. Perhaps you’ve sat in Rittenhouse Square singing your heart out,

Maybe you’ve contemplated selling one of your kidneys. Or maybe you applied to become an “exotic dancer” at a “nightclub”-just to make a few bucks. Perhaps you’ve sat in Rittenhouse Square singing your heart out, staring into a guitar case littered with a few pennies and a half-eaten hot dog. If you’re broke for the holidays, you don’t have to resort to such desperate measures to save up money. College students have to be thrifty all year and the holidays do not mean you need to change your miserly ways and buy extravagant gifts.

So don’t panic about embarking on your holiday shopping trips. Instead, take a walk around Center City and you’ll find cheap and fun gifts for everyone on your list. On another note, you can also save money by wrapping your gifts with old newspapers. Be creative!

1. Buffalo Exchange, 1109 Walnut St., (215) 627-4647

This little consignment shop sells new and used clothing for both men and women, offbeat accessories and-Pig Catapults? That’s right, you can buy a Pig Catapult, and it comes with “20 pigs to fling” for $6. Or go for the Country Songs Magnetic Poetry for $9.95 for that friend who always seems to have truck and girlfriend troubles.

2. Robin’s Book Store, 108 S. 13th St., (215) 735-9600

When you’re looking for cheap books or magazines, get out of Borders and Barnes & Noble and head over to Robin’s. You can find a huge assortment of magazines (both old and new editions) for half of the cover price. At a second location on Chestnut Street, they carry brand-new books for 50 percent off and used books at an even greater discount.

3. Reading Terminal Market, 12th and Arch streets, (215) 922-2317

This place is a little city inside a city! The Reading Terminal Market can rescue you from any holiday gift-buying conundrum. There are over 80 merchants that sell enough food to feed a small country, homemade candy, books, rare specialty items, flowers and even clothing. Make your ‘rents happy with a big lamb shank.

4. Wawa, Everywhere!

You know your best friend always takes the Franklin House Shuttle just to score a sandwich from the nearby Wawa. Get him a Wawa gift card so he can enjoy a smorgasbord of Wawa delights. You can also get various gift cards for different places such as the Home Depot and Blockbuster here.

5. Coconuts, 1717 Chestnut St., (215) 854-6967

Remember those archaic, plastic rectangles that used to play movies? You know-VHS tapes! Remember those? The first floor carries $5 videos of unforgettable movies like Ghostbusters and Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey. The second floor of this music store has loads of used (and cheap) CDs and DVDs wrapped nicely in cellophane-your friends will never know it’s used.

6. Urban Outfitters, 1627 Walnut St., (215) 569-3131

You can drink your shot and eat it too with an Edible Candy Cane shotglass ($8). This would make a great stocking stuffer. Or you can give your bratty little brother some Happy Bunny Misfortune Cookies ($9).

7. Scoop Deville, 107 S. 18th St., (215) 988-9992

For those ravenous chocolate-lovers on your list, head to this delightful little candy shop for some candy gift boxes or a giant white chocolate-covered candy cane that’s bigger than your head. There is a ton of unique candies here that you won’t find anywhere else.

8. Salvation Army, 2140 Market St., (215) 561-0178

This is probably the most inexpensive place to shop. Sure the clothes emanate an odd thrift-store odor, but that fades over time. Besides, you might be able to find some obscure Nintendo game or a really stylish scarf. The items are obviously used, so Sallie’s might be a better option for those who aren’t very picky.

9. Beyond the Wall, 415 South St., (215) 238-1722

Tired of staring at your roommate’s lame posters? Head down to South Street and pick up a Picasso or a Dali print. Perhaps he’ll be so touched by your gift that he’ll replace Pokemon with some timeless art.

10. Retrospect, 534-36 South St., (215) 671-0116

If you’re not up to combing the aisles for vintage T-shirts at the thrift store, Retrospect has already done it for you. The only downside to this clothing store is that it’s more expensive than any Salvation Army. But you’ll be able to find some whacky clothes under $10.

Ellen Minsavage can be reached at

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