The stores are all decorated, the commercials on television are blaring jingles at every possible opportunity and us students are finally beginning to see, through the piles of textbooks and essays before us, the light at the end of the tunnel. That's right, the holiday season is officially drawing near.

And with it comes the crazy, mad-dash, "Oh god what do I get them" moment of panic when you realize that you need to buy all your friends and family gifts. Which, of course, means going out and doing the most painful possible thing at this time of year: shopping.

But, dear VO readers, never fear. I'm here to help, particularly for all those parents out there who have no real idea what to get their university-student offspring. As a student, I feel pretty comfortable saying that I know what students want, or in some cases need, for Christmas. And so without further ado here it is.

1. A Smartphone

And when I say "smartphone", what I really mean is "iPhone." As useful as a Blackberry or Android phone is, for some reason none of them have the same appeal as Steve Jobs' little masterpiece.

In this technocratic world we all currently inhabit, it's become something of a neccesity to keep up to date with the latest and greatest techno-toys. There are really few more useful tools out there today than a smartphone. It lets me get ahold of my friends anywhere through call or texting, while at the same time checking my e-mail, looking up the bus schedule, finding out what the weather looks like this weekend in Whistler or watching a Youtube clip of a cat dressed up in a funny costume. It's an absolutely indispensable accessory with thousands of uses and the student in your life would benefit greatly from having one.

2. A Bottle of Liquor


And a good bottle too. Don't skimp out and buy a bottle of Smirnoff or Jose Cuervo, 'lest you want the recipient to think you secretly hate them.

Now, granted, this gift isn't for everyone, as there are a number of teetotaling individuals (as well as the underage) walking the halls of university, but for most students a nice bottle of liquor - say, a bottle of Grey Goose or Patrón - would brighten up their day come Christmas morning, and give them a nice reprieve from evenings of drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon or Alberta Genuine Draft.

3. A Coffee Card


Students drink coffee; it's really the lifeblood of all academia. Without it, most kids in class these days would literally wither up and die.

So be a good parent and get your son and/or daughter a gift certificate to a nice coffee place, preferably somewhere that's on or near their campus. A warning though: make sure you find out what kind of coffee place they like, because nothing will anger a coffee-drinker more than getting a gift card to a coffee place they hate.

4. Socks and Underwear


Now this one seems counter-intuitive, especially considering how this was once the bane of all children's Christmas, but it's probably the most important item on this list.

Especially if the student in your life is newly living on their own, it is almost assured that most of their underwear's frayed and their socks are holey. I know this is certainly true in my case. A couple pairs of boxer briefs and a sock pack under the tree could go a long way for the student in your life.

5. An iTunes Gift Certificate


The only thing students love more than their music is getting their music for free. And so this last gift is actually more for the gift-giver than the gift-givee, because most students out there know how to freely obtain their music through less than legal means.

Yes, downloaded music is the "CD" of the 21st century, and yes most songs are downloaded illegally off the internet. So, if you're a discerning parent and hoping to keep your student son or daughter out of the clutches of the pirates bay, then giving them the ability to legally download their music from iTunes is really the best of both worlds!

So there you have it, five holiday gifts to get for the student in your life. Granted these may not work for everybody, but I can almost guarantee that at least one of these gifts will be perfect for the young academic in your life. I hope you all have a merry Christmas, and a relatively painless shopping experience!