$: $0-$30

Lotion: Help start your student on a solid skincare routine this holiday season. One year, I was offended after receiving the same set of Bath and Body Works lotion 3 different times. Since then, I’ve come to appreciate this gift as I spent the majority of first year asking my classmates if they had any lotion on hand in the middle of lecture. Several quality brands are Aveeno, Cerave, and Cetaphil.

Lip Balm: Lectures can be dry, but your lips don’t have to be! Keep them soft and supple with salve or petroleum jelly. As a chronic lip picker when studying, these two products have been crucial to helping me curb this bad habit while keeping my lips moisturized.

Scrunchies: One can never have too many hair ties on hand. For those who lose them as often as healthcare professionals lose pens in a hospital, these are handmade by another medical student, The Medical Millennial.

Water Bottle: A stylish AND eco-friendly reminder to hydrate before you die-drate.

Plants: Plants relieve stress, brighten up spaces, and alleviate eye strain. There are some days when all you need is a small victory and seeing a plant thrive because of the care and effort you’ve put in provides just that. Easy plants for novices include snake plants, succulents, and golden pothos, but fake plants can be a good alternative for the brownest of thumbs.

Local Coffee or Tea shop Giftcard: Many of us need a sweet treat or fuel to get through long hours of studying, so a giftcard can support both your student and a small business. For my Atlantans, I plan on compiling a list of my favorite cafes soon. 🙂

$$: $30+

Study Resources: Preparing for board exams is extremely expensive because schools can only provide access to so many resources. AMBOSS, Sketchy, and Osmosis subscriptions are great, but still cost a pretty penny even with group discounts.

Scrubs: All students need scrubs when it comes time for rotations. There are regular scrubs and then there are *luxury* scrub brands like Jaanuu, Mediclo, Urbane, and Grey’s Anatomy. These brands offer scrubs that are less bulky and are often petite friendly.

Meal subscriptions: Save your student tons of time grocery shopping and cooking by getting a subscription like Freshly, which delivers chef prepared meals to their door. Alternatives are Hello Fresh, EveryPlate, and Blue Apron, which deliver ingredients for pre-planned meals.

Giftcard to their favorite local restaurant: Supporting local restaurants while making sure your student eats well at the same time. It’s a win win really.


Many small businesses have struggled in this new era of distancing and isolation, including ones that have served our communities for years. Shopping small allows our communities to grow and thrive while retaining the flavors that make them unique.

I can attest to the power of supporting small businesses because a significant portion of my high school, undergraduate, and medical education expenses so far have been covered by earnings from working at my parents’ shop. When you shop small, you’re not only supporting someone’s livelihood, you’re also supporting their dreams.

I encourage you to show your local establishments some love if possible. 🙂

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