Christmas gift ideas that won't break the bank

10 Great Christmas Gifts Under $50

Everyone wants to splurge on their friends/family/significant others but not all of us can afford it! Here's a little guide!

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This article is a great help if you're a struggling college student (like me), but it also helps everyone who is trying not to break the bank account this Christmas. Don't get me wrong, I love getting gifts but sometimes I just can't afford to splurge on multiple people. Here are some great ideas that I have used, or plan to use, for both Christmas gifts and even gifts in general.

1. Used Games from Gamestop 

You probably saw the word "used" and lost interest. I assure you though, no one cares because they're still getting games that they didn't have before! won't is perfect for a boyfriend or any person who has any time of gaming console, whether it be an Xbox, Playstation, or even a Nintendo DS! The best part about them being used games is that they're much cheaper, meaning that you can get even more!

2. Morphe/Colourpop Palettes

So this gift would specifically be for anyone who is a makeup lover! Whether they're a pro or even just a beginner, these eyeshadow palettes are considerably cheap and definitely will not break the bank! The best part is that even though these palettes are on the cheaper side, there are so many to choose from and they are great quality!

3. Picture board

This is definitely the most basic gift on this list because I'm sure everyone has done it before. This doesn't change the fact that it is still a great gift and has so much meaning! It is incredibly personalized because it consists of pictures of you and your friends/family/significant others. The best part is, there are so many different ways that you customize this! Get a handful of frames, or even the ones that come with multiple attached, or even get a cork board one! You can add in different colored backgrounds behind the pictures using construction paper or whatever else!

4. Ulta/Sephora Holiday Bundles

I'm sure most people are aware of this already but Ulta and Sephora go all out for the holidays. There are so many bundles and packages that will give you incredibly expensive products for much cheaper! Some examples include lipsticks (lip sets), or brand bundles. I remember one time I got three or four Glam Glow face masks for literally a third of the price of what it would've actually cost. Fair warning though, the bundles are a great save but they aren't all necessarily cheap.

5. Alex and Ani Bracelets

Jewelry! Who doesn't love jewelry? Alex and Ani bracelets are considerably cheap and there are so many different types of charms and bracelets! I love Alex and Ani bracelets because they can put pulled or tightened to fit different wrist sizes. On top of that, there are gold and silver options, so you aren't just stuck with one kind of bracelet!

6. Pandora Rings

You probably read this and scoffed but to be fair, not all Pandora Rings are expensive! I think their cheapest ones start out at $35 and obviously increase but $35 isn't bad! On top of that, the rings last forever and are so cute! I have two rings, gifted to me, and I sleep and shower in them and they still look brand new! They have so many great designs, even rings with birthstones on them.

7. Bath Bombs

This is the perfect gift for those who love taking baths! The most important thing is whether or not they have a bathtub as many places offer just a standing shower. Even if the person you have in mind doesn't generally like baths, this is a great gift for someone who has been stressed lately! Baths are the best way to relax and unwind!

8. T-Shirts

I must admit, as a child, I really hated receiving clothes but now that I'm in college, the more t-shirts the better! Some great t-shirt ideas would be their favorite sports team or school shirts! I wish I had fifty more FSU shirts (Go Noles!) but alas, the two I have will do.

9. Gift Cards

So we all know the hate/love relationship that comes with giving someone gift cards. Some people think that it's minimal effort and that you don't care but then the other half loves gift cards because they can just buy whatever they want! If the person you want to give a gift to loves to read, get a gift card to Barnes and Noble. If they love games, get them a gift card to Gamestop! If they love makeup, get them a gift card to Ulta or Sephora!

10. Fuzzy Socks

This gift is probably more for girls but if you're not a girl and you love fuzzy socks then that's even better! But honestly, who doesn't love fuzzy socks! They are so cute, they are so amazing, and they are so comfy! The best part is that there are so many designs! It's Christmas? Fuzzy socks! It's October? Fuzzy socks! It's Valentine's Day? Fuzzy socks! Oh, you go to Florida State University? Get Florida State fuzzy socks (I have them and I love them).

So here is a list of 10 gift ideas that wont break your bank account! I hope you all find it useful!

Note: As an Amazon Associate, Odyssey may earn a portion of qualifying sales.

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5 Companies That Still Use Slave Labor

Let's talk about the modern slave trade.
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Growing up in a country where freedom is always a right and expectation — whether you live in the United States or one of the other 86 "free" countries — it is easy to believe that, compared to the well-known 1800s slave trade, we are doing pretty well when it comes to civil liberties, freedom, and overall social welfare. Documents such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) have been approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations, meaning that the vast majority of nations have agreed that every individual has the right to basic human dignity.

Despite this significant progress, however, there are 45.8 million people enslaved today, more than any other time in world history. The United States Department of Homeland Security has launched the Blue Campaign in light of this growing industry, hoping to raise awareness of the human trafficking that persists in local communities. Additionally, you can watch this video for a summary on the Global Slavery pandemic. I will write about the problem of human trafficking in the United States on another day; however, global slavery affects us whether it is in our city or halfway around the world. In fact, companies that you purchase from every single day use slave labor for their work instead of paying employees a fair wage.* Don't believe me?

Here are five companies that are using slave labor to make their products TODAY, and where you should shop instead.

Nestle

Nestle is one of the largest companies that has consistently carried out human rights violations all over the world. Not only did they illegally take water from California during the drought in 2015, but in the 1970s they got third-world mothers to use infant formula by selling it at reduced prices, and then when the mothers could no longer breastfeed, they raised the price of formula so much that many children were malnourished and starving.

Their most recent problems revolve around slavery in the cocoa industry. In 2009 several former child slaves sued Nestle because they were trafficked and forced to work on Nestle farms in Cote d'Ivoire. Another suit was filed by former child slaves in 2014, stating that "Studies by International Labour Organization, UNICEF, the Department of State, and numerous other organizations have confirmed that thousands of children are forced to work without pay in the Ivorian economy." In 2016, the Fair Labor Association executed an assessment of Nestle in Cote d'Ivoire. They claimed that 70% of Nestle farms were not trained on the prohibition of forced labor. Further, they stated that "there is no process in place to monitor, report, and remediate cases of forced labor at the farms." With this in mind, they did find evidence of potential forced and uncompensated labor. Additionally, they found evidence of child labor—many of these children never enrolling in school — in which children were getting paid little to nothing, and often working in dangerous conditions.

INSTEAD: buy from Ben & Jerry's or Theo. They will satisfy your sweet tooth and are Fair-Trade guaranteed.

Nike

Nike has REALLY cleaned up their act in the last several years, but with a standard of no slave labor, they still have quite a way to go. In 1992, activist Jeff Ballinger published an exposé in "Harpers" that revealed the story of a child in Indonesia working in disgusting conditions, and for a mere 14 cents per hour (far below the minimum wage in Indonesia at the time).

Since then, Nike has begun to report supply chain information. The most recent report claims that, in 2016, only 86% of their factories were up to the minimum standards they set. Though they give a good indication of how far the company has come, these standards are set by Nike and assessed internally, making it difficult to compare standards to a universal one.

INSTEAD: shop at Patagonia! All products here are Fair Trade Certified!

Starbucks

Starbucks claims a mission for ethical sourcing, meaning their company policy requires them to abide by a standard of "ethical sourcing" that they have created. They only have two Fair-Trade coffees available for purchase. After the development charity Oxfam reported that Starbucks was depriving Ethiopian coffee growers of $90 million every year, Starbucks was challenged by the public eye to “clean up their act,” and did so by creating their own “ethical sourcing” standards, that they implement themselves, and certify 99% of their coffee with. Whether or not these standards are viable, they are not Fair Trade Certified at this time.

The U.S. Department of Labor has a list of locations and goods that use forced and child labor. Starbucks lists coffees from countries such as Guatamala, Kenya, Costa Rica and Panama; however, none of these single-sourced coffees are certified by them as “Fair Trade.” Rather, they are all regions that are known to use child labor.

INSTEAD: buy the Starbucks Italian Roast and Café Estima; they are certified by Fair Trade! You can also order online from Café Justo, Jurang and Equal Exchange —entire companies dedicated to producing Fair Trade coffee.

H&M

A 2016 report stated that as of December 31, 2015, 31 out of 72 H&M suppliers were using illegal contracts. In other words, these contracts allowed for wrongful termination. Now I know what you are thinking: the current system of hiring/firing in the U.S. is full of problems, and it takes way too much work to fire a bad employee in most cases. Well, the situation in countries like Cambodia and India are a little different. Often times, employees of H&M will be forced to work for excessive overtime hours—far beyond the legal limit—with no increase in their weekly take home pay. They are also often working in sweatshop conditions, with no breaks and unsanitary environments. Moreover, the contracts allow the factory to fire a worker for refusing to work these long hours. In fact, a garment worker in Cambodia stated: "We often get sick around once a month. We don’t eat enough and work too much trying to maximize the piece rate. Also, we don’t stop to go to the bathroom. We often work through lunch breaks or go back into work early, so there is hardly any time to rest."

INSTEAD: shop at one of these other retailers that are guaranteed to have fair-trade labor!

Walmart

Well, this one is probably the least suprising yet. According to a 2016 report by the Wage Alliance on Walmart's value chain, Walmart refused to sign the 2013 Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh that 200 companies signed following the collapse of Rana Plaza. It also stated that all 14 factories in Cambodia were studied, and they all violated local overtime laws consistently, with some forcing 14 hour work days without overtime pay "in sweltering heat, without adequate supply of clean drinking water or any breaks." These same conditions were expressed by workers in factories in India, Indonesia, and Bangladesh. The report continued to list countless instances of workers given severely less than they were promised, or even cases where owners of factories fled without paying workers at all.

INSTEAD: OK, I know it's hard to pass up Walmart prices. However, here is a full list of companies that are fair trade. Even if you start small, I know you can find a way to cut back on your slavery footprint! Want to know how many slaves work for you now? Visit the Slavery Footprint mission to find out.

*I use the term “fair wage” because many people who are enslaved are trapped in a cycle of debt bondage. This means that an individual or family works for pennies per hour to pay off an ever-increasing debt. Oftentimes this debt is passed down for generations. To learn more about debt bondage and other forms of slavery, visit the non-profit End Slavery Now, here.

Cover Image Credit: iragelb / Flickr

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45 Songs To Add To Your Memorial Day Playlist

Songs to truly remember what the holiday is for.

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I come from a family that would always go to the lake for Memorial Day and grill with friends and family. However, we always flew our flag and remembered why we celebrate Memorial Day. Both my granddads fought back when you didn't have a choice, back when young men died to protect this great country. To this day there are brave men and women dying to protect this great country and for you to be able to grill with your family. Here are 45 songs to add to your playlist.

1. ‘Letters from Home’ by John Michael Montgomery 

2. ‘Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)’ by Alan Jackson

3. ‘God Bless The USA’ by Lee Greenwood

4. ‘In Color’ by Jamey Johnson

5. ‘Something to Be Proud Of’ by Montgomery Gentry

6. ‘Old Army Hat’ by Billy Ray Cyrus

7. ‘One Hell Of An Amen’ by Brantley Gilbert

8. ‘Ragged Old Flag’ by Johnny Cash

9. ‘American Soldier’ by Toby Keith 

10. ‘God Bless America’ by Martina McBride 

11. ‘Some Gave All’ by Billy Ray Cyrus

12. ‘8th of November’ by Big & Rich

13. ‘Call A Marine’ by Toby Keith 

14. ‘Courtesy Of The Red, White, And Blue’ by Toby Keith 

15. ‘Song of the Patriot’ by Johnny Cash

16. ‘I Just Cane Back (From A War)’ by Darryl Worley

17. ‘I Stand For The Flag’ by Wes Cook Band

18. ‘Where The Stars And Stripes And The Eagle Fly’ by Aaron Tippin

19. ‘For You’ by Keith Urban

20. ‘Blood Brothers’ by Luke Bryan

21. ‘It’s America’ by Rodney Atkins

22. ‘Fallen Soldier’ by Nathan Fair

23. ‘Brothers’ by Dean Brody

24. ‘If I Don’t Make It Back’ by Tracy Lawrence

25. ‘Semper Fi’ by Trace Adkins

26. ‘Only in America’ by Brooks & Dunn

27. ‘Ships That Don’t Come In’ by Joe Diffie

28. ‘Have You Forgotten?’ By Darryl Worley

29. ‘Heroes Come from Small Towns’ by Rockie Lynne

30. ‘Arlington’ by Trace Adkins

31. ‘Riding With Private Malone’ by David Ball

32. ‘POW 369’ by Darryl Worley

33. ‘Red White & Blue’ by Lynyrd Skynyrd 

34. ‘We Fought Hard’ by Billy Ray Cyrus 

35. ‘A Soldier’s Memoir (PTSD Song)’ by Joe Bachman

36. ‘Boy in a Uniform’ by Rockie Lynne

37. ‘Nineteen’ by Billy Ray Cyrus

38. ‘This Ain’t No Rag, It’s A Flag’ by Charlie Daniels Band

39. ‘America Will Survive’ by Hank Williams, Jr.

40. ‘Til The Last Shot’s Fired’ by Trace Adkins

41. ‘If You’re Reading This’ by Tim McGraw 

42. ‘Survivor Guilt’ by Rise Against

43. ‘Hero Of War’ by Rise Against 

44. ‘Ballad of Balad’ by Toby Keith

45. ‘I Want You to Live’ by George Canyon


This year as you are gathering around the table about to chow down on a burger or hotdog remember the ones who have given the ultimate sacrifice to allow you the freedom to have a great time. Happy Memorial Day!

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