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How to get Christmas Gifts on a College Budget

Going to college can make keeping a budget hard, especially around Christmas time. With all of the traveling and gift-giving, Christmas can be a huge hit to your finances. As a college student, it may feel daunting to get good gifts that people will actually use and appreciate. Here are some tips to give good gifts on a budget to the important people in your life.

Shop the Sales

There are usually some good sales around the holidays. One of the biggest being Black Friday and Cyber Monday. For the procrastinators out there, most stores will have sales all the way up to Christmas. Subscribe to email lists of the stores that interest you and you will get email notifications when they are having sales. Some stores also have daily deals where items are only on sale for a day before they are full price again.


When you are short on cash, you can always MAKE your gifts. Making your gifts gives you the ability to customize the gift to the person that it is intended for and make the gift more meaningful. Here are a few DIY gift ideas:

  • Make a coupon book. Create an assortment of coupons that the gift receiver can trade-in for your services. Some of these coupons could be: a free 15-minute foot rub, doing one chore for them, and making them a meal. Get creative with this and do things you know the receiver will use and enjoy.
  • Decorate a picture frame and frame a photo of the two of you together.
  • If you can sew, use your talent. You could make a bag, headbands, hats, etc. The list goes on.
  • If you know how to knit or crochet, you can make a scarf, hat, or headband.
  • Find something at a thrift store that requires some restoration and make it nice again.


Some people prefer service to gifts. There are so many things you can do to serve the people around you. Keep an eye out for things that you can do for your friends and family to make their lives better. If you have a roommate that is always busy with classes and homework, you could take the time to make them dinner and save them a little time. If you are at home with your family, help with the dishes after dinner or take the time to play catch with your little brother. Doing service may take time, but it is a great option for someone trying to stay on a budget.

Give an Experience

Memories last longer than physical objects. Get a family board game to play together. This is something that will bring lasting fun. The family will enjoy spending time together this holiday and you can continue to use it for future family gatherings.

Write a Letter

Write a letter to your friend or family member. Let them know that you love them and some of the things that you appreciate them for. Share a fond memory you have of them. If you do this, personalize it. They will appreciate the effort you went through to give them a gift that is meaningful to you and them.

Don’t make the holidays more stressful than they already are by going overboard on the shopping sprees. Keep it simple and enjoy your time with your loved ones this holiday season.

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