The holidays are a special time to spend with family and friends, but for college students with a tight budget, the gifting part can be a little stressful. How can you pull off presents for your family and friends when money is tight?
Short answer: by thinking outside the big box store! Here are possible gifts for the loved ones on your list that won’t break the bank:
Bake a favorite.
Spend a day baking a massive batch of your favorite festive treat. Cookies, toffee, and fudge are always crowd pleasers, especially this time of year. Assemble them on a sturdy plate or in a holiday tin (check your local dollar store for inexpensive options), and make your deliveries!
Plan an outing.
To many people in your life, the gift of your company is far better than anything store bought. Best of all, this doesn’t have to cost you much, if anything. Make plans to go for a walk, take a hike, go on a picnic, or visit a museum on a free day.
Plan a night in.
Sometimes a cozy night in is the best kind of night! Plan something low-key but fun for your giftee, like baking cookies and binge-watching a favorite show or making a meal together.
You don’t have to be the world’s best writer to compose something that is meaningful to your friends or family. Share an important memory or a heartfelt note on your gratitude for your relationship.
Offer your help.
To someone who could really use it, the gift of your labor could mean a lot—whether you help them clean out a room, move to a new apartment or house, babysit, or do yard work.
Give your cooking services.
For many, cooking is a chore and something they don’t have time or a desire to do. If you’re comfortable in the kitchen, give your meal prep and/or chef services to a busy friend or family member.
If you’re creatively inclined, why not use your talent to paint, draw, or make gifts of art? If you’re no Picasso, your local craft store will offer plenty of inspiration for DIY presents. Fashion a pretty wreath, buy a paint-by-number kit, or buy some yarn and knitting needles and head to YouTube for an easy scarf tutorial.
Photos make great, inexpensive gifts. If you don’t have any good photos of you and your loved one together, take a photo of their favorite coffee shop or city view, print it in black and white, and frame it in a standard-sized frame.
Write personalized “read this when” notes.
We all need words of encouragement. Give the people in your life notes for specific times when they might need a pick-me-up. Read this when you are feeling overwhelmed. Read this when you don’t want to study. Read this when you miss me. This gift simply takes your time and a lot of paper and envelopes!
You don’t need lots of money to get something special for each person on your list this holiday. Gifts that come from the heart are priceless, after all, and the best presents are those that mean something to the recipient. Get creative and have fun. You’ll definitely brighten your loved one’s holiday.