By Shahael Myrthil
It’s that stressful time of the year again (including for a college student like me), worrying about how you’re going to afford all these gifts that your loved ones want. From your overpriced textbooks, to transportation, to school lunch, having an unlimited supply of cash in your pocket, seems like the best solution to everything. Right? If only that was possible, but since it isn’t, I’ve opted to cut back on my spending these past two months, choosing to pack lunch for school everyday and spending more time at the library and less at the mall and movies.
I can’t tell you the amount of times that I’ve gone to the mall to buy food and walked out with two bags from Forever 21. Resisting the temptations is hard, especially with a huge sign the word SALE in big bold print in front of the store.
After putting myself on a tight budget, with the help of my sister, I’ve noticed that I’ve been able to save just $50 alone on lunch per week. Isn’t that something?
So with Christmas just around the corner, I am going to have to think very carefully about what I’m going to buy and for whom. That shopping spree I went on these past few years, where I had no clue what I was looking to buy before stepping into the stores and went home spending hundreds of dollars on random gifts, isn’t happening this year.
If there’s one thing that I’ve noticed it’s that, when you have a list written of the things you want to buy, you’re less likely to splurge on the unnecessary things. Nobody wants to wake up the next day, realizing that the money you spent on a brand new Louis Vuitton bag could’ve gone towards a bill. Just because you don’t have a plethora of cash in your bank account, doesn’t mean that you can’t impress your loved ones with amazing gifts.
You just need to shop wisely and think of alternatives to something you’d find for $500. Here’s a few tips for gifting on a college budget.
1. Homemade jewelry
If you can’t afford to buy a bunch of jewelry for your friends, MAKE SOME! DIY projects are always fun; gather your siblings together and GET IT DONE! It might sound dreadful at first, but after an hour or so, you’ll ask yourself why you didn’t take up on this hobby sooner! From beaded bracelets, to glass stone earrings, you can really give a gift that you probably wouldn’t find in store. Who doesn’t like home made gifts?!
You can find all of the necessary supplies at your local Michael’s, Walmart, or Joann’s store. If you don’t have any of these type of stores near you, you can order them online. There’s a lot of videos that teach beginners the art of jewelry making!
2. Homemade cards
Homemade cards with a heart felt note telling your friend or family member how much you care about them, will never go out of style! Don’t think that because you’re in college, that you’re too old to make cards! If drawing isn’t your thing, you can create a beautiful poem or write a favorite memory that you’ve had with that person. I’m sure that person will love you even more for going that extra mile and creating something from the heart. After all, love can’t be bought.
3. DIY t-shirts, bags, hats, etc.
Put on your apron and start your magic. You can refer to Youtube videos on how to turn a boring plain t-shirt into a work of art worth being praised! Tie dye kits and fabric markers are the best products to use in this project… If not, Zazzle.com is the perfect website to add your own touch to a t-shirt, hat, bag and more! For those who aren’t familiar with this site, Wikipedia noted Zazzle as “an American online marketplace that allows designers and customers to create their own products with independent manufacturers, as well as use images from participating companies.” You can add your own picture to it or use their design given on the website! It’s that easy and cheap!
4. Sing your way into their hearts!
If you aren’t so great with words on paper, why not tell it in a video? Seek out your artistic/tech side that you never thought you had, and record yourself singing a song, telling a couple of jokes, or say anything that you know will leave a smile on your friend for days!
5. Purchase their favorite CDs
If singing/rapping isn’t your thing, buy your friend a copy of their favorite artist, and have a cute card attached.
6. Knit/crochet a scarf, hat, gloves and even a shawl!
Join a local knitting group to get started. Sign up at your local yarn shop.
7. Laminated Memory
Is there a memorable event you went to this year with your best friend that was caught on camera? Have that picture laminated, frame it and gift it to him/her!
8. Body Mists, Candles, Lotions and More!
Take advantage of the bargains that are going on right now with the extended holiday sales and buy a few body mists, lotions and candles for that favorite person that you can’t live without! They’ll thank you for it! At Bath and Body Works, they have a deal where you can take away with three of their signature body care products, if you purchase the same. Isn’t that a bargain?! If not, then you can purchase three of their travel-sized products for $12.
9. Buy holiday makeup sets!
Companies like Too Faced has beautiful looking Christmas sets. You can purchase four of their “clutch-size tubes of bestselling Melted Liquified Long Wear Lipstick in original, chocolate and matte formulas,” for $25 and save loads of money vs. what you’d spend if you bought them the lipsticks individually. Those four lip glosses can be gifted to four different people if you wanted! I can’t deny how much I love their Grande Hotel Cafe! Leave it to Too Faced to create such cute packages especially around this time of the year! Not sure what makeup set to get? Check out Tati’s video “Best Holiday Makeup Gift Sets.”
10. Spend quality time!
We can always get more money, but time is a priceless gift that we can give to someone we care about. Stepping away from our phones for a few hours to bond with the people with love this season is a gift that cannot be bought in store! Bake a cake, cook some food, whatever you do, make sure that you give him/her your undivided attention and let them know how much you appreciate him/her!
So, the next time you start stressing about not having enough money to purchase everybody gifts, know that meaningful gifts don’t necessarily have to be expensive. It’s not the price tag that counts, it’s the effort behind it that’ll resonate with people for months to come!