With Christmas just 25 days away, many college students are thinking about shopping for presents.
Accompanying the wreaths, ornaments and sleigh bells are the school bills, subscription fees and appointment costs that college students have to pay every month. All those costs accumulate and sometimes cloud the excitement of spending more money on Christmas gifts.
‘Tis the season to get creative and save money! College students can consider creative gift ideas rather than shopping for full price items.
Homemade gifts save the day as an affordable and meaningful way to show someone you love them. Family members often love receiving photo crafts where they can see their loved ones.
John Paul Barnard, a freshman business major and photographer, enjoys putting together a photo album of photos he’s taken that match someone’s interests. Ornaments with pictures inside make a great seasonal gift.
Mary Jo Lohmeyer, a junior nursing major, has received homemade ornaments from her cousins every year. “On our tree we have personalized Christmas ornaments from each year, so we can see my cousins growing up,” she said.
With weather in Greenville cooling down, scarves, hats, and gloves are always a fun and needed gift this Christmas.
Matthew Bruce, a junior business major, has recently picked up crocheting and is excited to crochet his dad a scarf this year. Making clothes is not for everyone, but for those who like to pick up new hobbies, crocheting and sewing are helpful skills.
Thrift stores are great sources of raw materials that anyone can recreate into a great homemade gift.
Emma Thompson, a senior elementary education major, loves crafts and thrift shopping.
Thompson makes a list of things throughout the year that people like. When she goes to the thrift store, she already has an idea of what she’s looking for. She knows what patterns she likes so she’ll get a whole cart load and then narrow it down.
“I usually make my presents, because as a college student that’s the best way to do it,” she said. A few years ago, Thompson started collecting wood, and would paint verses or songs lyrics on the wood.
She often goes to Pinterest, an online ideas board, for Christmas gift inspiration.
For Thompson, Christmas shopping is a year-round hunt, and she often hangs on to unique finds and waits. Food is always an affordable and delicious option. Lohmeyer and her mom make recipe jars for their family.
They layer ingredients in a jar and put the label and recipe on the outside.
Lohmeyer said she loves that idea because it’s a decoration and a recipe in one. For the family member or friend who has a food allergy such as gluten or dairy, taking the time to make them something they can enjoy goes a long way.
Another money saving strategy is to take advantage of special discounts and sales online.
Lohmeyer worked at Amazon for a year and enjoys 10 percent off every order up to $100 a year. She regularly uses Amazon to buy Christmas gifts because most of her family lives in Minnesota, which is quite the distance from her home in Ohio.
On Christmas Day, they all FaceTime and she watches them open the gifts she sent. Another way her family saves money, is by drawing names.
They fill a hat with everyone’s names, and they take turns picking names out of the hat.
They’re given a budget and can spoil that one person.
Online saving resources and discount sites are valuable to Emily Heape, a sophomore business major. She does most of her shopping online because it is harder for her to tell when sales are in the store.
Heape saves money by using coupon codes from RetailMeNot.com, a site that provides thousands of coupons for many different stores.
Less expensive stores make a great source for gift exchanges.
Bruce and his cousins do a Dollar Tree gift exchange and the eight of them have a great time making each other laugh and smile with fun gifts.
One Christmas, his brother decided to rewrap Bruce’s Christmas present from last year and give it to him again—an act that Bruce does not recommend.
Funny gifts are a good way to match someone’s personality. Besides photography, Barnard likes to use inside jokes to get a laugh out of his friends. Dollar stores have an assortment of gag gifts, surprise bags, and prank gifts to choose from.
Never underestimate the power of a long note or card. Lauren Mukenschnabl, a junior special education major, loves accompanying her gifts with handwritten cards and letters. “A great way to personalize a gift and still keep it cheap is to give a handwritten letter,” she said.
Each letter can be unique and no matter what, it always adds a nice touch to any gift. Mukenschnabl said she likes to add little trinkets, stickers, art or Bible verses in there for a bonus surprise.
No matter what route you take this Christmas, remember that being present with family members is present enough.