Even with your scholarships, financial aid, and a job, Christmas can leave you strapped for cash. College living is expensive and it is easy to get swept up in the spirit of the season to the point that you are left eating ramen noodles until March if you aren’t careful. There are ways, however, that you can have a very merry Christmas without going bankrupt. Try these festive and budget-friendly tips this holiday season:
- Have a party. No, this does not mean a big blowout with hundreds of dollars of alcohol and food. Instead, consider a get together where your friends meet for a holiday movie. Have each gift bring a finger food and/or beverage choice as well as one gender-neutral gift. At the party, enjoy the sampling of snacks and draw names to dole out one gift to each gift. You will likely find that your friends are just as strapped as you and will be happy to celebrate for less.
- Hit the sales. For family members and that special someone, look for massive pre-Christmas sales on gifts. Many sales offer gifts at up to 70% off the regular price and those online often offer free shipping as well. Just be sure to determine how much you can afford to spend before shopping and stick to that amount, regardless of how tempted you may become.
- Give time. If you have a special talent and/or know something your friends really need, consider giving the gift of your time. A coupon for an hour of housework, cooking or laundry services, babysitting, or tutoring can be the most thoughtful gift of all and can make your friends’ lives a little easier.
- Make something. Are you crafty? Do you have an artistic talent? If so, use your skills to create one-of-a-kind gifts for your friends. This shows that you truly care and your friends and family will be thrilled that you took the time to make something so special.
- Ban gifts. If your financial situation is truly bleak, just have an honest talk with your friends and family. Odds are that many of them are struggling as much as you are. Make an agreement to forego gift giving in exchange for time spent together and experiences. Whether you meet for a movie, decorate Christmas cookies, build a gingerbread house, or volunteer at a local soup kitchen, memories will always be more valuable than material gifts.
Christmas does not have to be expensive to be fun. Instead of blowing your college budget, focus on time and thought and you will have the best holiday season of your life.