Words and Graphics by Aspasia Celia Tsampas
As per Mariah Carey’s orders, the holiday season is officially upon us. With the end of the semester looming near, finding time to shop for loved ones is virtually impossible with exams, papers, and the all-around stress that comes with the end of the semester — not to mention the extra expenses this time of year calls for (You can’t forget a gift for your 2nd cousin’s step-grandma!) So how can you possibly get everything done, while on a budget, and studying for finals? Well, look no further, because here is the Broke College Student’s Guide to Holiday Shopping.
Before you start to look up gifts or head to the shops, ask yourselves these three questions:
- How much am I willing to spend on this person?
- Would they appreciate a goofy gift or a more practical one?
- Are there specific qualities that I associate with this person?
Then, once you settle that, here are some tips for budget holiday shopping:
- Sale, sale, sale!
Sales are your best friend. Spending money you don’t have is not a requirement to get into the holiday spirit, so don’t be afraid to look for deals. For example, the clearance section at any store is a great place to start. Both online and in-store, this area is where you can find the most affordable gifts at the stores that best fit your loved ones’ interests. When in doubt, stores like TJ Maxx and Target always have great seasonal deals. These stores are each equipped with a full holiday section stocked with practical gifts (candles, coffee mugs, picture frames, etc.) for 10 dollars or less. Lastly, Amazon Prime, which is free for students for the first six months, can be a great avenue to find cool gifts with fast and free shipping, making your purchases even more cost-effective.
2. Do It Yourself (DIY)
Sometimes getting creative and going that extra mile to curate something special for a loved one is even better than paying for a gift. Making something can be a great way to show you care. It is the thought that counts, so don’t worry if you aren’t necessarily the most artistic. Plus, Pinterest has thousands of amazing crafts that you can create without spending a fortune! For DIY, it is important to remember that while you may spend some money on supplies, you are using those supplies for multiple gifts and multiple people, making it cost-effective. Whether it’s making a flowered picture frame for a special someone or making a natural sugar scrub for that friend who loves skincare, DIY gifts are a great way to show you went the extra mile without breaking the bank.
3. A Gesture
When in doubt, a gesture can be just as effective as purchasing something. That can be cooking dinner for your family (we’re sure they will appreciate the effort — even if it’s just boxed mac and cheese), offering a hand with a chore, or planning a day out in the city with fun, free events (the Bryant Park Winter Village is one example). Gestures like these can go a long way to show your loved ones you care. Spending quality time may even have a better impact on your relationship than a grand gift.
Lastly, if you’re really strapped for cash and time, don’t be afraid to just write a card! Pick up a piece of stationery and write a meaningful message or two. If buying a gift for everyone on your list just isn’t happening this year, putting extra thought in a friendly letter can go a long way.
No matter what you choose, your friends and family will know they have been in your thoughts!