The best gifts are always the ones with meaning and thought put behind them. Even if you’re living on a ramen-noodle type of a budget it’s possible to inexpensively spread some holiday cheer. With a little creativity you can make your dollars stretch a long way.
Here are 9 creative ways for students to save on Christmas gifts.
# 1 – Set the Budget
If you don’t have money earmarked especially for Christmas gifts don’t go into panic mode just yet. Sit down and take a look at your financial situation and figure out what you can comfortably spend without interrupting your normal monthly financial obligations.
Once you figure out what you have to work with, make a list with names and budgeted amounts for each person you’re buying for. (You can use our free Christmas budget printable for this.)
# 2 – Homemade with Love
Before you head out to spend your Christmas money, figure out if there’s anything you can DIY. There are some amazing gifts you can make yourself that your friends and family are sure to love.
Here are a few of my favorites by category…
For beauty or natural living enthusiasts:
Specifically for men:
If you need more ideas utilize the search function of Pinterest. Try it. You’ll get more ideas than you can handle but you won’t be disappointed.
# 3 – Give Group Gifts
Instead of buying individual gifts for your parents buy something that can be jointly used. Things like movie or event tickets, themed gift baskets with movies and popcorn, or a dinner cooked by you are all great options. Customize this idea to whatever your parents are into.
If you need to buy for a family with children on the younger side the best gift you can give is a babysitting voucher. As a parent I can promise you – no other gift will be more appreciated!
# 4 – Host a Party for Your Friends
Instead of purchasing your friends a gift, host a party for them. Consider doing some sort of themed party that everyone will love.
Make some Christmas cookies, get a couple bottles of inexpensive wine and just enjoy each other’s company.
# 5 – Save When You Spend
For all the gifts you’d rather purchase than create, be sure to efficiently spend your money.
Start by going through a deals portal like Discover Deals if you’re a Discover card member. By going through a Deals Portal you can get cashback plus find awesome sales for the store you’re shopping at. With Discover Deals the rewards you earn can be used for a statement credit or direct deposit, which will help stretch that Christmas budget.
And speaking of credit card rewards, if you’re using a credit card to shop this season make sure you use one the comes with rewards that coincide with your needs or interests. The Discover it® card for Students is offering 5% Cashback Bonus® at Amazon.com, Department and Clothing stores through the end of year, when you sign up, on up to $1,500 in purchases.
6 – Be Wary of “Buy More, Save More”
This time of year there are sales everywhere. Sales that entice you to buy more so that you can save more.
The problem is when you buy more of something you didn’t really plan on buying to save more, you’re not saving at all – you’re spending more.
Stick with the Christmas list you made in the beginning and do not buy more to “save” more. Instead buy less and spend less.
# 7 – Go Practical
Don’t think for a minute that the lack of a fancy gift or extremely creative idea will make your presents less than awesome. While creative gifts are always appreciated so are practical ones. In fact, my favorite gifts are always the ones I know I’ll use.
For instance if you have a coffee lover in your family buy them a bag of coffee. Tea lover? Make a gift basket with different types of tea to try out. Do you live in an area with super cold, snowy winters? Warm gloves would be appreciated.
Put a little thought in your gifts and buy things that are simple yet practical.
# 8 – Chip In with Someone Else
If there’s a gift recipient on your list who you’d know would love something a little out of your price range, ask family members to go in on the gift with you. I’ve utilized this method of gifting several times and it always works out very well. It’s a win-win-win situation for everyone involved.
# 9 – Give the Gift of Time
Instead of spending money give your family the gift of your time – that is what they really want anyway.
Do something with each of your parents that they enjoy. Spend more time visiting them than you normally would. Ooohh and aahhh over whatever Christmas cookie concoctions your mother came up with this year.
I can just about guarantee you that there’s nothing more important than your uninterrupted presence to your parents. So shut down your laptop, turn off your phone, and head to Mom and Dad’s house for some good ole quality time.
What are some things you do to save money on Christmas gifts?
A big thanks to Discover for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own.
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him here and here.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.