Give your gifts and afford them too!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year… if you aren’t a broke student. I know it’s a stressful time, Exams are right under your nose, and your student loans this semester are quickly dwindling. Who really has the time to pick up a few extra shifts at their part-time job?
Thankfully, Christmas doesn’t have to break your bank account. I’ve curated four ideas that can save you from bankruptcy this year without sacrificing your gift-giving reputation.
Are you planning a big Christmas get together before you and your friends all head off for the holidays? Instead of the costly and personal Secret Santa, maybe look into doing a White Elephant gift exchange for your Christmas party.
If you’ve never heard of it, White Elephant, otherwise known as Yankee Swap or Dirty Santa, is Secret Santa’s evil twin. Everyone brings one wrapped present that will enter a pool of gifts, and the game starts after one person opens up the first unmarked present. Whoever goes next can either steal a gift that has already been opened or open up a new one. If someone has their gift stolen, they can again either choose a new gift or steal one. This cycle continues until every player has had a chance to steal or open a gift. There is a catch, though, a present can only be stolen three times until it is ‘locked’ and cannot be stolen again!
With this game you can set a spending limit that you and your party are comfortable with, and to make it interesting, you can come up with a new theme every year. For example, vintage items could be a theme, or you can make it more abstract, like choosing a colour or a shape.
I know it’s great to buy a special gift that you know a loved one would like, but if that’s not possible this year, try making something yourself.
I know it’s daunting to create something from scratch, especially if you’re not the ‘creative’ type. But you don’t need to have a hidden talent to make something meaningful. Even the earliest beginners can try making handmade ornaments, knitting or crocheting a scarf, or experimenting with air-dry clay.
Second-hand shopping is both a budget and eco-friendly tool for gift-giving this Christmas. I know that buying thrifted items as a gift might be looked down upon in some circles, but there are so many locally owned second-hand shops around this city.
You can usually find a cool sweater at Upcycle, and while you’re there make sure to look at their jewelry and handmade ceramics. At Cheers Vintage, you can browse through their racks and also pick out mini trinkets that remind you of childhood or keep an eye out for their vintage glassware. Alternatively, the aisles of Value Village and Salvation Army are always good places to find a steal.
Shop at local markets
While this might not be the cheapest option of the bunch, how better to put your money back into the economy than by supporting small businesses? Throughout this holiday season there are so many little markets with small vendors that offer unique gift options.
You can find out about pop-up markets by following local businesses on Instagram or keeping your eyes peeled at your local cafès. If you’re looking for a bigger market I recommend Moss Street Market, which runs from Dec. 9–10. There various vendors sell everything from handmade items, to jewelry, food, toys, and pottery.
While some items might be a bit more pricey than the rest, you are supporting local business. What’s more, you’re investing in an item that is far more personal and will likely last longer than products from chain stores. If your budget allows it, this option is a win-win.
This holiday time can still be fun and exciting, even if you’re a little short on extra change this winter. Hopefully these tips can make gift-giving less stressful this exam season.