November 28th, 2007 Jamie
College usually means a tight budget, and that can be especially difficult during the holidays. If you’re worried your gift list will outweigh your wallet, read on!
Buying Great Gifts for $5. If you’ve only got $5 to spend, you can still give surprisingly fun gifts—the trick is to be both thoughtful and creative. Shop the bargain section at the bookstore, scour eBay for inexpensive original art, pick up a small scented lotion at Bath & Body Works, or browse IKEA for inexpensive kitchenware, candles, and other home décor. WiseBread has a great list of 25 great gifts for $5 or less with ideas ranging from Star Wars key chains (Emperor Palpatine is on sale for only $1.98) to photo albums.
Do it Yourself. If you have a creative streak, try making some gifts yourself! Check out my recent list of DIY Gifts for the ladies on your list (and keep your eye on the blog, more of these lists are coming up!). If you crochet or knit, whip up a scarf, hat, or mittens. If you paint, make small paintings for family and friends. If you enjoy writing, fill up a small journal with fun memories you have with the gift recipient. Use your talents!
Coupons and Discounts. If you’re shopping online, websites like Coupon Mountain, DealCatcher and RetailMeNot offer free coupon codes for great deals. You can even get a RetailMeNot Firefox Plugin that will tell you which coupons are listed for whichever page you are visiting. Also, if you haven’t yet discovered the joys of shopping at discount stores like Ross or Marshall’s, you should head over there before the big Christmas rush hits. It’s a little like a treasure hunt, but you can find some great brands at discounted prices if you take the time to look. Finally, don’t forget that a lot of places (including online stores like Apple.com) offer student discounts!
Give the Gift of Food. Want to give something to everyone in your hallway without breaking the bank? Try gifting some cookies or sweets! My mom and I used to make “Peppermint Bark” for people every Christmas—it is so easy you can even make it in the dorms! All you need is some melting chocolate (this is different from regular chocolate—you can sometimes find it in the baking aisle, or in craft stores like Michael’s), some saran wrap, a plastic bag, a microwave-safe bowl, and some candy canes. Follow these directions to melt your chocolate in a bowl. While the chocolate is melting, crush up the candy canes in the plastic bag. Pour the crushed candy cane into the melted chocolate, and mix. Spread out strips of saran wrap on a flat surface, and spread a thin layer of chocolate mixture. Let cool and harden. Break it into pieces, and wrap it up!