Holidays, gifts and expectations: How to impress and save

Isabelle Hajek, Opinions Editor

It is officially the time of year where people are scrambling to find gifts for their loved ones, plan parties to celebrate and purchase decorations to match the festivities. All of this planning can be difficult for college students without steady finances. Here is a list of ways to keep the expenses low this holiday season.

DIY creations

From TikTok to Pinterest, there are endless sources of do it yourself tutorials and ideas. They range in skill level and interest, but there is something for everybody. DIY creations are the perfect gift for those close to you––it shows how much thought and time you put into the gift, all without hurting your wallet.
Set gift expectations – College is a weird stage between childhood and adulthood. Talk to your family and friends about what you are doing to celebrate this year. Do you have to buy presents for the little cousins? Can you still throw your name on the card with Mom and Dad? If you have a large friend group, try discussing a secret Santa or white elephant exchange so you are only buying for one person instead of multiple people.

Time spent instead of money

Instead of doing large gift exchanges, plan to spend time with people. Do a potluck dinner with friends, bake cookies, do a cookie swap with your family, go ice skating at your local pond. Time spent together is sometimes more fulfilling than a gift, and it definitely is just as meaningful.

Travel on a budget

We aren’t the only ones who acknowledge that the average college student may not have a lot of money. There are many websites that are dedicated to helping college students find cheap tickets and hotels to travel such as StudentUniverse among others.


If you haven’t bought second hand before, don’t fear. It’s probably not what you are imagining. From stores like Savers to small business thrift and antique stores, these establishments are great opportunities to buy unique pieces at low prices. Maybe you’ll find a vintage sweater that your hipster little sister will love or a statement decoration piece that your mom will swoon over. It’s like a treasure hunt.


Chances are, despite your best efforts, you will have to spend some cash this holiday season. Plan ahead now and budget out what you are willing and able to spend on gifts, food, activities, and decorations. If you start budgeting early in the year, maybe you can pick up an extra shift at work or snag an extra gig to pad your funds.