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A College Student’s Guide to an Affordable, Meaningful Christmas

The Christmas season has unfortunately become synonymous with consumerism for many families and individuals. Instead of enjoying the many opportunities to create memorable experiences during the holidays, stress about gift giving can creep in and overshadow all the joy. And if you’re a college student on an already tight budget, this can be especially draining. It’s time to trade in the anxiety for some merriment! Here are some tips to handle Christmas on a budget and still get into the spirit of giving.

Give Your Time

Before you roll your eyes at giving someone else the gift of your time, give this idea a chance! After all, if you’re at a university across the country from your family, there’s probably nothing your parents want more than some quality time with you. Think about meaningful memories you have with each person on your list and try to recreate them this Christmas.

Maybe you and your mom used to watch Christmas movies and sip hot chocolate. All you need to do is buy some hot chocolate and a couple of her favorite Christmas movies, put them in a cute basket and include a ‘coupon’ that’s good for one morning of enjoying each other’s company. You can use the coupon idea for your significant other as well and give the gift of a massage; for your best friend, give the gift of a coffee and shopping date. The list goes on and on. All that’s required is a small monetary investment and a lot of thoughtful intention!

Give Meaning

A lot of people have begun to turn away from the materialistic nature of today’s Christmas season and opt for handmade gifts or giving back in lieu of buying presents. If you have philanthropically-minded individuals in your close network of friends and family members, consider giving a donation to their favorite cause or nonprofit. You don’t even need to announce the amount you’ve donated; simply make a card that includes the organization’s name and shows that you’ve donated to it in that person’s honor.

You can even get your whole family involved! If the rest of your clan is game, make a rule that the only gifts that can be given are those that benefit families in need. Look through a giving catalog to find meaningful gifts like medical care, education and clean water or food in the poorest parts of the world. Then have fun wrapping up a description of what you’ve chosen to give and watch your family delight in knowing other people will be helped thanks to your Christmas gift.

Give Health

If you’re intent on purchasing tangible gifts for the people on your list this year, you can still do so on a budget. The greatest gifts someone could receive are love, health and happiness and, of these, health is probably the easiest to contribute to. If you have a friend who struggles from insomnia, maybe buy her a small bottle of lavender essential oils and a diffuser. Or perhaps you have an uncle who is trying to lose weight. In this case, you could buy him a subscription to a health magazine or purchase a few classes for him at a nearby boxing gym, if that’s a form of exercise he’d be willing to try. The point is to think beyond the typical gifts and find inexpensive items that are thoughtful and health-conscious.

As you gear up for Christmas this year, don’t let the hustle and bustle take you away from the real meaning of the season. You can give your time and show how much you care without breaking the bank. Some extra thoughtfulness will go a long way this holiday season, helping you save money and spread joy!

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