Gift-giving on a college budget

(Graphic by Grace Needham | Collegian Media Group)

On a college student’s budget, takeout is a delicacy and the coin jar is the real MVP. While the semester may be drawing to a close, the holiday season is just beginning, and it’s one of the most expensive times of the year. Being creative about the gifts you give can save your bank account from running dry while keeping it sentimental. Here are four tips that prove meaningful gifts don’t have to come with a hefty price tag.

The power of personalization

Do-it-yourself projects can be more than popsicle stick ornaments — you can create heartfelt and cool gifts yourself. DIY opens the door for any gift in the book — based on your skill level — and shows an element of thoughtfulness. A batch of your best cookies, a hand-painted picture frame or even a personalized playlist are some of my favorites that are low-budget, amazing gifts. If you’re feeling more sentimental, writing a jar of notes or letters for the recipient to open at various times is the perfect heartfelt gift.

Shop second-hand

Vintage is not only budget-friendly but is also very on-trend right now. Something like an old record, an older book you can annotate or thrifted jewelry can show that person how well you know them without spending an arm and a leg. This also gives you the chance to get a lot more for your dollar! If the person in your life is a big thrifter, you can turn it into an activity and let them go on a second-hand shopping spree. This is a great way to stick to a low price tag while supporting sustainable shopping in one of the most wasteful seasons of the year.

Subscription services 

Subscription services can be a great way to give someone a meaningful, useful gift while staying on budget. Many offer student discounts, so they make an easy gift that keeps on giving. You can pick out whatever the people in your life need the most and tailor the plan to their unique interests. If they are into music, a subscription to Spotify Plus or Apple Music is the perfect present. Or, if they’re a big foodie, there are plenty of snack box subscriptions that offer months of fun food. If you do some digging, plenty of services will give your loved ones months of joy without draining your wallet.

Gift an experience

This is my favorite tip for gifting on a low budget, as a shared moment is often more meaningful than a tangible gift. Make a home-cooked meal, have a DIY spa day or make a coupon book with fun activities to do together. If it’s a friend or family member you see often, create a cozy movie night with snacks and an activity. These can be as costly or cheap as you’d like and are a fun way to spend quality time.