It happens to me every year just after Halloween. My thoughts turn to Christmas and what I’m going to buy for everyone. I know that I should probably shop throughout the year, but I always have textbooks and school materials and class costs and other stuff to buy and I just don’t think about Christmas. I would like to know what I could do now to be ready. How can I save money and still get a nice gift for everyone on my list? How can I do this without getting so stressed out?
Short on cash
Unfortunately, Christmas is difficult for many of us this year. There are single mothers wondering what they are going to get their kids besides just putting food on the table, there are many people out of work and other young adults like you struggling to pay for school and Christmas at the same time.
Fortunately, there is good news.
Having less can actually create a desire in an individual to do more when it comes to gift giving.
I remember one Christmas when I was newly married. I went to the DI and found a used dollhouse for $5. I brought it home and my husband and I fixed it up for our children with donations from family members. Carpet remnants and leftover paint was all the rage at our house for many weeks as we secretly got the gift ready. I’ll never forget that Christmas and never will my children.
As a college student, perhaps with added family and work responsibilities, it’s all you can do just to be present on Christmas. There is a load higher than your head waiting to get done, and you have little or no time to think about shopping and buying for Christmas. Still, you want to do something and you don’t want to make it last minute. Good news- here are some ideas to get your heart pumping in the right direction:
1. Try the dollar store. Put together a basket gift of lotions or other like items.
2. Write a letter.
3. Give the gift of time. Take someone out to lunch.
4. Spend some time in a thrift store.
5. Buy online. This year, many places will be offering free shipping. My favorite place? Amazon.com!
6. Have a party with your loved ones’ instead of buying them individual gifts. Have everyone bring a white elephant gift and participate in bringing various food items so that the cost doesn’t come entirely out of your own pocket.
7. Give a CD of your loved one’s favorite songs.
8. Make a gift—choose something that won’t take you hours of time. One year I gave out cross-stitched gifts, suffice it to say, it burned me out. I haven’t even looked at a cross-stitch pattern since then.
9. Remember that service never goes out of style. Make up a coupon and put it within a Christmas card.
10. Try shopping at Ross or T.J. Maxx. I love these places because you get huge discounts on brand name stuff.
I usually feel stressed when I wait until the last minute to shop or when I just go into a store without any idea of what I’m getting for a particular person. For this reason it’s a good idea to make a list of people you are buying for with some ideas on what you’d like to get them. It’s also a good idea to give your self a per-person budget and stick to it. There’s something really satisfying about checking a person off your list when their gift is complete.