How to Save on Christmas Presents

You barely survived finals, you have a five-hour drive home, your professor for next semester assigned a reading over break, and your boss won’t give you more than ten hours a week. You want nothing more than flop on the couch with your dog and watch The Grinch - shelling out a few hundred for presents is the last thing you want to do.

I’ve been there - we all have. We don’t go Black Friday shopping, and we are left at the end of the semester with no gifts and an empty wallet.

The list below shouldn’t be called “How to Save on Christmas Presents” - it should be called “Unconventional Ways to Save During the Holidays.”

1. Grab a bite with a friend/family member and split the check.

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My friends and I have started doing this since high school ended, and we love doing it. Not only does it help our wallets, it gives us a chance to catch up and be thankful for who we have in our lives. (Bonus: see if the restaurant you're eating at has a student discount. Larger chains tend to have at least one.)

2. Shop at local Boutiques and thrift stores (think Salvation Army).

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Whatever stigma you have against second-hand stuff as gifts - drop it. Now. Most boutiques only sell gently used items, and often times you can find the original price tag right on the item. (You might even find designer items - shh!) You can find amazing deals on boots, clothes, furniture, books, children's toys, etc. at thrift stores. You just have to be willing to dig.

3. Here’s a weird one - those little scraps of wrapping paper that don’t fit anything? Don’t throw them away!

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Crumble it up and use it as tissue paper. It’s not only pretty, but it saves money and is sturdier than tissue paper.

4. Remember that dusty dollar store from your childhood, the one with only one light-bulb?

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How about you stop in there again? Often times, dollar stores (especially Dollar Tree and Dollar General) sell beautiful mugs, fuzzy socks, kitchen supplies, snacks, holiday favors, office supplies, little knickknacks, wrapping paper, etc. You can get stocking stuffers over with without breaking the bank. (And more stocking stuffers mean fewer big-ticket items.)

5. Do a movie night.

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My best friend and I have spent many holidays sitting on each other’s couches watching old Christmas movies. It’s fun and relaxing and a very good excuse to have a sleepover.

6. Re-gifting.

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Yeah, we know we’re not supposed to do it. But there has to be a sweater that you have never worn or a book that’s been collecting dust on your nightstand somewhere in your room. It deserves a better home than a dropbox. 

7. Make desserts and give them to people you care about (like Monica from Friends)

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Is it time-consuming? Yes. Worth the delight on their faces when they discover that the treat is homemade? Yes. (Trail mix is always a good idea. With the right ingredients, it's almost non-perishable. And you can make lots of it too.)

8. Instead of simply signing ‘xoxo’ on holidays cards - spice it up a bit.

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Add a little, or long in my case, (sorry my friends, I know I’m a sap) sentimental message to the person you’re sending the card too.

9. And last but not least - DIY gifts.

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Pinterest is always a good place to start looking for ideas. Handmade ornaments, no-sew scarves/hats, sock stuffed animals, chunky yarn blankets - the list goes on and on. You can make them while you’re busy watching Christmas movies.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas, y’all.

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Hannah is a freshmen English major at Siena College. She commutes everyday to Siena, and as much as she grumbles about it, she wouldn't have it any other way. When she isn't at school or at work, she is writing short stories, playing with her cats, listening to Broadway, and watching way too many historical telenovas. Yes, they exist. Don't judge. 

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