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Holiday Shopping on a Budget

The holiday season is coming up, which means buying gifts for all your loved ones. Buying things for friends, family, and roommates can get expensive on a college students’ budget (well, on anyone’s budget, really). This year, I got creative in the gifts I’m giving my friends and family and did it all cheaply. Here are a few inexpensive gift ideas to share:

1. Sales: Yes, Black Friday is over (thank goodness), but a lot of stores have good sales still. They’re trying to move products to make room for shipments that will come in for the new year. Find good stores online that sell cute little trinkets, or even sweaters, that are now having sales. You can never go wrong with a good sweater for a friend.

2. Brownies in a Jar: This project requires a trip to your friendly neighborhood market. Here’s what you’ll need: a mason jar, flour, baking powder, salt, two boxes of unsweetened cocoa powder, white sugar, chocolate chips (or whatever additions you want in your brownies), ribbon, and cardstock. You can make 1-5 with only one trip to the market, which makes this cost and time effective. The instructions are as follows: Mix together flour, baking powder, and salt in a quart jar. Layer remaining ingredients in the order listed. Press each layer firmly in place before adding the next layer. NOTE: Be sure to wipe out the inside of the jar with a dry paper towel after adding the cocoa powder, so the other layers will show through the glass. And, for the cardstock, which goes outside the mason jar for your recipient, you put the baking and preparing instructions. Print this in a fun font and color: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9×13-inch baking pan. Empty jar of brownie mix into a large mixing bowl, and stir to blend. Mix in 3/4 cup melted butter and 4 eggs. Mix thoroughly. Spread batter evenly into prepared baking pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely in pan before cutting into 2-inch squares.

This is a gift that will have to be taken home or made in a Kenyon kitchen. It’s also fun to make for your parents, because if they make it while you’re home, you’ll reap the benefits of your own gift.

I have made this gift countless times. It is fun to make, and people always love to receive it. Here is a picture of one of my brownies in a jar, with a little added flair.

3. Books: I know, I know, how nerdy, but wait! You and your friends probably have inside jokes with each other, or you know what they love, so get them themed books. I got one of my friends a book with physics puns, because he loves physics and puns, so I killed two birds with one stone in under $12. You can never go wrong with the written word. Honestly.

4. The Sentimental Route: I can’t count the number of times I’ve written a sentimental note to a family member or friend. If your parents are anything like my parents, they would probably love getting a heartfelt note with a few nice thoughts and grateful phrases to express how much you love them. Or get them a little something that will remind them of you. Picture frames with photos of the family never fail, and this can be done rather inexpensively – just print the photo off at Walmart or CVS, buy a cute, cheap frame, and you’re done.

5. Ornaments: I’m Jewish and therefore do not have a Christmas tree, but I have gotten several of my friends ornaments for the holiday season. Walmart sells cheap plain silver ornaments that you can customize with glitter glue. One of my friends made her sister a “Wrecking Ball” ornament, complete with Miley Cyrus sitting on top.

I took several of these suggestions to heart this season, and they made my friends (and my bank account) rather happy. Another easy way to save money this holiday season is to do a Secret Santa with your group of friends so that you only buy one gift for one person. Keep it easy. Either way, your friends and family will love whatever you buy them, because it came from you, as sentimental and cliché as that sounds. 


Image Source: www.shutterstock.com

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