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Gifts as a Broke College Student

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at TCU chapter.

I have made many amazing friends as a first-year at TCU, but with the holiday season, I have struggled to show how much I care about my friends without breaking the bank. That’s why I came up with a list of 10 presents that won’t break the bank and are still meaningful. 

1. Homemade Treats: There’s nothing like a batch of homemade cookies, brownies, or other treats to brighten someone’s day. Even in a dorm, it’s possible to get creative in the kitchen and whip up a sweet surprise. I love using the kitchen in my dorm to make cookies with friends, so this is an easy gift to give them that will be very appreciated during finals season. If you want to make the gift fancier, packaging them in a mason jar or a simple, festive box adds an extra touch.

2. Personalized Playlist: Share the gift of music by creating a customized playlist for your friend. Include songs that remind you of shared memories or tracks you think they’ll enjoy. Platforms like Spotify or Apple Music make it easy to create this, or if you and your friends use different apps, send them a note with the titles of the songs. 

3. Coupon Book: This is one of my favorite gifts because it is so cute and can be made meaningfully. Craft a coupon book filled with favors or activities you know your friend will appreciate by including free coffee, a movie night, or a study session together. This thoughtful and personalized gift will cost you a little, but it shows you’ve put time and effort into considering what your friend might enjoy.

4. DIY Wall Art: If you’re super artistic, express your creativity with a handmade piece of wall art. This could be a painted canvas, a collage of meaningful images, or even a motivational quote written in calligraphy. It’s a unique and personal gift that will add character to their living space. One of my friends gave me a poster, and it is now hanging right above my bed. 

5. Plant or Succulent: A small potted or succulent can make a lovely and inexpensive gift. Not only do they add a touch of greenery to any room, but they also require minimal care, which is ideal in a dorm. You can often find affordable options at local nurseries or even supermarkets. Target has a great selection. 

6. Photo Album or Scrapbook: Collect memories and create a photo album or scrapbook for your friend. Print out pictures from your time together and add small captions or notes. It’s a sentimental and inexpensive way to celebrate your friendship. This is such a fun gift, and I have as much fun making scrapbooks as I do giving them. 

7. Handwritten Letter: In the age of digital communication, receiving a heartfelt handwritten letter can be incredibly meaningful. Pour your thoughts and appreciation onto paper, expressing what makes your friend unique and how much you value your friendship. I have a small box filled with cards and letters from my friends, and I love reading through them. 

8. Thrift Store Treasures: If you have a car, you can explore thrift stores for unique and affordable finds. You might come across a vintage mug, a quirky piece of jewelry, or a classic book with sentimental value. Thrifted gifts often have character and charm while being affordable. 

9. Movie Night Kit: As finals are happening, everyone needs a cozy study break in the form of a movie night. Put together a movie night kit with popcorn, their favorite candy, and maybe a cozy blanket. Include a note with a list of movie recommendations or invite them to join you for a movie night.

10. Skill-Based Gift: If you have a particular skill, such as graphic design, photography, or writing, offer your services as a gift. I think if one of my friends created a personalized graphic, took a portrait, or wrote me a poem, I would adore it!

Being a broke college student doesn’t mean you can’t give meaningful and thoughtful gifts to your friends. You can show your appreciation without breaking the bank with some creativity and effort. These budget-friendly gift ideas will surely bring a smile to your friend’s face and strengthen the bonds of your college friendships. I am excited to give all my friends these gifts and more! (Hopefully, they’re not reading this article!)

Hadley Whytlaw is a new writer for the Her Campus at TCU chapter. She loves to write about female empowerment, all of the latest reality show drama, and her music. Beyond Her Campus, Hadley is involved as a photographer and writer for TCU Yearbook, and a member of the Ignite Club which is an organization that works to increase the civic engagement, and leadership skills of its members. She is a freshman at Texas Christian University, double majoring in psychology and political science with a minor in Spanish. In her free time, Hadley enjoys running and pickle ball, and hanging out with friends in Fort Worth’s many parks. She is a reality television aficionado, and a large foodie who wants to try every Fort Worth restaurant.