Give richly with no money

Jason Mann

Jason Mann

Christmas on a budget-it’s not a fun concept but for many college students, it’s an annual reality.

Gifts are the main priority. We all want to show the people in our lives we care, but when it seems like everyone from the residence hall floor to the people at work are throwing a Christmas party, gift-giving can be overwhelming. Luckily, there is a way to give a gift that is both affordable and original: make it yourself.

For family members, one can make a picture frame complete with a fun photo. Most craft stores offer unfinished wooden frames that can be personally finished with paints, glitter or fabric.

The truly thrifty might find recycling more their style. All that is needed is a box of mac-n-cheese. Take the cardboard and cut out a hole big enough for the picture that will be used (the most common sizes are 4×6″ and 3×5″). Then, take the noodles in the box and glue them to the outside of the frame. For a splash of color, paint the noodles with acrylic paints or coat them in glitter before putting them on the frame. When finished with the frame, spray a coat of clear acrylic sealer, found at a craft or hardware store. Let it dry, and fasten the picture to the frame with tape.

That special someone in your life is probably expecting a gift, too, and even though he or she may want something amazing and expensive, students’ financial situation is probably understood. This idea will come off as thoughtful and sweet. Make a coupon book redeemable by the recipient only. All that is needed is construction paper, markers and some good ideas. Make one coupon a free chick-flick night. Get creative, and be sure to include things unique to your partner’s desires. To insure the book gets used to its full potential, give the coupons an expiration date.

For those friends who aren’t as close as the ones privileged enough to receive macaroni picture frames, a homemade greeting card will do. Take the extra construction paper and markers from the coupon books and let the inner artist come out to play. Draw a Christmas tree, lights or even your favorite holiday foods and write in a personalized message for the person who will be lucky enough to get the card. Then, just put it in an envelope, address it and put it in the mail, or tape it to his or her door.

Decorating for Christmas can be a lot of fun, too, but sometimes it can get pretty spendy. Paper is an amazing way to express the holiday spirit. Construct paper chains and snowflakes with either construction paper or typical printer paper-finally, a reason to save old notes and rough drafts. Just hang them on doors, in windows, or even from the dorm room loft.

Ornaments for the tree can also cost more than they seem worth, and the ones in the stores aren’t very unique. Try making personalized ornaments. Have a stash of bottle caps stored away? String them together and create garland for the tree. For those that normally drink from cans, there is always a traditional type of garland-popcorn. For ornaments, dig up an old Happy Meal toy collection, tie a string around some part of it, and hang it from the tree. Trolls and Hot Wheels work well, too.