If being a student is tough, financially at least, then being a student during the gift-giving season is tougher. And while we don’t expect you to be this kid who sleeps in the library to save money, we do have some good tips for keeping those loans in check during the High Holy Days.
1. Make travel plans in advance.
Like, right now — unless you’re hitching a ride with a friend, or some doting family member is coming to pick you up. The farther in advance you buy plane, train or bus tickets, the cheaper they’ll be — and you’ll have your pick of times.
And talk to your mates! Chances are, everyone else is trying to sort their travel plans too. Maybe someone is arranging a car share, or maybe there’s a group train ticket you can all pay for together to reduce costs. Not to mention, it’ll be one stressful thing checked off your end-of-term list.
2. Give gifts from the class — erm, heart.
No one expects you to have lots of cash flitting around to spend on gifts. So instead of getting something chinsy or silly, employ your other talents to impress your friends and family members this Christmas.
Have you written a short story or poem that your prof went gaga over? Have it printed up nicely and give it to your mum. Maybe your intro to photography class left you with a bunch of imperfect prints that are actually quite cool: add a frame and bam! Customised art for your nearest and dearest.
3. Secret Santa for the win.
Organising a Secret Santa gifting circle is a miracle for big families and groups. All you have to do is decide a budget — you’d be surprised what people can come up with for £20 — and assign everyone a name (or have them draw one out of a hat). No one has to break the bank, and no one gets left out!
When doing this with family, it also helps if everyone submits an item or two that they want/need along with their name. That way, your nan will know that your 13 year-old cousin wants an iPad cover even if she doesn’t know what an iPad is.
4. Make a date.
Doing things with other people is way better than watching things gather dust on a shelf. Instead of getting your bestie yet another tea towel with an owl on it, plan an exclusive outing for you two — maybe that’s a hike, or a concert, or a pottery class.
Cooking a meal for someone is also a lovely gift, especially if it involves a recipe that’s special to you. Or try hosting an increasingly popular Christmas Cookie Swap, which involves everyone baking a few dozen Christmas treats and then gathering together to trade them — naturally, wine and other festive beverages should be involved.
5. Give back.
Tis the season for altruism. This year, pledge your time rather than your money: sign up to volunteer at a charity or other social organisation, and ask your friends and family members to come with you or donate in lieu of a gift.
You can also organise a canned food drive, or collect winter coats to donate. For ideas, and to find opportunities, check out the online volunteering database Do-it: they’re currently recruiting for the Text Santa campaign, which benefits six selected UK charities every year. The British Red Cross is also a great organisation to support.
Don’t forget to check out the Student Deals page over at Voucherbox.co.uk for savings on all your favourite shops too!