How to Keep Gift Ideas Cheap and Fun


by Katelyn Chamberlain

Tinsel-covered trees, lights hung on every inch of the house and piles of shiny gifts are what we usually think of when it comes to Christmas. With all these joyous thoughts filling our heads, we often forget about the high price tag that can come along with all that Christmas cheer.

We’re college students; we already understand our budget is small. Wouldn’t it be great if the Christmas season didn’t include emptying our wallets? Now it can!

For your lady:

If this is your first Christmas with your girlfriend, picking out her gift is tricky but crucial. When getting a present for your girl, the term ‘low-budget gift’ seems non-existent. Lucky for you men, there is a way to give a gift she’ll love without blowing your budget. Get a photo album from Wal-Mart and print off 10 or more pictures of you two together. Put them in the album, decorate the cover and voila! For a finishing touch, write a heartfelt note and stick it in with your favorite picture. Not only will she love the gift, but now you’ll have extra money to take her to dinner!

For your fella:

Let’s face it ladies, buying gifts for men can be hard, and anything they’ve expressed interest in is probably out of your budget. If you’re feeling stumped, consider this – what’s one thing all guys love? Food! What could your man possibly want more than a free dessert every month made by his loving girlfriend? Bake him a tray of cookies and tell him his Christmas present will be the gift that keeps on giving. I call this one the “12 Months of Munchies.” One day each month, surprise him by baking a yummy desert. Not only will this gift keep him happy all year, but the only money you’ll have to spend will be on ingredients!

The girls:

For the women who have many good friends, Christmas can be expensive. Try this twist on the classic gift basket idea. Start by picking up a few Christmas mugs from Wal-Mart. While they’re not exactly cheap, this will be the most expensive part of the gift. Next, get a box of individual cocoa packets, a box of candy canes and a bag of Hershey’s kisses. Fill each mug with a packet of cocoa, a candy cane and a few chocolates. Personalize each mug by decorating it with their name. Last but not least, write a short note for each friend and congratulate yourself – you’ve just created a cute gift that any girl will enjoy (I mean come on, there’s chocolate!).

The guys:

While gift-giving isn’t usually important between guy friends, there is an easy way to show you care without buying anything too personal. Instead of focusing individually on each friend, get all the guys together and head out to Des Moines for a night. Pick a restaurant you all enjoy (you’ve heard of Hooters right?), and have a fun night out away from campus. It’s quick, easy and the only money you’ll have to spend is on your dinner!

Don’t forget the fam!

During Christmas break most of us will be at home. If you’re looking for an easy way to knock out gifts for the entire family – try the “12 Meals of Christmas.” If your parents work during the day, they probably aren’t too excited to come home and cook dinner. Before they get home in the evening, have dinner on the table. Not only will your parents be surprised, but they will appreciate the break from cooking. While it might be a hassle to do this for the next 12 days, it’s cheap, and you can even use your parents’ ingredients to do it!