Come this time of year, many of us can’t help but get caught up with the holiday festivities. Whether you are celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, the Winter Solstice, Mawlid Un Nabi or commemorating St. John, everyone is excited…EXCEPT for your wallet.
December is known as the month of excess spending and we don’t blame you. There are probably more gatherings than you can handle, more traveling than you can take (but more air miles points), more opportunities for eating out, and reasons to spend on gifts and gift exchanges – all which take a toll on your end-of-the year budget. Believe me, these bills will start to rack up in January! Maybe by then we would consider drafting a New Year’s resolution to control our spending (yet again). The truth of the matter is you don’t need to spend a fortune to have a good time. All you need is to flex your creativity. You’ll be proud you did because that means more cash for your pocket!
Holiday thrifting or any type of thrifting for this matter is a good skill to have, especially when you are a student. I know that from experience. Thrifting can involve re-purposing new (unused) items in your house, baking cookies or desserts instead of buying them from high-end stores, being artistic and trying your hand at woodwork, poetry, or painting – all good ways to pinch your pennies! Check out some of these ideas below and hopefully you feel more inspired this holiday season, whether you are searching for gift options or in need of fun-filled holiday ideas on a budget!
- Home-made Jewelry – Get crafty with personalizing your own jewelry by finding and building your very own bracelet and necklaces. Materials can often be found at the dollar or craft store. You’ll be surprised what you can make as great gifts for your friends!
- Baking Treats – Rather than buying holiday sweets from stores, which are often marked up in price this time of year, try your hand at making your very own treats! YouTube often has some sweet baking and cooking tutorials (and hacks) that might just make your life a bit easier! Make sure you do a test batch first to see how it turns out!
- Coupon booklet – Create your very own coupon booklet offering up your services! Some ideas could include cleaning the attic, shoveling the driveway, putting the trash out, walking the dog or dusting the cabinets. When you don’t have money, offer up your time instead!
- Instagram Magnets – For the social media lovers out there, why not turn your favorite Instagram moments into magnets for your fridge! This would be a great personalized gift for friends and family. You can also personalize your favorite pictures to mugs, t-shirts or pillow cases!
- Personalized Totes – Buy a plain canvas tote bag with some fabric paints and personalize your very own tote bag for this holiday season! Feel free to sew on trinkets or other decorations to add some holiday pizzazz! After you’re done, wrap it up in pretty paper and gift it to someone special!
- Jar of Sweets – Nothing speaks ‘personalized’ than giving your loved ones a jar filled with sweet treats you know they’ll love. Check out the bulk foods store for more variety! Once you’ve filled up the jar, decorate it and wrap the lids in festive-colored tissue paper with some ribbon for an added touch!
- Sales, Sales, Sales – The perfect time to buy gifts (if you are really not into hands-on stuff) is to buy during a sale. Don’t forget to check out the clearance section of stores to find some sweet deals! The College Campus Bookstore at DYC often has sales throughout the year on school gear, accessories and more. Check it out and have your folks back home rep DYC with pride!
- Shop consignment stores – Some places re-sell clothes or items that are perfectly new and usable. Check out these places before you hit up a high-end store. You could be saving as much as 50-75% or more!
- Free or cheap concerts and events – Nothing says fun than going to a free (or cheap) concert or community event in your local neighborhood. Buffalo’s Canalside provides cheap (and sometimes free) skate days for those of you who love the ice. It’s a great time to relax and have fun with your friends and family… and why not warm up with a cup of hot cocoa after? This is definitely something to do under $10. Check out the City of Buffalo’s calendar of events section for ongoing listings of free and cheap outdoor activities you can do with the family!
- Host potlucks – Potlucks can be fun and budget-friendly, especially if you’ve invited more than you know you can handle. They’re a great way for guests to show off their culinary skills and to share their cultural foods. Make sure each person knows who is bringing what to avoid duplicates! Don’t forget to ask and inform everyone if there are specific food allergies or dietary restrictions so your items can be more accommodating.
- BYOB – Bring your own booze. Let’s not lie, the holidays is also a time for festive drinking but we all know it could add up in cost. Encourage your guests to bring their own booze or favorite alcoholic drinks so you’re not stuck with the bill. If you’re hosting, make sure your guests leave safely. If you know someone who has had more than their share of drinks, offer to drive them home or call a cab.