As wide, diverse, and differing in opinions as the average college student body is, most of us can all agree on one thing...we are broke. With the impending storm cloud of tuition and loans looming above our heads, it's easy to want to curl up into a ball and hide until the season of Christmas shopping passes.
I know a lot of you are thinking, "I am a college student. I am broke. I am in debt. And I am NOT about spending hundreds of dollars this Christmas." Preach it! I smell what you are stepping in. I am picking up what you are throwing down. I am right there with you. But despite what our bank accounts might think, giving gifts is a good thing. Spending time and effort to pick out, create, and give gifts uniquely expresses to others that we care about them. So in order to still give generously while easing the pain of your stretched thin wallet, here are 5 Christmas gifts you can give this year on a college student budget.
1. Handwritten Letter
This may feel like a total cop out, but how often do you take time to express in words how much someone means to you? If you're like me, not that often. So take the time to write a letter to someone about what they mean to you, how they've changed your life, and the ways you admire them.
Piece of paper: $0.10
Seeing your mom ball her eyes out reading your letter: Priceless
2. Spiritual Bouquet
When I lived in an SPO Household, the Men's House made a spiritual bouquet for the Women's House. They prayed and fasted for each of us women in different ways, from sleeping without a pillow to going to daily Mass. The men then presented us with a list of what they did to pray for us along with a paper flower bouquet they made. This is a really simply and yet really thoughtful gift that anyone would love.
Construction paper: $4
Letting God give the gift instead of you: Priceless
3. Movie Night-In
Sometimes the best present is simply being present with loved ones through uninterrupted quality time. So package up a date night by getting some small things that add up to a great time. In my family, this usually means a movie night, but you could also go out for coffee, go to a free ice skating rink, or have a game night.
Movie from Target: $5
Spending quality time with a loved one: Priceless
4. Lots of Little Things
I believe that people often appreciate the feeling of opening presents more than the presents themselves. Spread that joy by giving someone several individually wrapped inexpensive gifts. To make your gifts a little more meaningful, write a short explanation for why you picked each one.
Pair of fun socks: $2.50
Dinosaur figurine (from craft store): $3
Toy from the dollar store: $1
Seeing an adult act like a giddy toddler: Priceless
5. Baked Goods
Let's be honest, food is really the gift that keeps on giving. While this might be hard to give to your immediate family members wrapped beneath the tree Christmas morning, it is a perfect alternative to anyone else in your life. If you're not a baker, don't fret! This recipe simply consists of crushing Oreos and mixing them with cream cheese. If you're feeling exceptionally lazy, just dip Oreos in melted chocolate and be done!
Cream Cheese: $2
Chocolate Chips: $2.50
Seeing your loved one scarf down your present while their new sweater still sits in the box: Priceless
If none of these options strike your fancy, then keep searching and remember what St. Paul said:
"Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."
- 2 Corinthians 9:7