Column: How to holiday shop on a budget

Christmas shopping on a budget can be hard. Some ideas for what to put under the Christmas tree include books, DIY projects and Christmas collectibles. Camille Rasor | Arts & Life Editor

By Camille Rasor | Arts & Life Editor

Every year around the end of October I start to think about holiday gifts, and every year the thought of spending that much money stresses me out. Holiday shopping, especially on a college kid’s budget, can be extremely stressful. Here are some ideas that won’t break the bank, but that will show the people on your list that you care:

1. Books

This is perhaps my favorite gift idea on this list. I love when people give me books that show that they know my interests or have read something recently that made them think of me. This gift can also be as cheap as you need it to be. Buying nice hardback books at a local bookstore like Fabled Bookshop & Cafe can cost between $20 – $30, but you can also head down to Half Price Books to shop for something in the $5 – $15 range. If you don’t even have that much to spend, you can always give your friend or family member a well-loved book already in your collection. I love when my friends lend or give me books they’ve already read because I get to see what they’ve written in the margins each time they read through it. All in all, books are a great choice for anyone on your list.

2. DIY Stationery

When I was little and my mom would throw me and my brother birthday parties, we would always head down the paper aisle at Hobby Lobby and put together handmade invitations using the plethora of fun, printed paper options available up and down the aisle. This process could also be applied to creating custom stationery sets for your friends, and it’ll be fun for you, too. Hobby Lobby has 12″ x 12″ pieces of paper on sale for 25¢ a piece (normally 69¢), which makes this option cost effective while also extremely thoughtful.

3. Christmas collectables

I drew inspiration from my family for this gift option as well. Each year, my aunt gives my mom a different Christmas-themed place setting. Over the years, her collection has grown quite a bit, and it’s always fun each year to watch her open her gift from my aunt because I want to see what this year’s plate design will be. This can easily be scaled down from a whole place setting (which can run $50 and higher) to a plate collection, mug collection or Christmas ornament collection, depending on what is in your price range. Starting this tradition now will be something you and your friend look forward to for years to come.

4. Games

Game nights were a pre-COVID favorite of mine and my friends. Though they might not be safe right now, hopefully soon we’ll be back to game nights soon. A new game can usually be found for pretty cheap at Target and Walmart.

5. Experiences

Instead of giving a gift, perhaps you might be in the market to give some experiences to your friends and family instead. Making up some special treats and taking a friend to a picnic on a nice day, or packing up pillows and blankets in the back of your car and heading to a drive-in movie theater for a fun and cozy time could be a great alternative.