Christmas is coming whether you like it or not. Step into any shop around this time of the year, and you’ll hear all the familiar songs. Love it or dread it, every bauble will remind you that ‘tis the season to be jolly’. It’s the time of the year to treat yourself, your family and your friends to some good holiday cheer.

However, the combination of the merry ol’ holidays and student loans/part-time wages can wreak havoc on your bank account, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Here’s some advice on how to do Christmas on a student budget – whilst keeping everybody happy.

Plan your presents & set a budget

Best tactic? Start thinking early. While it may still not feel like Christmas, shopping for presents is just like planning any other big expenses. Take a look at how much your income will be this month and the next, take away your regular monthly and daily expenses and you have a clear view of how much you can afford. Don’t be afraid to prioritise what’s most important to you, either – family first.

Start by planning how to tackle your biggest and most expensive gifts for family members and close friends. A good approach is to spread them out as much as you can over the coming weeks, so shop savvy. Take little trips to the shops and be on the lookout for deals.

Don’t be afraid to prioritise when you’re buying presents.

Be creative

Great food makes Christmas so much better! Try your hand at making jams and preserves, or your very own homemade peanut butter. Seal all of those in jars and you have some perfect little gifts for your family and friends.

If you’re craft, try your hand at making these unique Christmas gifts and decorations.

Repurposing things is so hot right now, did you know that? Save the planet and use alternatives to wrapping paper, such as decorative scarves to wrap your presents in. Get a bunch from your local charity shops or use your own and get wrapping!

Go creative to sidestep consumerism.

Suggest a secret Santa

If you’re in a big group of friends (or even a big family), buying loads of presents will certainly rack up the numbers on your bank account. A secret Santa may be a little easier on your collective pockets, and it’s a huge amount of fun, too. Set a budget and don’t take it too seriously – novelty mugs are always a safe option between function, fashion and fun.

Experiences, not things

Experiences can sometimes be more valuable than material things. They can take a special place in our minds and become one of the fondest memories we have. University life is all about making memories, and Christmas doesn’t have to be different, either.

Instead of buying little knick-knacks for your friends, organise a dinner or a get together before everyone goes away for holidays. Share your time with them, take photos, play board games, watch Christmas movies or anything else that takes your fancy. Make this time all about your closest people, especially the ones that you wished you had spent more time with.

Spend this Christmas with your nearest & dearest.

If you’re good at planning, make a deal with your friends and family or your squad to, instead of buying gifts for each other this Christmas, put the money they would have otherwise spent into a get-a-way fund. That way, when you have enough, you can all go on a day trip or a holiday together that will definitely be memorable.

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I hope the holidays will be full of joy for you this year! 🙂

– Gabriele Misgirdaite, Student Assistant