Holiday Gift Hacks When You're On a Student Budget

By RBC Royal Bank Modified on December 06, 2019

Spice up this holiday season with clever, unique gifts that won't break the bank.

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A stylish, homemade, DIY holiday gift, perfect for students on a budget this holiday season.

It's the holidays and you're heading home from school to spend time with family and friends, eating your favourite foods and exchanging gifts with your loved ones. There's only one problem: you're a student and you're low on cash.

You want to participate in gift exchanges because it's fun, but when your wallet's feeling a little light, and you don't have the extra hours for a part-time job, what can you do?

Quite a lot, actually. With a little ingenuity, some creativity and maybe a glue stick, you can still give thoughtful gifts to the ones you love and not feel like a Scrooge.

Get Crafty

If you've got the skills, make something. It could be a card, a painting or a small piece of woodwork. If you need ideas, just Google. Type in, for example, "Cheap holiday DIY gifts," and you'll get millions of search results. Head to the dollar store, pick up some supplies and start crafting. You might be surprised by what you can produce!

Do a Secret Santa

Secret Santa is a great way to participate in gift giving without having to spend a lot of money. Gather friends and family who want to take part, set a budget that everyone can afford and draw names out of a hat. You're the "Secret Santa" for the person you draw. This way, you only have to buy one gift, which is way cheaper than buying gifts for everyone.

An alternative is to agree to buy gifts for just the children in the family. If there are multiple children, you could focus on younger siblings.

Donate to Charity

'Tis the season of giving, and even if you don't have a big budget for gifts, you can still help others through charitable donations and giving of your time. You can make a donation to a charity supported by your family, or donate your time to help out where it's most needed. Encourage your family to join you for a few hours during the holidays, and you'll make more memories while helping others.

Shop Second-Hand

The second-hand economy is worth more than $28 billion dollars, and nearly everything flows through it, including clothing, accessories, cars, furniture, and so on. Places like Kijiji, Facebook groups, or consignment and vintage stores are treasure troves of items, and many of them are practically brand new. That means with a little effort, you could find great gifts for much less than retail price.

Be Honest

You're a student — most people will understand you can't afford to buy gifts for everyone this holiday season. Instead, buy (or create!) some holiday cards, write a lovely note and offer to do the holiday dinner clean-up.

The holiday season isn't about who can buy the fanciest and most expensive gifts. It's about being with the family and friends who matter most. Show them you care by giving a gift that has meaning, not a big price tag.

These tips are for the holidays, but for year-round student finance tips, check out RBC's Student Hub.

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