The end of the semester can be a little rough, particularly financially. Student loans are all dried up, your on campus job is coming to an end and Winter tuition fees are looming. The last thing you need is an expensive holiday to wipe out your bank account completely. Here are some ideas to make sure your holiday doesn’t cause you any more financial stress:
- Potluck for dinner
Hosting a big holiday meal means making a ton of food and feeding a lot of people who probably like their potatoes mashed three different ways (or in the form of tots). Instead of hauling out and dusting off every pot, pan, or tray you own, throw a potluck. Everybody is responsible for making something and bringing it to the party. There’s bound to be something for everyone and the cost is divided over everybody.
Tips: Make a list of who plans to bring what so you don’t end up with 12 green bean casseroles and no turkey. Also, account for non-food items. Do you need paper plates? Ice? Something to drink? Some one should bring those too.
- Secret Santa
Living with a bunch of people or having a lot of friends and family can mean a lot of presents to buy, if gift giving is your thing. Instead of buying about a million things, organize a Secret Santa. First, choose a budget. Next, everyone puts their name in a hat, and then draws a name. This way you all get a gift and nobody has to spend more than the allotted amount.
Tips: Your max gift budget here should reflect the maximum of everyone. If someone in the group can only afford $10, the max budget for everyone should be $10. Also, everyone should suggest some things they might like when they put their name in the hat. It will make it easier if you draw someone you don’t know as well.
- Cookie/Craft Party
Almost everyone likes Christmas cookies, but not everyone knows how to make a variety of them, or has the time or budget to put into making a lot of different kinds (or a giant gingerbread Hogwarts castle). Instead, gather your friends and bake them together. Everyone can contribute to the cost and everyone gets to take some home. Plus, it’s a lot of fun. The same goes for crafts. Can’t afford a $13 Christmas card? Make one! Want to give your great aunt some ornaments for Christmas? Make them!
Tips: Something like this is bound to take an entire day, so leaving it to the last minute will only stress everyone out. Baking and crafting can be great stress relievers though! If you need a break between exams, gather your roommates and make pipe cleaner reindeer. Just don’t fall asleep in the glitter glue.
The most important thing to remember about staying on budget is that the people in your life know you are a student who is living on a student budget. They’re not going to be upset that you didn’t get them something expensive for the holidays. Your mom told you this when you were a kid, but it remains true today: It’s the thought that counts.