How to have the best holiday experience on a student budget


Photo Credit: Євгенія Височина on Unsplash

Photo Credit: Євгенія Височина on Unsplash

The holiday season is almost upon us and whether that means getting to sleep for more than six hours a night or finally getting to spend quality time with your friends and family, it also probably means having to spend a bit more money than we would like.

Being a university student during this season can be tough for a lot of people, but it doesn’t need to be. It has been a long semester, we’ve (hopefully) survived the stressful month that is November and all we really want to do is slow down and have some well-deserved fun. Luckily, there are many ways to maximize your holiday experience without decimating you bank account.


Going out

One of the best ways to enjoy the holidays is by going out and experiencing the festivals, food, music and meeting new people. There are dozens of events happening over this holiday season that you can go to without needing to worry too much about money. The Winter Festival of Lights in Niagara Falls is a free event that millions of people go to every year.

Also worth noting is the Holiday Fair in Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto. Admission is free and from December 7 – 23 one can choose to do some shopping for the perfect gift, take the family out for an afternoon of skating, rides and games, or simply stop by for lunch and some seasonal treats.

From November 14 to Dec. 22, the Toronto Christmas Market is back! This event can double as a holiday outing as well as an excellent opportunity to get some wonderful Christmas gifts for your loved ones. Admission is free on weekdays and $6 on weekends. The market is a family-friendly event with lights and decorations that create a holiday atmosphere that makes the experience feel like so much more than just shopping.

Another free event is Fairbank Village’s ‘Light Up the Holiday Event’ in Toronto. You can go down on Dec. 7 to enjoy the free snacks, drinks, and entertainment by Christmas carolers around the event without spending a dime.

Taking advantage of free events like these ensures that you have the holiday experience you want, while remaining comfortably within your budget.


Buying gifts

Thankfully, there are as many holiday sales and giveaways as there are events and festivals. Outside of the pop-up markets, many stores have holiday deals and specials that are perfect if you are on a tight budget. That  means you can still get everyone awesome gifts without feeling too bad about it. Making sure you’ve turned on notifications for ads and deals on online shopping apps is a great way to make sure you are aware of money-saving opportunities. Even just asking the associates at a store if they have any sales coming up can end up saving you tons of money.



While it may be easy to find free or cheap events to go to and save money on gifts by taking advantage of sales, the best way to stick to a budget is to take the time to make one. This doesn’t just mean deciding on the maximum amount of money you are willing to spend, but also means deciding what your priorities are ahead of time and then setting aside the money you need for them.

Making plans ahead of time whenever possible will also go a long way in making sure you don’t spend money that you really shouldn’t be because you are keeping your budget in mind as you make plans. This prevents ‘spur of the moment’ spending, which often happens when something good pops up, like a concert and we decide ‘in the moment’ to pay for it because we don’t know what else is going to come along and we want to make sure we have something fun to do. If you plan ahead, you will already be aware of the events you do or don’t want to go to and therefore will spend less overall.

At the end of the day, when we aren’t worrying about money, we are already having a great time and ultimately that’s what the festive season is all about!

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