Christmas can be a difficult time financially for many international students. In addition to your tuition fee and living expenses abroad, this month you also have to think about Christmas gifts for your friends and family. Are you wondering how to balance nice friend gifts with the limits of your bank account? And how to give memorable surprises to your loved ones while living on a student budget? If so, here are some budget gifts you should consider putting under the Christmas tree this year.
1. Frame photos: nostalgic budget gifts
Since everything is digital these days, people appreciate printed-out pictures more. Look through your phone or computer for photos of special moments with your family and friends. Then, print those pictures (go to a photo print shop or print them yourself if you’re really low on cash) and create unique frames for hanging them on the wall. This is one of the easiest budget gifts that will also serve as a nice reminder of your common memories while you're abroad.
2. Do it yourself
Nearly everyone has some kind of secret talent. Think again about what are you good at. Can you draw/paint or build something? Or maybe write a song or make some professional photographs? If you’re short on money, invest some time in developing those talents and creating something really special. So if you’re an art student -great! But what if art is not your strong suit? Remember that creativity can take different forms. Also developing a website or a blog for someone who always wanted one can be a thoughtful gift.
3. Cook your heart out
If you know your way around the kitchen, baking can be a great alternative for presents. Cookies, cakes, muffins - there are almost endless possibilities of what you can create. And for some of the easiest recipes, you can buy baking ingredients quite cheap. Afterwards, put your treats into a nice box and decorate it with ribbons or seasonal ornaments. Additionally, consider baking some traditional Dutch Christmas treats for your friends and family back home to show something of the country you’re living in now.
4. An experience: the best budget gift
Think about it this way: your friends and family back home probably haven’t seen you for a while. Therefore, they would be more than happy to spend some quality time together. Perhaps, you and your best friend used to go to the cinema often. For the holidays, you can arrange a movie night for both of you. Or perhaps your mom enjoys cooking together but you haven’t done it for a while because you’re living abroad. Then, give her a self-made recipe book and organize an evening when you prepare a nice meal together. Keep in mind that time together is one of the best budget gifts you can give.
5. And remember that small is ok
Whatever your budget is, remember that your gifts have to most importantly be meaningful and memorable. In fact, most people realize that money is tight for students so they don’t expect anything expensive. Therefore, don’t put too much pressure on yourself and remember that the holidays are all about spending some meaningful time with your dear ones rather than spending your last dime. Small stocking stuffers are usually more than enough for most.
Read more about student finances in our Student Finance Guide!
Do you have an original idea for budget gifts? Connect with us and tell us about it!