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College Beat: 10 Last-Minute Christmas Gift Ideas on a College Budget

During the holidays, budgets can be a tough thing to keep track of, and especially when you’re in college, money can be tight. Here are some cute, realistic, ideal gifts for those of you who don’t have the extra cash to dish out for the holidays.

Remember, Christmas is about Christ and about our loved ones. Yes, it’s nice to get fancy gifts, but that’s not what the season is all about. Truthfully, people appreciate thoughtful gifts that are personal, rather than expensive gifts that may or may not last. People will understand if you cannot buy them expensive gift sets or big-ticket items. Seriously, you can take a breath and relax…and enjoy Christmas break!

Here are some ideas—some cost money and some you can make for free, or close to it!

1. Make a scrapbook: I love making memory photo books with stickers and colored and patterned paper! Everyone loves photos (for the most part), and these types of gifts not only take thoughtful time, but are creative, fun and not that expensive. You can buy a photo album at Target, Michaels, or maybe even Dollar Tree. If you can’t find a large enough one or one that is in your budget, then make one! Keep your eyes out for ribbon, hole punchers, stickers, tape and glue sticks. (Note: These all come in handy for your homemade scrapbook…oh, and of course those memorable photogs!)

2. Make homemade baked goods/cookies/muffins: Who doesn’t like sweet treats for the holidays? Yes, it’s difficult because sweets are everywhere you go, but hey, you can go organic and even make some gluten-free muffins, brownies or chocolate chip cookies. Don’t they say dark chocolate is good for you? 😉 Wrap these baked items in a cute holiday sheer bag from Target, Michaels or the grocery store, and wrap a ribbon around it! This is great for your teachers, neighbors or girlfriends! It’s very thoughtful and sweet, but it’s not expensive. This can also be very fun for you and a friend to do! If you are unable to bake or use the stove, you can purchase some cookies, buy a tin from the Dollar Tree or a drugstore, and gift the treats that way!

3. Stuff a stocking: Buy a simple stocking, fill it with candy canes, chocolate, or goodies, and decorate the stocking with friends for fun! You can buy gemstones and hot glue them for your own design, or you can leave it how you buy it! Who doesn’t love a stocking? Purchase some cute stocking stuffers from Target’s makeup section. Try e.l.f. for a great brand that is not that expensive (Nicole has mentioned this brand before). You can either put some cute lip glosses in there for your girlfriends or, if this is for a guy, put some of their favorite snacks or some ChapSticks, socks or whatever they may use.

4. Make a massage gift card: Bless your mom, aunt or sibling with a free back massage. Sounds silly, but seriously, after all the cooking, baking and shopping, your mom, dad or other family member may REALLY appreciate this! Just write on a cute piece of paper: “GOOD FOR ONE BACK MASSAGE.” You can watch a great holiday film and spend some quality time together, too! (Plus, it’s free!)

5. Make hot chocolate and marshmallow bags: You can make your own hot chocolate bags with a red ribbon and voilà—you have some cute little gifts for co-workers, friends or classmates. Step 1: Get some clear, small plastic bags. Step 2: Fill them with hot cocoa mix. Step 3: Buy small marshmallows and put them in the bag on top of the cocoa mix. Step 4: Tie a red ribbon around the top of the bag. Step 5: Print a verse, Bible scripture or greeting on a piece of paper, punch a hole through the paper and add it to the ribbon.

6. Make a scarf: Do you sew or knit, or are you creative with fashion designs? Scarves are actually not hard to make at all. You can go to the fabric store, pick out a pattern you like and make an infinity scarf or cut the ends of the fabric for a traditional scarf…so much fun!

7. Decorate and frame a special photo: You can get nice frames for not much money at Michaels, Target, CVS (or any pharmacy), Big Lots and so forth. Print the photo, frame it, stick a bow on it or wrap it in a nice Christmas bag, and there you have a nice holiday gift. Make it more personal by getting special gel pens or paint pens to decorate the frame…make it special!

8. Plan a dinner: Have some extra time on holiday break? Ask your mom if you can host a dinner party for some of your friends and make a special memory with your mom, or parent and bless your friends. Make sure to light some candles, put on some old classic Christmas tunes and make a beautiful memory! Don’t wait on your invite; rather, bring the party to you! Some families don’t have a lot, so you can be that blessing to someone!

9. Invite a friend or neighbor to a Christmas production at your church: This can be a very nice thing for someone who doesn’t have much family or maybe doesn’t have a lot of money to see a big Christmas show like The Nutcracker. Maybe your church is hosting a special candlelight service or is having a nice event or caroling concert. Think of people you can invite and who it could cheer up around you! Amen?

10. Make jewelry: You can go to the bead store or combine some jewels and make a nice necklace, bracelet or other gift for your loved one. It’s so much fun to make things and to personalize gifts. My aunt once made me a jewelry box made out of an old small cardboard box she bought from Michaels arts and crafts store, and she painted over it with glitter and glued scriptures onto it. She also took two wooden sticks and made a cross on the top of the box and wrote my name out. She also looked up what my name means and wrote it on there, too (“anointed, set apart,” etc.). This was one of the nicest, most thoughtful gifts I have ever received and it wasn’t expensive to make. It took time, thought and a little bit of money at the craft store, but I will cherish it forever. Also, she made one for Nicole and she still has it! What a blessing!!! 🙂

Image: Thinkstock

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