Great gifts on a budget

With the holidays right around the corner, many college students and recent graduates struggle with the worry of what they will give their loved ones as a gift. In today’s society, many people lose the true meaning of the holidays and think it is all about the gifts. However, a great gift does not mean lots of money. A great gift is one that comes from the heart, not your wallet.

When you are low cash this holiday season, you can find ways to make your own gifts. Not only will your gift be one of a kind, but it shows your family and friends that you took the time and labor to produce them a gift. If you have a hobby, use that to come up with a homemade gift. If you are interested in photography, you can take a picture of something that your loved one will love and frame it.

If you like to edit videos, why not make a short movie about your loved one? If you like jewelry, make a necklace or bracelet. You can purchase a jewelry making kit and other kits at a local craft store. Use your imagination and have fun with it.

When in doubt with homemade gift ideas, I recommend Pinterest is a free social media site full of ideas including crafts, fashion, humor and much more. The crafts section gives you ideas that you can make, and by clicking on the picture you are usually able to see step by step instructions on how to make it. Pinterest will be your best friend this holiday season. Be careful though, it can be addicting.

One idea is to make your own Christmas tree ornaments. You can personalize them with a picture or even a quote that means something to the both you and your loved one. This is a gift that costs very little to make and will be used on your loved one’s tree every year.

Another idea for a gift is to bake cookies and give them out to your family and friends. You can buy some cheap plastic holiday containers and hand them out. I would recommend attaching the recipe to the bottom of the lid, so that your loved one can use the recipe again. However, if it is a secret family recipe, keep it within the family. By giving out cookies you are showing your loved ones that you have a sweet side and trust me, they will forgive you for those extra holiday pounds they may gain.

When you have a lot of friends that are very special to you, it may be difficult to buy for all them. Instead of buying gifts for all your friends this year, try getting them together and having a “Secret Santa” party.

For those of you that don’t know what a Secret Santa party is, it is a party where everyone draws a name beforehand and is to purchase a gift for the name that they draw. The gift usually is around $10 to $25.

The day of the party, everyone gets together and the gifts are exchanged. The person who drew your name gives you your gift to open and you do the same for the name you drew. By having a Secret Santa party, everyone gets a gift and everyone gets together with all their friends. If you have a large family, this could be done as well. Make sure you remember not to tell anyone the name you drew. It is a secret. Shhh.

Being in college or being a recent college grad usually means you do not have a lot of money to spend. Do not let that ruin your holiday spirit. Instead use that low income to drive you to make it the best holiday possible.

Remember, money does not buy happiness. Happiness is being around the people who love and care about you.

Wright is a Shippensburg University graduate.

Her column “The Post Grad Life” is published the last Monday of each month in the Education section. She can be reached at