This time of year can be tough for those of us with limited funds. The holiday season is cherished by many as a time for generosity, compassion and fellowship; but in our consumer capitalist society, these values are often quantified by dollar signs. Instead of being an expression of love, gifts become another expense to budget for and worry about. This is often the last thing students need during the December exam period.
However, there are many ways to reduce the cost of presents and center love in your gift-giving experience. Here are some ideas for how you can demonstrate your appreciation for the people in your life without breaking the bank.
Bake some treats
Nothing tastes better than a tin of homemade baked goods! Pinterest is overflowing with holiday cookie recipes to suit every taste. Purchasing baking supplies for several batches is cheaper than buying individual gifts, and you can save the slightly burnt creations for you and your roommates. This gift can also be perfectly catered to a friend with dietary restrictions.
Share your creative talent
If you’re artistically-inclined, creating art for your loved ones is a beautiful gesture. Taking the time to craft a unique gift shows your recipient how much you care for them and allows you to do something that you love. Zines, mini paintings and sewn/knitted crafts are all low-cost options.
Gift what you already have
Gifts don’t have to be brand spanking new. If you have a gently-used item that you think a friend would love - whether it be clothing, art or a trinket of some kind - then pass it along! Gifting something of yours can carry a lot of meaning and is a mindful way to approach the holidays.
Photographs for grandma
For the grandparent or sentimental relative in your life, photographs of you and what you’ve been up to recently make a wonderful gift. Print off some photos and tuck them in an envelope alongside a heartfelt letter.
Make a donation
Many local charities and social initiatives are desperate for non-monetary donations in the absence of government support, such as food banks, animal rescue groups and homeless shelters. Consider donating your time or physical goods in your loved one’s name to a cause they care about. This can even include donating blood at a local clinic. Other organizations in Fredericton include CARMA Cat Rescue, the Fredericton Downtown Community Health Centre and the Fredericton Food Bank.
Instead of buying gifts for each of your friends, take the pressure off by organizing a Secret Santa exchange. This activity lets your family or friend group spend time together while ensuring that everyone receives a gift. You can decide on a price limit to keep costs down, and the anonymity of it all creates such an exciting feeling.
Help out a friend
Perhaps you have a friend who has procrastinated putting on their winter tires, or has a perpetually messy apartment, or has been meaning to shovel their driveway for days. Show how much you appreciate them by lending them a hand and making their life easier.
Seek holiday deals
Perhaps this one goes without saying. With the amount of sales and holiday promotions happening at this time of year, you can probably get away with finding a discount on almost everything you buy. Take the Regent Mall for example: Chapters always has great sales during the holiday season, including 3 for $10 offers on select books; and the Body Shop (whose products are 100% vegetarian and cruelty free) has a “buy two get one free” promotion on stocking stuffers. Always check similar stores and online to see if you can find an item offered at a cheaper price, and ask store employees about the best deals. Don’t forget to ask for free samples!