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Christmas gifts that won’t burn a hole in your pocket

By River Reporter Nov 26, 2012


Finding the right present for everyone can be tricky, especially if you only have limited funds. But don’t worry The River is here to help!

Barbara Tasch

Budgeting is probably one of the trickiest things to learn when you are a student and living on your own. The first time it might hit you is when you are faced with buying Christmas presents for family and friends, have to chip in for your flat’s Christmas dinner and taking your little cousin to Winter Wonderland like you promised.

At that point, December 31 can seem a long time away. Fortunately, The River is here to help you get through the ‘most wonderful (and expensive) time of the year’ without having to give your whole family a ticket for five hugs as a present and serve your flat-mates canned ravioli at your Christmas dinner.

Do It Yourself

When you are on a budget, making presents is one of the best strategies to get something for everyone without burning a hole in your pocket.

Thanks to the Internet, you don’t have to buy a book to know how to DIY.

One of my personal favourites, which also happens to be a universal crowd pleaser, is baking. Bake cookies, gingerbread or any biscuits (buy the ingredients individually, don’t buy a mix, it’s definitely cheaper), then buy some cheap jars and a pen to write on them. Put the cookies in the jars, decorated with a nice personal message and a Christmas design if you are feeling artistic, and you have a perfect Christmas present.

If you are so lazy you don’t even want to bake, here is an alternative, put all of the ingredients of any festive biscuit recipe (except the perishable ones of course) in layers in a jar and write ‘Santa’s little helper cookie recipe’.

Check out the below websites for some Christmas inspiration:

Pinterest: a blog with lots and lots of ideas.
Getrichslowly: a blog with 34 DIY great Christmas gifts ideas.
Madblog: another site full of DIY gift ideas.
Craftynest: probably one of the best websites for do-it-yourself gifts.
Joyofbaking: contains a huge amount of Christmas cookies recipes.
And on here: Allrecipes you will find the recipe for the cookies below.

Shopping list

  • Sainsbury’s Dark Chocolate, Basics 100g x5                  £1.50
  • Sainsbury’s Free Range Woodland Medium Eggs x6     £1.59
  • Silver Spoon Natural Vanilla Extract 38 ml                    £1.04
  • Silver Spoon Caster Sugar 500g                                     £0.99
  • Sainsbury’s Fairtrade Dark Soft Brown Sugar 500g       £1.29
  • Sainsbury’s Unsalted Butter, Basics 250g                      £1.19
  • Dr. Oetker Bicarbonate of Soda Sachets 6x7g               £1.00
  • Sainsbury’s Plain Flour 1.5kg                                        £0.90

      TOTAL                                                                              £9.50

  1. Ingredients for about 40 big chocolate chip cookies  £9.50
  2. Tiger, 6 mugs at 50 p each                                           £3.00
  3. Sharpie Permanent Marker, Ryman                          £1.29

     TOTAL                                                                            : £13.79

For under £15 you have presents for six people and probably just enough cookie dough left to eat while watching your favourite Christmas movie.

If you are not much of a baker and you have always left the handy work to your dad, you can also get by if you look around wisely and shop at pre-sales. 

Broche £6.90
Wallet £6.00
Necklace £5.50
Picture Frame £6.95
Hat £5.00
Christmas Marmalade Selection £4.80

If you look around online or in your local stores, good deals are never hard to find. Another good source are charity shops. Not everyone will rejoice at the idea of getting a used pair of shoes or used clothes, but you can find books (Oxfam Books) or DVDs and CDs in perfect condition. And never forget to ask about that all-important student discount.

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