I found myself giggling this morning, realizing its exactly 3 days until Christmas. I’m hoping for snow (don’t hate me!), and juggling shopping trips, coordinating the menu planning for an extended family get-together, and enjoying endless reruns and Christmas music.
This year is quite a bit different than last – after all, I’ve joined the ranks of “broke student” and wear the identity proudly. Well, not exactly the “broke” part. That one can be a little tough. But I’ve found ways to make Christmas super fun even on a super tight budget, and thought I’d share some ideas here in case it might help someone else.
- Consciously CHOOSE to have a great time together with friends and family, completely disconnected from the gift-giving part.
This year, our family is all getting together a couple of days after Christmas. We planning an informal “lets get together and eat good food, sing songs, play games, with NO gifts.” Its an experiment of sorts, designed to give everyone a break from the gift-giving stress. Remember that the greatest gift you can give is the gift of your presence.
2. If you’re going to give gifts, consider making them.
One of the most enjoyable memories I have from childhood is a Christmas when our family had exactly zero resources to spend on Christmas gifts. So we made them. We used old newsprint salvaged from the newspaper office and decorated it with potato prints dipped in paint for wrapping paper. I gave my mother a hand-painted watercolor that I’m sure betrayed my age and (minimal) talent but she loved it. Scour second-hand stores too for those nuggets of super cool and super cheap gifts, or check out a Dollar Store. You don’t have to spend lots of money to have a joy-filled Christmas!
3. Be willing to let people know you’re a “broke student” and would really appreciate cash or gift cards for Christmas.
People really do want to know what you’d like! And if “what you’d like” is cash and/or gift cards, let folks know.
4. Especially if you’re a non-traditional student and have your own children (but equally applicable for single ‘broke students’), make full use of your town’s resources.
Just about all towns and cities in the United States have things like food banks and even community centers that exist solely to help out struggling individuals and families. Don’t let your pride keep you from asking for help!
This last point is what I consider the most important. When you’re struggling to juggle bills and groceries and somehow have a few pennies left over to enjoy Christmas, its easy to lose sight of the importance of service. But I promise, as you give, your heart will hugely benefit. And serving will get you out of the self-focused stress and let you focus on someone else’s needs for a bit.
From my home to yours, here’s wishing you a peaceful and joy-filled holiday season. Merry Christmas!