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Thursday, September 28, 2023
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Christmas shopping: Buying on a budget as a broke college student

Although the post-Thanksgiving holiday frenzy has kicked into full gear, there’s one daunting task that always seems to bring this cheer to a screeching halt: Christmas shopping.

While giving and receiving gifts embodies the “spirit of Christmas,” it's hard not to wince when examining the price tags of even the simplest items. Unfortunately, this struggle is only magnified when seen through the eyes of a broke college student fighting their way through finals season. When surviving off the bare minimum, plus coffee and a Redbull, Christmas shopping can be an extremely painful experience. Thankfully, there are a few ways to escape this frightening tradition that will leave you and your bank account feeling a lot better.  

Shopping for family 

If you’re looking to complete your list in one quick trip, Target has you covered. Head on over to the holiday section to grab some candles for your mom and grandma, then pay a visit to the kitchen section to find your dad some kind of tool that will confuse but intrigue him. Once you’re done there, browse the gaming and toy aisles for any younger siblings or cousins. If all else fails, direct your attention to the shocking number of gift cards lining each checkout counter. If you’re really in a pinch this year, you probably don’t even need to look past my personal favorite part of Target: the dollar section. 

Finding something more personal to gift your family can also be a challenge when it comes to buying gifts on a budget. However, a personalized gift doesn’t have to mean a $50 custom sweatshirt from Shutterfly or an unreasonably priced engraved ring from Pandora. 

Head back to Target, or even the dollar store and get a few frames for each of your family members. Framing a photo of a special moment you associate with each person will undoubtedly make a meaningful gift they’ll cherish for the years to come. 

Another creative way to utilize photos is creating a personalized album for someone. This reminder of all the amazing memories you’ve shared will undoubtedly mean more to them than any overpriced item you choose to buy.

Shopping for friends 

In my experience, shopping for friends can oftentimes be the hardest and most expensive. While you know they deserve something unique and meaningful, you can’t exactly give them the homemade ornament or potholder you planned on giving your family members. Luckily, vintage is back, and that means finding cheap clothes you can pass off as one-of-a-kind and stylish. So, head on over to your nearest thrift store and get your friends something you know they’ll love. It might take some time to find that perfect item for each of them, but at least you won’t be in debt when you leave the store. 

And if none of these options work for you and you find yourself giftless on Dec. 22 after your last final exam, you can always count on the University of Wisconsin-Madison Bookstore to be there for you and all your Badger needs.

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