How to spend less than $20 but still make it an awesome Christmas

Maikalina Madali

As hardworking, busy and starving students, we don’t exactly have the biggest budget to spend on gifts for our loved ones during the holiday season. Here are a few ideas that can be bought in-store or online and some “do-it-yourself” crafts that will make for perfect gifts for less than $20.

Quick Buys In-store or Online Personalized fortune cookies

At, you can order personalized and decorated fortune cookies. You have the option of a three- or six-pack set in which you can add your own messages to each for less than $15. With these sweet personalized treats, students can ensure each loved one’s fortune will come true.

TV show series and movie DVDs You can’t go wrong with buying their favorite TV show series or movies on DVD. You can find tons of classic movies and TV shows like “The Dark Knight” trilogy, seasons of “Family Guy” and seasons of “How I Met Your Mother” less than $20 at Just put in the DVD, plop on the couch, make a couple of hot chocolates and you’ve got yourself a perfect winter night in.

Mug sets Wal-Mart is selling a variety of mug sets for less than $15. For the coffee lover, there are Starbucks sets, and for the non-coffee drinkers there are hot chocolate sets. Each set comes with a bag of coffee or hot chocolate and a normal or travel sized mug. This gift can be appropriate for any gender or age.

Jewelry If you’re shopping for any woman, jewelry is always worth considering. While earrings, necklaces and bracelets from traditional jewelry stores such as Kay’s Jewelers and The Shane Company can cost upwards of $200, stores such as Claire’s, Charlotte Russe and Target have a great selection of jewelry gifts for students on a budget.

MP3 Player Believe it or not, there are still people who do not own an iPod or MP3 player. Target is selling a GPX 2 GB flash MP3 player online, which will hold approximately 500 songs depending on the size of the files. If you want to add a personal touch for a significant other, have some tunes already downloaded to make a special playlist.

Do It Yourself (DIY) Gifts

Shadow box frame: Shadow box frames are basically what they sound like; a box turned into a frame. These come out really nice for personalized gifts. Department stores, like Target, sell them for less than $15. After buying the frame, insert anything you want into it. You can add pictures, ticket stubs, decorations, or a handwritten letter; the idea is to get creative and fill it with memories.

Message in a bottle might be a bit corny but it is a cute, creative gift. You can find a cheap glass bottle at a local department store and tie a nice ribbon around it. Fill it with fake sand, candy, buttons or whatever you can think of. Write out a personal letter and to add a nice touch, try slightly burning the sides of the paper to give it an old look. Roll the letter up and put it in the bottle.

Deck of cards: 52 things I love about you. This idea has been a huge hit on Pinterest. There are a number of ways to go about doing this and they can all be easily found on the Internet. It’s a fairly simple project. Grab a deck of cards, hole punch each of them, bind them together with string and glue on the 52 things or memories to each card.

Photo Wreath: Anything involving a collage of pictures and memories make for a good gift. The basic materials for this project are a foam ring, ribbon, decorated paper, pins and pictures. All of these things will be less than $20.

Handmade personalized necklace: This DIY gift will take some time but it’s a great idea. For the necklace, you just need washers that you can buy at Home Depot, a chain, and embellishments. For the crafting part, you need a hammer, a steel stamp set, a Sharpie and a cloth.

Maikalina Madali can be reached at [email protected]