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A broke college kid Christmas: Celebrating the holidays on a budget

CMS 120A Capstone Project

Fri, Dec 3rd 2021 03:30 pm

By Alyssa Isaacson

Special to Niagara Frontier Publications

Halloween is done, another holiday checked off the list as the end of the year is approaching faster than the speed of light. Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas is You” is blasting on every radio station in town. Just like that, Thanksgiving has passed, and you’re already behind on your gift shopping.

It’s that time of the year again. Christmas is approaching faster than ever.

This is one of the busiest times of the year for everyone, no matter what holiday people may be celebrating this year. While it is filled with joy and love, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of stress that comes along with the holiday season package.

This time of the year is especially busy and stressful for college kids. As the end of the semester continues to creep up, final exams are approaching fast, last-minute assignments are being turned in and, for some, going home for the first time since move in day is drawing near.

While most people have a Christmas list almost planned out, and an idea of what gifts everyone will be receiving, this might look a little different for those paying thousands of dollars to attend college or universities. College kids all over have another thing to worry about, which is their financial situation during the holidays.

A large number of college kids typically don’t have a job during the school year, which leaves them without a financial income for a majority of the year. With bad spending habits, draining out your bank account can be easily done.

So, what happens during Christmas? What do these kids get for others, and what do they ask for themselves?

A study done by “College Pulse” back in 2020 showed a majority of college kids were expected to spend around $100 during the Christmas season for family and friends’ Christmas gifts.

“Nearly 1 in 5 (18%) college students say they either aren’t celebrating Christmas or aren’t buying any presents this year. But among those who are Christmas shopping, a majority will buy gifts for a parent (67%) and/or sibling (59%),” Said College Pulse in regard to college kids spending during the holidays.

Madeline Goldberg, who attends Niagara University, mentioned how her, and many other students are going home for Thanksgiving break and working for the few days that they have off for break.

“I’m working an eight-hour shift on Black Friday when I go home for Thanksgiving. It’s not the most ideal thing I want to do,” Goldberg laughed. “It’s in fact the most stressful shift I’ll have to work, but I want to be able to make as much money as I can right now, especially with Christmas coming up. I also plan on working throughout winter break also.”

Some kids are finding ways around the spending issue. MaryGrace Mancini, a freshman who attends Niagara University, mentioned her spending habits will look a little different this year than it has in past years during the Christmas season.

“Our friend group decided that, instead of buying gifts for everyone, we do a secret Santa event instead, and set a spending limit to $20. This way, we can still celebrate with each other, but on a reasonable budget given that none of us have jobs during the school year,” Mancini said.

Another common way that most kids save their money during this season is by making DIY (do it yourself) gifts for their friends and family. When it comes to creativity, college kids know how to do that best. These gifts are usually very cheap and affordable when buying materials, and they can even be more meaningful when given to people.

Lauren Farrow, who is a freshman, makes these DIY gifts for people all the time, especially during the holidays.

“I love making these homemade gifts because I feel like it’s much more meaningful. They’re also so much fun to make and, not to mention, way more affordable than buying something off of Amazon,” Farrow said.

With that being said, what’s actually on a college kids’ wish list this year?

According to media company “Insider,” the majority of items listed on their lists of what to get college kids for Christmas are actually items such as backpacks, destressors and other common items that are essential for living in a college dorm.

“College students today are in a unique position in life between (probably) getting little sleep, taking classes while working, and taking care of themselves throughout everything. This is especially important to keep in mind when thinking about gifts,” Insider said on its website.

Madeline Goldberg shared some of her wish list items for this year’s holiday celebration.

“At the top of my list are DoorDash gift cards. They would be really nice to have at college considering how expensive it already is to order food to the dorm rooms,” Goldberg said. “Other gift cards are on my list, too. I basically just want money to spend while I’m at college, without totally draining my bank account.”

Mancini mentioned how, for Christmas, she’s hoping to receive some necessities for school.

“I’m asking for a few books for school, but also some that have to do with my major so I can learn more about it. I’m also hoping for gift cards as many other college kids probably are also,” she said.

Mancini also mentioned how her wish lists this year look different than in previous years. While last year, there were a lot of electronics and other materialistic items on her list, this year she noted how her main priorities were to ask for college necessities in order to save more money in the long run.

“It really is difficult this year, especially without a job for the first time in a while,” Mancini said, “I want to be careful with what I ask for because my parents already have a tuition bill to pay, and I’m so thankful for that. It’s like a Christmas gift already in itself.”

As the semester comes to a close, college kids especially are ready to distress and celebrate the holidays. While saving money this time of year is crucial, there are ways to still have fun, and show your love to others while staying on a budget.

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Niagara Frontier Publications works with the Niagara University communication studies department to publish the capstone work of students in CMS 120A-B.

These articles do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of NFP, NU or the communication studies department. Moreover, efforts have been made to encourage the proper use of sources, and discourage anything that would constitute plagiarism.

Comments or concerns can be sent to the NFP editorial department, care of the managing editor.

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