How to do Christmas on a student budget

christmas tree

Christmas is equally a great and terrible time of year for students. It’s the time of year where relatives will force mince pies down your throat 24 hours a day. It’s the time of year where you’ll be given enough posh shower gel to last you the next year back at uni. Yes, there are plenty of positives, but what about the other side?

Finding gifts for family members around Christmas time was all well and good before university, when a weekend job would pay just enough for a nice box of chocolates and a new tie and mug for your dad. Now, at university, you’re lucky if you can afford beans on toast and a glass of squash to get you through the week. However, it’s nice to be festive and there are ways around spending a fortune on all of your relations every year.

Try websites like Groupon and Secret Sales for quick bargains to tide over the year. Groupon has offers ranging from beauty treatments to family photography sessions to extreme sport try out days. Secret Sales is more beauty and clothes focused, so if you’re looking for a nice (cheap) perfume for your mum it may be the best place to check. Other present alternatives could mean looking on Amazon Daily Deals or just scouring Ebay for brand new, hidden gifts.

Presents aside, it’s always fun to decorate your student flat when it comes to the end of the year. Nothing says ‘Christmas on a budget’ quite like some reduced tinsel hanging off the mirror, and if you buy it early (or really, really late) it’s almost certainly not going to cost a lot.

Again, Amazon is good for this sort of thing. If you’re looking for a Christmas tree, Amazon sell a 6ft one for £9.99 at the moment. Decorations are usually best bought in places like Tesco or Home Bargains, and if everyone in the house clubs in, it’ll look bright and festive in no time. Tesco tinsel is £1 at the moment, so now’s your chance to decorate your house without ruining your student loan at the same time.

The other big problem a lot of students face around this season is actually making it home for Christmas. Train travel is slowly becoming more and more extortionate, so if you have to get the train back home then it’s best to book as early as possible. Websites like SplitTicketing look for the cheapest deals and options, and TheTrainLine will find you all the options from different companies at the same time.

Another cheaper option is getting home by bus. Both National Express and Megabus do cheap deals for long distance travel, and are usually less expensive too if you book a return journey. If you know the dates you’re coming back to university already (laden with left over food and your presents) it’s definitely worth booking in advance to get the biggest savings.

Generally, the game plan for students is to maximise the fresh food, central heating and baths that come as part of going home over Christmas. Rely on grandparents to suggest giving you any left over festive snacks and that’ll set you up for the beginning of the new term anyway. Christmas is perfectly do able on a student budget as long as you plan ahead.

Photo: James Emery/ Flickr


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