Buying gifts on a uni budget

cat with gifts illustration

It’s no secret that uni students are usually cash-poor and asset-poorer. It’s hard enough to find the funds to cover textbooks and fees at the start of session, let alone to fund your caffeine addiction or splash out on jugs of cider on Friday nights, and never mind the luxuries of friendship necklaces or flowers for your mum.

With Mother’s Day right around the corner, we’re reminded of the importance of gift giving. As outdated and slightly materialistic as it may seem, there is nothing like a well thought-out present that can make a person feel loved and appreciated, whether they be friend, family, or foe. Like the age-old saying goes, it’s the thought that counts, but here are some ways to make your best intentions shine bright like a fake, inexpensive diamond.

Make it

Making presents is limited to primary school art classes no more! Yes, okay, your macaroni picture frames and wonky clay vases may have been a bit of a fail, but now you’re older, wiser, and hopefully more craft-savvy. There are so many simple craft projects out there that really look quite spiffy when they’re done – and will hardly cost you anything! Try scrolling through Pinterest or Buzzfeed to see some cool suggestions. One of my personal favourites is to draw a picture, or even do a very careful colouring-in page, and then pop it in a frame. You can get frames pretty cheaply from discount stores, or find unique ones in an op-shop. And there you have it, a gift that is completely unique and from the heart.

Bake it

The way to a person’s heart is through their stomach. Food is a universal unifier –  we all love to eat it and some of us like to make it too. Baking something fancy is a great gift for someone! You know they’ll love it, and it shows that you put a lot of effort in. Try making some brownies, and wrapping them in pretty cellophane with a ribbon. Simple, but so pretty. Alternatively, whip up a three-course home-cooked meal with candles, real napkins and some relaxing music. Much better than a night out and at a fraction of the cost. Just remember to take note of any allergies the person you’re cooking for may have. The last thing you want is to give the gift of a hospital visit!

Fake it ’til you make it

If you are truly desperate, presents like a coupon gift for your time and attention, a picnic, or a trip to the art gallery (which is conveniently free) will all substitute for a physical present that’s wrapped up in a ribbon. Honestly, you can’t put a price on experiences, and if you can show your best friend /aunt / co-worker one of the most fun days of their life, they are guaranteed to remember and treasure that more than another over-priced scented candle.

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