How To Do Christmas On A Budget At University

15th September 2023 Joe Graham Finance

Trying not to overspend around the festive period can feel impossible. There are plenty of ways you can do Christmas on a budget when you’re a student, from planning ahead and saving up to making your own gifts. If you’re wondering how to do Christmas cheap, but are worried about missing out, there’s no need to fear. At the end of the day, Christmas doesn’t have to be about spending as much as possible, there are still plenty of ways to enjoy Yuletide without putting a massive dent in your finances. Here are our Christmas on a budget tips to help you enjoy the festive fun:

Save Money For Christmas

An easy way to ensure Christmas doesn’t harm your finances is to actually save for the festive period. This can include before and during the festive period.

Plan Your Christmas Budget Early

The number one tip for saving money for Christmas is to budget. Make a realistic budget of what you can spend and stick to it. Before the festive period starts, work out an amount you can set aside each week or month that you plan to use solely for Christmas. It might sound a little boring, but budgeting for Christmas is key if you need to have a low-cost Yuletide.

Prioritise Your Spending

If you’re planning on doing Christmas on a budget, you may have to make some hard decisions. Be prepared to prioritise, as you won’t be able to have it all. Think about what is important to you. Would you prefer to buy everyone a present, or afford every Christmas party? Perhaps it is more important to be home for Christmas? It might be hard, but when you’re on a budget, you have to prioritise.

Be Wary Of Christmas Specials

Don’t be sucked into the marketing of Christmas; big companies aren’t doing you a favour with their “Christmas specials”. Take advantage of these offers when you can, but don’t buy things for the sake of it just being on offer. Before you buy, think if you have a use for what you are buying, or will it be a waste?

How To Celebrate Christmas On A Budget

So now you have a plan for your spending over Christmas, what else can you do to save over this holiday season? We have created a list a savvy ideas to help your money go further when celebrating Christmas at university.

Make Your Own Christmas Presents

So now you have a plan for your spending over Christmas, what else can you do to save over this holiday season? We have created a list a savvy ideas to help your money go further when celebrating Christmas at university.

Homemade presents are a great way to treat people without the need of a big budget. There are loads of homemade gift ideas you could try your hand at; baking, jewellery, scrapbooks and beauty treatments are just a few.

Another area you could save on gifts is to make your own wrapping and gift tags. This can often be more eco-friendly, too; especially if you use recycled brown paper and decorate it yourself.

Secret Santa

The bonds you create at university between flatmates and friends are something you will hold onto forever, and one way to show your appreciation is through a gift. But with such tight budgets, buying a present for each one of your flatmates can be costly. Secret Santa is the perfect way to ensure all of your friends receive a gift this year. What’s more, setting a budget means that there is no need to overspend.

Students giving secret santa gifts

Related: The Best Secret Santa Gifts for Students on Every Budget

Spend Time, Not Money

Christmas is all about making memories and spending time with loved ones, so instead of buying gifts for your uni pals this Christmas, why not have an experience together instead? London is thriving with Christmas markets throughout December, all with special events, light turns and ice skating. Or perhaps you could do an activity such as mini golf at Puttshack Mini Golf. The best part is you’ll only need to pay for yourself, which will end up costing a lot less than a sack full of presents.

If you’re super strapped for cash this December, there are plenty of free ways you can make memories around the city. Why not go on a Christmas light-spotting tour around Oxford Street, Regent Street and Carnaby Street? You could also explore one of the city’s many parks or experience a free carol concert at Trafalgar Square between 4 pm and 8 pm on weekdays and 2 pm and 6 pm on weekends.

Prioritise Your Nights Out

It wouldn’t be Christmas without the annual Christmas party. If you’ve got a part-time job, chances are you’ll have been invited to a festive outing. Nights out can be extremely expensive over Christmas, and it’s hard to say no to all the invites. It all comes down to prioritising which outings are more important to you. Nights outs mean spending money on food and drinks, which can be costly. Also, if you are going to more than one event, don’t feel you need to buy a new outfit for each occasion. Instead, just dress your outfit differently.

Instead of having nights out with all your friends this December, you could choose to have a festive night at home instead. This is the perfect opportunity to get all your coursemates and flatmates together for a movie night or a quiz night. If everyone brings a small plate of food and some drinks, you’ll have a fantastic buffet with minimal effort.

Friends having christmas dinner together

Communal Christmas Dinners and Saving Those Leftovers

The Christmas dinner is probably the biggest part of Christmas day, but it can also be a big expense. Being at University may be the first time attempting to make a Christmas dinner, but that doesn’t mean you have to do it all your way. Getting your friends together and agreeing on one dish each to bring will help spread the costs and see what other people enjoy on Christmas day. This is a great way to make sure everyone feels at home during the festive season.

Also, be sure to plan your Christmas meal properly. Going too crazy with the amount of food can lead to waste. If you do have some leftovers, there are plenty of ways to make use of Christmas Dinner leftovers.

Related: Crafting Christmas dinner in your student accommodation

Make Your Own Christmas Decorations

In most cases, you’ll usually only stay in your halls or student accommodation for one year before moving to a different property. Buying a Christmas tree and decorations can cost a lot of money, and it’s unlikely that you’ll take it with you when you leave.

Instead of buying a tree that will just get left behind, why not make some decorations yourself? There are some cheap decorations that you can easily make that look super chic and stylish.

For example, making brightly coloured pom poms out of wool will brighten your room and add festive cheer. To do this, all you need is some card and wool.

Pom pom decorations in different colours

Other, more traditional decorations include classic paper chains and paper snowflakes. These are fun to make with your flatmates and are also much better for the environment.

Check out this House Beautiful article for 26 DIY decoration ideas to make your accommodation feel festive this season.

Gift Price Tracking

As the festive season peers over the horizon, you may find your inner Santa Claus waiting to burst. But keeping a sensible mind on your bank balance is vital during Christmas and your time at University. So, if there is a gift you really want to get someone, plan ahead and keep track of prices using price-tracking websites. Using the likes of camelcamelcamel for your Amazon gifts and Idealo are great tools to find the best deals. Just remember how much you are willing to spend on a gift, but if you don’t buy it this Christmas, the money you save can go towards the gift on another occasion.

Making Use of Student Discount Cards

Being a student gives you access to thousands of discounts and deals targeted towards students, and Christmas is a great time to make the most of them. Unidays, Student Beans and Totum are just a few student discount cards you can use during December for money off gifts.

It is also wise to save up those loyalty card points and activate those unused gift cards that may be lying around. Keeping in mind the money you have on discount cards is a great way to save on your festive spending.

Be Mindful of the Cost to Travel Home

Many students make the trip back home to see their family for Christmas day. Still, with so many other people having the same thought, tickets for trains and flights can become unnecessarily expensive, especially if you leave booking your ticket late. Arrange your transport home a few months in advance to get the best deal. This will also mean there is less of a worry about purchasing a ticket during the December spending spree.

Consider a Temporary Christmas Job

If you have spare time, or you can’t help but get involved in all things Christmasy, it may be worth getting a temporary Christmas job. With shops, restaurants and high streets booming with Christmas shoppers, businesses require an additional helping hand. So if you have spare hours to set aside during the build-up to Christmas, why not seek a temporary job to give you that extra bit of cash for the big day?

We hope this helps make your Christmas less stressful and more enjoyable! Click here for more on student accommodation in London.

Joe Graham

Joe Graham

For more great posts from Urbanest about accommodation, London life, study tips and much more, visit the Student Journal.