How To Do Christmas On A Budget At University

17th December 2018 Gemma Curtis 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 limiting how much you spend on gifts to spending time, not money, with your pals. Here are four areas you can focus on to save money this Christmas.


When you’ve made new friends and flatmates at University, it’s likely you’ll want to buy them all a gift. But, in most cases, this just isn’t feasible. There are ways you can treat your friends without breaking the bank.

Secret Santa

This tradition is extremely popular in workplaces and friendship groups around the country. If you’re not familiar with the concept, a group of friends will pull names out of a hat anonymously and buy a gift for that person, ensuring to keep it a secret. Then, you can all get together and open your gifts – it’s up to you whether you reveal who bought what afterwards!

This is a great solution for those on a budget as it means buying only one present instead of lots. Be sure to set a budget that you all must stick to. This makes it fair for everyone. It also gives you the chance to get to know people better, especially if there’s a member of your extended friendship group or flatmates that you don’t usually spend much time with.

Students giving secret santa gifts

Spend time, not money

Christmas is all about making memories and spending time with loved ones. Instead of buying gifts for your uni pals this Christmas, why not have an experience together instead? Whether this is going to an event like Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland or doing one of the many classes available at Drink, Shop & Do (like this dance class to Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas!), you’re sure to have lots of fun. 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 4pm and 8pm on weekdays and 2pm and 6pm on weekends.

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. If you’re worried about paying for all the outfits, food and drinks that come with nights out, it’s a good idea to choose one and forego the rest.

Instead of having nights out with all your friends this December, you could choose to have a festive night in instead. This is the perfect opportunity to get all your course mates 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

Christmas dinner

A British staple, the Christmas dinner is probably the biggest part of Christmas day. But going out for a meal at this time of year can be expensive. If you have international friends that you’ve made through your course or halls of residence, cooking them a traditional roast dinner could be the perfect way to make them feel at home. This article on how to make the perfect roast dinner will give you the basics… but make sure you don’t forget the pigs in blankets!

Alternatively, you could celebrate everyone’s heritage and have a festive feast. Get your friends together and each bring a popular festive dish from your home country. If everyone chips in, you’ll all contribute the same amount, save money, and get to try some delicious dishes from around the globe.


In most cases, you’ll 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 rubbish tree that will just get left behind, why not make some decorations yourself? While this may all sound a bit Blue Peter, there are some decorations you can make that look super chic and stylish.

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

  • Cut two circles out of card, each with a circle in the centre (like a doughnut). The bigger your circles, the bigger the pom pom will be.
  • Wrap the wool all the way around the ring until there is only a tiny gap left in the middle of the doughnut shape
  • Take some scissors and cut around the edge of the ring, ensuring all pieces of wool are cut and keep the card templates pressed together so no pieces fall out
  • Slide a piece of string between the two card templates and tie around the pieces of wool in a tight knot
  • Remove the card and fluff out the wool to create your pom pom shape

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.

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

Gemma Curtis

Gemma Curtis

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