The holiday season is officially here and that means it’s time for ugly sweaters, cute winter captions on Instagram, dorm decorating and, of course, gift giving! It can get pricey very quickly to get everyone on your list an A+ gift, but it doesn’t have to break the bank as much as you think. Here are some tips on finding good gifts at great prices.

1. Have a Budget for Each Gift


An overall budget is definitely a good thing, but it can be hard to prioritize for each person on your list and easy to overspend. Having a budget for each gift you need to get is more accurate and allows you to prioritize. Your best friend will likely get a more expensive gift than an acquaintance for a class wide secret Santa, and that’s okay! Break down your larger, overall budget into specific allotted amounts to avoid overspending and help you narrow down realistic gift options. With $200 total and five people to give gifts to, for example, you could spend $40 for each person or spend $50 on the two people you’re closest with, $30 on the two others and $40 on the last gift. It should also be noted that sometimes you spend less on a great gift because of what someone likes or because of sales, so don’t force a certain monetary amount. Budgeting per gift works best with estimations and isn’t a perfect science.

2. Buy a Little at a Time

If you have more than two to three people on your list, start buying one or two gifts per week ASAP! Buying a little at a time allows you to have greater control over your budget so you aren’t spending all of it at one time. If going to the mall multiple times isn’t accessible or isn’t your thing, this can be done online as well.

3. Look at the Sales Section First


Checking the sale section first, whether online or in store, is an easy way to save money. Of course it is the season of giving and you shouldn’t buy something in-genuine simply because it’s on sale, but more often than not the clearance items are just as good as anything else. Brands such as Fossil, Kendra Scott, American Eagle and Victoria’s Secret all have good selections for those looking to save.

4. Shop at Value Stores & Outlets

There are a wide variety of stores that have quality items at impressive prices. A few of these stores include Marshall’s, TJ Maxx, HomeGoods and Nordstrom Rack. Outlets, such as the Tanger Outlets or online, are also key places to check. These stores contain big brands at budget friendly prices and contain a wide variety of goods from clothing to bags to household items, making them a one stop shop.

5. Utilize Student Discounts


Many stores offer student discounts at a local level, especially if you live in a college town, but large companies do it, too! Through organizations such as UNiDAYS and Student Beans, brands such as Nasty Gal, American Eagle, Apple, Kate Spade, Levi’s and more. Both are free to use!

6. Check Out Groupon

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Groupon is an app and website that offers deals on travel, activities, goods and services. If you’re looking to buy someone an experience, such as a local brunch walk or zip line tour, Groupon is the place to check before you buy anywhere else. Groupon also will host deals on the discounts already being offered, allowing you to maximize your savings potential. Personally, I have gotten up to 80% off on Groupon deals and have used it for a wide range of activities such as kayaking and eating out. Just be sure to read the fine print of all deals and call the merchants with any questions.

7. Don’t Shy Away from Homemade Gifts


Giving gifts from the heart can also mean a DIY gift. Although it may seem cheesy, if you are crafty or have a knack for baking, gifting something homemade is a great option. A few examples of DIY gift ideas include baked goods, a painting/drawing, home decor, ornaments or a scrapbook. You can also combine store bought items with a homemade concept, such as making a spa basket or snack box. Homemade gifts are easily customizable and can be a nice option if a more personal gift is what you’re looking for. Check Pinterest for additional ideas and inspiration!

The holidays are a fun and festive time to spend with family and friends. Giving and receiving gifts are usually a part of this, but quality gifts can be found on a college budget. Utilize student discounts, sales, outlet stores, and your own DIY skills for a happy holiday season.

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