As college students, most of us spend much of the extra cash we earn on our tuition and textbooks, leaving few options when it comes to shopping for the holidays. Luckily, there are more choices out there than you might think. For those of us who can’t afford to shop at Bath & Body Works, Macy’s, Tower Records and The Good Guys, there are some stores that will offer similar products at more student-friendly prices. Creating your own gifts can also be an option if you don’t feel like giving a store-bought gift. No matter what your budget, you should be able to find a way to get everyone on your list a present this holiday season.
Target, Wal-Mart and K-mart are likely to be the first three stores that come to mind when it comes to cheap gifts. These discount stores carry a variety of low-cost gifts including candles, jewelry, videos, books, picture frames, lotions, soaps, stuffed animals, art supplies, music, movies and clothing. You can even shop online from all of these stores if you don’t have time to get out. Cheaper alternatives to these stores, such as Ross and Marshalls, have smaller selections but better prices for those on a tight budget. You will find a wide variety of items, such as clothes, journals, picture frames, photo albums and kitchenware that were never sold at retail stores. There won’t be an ample supply of every item, so it will be a bit harder to find what you want.
However, if you’re willing to dig in and search hard, you may be able to discover some great finds. Anyone with a Costco card will know that plenty of great gifts can be found there as well. One item that’s sure to be useful to students is calling cards. Sprint sells packages of 10 cards at around 4.2 cents per minute. Even if you don’t have membership, you might be able to tag along with a friend or parent who does.
Cheap CDs and DVDs can be found at Best Buy, and anyone looking for jewelry, cosmetics or hair accessories can check out Claire’s boutiques. You might be surprised at what else you might find there, including photo clips, cuddle pillows and trinket boxes.
If you’re looking for cheap knick-knacks, Pacific Beach and Mission Beach are the places to shop. Another place to check out would be University Avenue in Hillcrest, home to book and clothing stores. Unique and useful gifts can also be found at Cost Plus, where you’re sure to find special gifts that can be used to decorate dorm rooms and apartments and cook delicious meals. Sale items should be able to fit tight budgets.
Those searching for alternative gifts don’t have to look far for options. Buffalo Exchange, an award-winning vintage clothing store, has stores in Pacific Beach and Hillcrest. It offers a wide selection of hip new and used clothing. The selection includes clothes from J. Crew, Gap, Banana Republic, Abercrombie & Fitch and Polo Jeans, but at more affordable prices. There is a good chance you may find a J. Crew top for $9.50, a Limited skirt for $15 or a pair of Candies tennis shoes for $12. There is also a selection of footwear and handbags.
If you’re especially short on cash, this may be the place to shop if you have some clothes you’d like to get rid of. Employees at the store will select the items they can resell, and you will receive 35 percent in cash or 50 percent in store credit. Just remember to wash your clothes first. In addition, the store also sells incense, shampoo, magnets, houseware, nail polish and sunglasses. Gift certificates are also available if you can’t find the right gift. For more information on the store, go to http://www.buffaloexchange.com.
Creative folks can go to Michaels, an arts and crafts store, to pick up some supplies to make their own gifts. You can find anything from ready-to-finish furniture, floral, vases, mason jars, bottles, clay pots, candle-, soap- and doll-making kits, t-shirts, baskets, stitchery, picture frames and art supplies with which you can show off your creative side. Some items may be cheaper if you shop online at http://www.michaels.com. IKEA also sells mini unfinished picture frames you can paint and decorate yourself. Packs of three will go for around $1.95, which is perfect for dollar stretchers. Other cheap furniture and houseware items can also be put to great use; with super low prices, you won’t have to worry about money at IKEA.
This year, you probably won’t have to leave anyone off your list, as long as you know where to shop. Hopefully, those who receive your gifts will appreciate the effort.