Cheap gift ideas

   As the holidays approach, many students and their families are quickly realizing the “most wonderful time of the year” is actually the “most expensive time of the year.” Fortunately, I, an experienced cheapskate, am here with some solutions for your winter woes. Below are five easy ways to save money while holiday shopping this year.

   Re-gift, re-gift, re-gift: A quick story: Last Christmas I received a fuzzy blanket at a white elephant gift exchange. As soon as I got the blanket I knew I wasn’t going to use it, so I placed it in my giant re-gift bag in the corner of my room. Eight months later my mom’s birthday rolled around and TA-DAH, I had a free present that she would love. To this day she does not know it was re-gifted and continues to tell me how soft and high-quality it is, probably assuming it was very expensive.

   Give experiences: Ever make those cute homemade coupons as a kid promising to massage your mom’s feet or wash your dad’s car? They are back in style and cheaper than ever. High school students can employ the same old trick in a slightly more grown-up form by typing and printing aesthetically pleasing coupons for fun family experiences, or just plain boring chores around the house. The best part is that recipients often forget about their coupons and never redeem them, meaning you don’t have to do a thing besides make the coupon.

   Photos prints: Did you know high-quality photo prints from Walmart usually cost less than a quarter? Print a family photo and pair it with a $3 frame and you have $3.25 present that will hang on Grandma’s wall for years to come. Don’t have $3 for a frame? Some cardboard from your recycling bin and clear packing tape make a nice frame for free. Your total cost is now down to $0.25 at most.

   It’s all about presentation: If there’s an hour long, carefully-planned scavenger hunt to finally find that re-gifted bracelet in the dryer, your sister will overlook its slightly used appearance and embrace you in a warm sisterly hug for the fun hour you have spent together. Other presentation tips include wrapping small items in refrigerator boxes and putting ribbon on everything. A well-curled ribbon can increase the perceived price of a gift by $50.

   Library books: The perfect gift to curl up with next to a cozy, crackling fire on December 26. Make sure to include a receipt with the due date so the recipient doesn’t forget to return them in two weeks or they will have to pay a fine. Either way, this gift comes at no cost to you.

   Moral of the story: Re-gifting is not tacky nor rude if no one knows you do it. Just make sure you don’t accidentally give a gift back to its owner or write an article about it later that the recipient will read.