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Holiday giving on a tight budget

Published: Monday, November 14, 2011

Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 13:05


Beatriz Castañeda

With the economic crisis and high unemployment rates in El Paso, this holiday season could be especially tough on a lot of students' budgets. When money is tight, that's when you should be creative and think about gifts that have more meaning to the person you're giving it to.

With a budget in mind, you should make a list of the people you want to make or buy a gift for, what you want to buy them and the amount you want to spend. Take the list when you go shopping in order to avoid impulse shopping.

I'd recommend looking online for good sales. The National Retail Federation stated that online retailers this year expect their company's online sales to grow at least 15 percent more than last holiday season. With our busy schedules and finals approaching, online shopping makes it easier to look for items and avoid the hassle of crowds and long lines at local retail stores.

Cyber Monday begins Nov. 28, which is the online equivalent to Black Friday. With Internet popularity increasing, shoppers are now going online to find their gifts. Cyber Monday can remove the stress of having to go to stores and find the products that you want instead of having to spend the night out in the cold, especially when there's a chance you might not even get the product you want.

There are a lot of deals you can find on Cyber Monday, which makes shopping an easier, more efficient and convenient for us. Visit to find coupons, special prices and free shipping for some orders.

You may not be in the mood to shop early for the holidays, but you can gain a major advantage by starting now. You can compare prices and find good sales because if you wait until the last minute, you're less likely to find the selection you want and perhaps grab something more expensive out of desperation.

Personally, I enjoy making homemade and creative gifts. Making something special for someone takes time and effort, and that has more meaning to me than just going and buying something. In previous years, I've made photo collages for a friend, baked specially detailed cupcakes and even cooked a good meal. To me, there's no greater way to express your love and creativity to the ones you care for than making a personalized gift.

I'm a coffee lover, so I always enjoy buying vintage items like coffee mugs at secondhand stores, decorating them and including cookies, biscotti or chocolate spoons. Gift baskets are always good to give out during the holidays. Think about the person you want to give several items to. I'd put a portrait, candy, Nutella and maybe a CD with a playlist of their favorite songs. Think about any random items that you know the other person will enjoy and that could make a meaningful and inexpensive gift.

Consider your family members and what they enjoy doing most. My family has a love for books and I am always happy to buy my Dad a war-themed book since he loves history. I always enjoy giving out books I've read and dedicating them to that person. This year, I plan on making gifts for my family and friends.

So start early. If you're a poet, photographer, good cook or an artist, think about compiling a selection of your work so you can share with friends and family who have enjoyed, inspired and encouraged your efforts. Happy Giving!

Beatriz A. Castañeda may be reached at

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