Christmas presents without the cost

Ten cheap alternatives to expensive presents when you’re broke and Christmas is approaching

Christmas can be a time of cheer, but you may be left acting more like the Grinch when the feeling of dread arrives, knowing the time of hurriedly buying presents is fast approaching and all you have to offer are your empty student pockets. To help you out, here are ten options for getting presents this winter that won’t completely empty your bank account.

1.Get artsy

If you have the talent, why not use any creativity to your advantage to make a personalised gift? Whether that be a painting, drawing, or piece of embroidery, it’s a thoughtful and cool present. If you don’t have an artistic bone in your body, don’t fret! There’s plenty of simple art that you can easily do. You can look up a simple tutorial or write out a cool quote. Even get some Bob Ross on if you want to try chill out. The one area to avoid is portraiture, if you aren’t used to drawing people, this may not be the time to start.

2. Get craftsy

It may require a bit of effort and patience, and it may require diving into the delves of Pinterest but it’s certainly cheap. There’s string art, decorated mugs, mason jar candles, and nearly all of it just needs basic recycled or second hand materials. You could also paint a blank tote bag for a personal twist – you can never have enough tote bags.

3. A photo

Printing out photos is cheap and buying a cute frame is not expensive either. For an added bonus, you can paint the frame and add a pop of colour or some writing. It’s a foolproof way of preserving a memory and nobody is ever disappointed with it. You can even make it into a collage and framing a poster or print makes a neat choice too.  

4. Tea

We’ve all tried Barrys or Lyons but have you tried chocolate, raspberry, or even curry flavoured tea? Purchase a bizarre selection of tea from several small stores around Dublin, it’s classically Irish and you can even make a hamper. In this weather, who doesn’t want a nice cup of tea?

5. Houseplants

What person wouldn’t be happy to get a plant? Yes, they may end up killing it very quickly and they may already own ten but it’s a good option even if they aren’t mad about botany. Just maybe get a cactus if you want it to have some chance of survival.

6. A keepcup

Saving the environment and saving money on coffees, who could complain? If they have one already, there’s never enough. It’ll save the person ending up at the front of the queue and handing over an unwashed cup while avoiding eye contact with that barista.

7. Powerbanks

Nobody wants a dead phone at 3am when trying to hunt down a friend or call a taxi. Here to save the day are powerbanks – not only are they cheap to buy, but they’re incredibly useful.

8. Charity shops

When you’re low on dough, these are your best friend. They’re a treasure trove of trash but you can find some great stuff for low prices. You can find nice books and clothes while giving money towards charities.

9. Socks

If all else fails, get them some socks or slippers. If they’re a student too, there’s a good chance they’re too broke to get some new ones.


Mariah Carey may have said All I Want for Christmas Is You, but I don’t think this is what she meant. As a very last resort, go ahead and give the gift of yourself. What more could they ask for?

Maeve Breathnach

Maeve Breathnach is the current Assistant Societies Editor of Life. She is a Junior Fresh English Literature and Maths student.