How to holiday shop on a budget

With the holidays quickly approaching, some of us may be looking at our bank accounts with worry. During the season, we might want to show appreciation to those that we care about. As college students, we might think we do not have the funds to buy the most extravagant gifts, but here are a couple low-cost gift ideas. 

Candles: Bullseye’s Playground is a staple at Target. It always has the best finds under six dollars. Right now, and through December, they have many holiday themed candles. They smell great and the price tag is even better; they are only three dollars! 

Bath and Body Works is notorious for their lovely three wick candles. Lookout because every December they do a major sale on their candles. This sale, called Candle Day, is usually the first Saturday of December As of Nov. 16, Bath and Body Works is doing 10 dollars off the original price, which leaves the three-wick candles ranging 14 to 16 dollars. 

Amazon also has a wide variety of candles all for under 20 dollars. They have gift sets available of multiple one wick candles and aromatherapy candle sets that will help individualize your gift choice. I find that personalizing a gift can make it more sentimental for the recipient. My favorite candle personalizing shop can be found on Amazon under Brand: Candles That Make Scents. With this 10-dollar product, you can pick a scent and choose what is printed on the label. 

If the person you are shopping for values homemade gifts, you could also make a candle stand for them. A how to guide on how to make a candle stand can be found at If you are interested in DIY options, most of their suggestions only require hot glue and Dollar Tree materials. Between the amazing prices, wide variety of options, and the personalization opportunities, I believe candles could be the perfect gift this holiday season. 

Drinkware: hot chocolate is a necessity for the colder seasons. So, drinkware that your giftee can easily carry with them is crucial. Target has a variety of seasonal and graphic mugs. Once again, the Bullseye’s Playground has mug sets for five dollars. Most of the options are directed towards gifting. Scattered around the store they also have pop-up, thrifty gift ideas, including mugs for those who celebrate Hanukkah and Christmas. If the giftee prefers to drink out of tumblers, Bullseye’s Playground also has eco-friendly thermoses that include multiple straws.

Senior Grace Mathews poses with a personalized mug she received for Christmas. She describes it as her favorite gift she has gotten.
Photo Courtesy of Grace Mathews.

If the person you are shopping for has lots of mugs, Walmart has the solution! For more sentimental gifts, Walmart offers personalized mugs, tumblers, and wine glasses. If you find that you have more money in your wallet that you can spend, Walmart also has hot chocolate and apple cider kits that would complement the gift. A tip is to scan the codes on the back of the products with the Walmart app to see if the products you are looking at are on sale. 

Possibly the best deal out of all of these is the DIY mug kit at Michael’s. It comes with the mug, four paint colors, and a paintbrush all for four dollars! If you have multiple people to shop for and a low budget, this is the DIY for you! Worried about getting crafty? Don’t be– stencils are cheap and available at almost every dollar store. With these tips and tricks, you can use your egg noggin’ to find the best deals! 

Slippers: Do not get cold feet about buying slippers! One of Amazon’s best-selling items right now is the HALLUCI Cross Band Indoor/Outdoor Slipper. This product has 4.2 out of five stars and over 15,000 reviews. It is also really affordable being under 25 dollars. They are open-toed and indoor and outdoor, so they can be used year-round and everywhere!

If you are looking for closed-toed house shoes, Target has over a hundred options all reasonably priced with most of them being under 20 dollars. Their options range from booties to sock slippers. 

If slippers are not the style for the person for whom you’re shopping, Target has crew and fuzzy socks in Bullseye’s Playground and in the shoe department. Socks are a little cheaper which, creates room in your budget to expand the gifting choices you have. 

A way to personalize this gift would be to have initials or a special date embroidered on them. You could even get a matching pair and have a saying split between the pairs. Etsy and Amazon have affordable monogramming options. If you and your giftee share a love for a sports team or store, embroidered logos are also an option at most of these sites. To complete the cozy look, matching house robes and blankets are available on most Amazon stores! 

All of these options are under 30 dollars and can be ordered right from your home! Whether you are shopping for a significant other, friend, or family member, I am sure they will appreciate the thought you put into their gift. Happy Holidays!

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