Top 10 alternative Christmas gifts that won’t break your budget

Christmas gift shopping can be stressful at the best of times! However, this year in particular with travel restrictions, lockdowns and complicated tier systems differing across regions, it can feel like just another stress on your to-do list. While online shopping and one-day delivery democratised Christmas shopping, it hasn’t made it any easier to come up with cool and interesting ideas of what to get your loved ones! It might actually be even harder to make a decision when you have such a range of products to choose from.

Unless you’re in one of those families where you tell each other exactly what you want for Christmas, being stuck in your student accommodation and buying from the big players like Amazon, Ebay and ASOS can mean you’re spending quite a bit of money on stuff that is neither useful nor creative. If you’re looking to do Christmas on a student budget this year, we put together a list of alternative gifts that are unique, special to the person you’re buying them for and also won’t break your budget.

  1. Experiences over stuff

One thing that we all missed this year more than ever is going out, travelling, spending time with people we care about and doing activities that bring us joys. Therefore, you should definitely be on a look out for cool experience-based gifts that your friends and family can utilise next year to get them back into the swing of things! From the more traditional spa days, escape rooms and fine dining vouchers, to skydiving and parachuting adventures for those in your life that love a bit of thrill, you’ll find an experience voucher to suit any interests. And if you know what your family members are into, give it a quick search online and you’re bound to find experiences related to that! Do they love beer? Get them a beer tasting experience! Into Harry Potter? Buy them a ticket to Warner Bros Studios in London! Dying to jet off to a new adventure? They’ll love a Flightgift voucher which allows to buy tickets with over 300 airlines worldwide!

  1. Audible yearly subscription

Once upon a time, books used to be a popular gift and a very treasured one. In our busy lives, where online news and TV is chucking loads of messages at us all the time, many of us, and especially students, don’t take time to read anymore. Consider giving someone in your circle an alternative to normal books – Audible, the largest audio book library in the word, offers monthly subscription that can be a great gift to someone with a busy life. Cover their Audible subscription for a year and they’ll get a credit each month which they can spend on any audio book they like! In a car, while running errands or doing chores… Give someone a gift of knowledge and stories that fill the deadtime we all spend on mindless activities!

  1. Personalised poster or photo frame

One thing that always makes people smile and feel warm and fuzzy inside is good memories! And what better way to capture them than a personalised poster or photo frame with all your best pictures from that time. Etsy is definitely the place to go for all your personalised and handmade gift needs. With thousands of independent sellers advertising their handmade goods on there, you’re sure to find something that works with you and your friend’s style, and might even become a treasured decoration on the wall in your student accommodation. For example, check out this cool family tree frame or a scrabble style photoframe. Countless of possibilities to make someone’s day!

  1. Video message

Now this is a slightly unusual one, but hear us out… It’s unlikely that we’ll be able to see all our loved ones and friends during this festive season, thanks to the never-ending travel restrictions. This means sending cards and presents via post can feel like the only option. Let’s be honest, not everyone is a card person! How about trying something different this year? Film a video message saying Merry Christmas to those you won’t be seeing this year, pop it on to one of the free and easy online tools like Lumen5 or Canva, decorate it with festive stickers and colours and let Santa’s elves send it to those you care about! We promise, it’s not only going to make people smile and feel appreciated but be a topic of conversation when you see them next.

  1. Sort your friends’ beer for the holidays

Whether you’re staying at your student accommodation or going home for Christmas, there is a chance you know somebody who will be spending quite a bit of time by themselves. Particularly international students living abroad are going to more likely than not stay where they are and avoid travel this year. That can mean… Yes, you guessed it! Enjoying a festive beer or two. Instead of giving someone an expensive gift, sort out their beer needs for the holidays –  Beerhawk offers a great selection of mixed beer cases that will be delivered straight to your friend’s door! What could be better?

  1. Make your presents sweet

You know what everyone loves? Cake! If you’re stuck for ideas on what to give to some of your family members or friends, you’ll never go wrong if you make them some festive cupcakes or biscuits and wrap them up in a personalised tray. To make it even more impressive, add a bottle of festive fizz, a candle or small gift card and make a small, personalised hamper for them which says ‘I care about you. Here are some of the things you love put together personally just for you’. If you’re looking for some Christmas baking ideas check out these unbelievably easy mince pies, or this awesome chocolate yule log.

  1. Travel set for future adventures

Something you may not think about this year is travel, but we promise, borders will reopen, and travel restrictions will be lifted at some point. Take some time to think about what your travel crazy friends may need when that happens! Is it a cool travel-friendly Chilly’s bottle and coffee cup? A new backpack or a suitcase with a USB charging point? Or a travel journal to start planning their next adventure? You can find so many unique travel accessories online, that are both practical, unique and won’t cost you an arm and a leg!

  1. Board games & puzzles

Another completely underrated gift idea is giving someone a cool new board game or a puzzle. While this may not suit everyone, you’re sure to have some people in your life that will love a new strategic board game their can play with their friends and family on long and dark winter evenings, or a party style game that they can pull out during a party or simply when they’re up for having a laugh. Combine it with a box of chocolates or a bottle of their favourite festive drink and you’ll see – a little goes a long way!

  1. Unique subscription box

Want to make someone feel like they’re getting not one gift, but many? How about getting them a unique subscription box for the year? Depending on your budget, and your friend’s or family member’s interests, subscription boxes range anywhere between £5 to £30 a month. Socks in a Box, The Pip Box and Neat Nutrition are some that we particularly love! To find out more ideas, check out our recent blog on the best subscription boxes here.

  1. Give a gift of learning

Finally, do you have anyone in your life that is talking about wanting to learn a new skill? There is no better gift of knowledge, so consider giving someone a subscription to an online learning platform like Skillshare. This website carries lots of interesting courses they can take whenever they feel like it! Alternatively, if you do a bit of digging, you’ll be able to find lots one or two day courses that centre around photography, arts and crafts or event creative writing! The possibilities are endless, and a gift like that will definitely stand out amongst all the others.