Preparing for Christmas on a Budget

Photo from

By Jennifer Corr
Contributing Writer


Your Guide for Decking the Halls During the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!


1. Decorating

After Thanksgiving, it is officially the start of the Holiday season! That means it is time to decorate! Whether it is your dorm or your house, here are some tips to make your residence a winter wonderland!

What is a Christmas without the lights? If you are looking to put some lights around your dorm or house, Big Lot’s has some inexpensive options. Their cheapest lights are only seven dollars! Check it out!

No money or time to buy a Christmas tree? Well, you can find a small one! Big Lots is here to save the day again with a fourteen dollar Christmas tree. Make sure you call the store to make sure it is in stock before heading out!

Spice up your Christmas tree with some ornaments! Dollar tree sells beautiful ornaments and tinsel for just one dollar each. Your tree will be ready in no time. (Side note! Dollar Tree sells many decorations for your house and it is definitely worth checking out!)

Don the wreath! Trader Joe’s sells authentic wreaths with real pinecones for just ten dollars!

Party City is selling some cute stockings for just six dollars this holiday season! Make sure to get your hands on them!

Make your house unique this Christmas! Pinterest has so many easy and fun DIYs that you can do by yourself or with your family! Check it out!


2. Celebrating with Friends

Who does not love a fun Christmas party? Well, this year you can be the host! Here are some tips to throw the best party ever!

Ugly Christmas sweaters are a must! Check out your local thrift store for some authentic Christmas sweaters that are so ugly that they are actually cute.

Making gingerbread houses are something that you can do with your guests that is fun and makes for a good snack for later on. Build a gingerbread house! Score a gingerbread house at Trader Joe’s for just eight dollars!

Snacks! What is a party without some snacks! One easy way to satisfy your guests is a bag of tortilla chips, a jar of salsa and some guacamole. If you go to the right place, this filling snack can cost you under ten dollars.

Parties can seem a bit daunting because of the food. You may be worried about the cost and time that it will take to feed your guests. Well, I suggest making some pasta! You can get a box of pasta for around two dollars and a jar of sauce for maybe about three dollars! Maybe get a bag of salad and a loaf of Italian bread to compliment the pasta. Your guests and your wallet will be happy.

Dessert! Everyone loves dessert! Try making some homemade chocolate chip cookies! The Food Network has a recipe that calls for ingredients that you might already have!


3. Christmas in the City

Whether you live or commute to campus, chances are that you live very close to New York City, so take advantage of it! Grab some friends or a significant other and make some memories!

Grab your ice skates and head to Bryant Park! Bryant Park has a free winter village! Do some skating, eat some good food and get your shopping on!

The big tree! Head to Rockefeller Center to take a picture of the big tree! This is a pretty crowded area, but the tree’s beauty makes it worth it.

Central Park is a beauty during the holiday season!

While you are in the city, check out the Metropolitan Museum of Art! They always have a beautiful Christmas tree.


4. Christmas Shopping

The holiday season may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it can also be the most expensive! Let us help you!

Nothing is more meaningful than a gift from the heart. Pinterest has so many ideas for homemade gifts that are easy on your wallet and fun to make. This Christmas, give a gift that is one of its kind!

Online shopping can be your best friend. Miss A sells beautiful jewelry, accessories and cosmetics for just a dollar each! For your hippie friends, Hippie Shop sells beautiful and authentic gifts for such a great price! It goes without being said, always check Amazon for those great deals. Don’t forget, students get a free trial for amazon prime. Etsy sells beautiful and homemade items that will make anyone’s holiday season brighter!

Make sure you always check for coupons before heading to the mall. JCPenney, Kohls and Macy’s always has coupons, so make sure you go to their websites, and take a look.

Also, you do not have to believe in Santa to write a list! Making a list of the people you plan on getting gifts for can be a huge help. You can write down some ideas and create a budget so that you do not go over. Doing this is important so that you do not feel confused in the busy mall.


5. Christmas Movies

Do not forget to watch some Christmas movies this holiday season! As always, ABC is doing the 25 days of Christmas.

6. Christmas Music

Get jolly with some Christmas music! If you live on Long Island, the radio station, Walk 97.5, plays Christmas music all day long! Also, looks for Christmas playlists on Pandora, Google Play and Spotify. They are bound to be there!


7. Christmas Cards

Christmas cards can be quite expensive, but we have some solutions that will send your friends and family some holiday cheer.

Have you heard of Elf Yourself? Well, if you have not, this is something that you need to check out! Elf Yourself will turn you and your friends and family into dancing elves! Just upload pictures of you and your friends and family and Elf Yourself will do the rest. The best part? It is free! You can post the results on social media or send them in an email– go, go, go!

Dollar Tree sells boxes of Christmas cards for only one dollar, with each box containing twelve cards. Get on it!

If you are a Stony Brook Student, you have a free Microsoft 365 account. Simply log on, and check out your Christmas templates. From there you can personalize them, and print them out. Not only is it free, but you will be giving your friend or family member a card that is personalized just for them!


8. Be a Miracle for Someone Else this Christmas

Christmas is a happy time, but it can also be a sad time for some. There are families who are unable to buy gifts for their children or people that may be lonely this Christmas.

Toys for Tots are currently taking donations all over Long Island. This organization give kids toys! All Toys R Us/ Baby R Us are collecting toys this holiday season, along with AC Moore.

You can directly help a child by donating a winter outfit! You can get together a group of friends and have everyone pitch in.

Keep your those who may be struggling this holiday season in mind. The holidays are a hard time for those who are lonely and/or just experienced a loss, a bad breakup or a divorce. Check in on them, pray (if it is within your religious beliefs to do so) or send good vibes to them. Consider extending an invite for dinner on Christmas eve or day.


9. Gift Wrapping

Head to your local dollar store for some gift wrap, labels and gift boxes!

Business Insider provides a tutorial on how to wrap the perfect gift.

10. Do not stress!

Some of us can get a little overwhelmed when it comes to Christmas. We stress about buying all those gifts, getting together a family that does not exactly get along or even preparing the house for the holidays. Just remember that the holidays are a time for your family, friends and others whom you love. Do not take on tasks that will overwhelm you.

When it comes to shopping, remember it is the thought it counts. You do not have to buy the most expensive gift to prove that you love someone.

Spend your holiday with people who make you feel good.

Nothing has to be perfect for Christmas. As long as you are enjoying this time of year, that is all that matters.

Also, remember to be nice to retail workers even if you are stressed about shopping. They are stressed too!

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