Jan 162010
Authors: Elizabeth Cornish

‘Tis the season to be spending … but you’ve just paid your energy bill and only have a few dollars left in your bank account. No need to fret. Get creative with your gifts this year and save what little money you have left.

Thrift stores have a wide range of clothing, jewelry, CDs and outdoor sports equipment, which are almost as good as new.

“Pretty much everything in the store is under $10,” said Jessie Donaldson, a clerk at Brand Spanking Used thrift store. In addition, CSU students receive 20 percent off all items with a student ID.

Thrift stores are perfect for picking up materials to transform into new gifts for those who have a little more time on their hands. Donaldson added that, “A lot of people like to come in here to buy things to make things with.”

Old records can be made into bowls by putting them in an oven or into clocks by adding a cheap mechanism. Picture frames can be personalized by covering them in your favorite wrapping paper. T-shirt’s can be altered with paints and fabric shapes.

My Favorite Bead Store offers lessons in jewelry making starting at $20. Once you learn the basics, jewelry can be created at a very low price. There are also gift grab events on Dec. 19 and 20. These events allow customers to pick the beads they want, and staff will help create the jewelry for them.

“It depends on the beads, but you could definitely get a whole set for under $15,” said Michelle Richter, a senior psychology major who has been working at My Favorite Bead Store for four years. A set includes a necklace, bracelet and earrings. Customers can also make wine charms, bookmarks and decorative ornaments.

If you’re really short on cash and want to give presents to a number of people, then why not try out your culinary skills? Gingerbread men make perfect gifts and $10 for ingredients can make enough for 20 people.

“Cookies are my go-to gift,” sophomore English major Lexy Hall said. “Cookies are usually the easiest; cakes are easy, cupcakes if I really like you. Cinnamon, sugar and flour are staples for baking – if you have those, it’s really easy.”

Friendship coupons are another useful idea if you are completely broke because they don’t cost a thing except time. Design coupons with specific tasks you will do for your friends, such as cooking dinner or promising to watch a movie together.

Or try memory jars, which are intimate, well-appreciated gifts and don’t cost any money. On different colored strips of paper, write down memories that you and a friend have had and put them in an old jelly jar. Then tell the receiver of the gift to read one memory a day until they run out.

With or without money, this holiday season can be made memorable by a little innovation and creativity.

For more thrifty gift ideas, visit http://budget101.com.

Elizabeth Cornish is a reporter at College Avenue magazine and can be reached at csumag@lamar.colostate.edu.

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