3 Birthday Gift Ideas on a College Budget

By Abby Tolbert /
Conquer birthday gifts on a college budget

Birthdays are great. I mean, everybody has one, and they’re an ideal opportunity to celebrate the lives of the people we care about most. (While gorging on cake and ice cream, obviously.) But if you’re restricted to a college budget like myself, coming up with a meaningful and cost-effective gift idea can be both a headache and a hassle.

If you too sometimes find yourself paying for your late-night iced coffee run with quarters from the bottom of your purse, fear not! I’ve compiled my three best gift-giving strategies that will help you to warm the hearts of your loved ones without breaking the bank.

Utilize your local Marshall’s, TJ Maxx, or Ross’

As a self-proclaimed “Maxx-inista”, I can’t stress the vitality of this one enough. Department stores that sell name-brand items for less have hidden gems located in every aisle. From cat mugs to candles, you really shouldn’t have a hard time finding something for everyone on your list.

On my Mom’s special day, I’ll usually make an effort to encourage her to put her feet up, relax, and enjoy some well-deserved pampering. If you can’t afford to gift a relaxing getaway, consider gathering up the materials necessary for an at-home spa– Bonus points if you stop at the grocery store for some cucumbers to put over your eyes! (People still do that, right?)

Send a personalized card

The old saying still holds true, it really is the thought that counts. While most retail stores offer a multitude of birthday card options, hunting for the one that voices your exact thoughts and feelings can be quite the challenge. Opting for a more personalized approach turns a lackluster, obligatory birthday card into a cherished memory you can hold onto for life. 

Personalized Photo Card From Pinhole Press

The customizable birthday cards from Pinhole Press allow you to upload your own photos in just a matter of minutes. An added plus? They offer a “stamp and mail” service for just 50 cents! That’ll save you the inevitable trip to the post office for the stamps that you ran out of at Christmas time.

Gift what you’re good at

What’s your calling? Do you sew, babysit, shop, bake or clean like a pro? Whatever your hidden talent might be, create a personalized certificate and make what you do into the gift that you give. Babysit your niece for a whole weekend, be the family “chef” for a week, or clean your best friend’s car at no cost. Sometimes the most sought-after gifts, are the ones that come from the heart, not from the deep depths of your pocketbook.

Gift-giving can put a real strain on your budgeting efforts, but it doesn’t have to. With the help of these tips, it’s totally possible to convey your love and appreciation for the special people in your life without sacrificing too much of your hard-earned savings.

Still stumped? Check out some of these personalized gifts under $30.


About the Author

Abby Tolbert is a Marketing Coordinator at Pinhole Press. A self-proclaimed chicken tender aficionado, she loves spending her free time looking for the area’s best pub fare and taking sunny walks in Albany’s historic Washington Park

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