Holiday spirit on a budget

It’s the most wonderful time of the year—the holiday season. However, along with the beautiful decorations, lights and holiday cheer, Christmas can also leave us short on cash. Thankfully, there are easy and affordable ways to make holiday decorations, food, snacks and gifts.

Nastia Webber, a senior English major at Guilford College, loves to use her camera to take photographs. She does this often, so that when Christmas comes around, she can frame these pictures and give them to family and friends as meaningful gifts. 

You could easily do this with photos from your phone or camera, and check out picture printing options at Walgreens or CVS. You can get photos printed in photo books and on posters, blankets, magnets, calendars, cups and mugs.There are a lot of websites and apps out there that can help you with this. Picsart is a great app for editing photos, where you can add logos, catchphrases and stickers to pictures of your choice. 

Personalized gifts are always a good idea. Websites like Shutterfly, for example, have categories for almost every type of gift, from blankets to kitchen accessories to games and puzzles. They also have great deals, including a section of gifts under $25, and a deal where you can sign up and get four items for free!

Another inexpensive gift is a DIY marble mug. All you need for this craft is a plain white mug, a few drops of nail polish in your preferred color, a container you don’t mind ruining, paper towels and a bamboo skewer or toothpicks. You can check out the full tutorial at this website:

You can even personalize the mugs by writing on them with Sharpie paint markers, and then baking them at 350 degrees for 20 minutes to let the paint dry. You could make “Mr. and Mrs.” mugs, or design a mug for your mom, dad, grandparents or best friend with their name on it.

When it comes to holiday snacks, Guilford senior Beatrice Niyibizi loves to make holiday treats on a budget for the season. She likes to put candy canes, Christmas chocolates and ornaments in goody bags to hand out to her friends and family. 

Rudolph pretzels with Rolos and M&M candies on top can be the perfect sweet and salty snack for the holidays. This recipe is easy and cheap, with only three ingredients: M&Ms, pretzels and Rolo chocolates. All you do is place the pretzel on a baking sheet, put the Rolo on top, bake and then top with an M&M. Check out the full recipe at

You can even add candy eyes to make them even cuter!

These polar bears are the cutest decorative treat to have on your table on Christmas Day. The best part is, you only need five ingredients to make this brrr-brillant polar bear snack! The recipe can be found at

Another quick and easy treat to make is this white chocolate Christmas fudge! This recipe only requires a few ingredients: 1 container of vanilla frosting, red and green food coloring and white vanilla baking chips. 

 You can check out the full recipe at ​​ 

If you’re looking for a more healthy Christmas snack, this recipe for banana snowmen is a yummy treat for all ages. 

All you need is 6 skewers, ¼ of a carrot, 2 bananas, 3 strawberries, 6 grapes, and a handful of currants or sultanas ( 

Here is the full recipe: 

Finally, there are plenty of affordable ideas when it comes to decorating and bringing the holiday season to life. Buying a regular ornament and signing it with a little note seems insignificant, but this is a meaningful gift that you and your family can look at to remember previous Christmases.

Painting pumpkins different shades of blue, or even silver and gold, is another excellent way to bring the winter atmosphere into your home. Pumpkin painting ideas can be found here: pumpkin-painting-ideas-ombre-pumpkins-more

Alternatively, try painting bottle brush trees! 

This craft is super easy. All you need is paintbrushes, natural- colored bottle brush trees, acrylic paint in your preferred color, fine glitter and spray adhesive. 

You can find the tutorial at this link: 

From gifts to sweet and savory treats to personal decorations, the November-December season begs for colorful, fun crafts and activities. As you spread holiday cheer, remember that the most important way to bring joy to your loved ones is to be happy, rested and peaceful yourself. Being able to spoil your friends without breaking the bank is just a nice side effect!