Budget-friendly Christmas Gifts

Translation: Sahara Rós Ívarsdóttir

It is better to give than to receive… but not if you are a poor student who doesn’t have any money. In that case, Christmas presents can cause a lot of headaches. Here are a few ideas of inexpensive Christmas presents that can bring joy without emptying (an already empty) wallet.


A gift card
Fans of Friends are familiar with the brilliant idea of “a coupon for an hour of Joey love.” Giving a gift card that costs little or nothing is cheap, fun and original. The gift card can be for an hour of indulgence, like a foot massage, face mask, or other sort of pampering; a whole evening of babysitting; or even a dinner party where you can cook something inexpensive, but delicious. The list is endless.

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A homemade reusable shopping bag

Everyone knows someone who is a “recycle or die” type. Things that help them reduce their use of plastic and recycle are like a godsend for them. If you get access to a sewing machine, you can sew a reusable shopping and produce bag from clothes that are not in use anymore. This reduces both clothing and plastic waste.

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A picture on a wooden plaque

A personal and beautiful gift. Print out a photo with a laser printer (like most of the printers at the University of Iceland). A plain wooden plaque costs between 200-400 kr. at the garden supply shop Blómaval, the home goods store Sostrene Grene, or at a craft store. Make sure that the photo fits nicely on the wood. At the store Litir og föndur, on Smiðjuvegur, you can find a glue-like substance called “foto transfer potch.” It costs around 1500 kr. but it can suffice for many pictures for many Christmases. Paint a thin layer on the wooden plate and on the photo. Then put the photo on the wood and allow it to lie under a heavy book overnight. The next day, wet the photo paper with lukewarm water and then rub the paper off. Afterwards what will remain is the photo like it has been printed on the wood!

It can look beautiful to paint a thin layer of the potch over the wooden plaque after the picture has been transferred on it, since this gives it a kind of varnished finish. The photo mirrors itself when it is transferred to the wood. Therefore, if there is a text that needs to be on one side or the other, you need to mirror the photo before printing it out. You can of course also transfer text, for example an encouraging message, a beautiful quotation or an inside joke. Or do what I did: make wedding invitations.

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Write on a mug

At most craft stores, or at the office supply store A4, you can buy a “glass and porcelain pen,” a pen that is designed to write on glass and porcelain. The pen costs approximately 10,000 kr., but like the “photo glue,” you can use it to make many gifts. You can get very affordable coffee mugs, candle holders, inexpensive glasses and more at IKEA. Write a fun text on the clean and dry object. Then put it in the oven and heat at 160°C for 90 minutes. You can put the object in the dishwasher up to 60°C heat.


Homemade treats

It is very nice to receive something sweet and homemade. You can for example bake cookies, make hummus or chocolates and package the treats in a lovely tin or jar. Fun and delicious.

There are countless things you can do if you allow yourself some time. However, it is difficult to find a cheap or free gift which does not require any time to put together. The ideas are many. Look on the internet! Pinterest is your new best friend! Take a look inside a craft shop! Let your imagination run free! The sky is the limit. Merry budget-friendly Christmas.