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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Christmas and the recession: Are we scrooged?

    If you’re like me, your bank account now functions more like that piggy bank you had as a kid. Although it feels more grown-up, it’s still mostly empty.

    With Christmas just a few short weeks away, a nearly empty bank account can cause some problems when it comes to giving presents – that is, if you equate gifts with the manufactured goods we’ve come to cherish and prize. Giving gifts doesn’t have to be an exhausting exercise in finance, though; in fact, it can actually be inexpensive and fun. All you need is some creativity, a boatload of resourcefulness and yes, a few nickels from that piggy bank.

    For starters, there’s always baked goods. After all, who doesn’t love delicious holiday cookies or brownies? But if you don’t have the baker’s touch, don’t fret. There’s a cornucopia of craft ideas for gifts.

    Give your sister homemade gel candles. Make your grandmother some holiday ornaments. Give your parents an oversized picture of you sitting on Santa’s lap complete with a handcrafted frame (my personal favorite, although this one requires a daunting jaunt to the mall and an occasional groping by a lonely man in a red suit). Craft a birdhouse for your grandfather. Paint, or if you can’t paint, simply pretend you can and call it “”abstract”” or “”experimental.”” Sew, knit or crotchet. Be creative. Be resourceful. And most importantly, have fun. The list is endless, and the Internet offers many how-to guides for these and many more ideas.

    As luck would have it, my boyfriend is a pastry chef and an artist, so it’s like I have my own personal elf – sans the pointy ears, of course. If you’re as fortunate as I, just delegate the work and supervise this holiday season. Kick back, flip on the tube and sip some eggnog as the holidays come charging at full speed. Or you could lend a hand, if you’re so inclined.

    Gifts don’t have to be traditional, either. Last year, one of my Christmas gifts was a dog from the pound. Obviously, a dog isn’t something you want to spring on an unsuspecting person, but what better gift is there than a best friend? My point is simple: Just because you can’t find it at Wal-Mart doesn’t mean it isn’t suitable as a gift.

    If you have the need to hit the stores and spend with a fury, however, do so with an eye for savings. Go to thrift stores and craft fairs. Seek out the bargain bins and pounce on the sales racks. Be mindful of others, though, and remember that no gift is worth stampeding the sales clerk who makes minimum wage.

    On the flipside, though, you may be the recipient of some homemade gifts this year. Don’t be too disappointed when you rip open a present to find knitted socks instead of that highly coveted BlackBerry Storm. Just remember that your grandparents may be feeling the economic pinch just as much as you are after their stocks took a tumble. Besides, Christmas is really about giving, right? Any gift, then, is better than no gift.

    As it turns out, going cheap for the holidays is actually in vogue, even among those with abundant resources. According to People magazine, Kate Hudson is planning Christmas “”on the cheap.”” The actress says her family will rely on handmade presents to save money and to keep things more personal. So, if anyone gives you flak for making your gifts or for going cheap, just play it off and say, “”You know, Kate Hudson’s knitting all her gifts this year.””

    The tanking economy is casting an ominous shadow on this year’s holiday season, but that doesn’t mean we should take a lesson from Ebenezer Scrooge. In fact, the recession gives us a unique opportunity to rediscover the true spirit of the holiday season. Instead of flocking to the nearest mall in search of overpriced presents, flex your creative muscle, have fun and go green. By doing so, you’ll save yourself some precious cash and avoid the mall madness.

    And if you really want to make your gift sparkle, wrap your homemade knick-knack with a leftover copy of the Daily Wildcat.

    – Justin Huggins is a senior majoring in ecology and evolutionary biology. He can be reached at

    letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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