In tough economy,'tis the season to stretch dollars

Dec 6 2009 - 10:36pm

The year has almost spun full circle and once again it's time to think of all those wonderful people that you want to buy gifts for this holiday season. There are parents, siblings, grandparents, friends, teachers, bosses and others to consider.

That's a long list though -- and your wallet isn't very deep. Hey, it was a tough year in the economy, right? Or maybe you didn't have time for a part-time job? Or maybe the money just vanished ... you swear it was there a second ago. It could be that you're just having trouble with the phrase, "It's better to give than receive."

Whatever your excuse, this holiday season is a good time to try out some creative, inexpensive, yet meaningful gift options. Whether it's looking for bargain deals or making a gift instead of buying it, your fellow teens have some great ideas to ease the tension in your wallet.

For Scot Carpenter, a junior at Christian Heritage, giving gifts this year will be "no different" than previous years. In the past, Carpenter has given such things as Crocs, books and candles as gifts. His favorite gift to give/receive, however, is a mix of songs put together on a blank CD.

"I'm doing a gift exchange again. I do it every year," says sophomore Cassie Clark from Northridge High.

And Kaitlan Boman, a Bonneville High junior, says, "My family draws names, so it's nice that I only buy for one sibling."

A gift exchange is a good option for a family or group of friends because everyone gets a meaningful gift and no one has to stress about spending too much money.

If you plan on doing a gift exchange, it's a good idea to set a dollar amount beforehand so that everyone receives fairly equal gifts. This also helps the giver -- no worries about whether you are spending too much or too little. Clark says she spends about $20 for family and close friends, but the amount can be as much or as little as your group agrees on.

With a gift exchange, you can draw names or trade gifts by means of a game or any other way. If you decide to draw names, it is important that everyone is committed so that there aren't any gaps in the giving chain. If you decide not to draw names and exchange in another way, make sure to get a gift that anyone in the group would like to receive. What boy would want to get furry pink slippers?

Homemade items are the ticket for Kayla Fetters, a senior at Northridge High.

"Instead of buying gifts, my family is going to make all our gifts," she says.

Fetters loves to make blankets to give as gifts, which only cost her $3 to $5. But the best gift she ever received didn't cost a penny.

"My brother wrote me a note that I always keep on the top of my shelf," she says.

Conner Simmons, a Northridge sophomore, says, "When I don't have enough money, I make some arts and events/scrapbooker stuff to show how I care."

Other thrifty but nifty gift ideas include cards, memorable pictures in a cute frame, homemade jewelry, drawings/paintings, personal coupon books, and dollar-store gifts to represent "inside jokes."

Stephanie Lloyd, a Bonneville High junior, says the best inexpensive gift she'd ever received was horseback riding lessons from a friend.

If you're not feeling creative this year, you can always keep it simple like junior Jaden Welsh from Bonneville High, who says, "I never do friends gifts unless I get something from them. Then I'll give them pop."

Alexandra Burton is a junior at Ogden High School. You will find her running, reading, writing or playing the violin. E-mail her at

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