Surviving the festive season as a student

October is over, and we all know what that means… the shops are selling inflatable Santas, that one auntie has the Christmas Tree up already, and everyone will have forgotten about Guy Fawkes’ Night in a week or so.

Yep, the festive season is finally upon us! We all know this is often the busiest time of year – especially socially – but the student budget isn’t exactly renowned for stretching very far. So, how can students stay festive, stick to a budget, and still go all out during the holidays?

Don’t worry! In this article, the Enrol team covers our top tips for surviving the holiday season as a student.

Organise a Secret Santa!

Stressing about presents for your family, friends, and flatmates is no way to spend the weeks leading up to Christmas. One way to reduce the weight of the present-buying obligations (especially at Uni, where it’s difficult to work out whether you’re obligated to buy for everyone or just a select few friends) is to organise a Secret Santa.

Use a free Secret Santa generator online, or gather your flat/housemates in the communal area to pick names out of a hat. Set a limit of £5-10 to make sure that nobody goes overboard, and to accommodate those working with particularly tight budgets.

This way, everyone feels included, and you’re only obligated to buy one present!

Make use of student discounts

Shopping during the festive season doesn’t need to be a bank account draining hassle! With student discount programmes like NUS Extra and Unidays, you can enjoy a blanket 10% discount on most high-street shops, as well as 20% off many other eateries, restaurants, and popular clothing stores.

If you really want to see how much you can save, write down the discounts you get on everything you buy over the festive season. It might not seem like a lot at the time, but savvy shopping may result in those 10% and 20% discounts adding up to quite a substantial figure!

Plan your travel in advance

If you study away from home you’ll know how ridiculously expensive travelling across the UK can be, especially over the winter break. If you’re travelling away from Uni over Christmas, don’t leave planning until the last minute – not only will you cause yourself an unnecessary amount of stress, but the prices will be astronomical (especially if you’re braving the trains!)

Give yourself a day to get to wherever you need to be, and consider taking a coach if you’re looking to save money. Yes, they take a significantly longer time to get anywhere, but they’re generally far cheaper than the train (or the price of fuel if you drive).

Plan, plan, plan!

The weeks leading up to winter break are typically jam-packed with social obligations in student circles, which can be overwhelming (if not for you then for your bank account!)

To overcome the fear of double-booking your time, make sure to plan well in advance. See if the bars or clubs near your University are hosting any holiday-themed nights, as well as if they accept student discounts. If you’re organising a group night out, consider hiring out a function room or notifying the patron of your chosen establishment that you’ll be bringing a crowd with you.

Planning ahead also means you’re more likely to be able to split the price of any paid activities with as little hassle as possible. You could even use an app like PayPal to make sure that everyone chips in ahead of time.

And, last of all…

Remember to enjoy yourself! The festive season is a time for food, fun, and seeing your family and friends, regardless of what it is you’re celebrating.