Imaginative frugality

Searching for holiday gifts can be a strain on the average college student’s budget. Trying to please family and friends may seem a little disappointing when you realize the amount of money you have doesn’t travel past the 99 cents value meal at Wendy’s.

That is why some students have found easier ways to spreading love and holiday cheer.

Cha’Layna Holmes uses creative homemade gifts to maintain her college budget.

Three years ago, Holmes was overwhelmed by the number of friends she had made.

Thinking of them all during the holiday season she decided her only option was to make gifts for the holiday.

“It was in November of 2000 that I started thinking of who I would give gifts to,” said Holmes, a senior elementary education and psychology student, from Miami. “The list was longer than I realized.”

That’s when Holmes decided to research ways to make inexpensive homemade gifts. She searched the Internet. She checked out books from the pubic library. And she even asked her mom how she made little holiday gifts.

“I found so many wonderful ideas,” Holmes said. “I had so much cool stuff to choose from.”

That year Holmes chose to make personalized coffee mugs for all her friends. Each mug was custom decorated to the recipient’s personality. All the mugs were filled with coffee bags, tea bags, mint chocolates and a homemade chocolate-covered dipping spoon.

“I was so impressed when I got a mug from her,” said Talaya Jennings, a senior biology student, from Long Island, N.Y. “It had my name on it, spelled in my favorite colors too.”

Spending $55 for the materials, Holmes made 32 mugs. She gave 25 mugs as gifts to friends and family, donated the remainder to Camilla’s House, a homeless shelter in Miami.

“I can’t wait to see what she thinks of this year,” said Michael Hamilton, a senior music education student from South Carolina. “I received a gift every year, and they were all things that I could keep past the holiday season.”

Holmes said there is no need to get in a financial bind during the holiday season.

“You should only spend what you have,” she said “and give with your heart.”

Brandi Johnson can be reached at