More Bang for Your Buck This Holiday

Lights aluminate the city streets. The living rooms are filled with tall, decorated trees. The best gifts must be given this time of year. This season hurts our wallets and our tellers tremble with fear, we know that the holiday time is here.

During the holiday season, is when the most business is made at retail stores and the time that most people spend more than they can actually afford. I decided to research gift ideas that one can make for a reasonable price. Many of these ideas were posted on a website,, where a user can reblog posts on numerous topics. I’ve listed a few ideas that may make your holiday shopping a bit more economical.

This first idea was given to me by Hayley Downing, a Chico State Junior. Hayley, like many college students, discovers crafty ways to make her friends’ presents without breaking her bank account.

“College is already expensive enough and although I do have a job, I still find ways to stretch any dollar I may have. During the holidays, I tend to overspend on my friends and family and end up in a little debt. This year I have decided to make Pinterest inspired gifts,” Downing said.

“This is one of my favorite gifts I have come across, and I would recommend making it for any girl friends or even for moms and aunts!”

DIY Recipe Book

Cooking is always a learning experience in college to most. Mommy and Daddy aren’t around anymore to make those beloved home cooked meals. Everyone loves a good home cooked meal so this is a perfect present for anyone in the family or friends. For college students like Hayley, this gift idea is not only useful to everyone, but a creative way to discover new recipes and try foods you wouldn’t normally try.

Supplies needed:

  • Three whole punch
  • Ribbon
  • Paper
  • Markers
  • Binder
Directions can be found on Eighteen 25's website at

These next few ideas came from various blog posts on Pinterest. I chose the projects my friends and I would most likely love to take part in and quick and easy gifts as well. I attempted to incorporate many versatile gifts that can be for men or women, children, and even elderly people as well.

Picture Frame Luminaries


These are an awesome gift idea for any member of the family. I was thinking of making this for my mother because she loves pictures around the house of my two brothers and I. My older brother and I are both away d living on our own in college so these can be a constant reminder of our love and appreciation.

Supplies Needed:

  • (4) 5 x 7 frames (Dollar Tree)
  • Gorilla Glue or other strong adhesive
  • 2 sheets of 8.5 x 11 Vellum
  • Home printer
  • Family photos
  • Square mirror (Dollar Tree)
  • Tea Light Candles
Directions can be found on Cheryl's That's what Che Said blog at

Pamper Yourself Gift Jar


Girls always need to pamper themselves, and these jars will ensure just that! My best friends are all stressed out over finals and these would be perfect to give to them. I know it’s a gift any girl would enjoy and of course, all the materials needed are within a reasonable price!

Supplies Needed:

  • Ball Jars (Ace Hardware)
  • Hand Sanitizer (Dollar Tree)
  • Nail Polish(Dollar Tree)
  • Shower Gel (Dollar Tree)
  • Washcloths (Target)
  • Lip Balm (Dollar Tree)
Directions can be found on the Frugal Girls website at

Painted Mugs

diy mug cover

A great gift for the on-the-go aunt or uncle who needs their everyday coffee in the morning. This DIY gift was made to ensure that the paint will not come off in the dishwasher so it is a permanent reminder of your love for whom this gift will be for.

Supplies needed:

  • Mug
  • Oil based paints
  • Stencils
  • Oven
Directions can be found on the Glued to My Crafts blog at

I had the opportunity to attend a craft lesson at Michael’s arts and crafts store. The project that day was snow globes in a jar. They were do it yourself, and kid-friendly as well. I got the opportunity to speak with one of the employees there about how customers come in and get creative on gifts during the holidays. I spoke briefly with Chico State junior, Victoria Ramirez, during her break and she has experienced numerous customer holiday experiences.

“The holiday is our busiest time and I try to be as helpful as I can when customers ask me for the cheapest ways to make a certain gift for their friends,” Ramirez said. “People show me tons and tons of DIY gifts each day, and I think it’s great we have the resources they need here and classes for them to attend and learn more as well.”

The class is about 10 to 15 people and they have a certain area where the crafts can be done. Signing up for these classes is very easy, you can go online or through the store. We had about two hours to complete the activity which was plenty of time. I enjoyed the friendly atmosphere of the Michael’s employees and the holiday music they were playing made the store feel very welcoming and warm.

“The crafts we choose for the classes are mostly do it yourself and trendy crafts, which are also between a $5 to $15 price range,” Ramirez said.

I was fortunate enough to have my friends come with me and we all enjoyed the bonding time we had before our stressful finals. I provided a similar activity and directions below for anyone who wants to try it out as well!

Snow Globe in a Jar

inexpensive gift for christmas

Supplies needed:

  • Jars {a good shape and size for your trees)
  • Bottle Brush Trees
  • Glue dots or hot glue
  • Faux snow
Directions can be found on the WhipperBerry blog at 

 About Michael’s Craft Classes

There are multiple opportunities to learn how to create new crafts at Michael’s. They provide numerous lessons and class times that work around any schedule. Attending these classes is a great way to spend quality times with your loved ones and exploring new talents you never knew you had! It is a great pastime for the holidays.

They’re courses are as follows:

Wilton® Cake Decorating

You don’t have to be a chef or even experienced in the kitchen to decorate a cake, cookie, cupcake or brownie. The Wilton Method of Cake Decorating will teach you the techniques for making treats that will amaze your friends and family.

Grumbacher® Art Painting and Drawing Classes

Learn basic acrylic painting techniques and create your own art piece featuring landscapes, florals, seascapes, still-life paintings and portraits. No painting experience required!


Complete a unique jewelry piece with the guidance of our qualified instructors. You’ll learn the latest trends, tricks and techniques for using the right tools, beads and findings that will bring your inspiration to life.
Book Your Class Now

Paper Crafting

Join the movement to take memories off your pages and into your life. Sharpen your paper crafting skills, play with ink or test your favorite tools. No matter what you love to paper-craft, you’ll find your class in our paper crafting classes.

CYC Discover™Knit and Crochet Classes

Whether you want to learn how to knit or crochet or already know the basics, Craft Yarn Council’s Discover Knit and Crochet class series offers something for everyone. Learn new skills by completing a fun and fashionable project with the guidance of our certified instructors.

Kids’ Club ®

Let your kids explore their creativity while you shop! Just $2 per child ages 3 and up. All supplies included.

Trend Classes

Be in-style and on-trend. Create what moves you in these special DIY classes focusing on the latest trends. Enroll now!

They make it easy for you to sign up for classes, with just one click on their website:


What Would You Tell Your Freshman Year Self?

College is a stepping stone into a whole new world. For the students who leave home and go as far as leaving their home state , it’s a transition into adulthood that can be a scary time but one of the most memorable times in one’s life. I was fortunate enough to have the resources to leave my hometown, Burlingame, CA, and venture to a university in Chico, CA.

I wanted to get the entire college experience and wanted to live on campus in order to meet new people and take advantage of the fact that I wouldn’t need to learn how to cook just yet.

That first year I was the typical lost freshman, not knowing where to go or what to do. Luckily, California State University, Chico, is such a welcoming and friendly environment and I felt nothing but warmth and safety my first year here back in 2012.

Although I can say that my freshman year was one, if not, the best time of my life, there are definitely something I wish I could go back and tell myself to have a smoother transition.

Here are a list of some things I wish I could tell our freshman year self.

1. Get Involved. Join a club and/or play a sport. Getting more involved around campus activities would’ve given me a more opportunity to meet more people and not watch countless episodes of Netflix all day. Clubs are also great resume builders and my passion for cheerleading in middle school and high school would’ve been great to carry on throughout college. Sororities and Fraternities are also great ways to be able to network as you get older and can form friendships and bonds with a large group of people.

2. Be good to your body. Yes the freshman 15 is indeed real, only if you let it. The endless amount of freedom one finally has, tends to bring bad habits into one’s daily lives. The options at the dining hall aren’t all healthy therefore many students will always choose the tender juicy burger over a simple salad any day. This is not only harmful to one’s body but will cause weight gain which in the long run may cause depression and other health problems. Tuition also pays for a gym membership so taking advantage of that will also assist a healthy lifestyle.

3. Play hard, Study harder. Chico is known for being a notorious party school, so getting caught up in that party lifestyle is extremely easy. Letting grades slip can be just as easy and knowing how to at least balance that out, or getting your school work done ahead of time is an important skill to develop.

4. Stress A lot of times the pressure of keeping your grades up and staying on track with a lot of school work may cause stress. So, knowing what’s worth stressing out over and what isn’t is necessary in order to maintain a good mindset. A lot of people in our society associate stress in a negative way but there is such a thing as good stress. Stress keeps you motivated and on the right path. It’s important to remember that GPA does not define you and to just do your best.

5. Exploring different academic options. Be open to taking general education classes that are outside of your degree or interest. Although it may be tempting to take that class everyone says is an “easy A,” exploring other options may increase the chances of expanding your knowledge on topics you wouldn’t have been interested in before.

College is all about finding yourself. And if you aren’t open to going outside of your comfort zone, then you’re never going to grow.

If Tears Could Build A Stairway, and Memories a Lane. I’d Walk Right Up to Heaven and Bring You Back Again.

My phone fell to the ground. The silence in my room was growing, I felt as if someone had punched me in my gut. The voice on the other line grew faint. As I picked the phone back up I tried to speak but no words came out just tear after tear.

It was a typical Sunday morning, or so I thought. I was getting ready for work at around 10 a.m. and suddenly my phone rang. My mom was calling me and I definitely predicted a lecture on how much money I had spent that weekend. To my surprise, when I answered my mom’s voice wasn’t as perky as usual, in fact it wasn’t my mom on the phone.

My dad’s voice came through the speaker, so soft and quiet, I knew something wasn’t right.

“Honey, are you busy right now?”

“No I’m in my room, what’s up…,” I said cautiously.

“We were in the hospital all night with my brother, Sammy’s gone.”

He whimpered and had to get off the phone. I’ve only seen my dad cry once and that was just a few tears when his father, my grandpa, passed away a couple years back.

My mom quickly took the phone as my dad was crying in the background. She asked me if I was okay, not to worry, and that my cousin was in a better place. I told her I would call her back, I needed to get off the phone right away and gather my thoughts.

Sammy was only 23 years old, he was of course, my favorite older guy cousin, my parents godson, and someone I had grown up with and shared so many precious memories with. My older brother Esteban, Sammy, his younger brother Erik, and myself were like four peas in a pod growing up.

Of course his younger brother, Erik, and I were closer due to us being the same age. But Sammy was always around, joking about everything and anything, making us laugh 24/7 and had his signature super, cheesy smile to brighten up the room.

The date was October 13th when he left us. It was his younger brother, Erik’s birthday. I know unfortunate, right? Sammy’s intention that day was to just get to my aunt and uncle’s house and celebrate with the family.

Unfortunately, that was not in God’s plan for him. I won’t get into detail about how my cousin passed away, because for me what’s more important is how he spent his life, not the last few moments of it.

I must admit, I wish me and Sammy had more conversations, and made more memories but as we grew older and since I had left for college our last conversation had been about a few months prior. I remember him telling me, like he always does, that I better not have a boyfriend or he’ll hunt him down, because he always saw me as that little girl he had grown up with. And just how proud he was that I was doing well in college. It was definitely one of our most easy-going and love-filled conversations. That is a memory I will forever close dear to my heart.

I can write about how I learned we need to live our lives each day as if it were our last, the usual cliché one says about their tragic losses and what they learned. But I honestly have realized so much more from this unfortunate, devastating event in my life. Although living each day to the fullest is a great mindset to have, I believe telling your loved ones how much you appreciate and care for them is just as important.

I wish I had kept in closer contact with him, that’s my one regret.

The weekend after his passing I got to see family members that I hadn’t seen or spoken to in years. I finally got to spend time with them after so long. But for what? For a funeral. It took Sammy to pass away for my cousins, aunts, uncles, and extended family to get together after many years. I loved seeing everyone, but it shouldn’t take a tragedy for all of us to be communicating and in one place.

Tragedies happen and people dear to our hearts will leave us for some reason or another but life shouldn’t stop because everything happens for a reason. Time is precious and being happy and surrounded by positive people and people who you care for is so important. A simple, “I’m thinking of you, hope your day is going well,” doesn’t hurt. Keep your family close and don’t take anything or anyone for granted, because you never know what their destiny may be.


Breathe Easy Sammy Morales. November 24, 1989- October 13, 2013