Trust fund running low? Here are some cheap ways to celebrate Christmas at Exeter Uni

It’s either deck the halls or deck your landlord


It’s officially December, which means that temperatures have dropped, energy bills are rising, and some of us are having to room share with a flourishing family of mould spores on our bedroom ceiling. But, it’s not all negative. Most of us will agree, December finally marks the start of the festive season. The market stalls are up, the Christmas tunes are on, and apparently, if you look for it (really hard), you’ll find this sneaky feeling that “love actually is all around” (tell that to my landlord).

But seriously – at the end of the day, no one likes a Scrooge, so the daggers you’re shooting at the person playing Mariah Carey at pres have got to be mediated somehow. If you’re feeling down in the dumps, or maybe down in the depths of your overdraft, here are some festive solutions which won’t break the bank. Try out some of these low budget hacks, and you can thank us later.

1. Get in the kitchen

This one might depend on your living situation, but I’ve found that cooking your own roast as a house can be way more enjoyable than going out and spending on one. Stick some music on, split the costs and maybe even venture into some festive baking and decorating. I had my (beautiful and brainy) accomplice Charlie Cole do the admin on what an Aldi Christmas dinner shop would cost for four people, and she managed to round up a basket of £6.35. Once you’ve incorporated it into your weekly shop, you can’t really argue with the maths.

2. Winter walks

Better yet, it costs absolutely nothing to go on a winter walk down to the quay. You could even drive to Dartmoor and split the fuel costs if you have access to a car. It’s always surprising how much you appreciate a change of scenery at uni, especially when you’ve grown accustomed to Sidwell Street. Brave the cold, wrap up warm and romanticise it. You’ll be in the Christmas spirit in no time.

3. Cheeky freebies

When you’re on a student budget, the Exeter Cathedral market is going to seem like the absolute WORST option for some cheap festivities. How much for a pint? I’ll pass. Except, maybe Hugh Grant was right. If you really look for it, maybe “love is all around”. Why not go trying every cheese and alcohol sample you see? It’s free. The world is your oyster.

4. Film marathon

One massive pro of living in a student house is putting together your goldmine of streaming service family logins and making your way through all the classics. I may or may not still be using the Netflix of whoever lived in our house last year – thanks Emily, whoever you are! You really are bringing the Christmas spirit to our house this season.

5. Christmas karaoke

Oh, yes, I’m not kidding. Whack some Christmas lyrics or a YouTube karaoke video on the telly and sing your hearts out. All that is needed is a microphone of some kind, for example: A kitchen spoon, and your very best effort. Your neighbours will be so pleased and impressed.

6. Secret Santa

A classic, but it certainly deserves a mention. On a student budget you do not need to be spending money on your friends who are in the exact same boat. Make it a £5 limit and find something silly. You’ll have way more fun unwrapping, and sometimes those are the gifts that come with the most thought.

7. Poker Night

Don’t want to pay extortionate ball ticket prices? Why not host your own black tie event at home? This year, my group of friends are having a poker night with fake money and funny alter egos. All you need is a table and some cards, bring your own booze, and you have a whole games night ahead of you. I even made homemade cocktails. Plus, you won’t end up sharing a cracker with someone you don’t like, or on the floor of TP because you can’t quite hack it in heels.

Hopefully if you weren’t already feeling the Christmas spirit, you will be after trying some of these ideas. But the main thing to remember is that you’re not going to be a uni student forever. Enjoy the chaos of a festive uni house – embrace that it’s meant to be a little messy, and student living can only go so far.

As a student who has always had to work ridiculous hours alongside my degree, I’d like to acknowledge those of you who may really be struggling, and whose version of “broke” doesn’t just mean, “whoops, I blew this week’s allowance.” It can feel pretty lonely, especially at a uni like Exeter. If you are feeling the weight of it, you should check out the Guild website; they offer funding schemes which until recently I had no idea existed. There’s no harm in checking it out!

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