Shampoo and conditioner, bedding, socks and slippers, and cleaning products, are among the top "practical" gifts students will ask for this Christmas – as they struggle with the rising cost of living.
Nearly half of university students (49%) admit they would rather have toiletries or tins of food bought for them so they can save the money, according to a poll of 1,000 undergraduates.
And with 51% feeling the pinch of the cost-of-living crisis, a laptop bag, study supplies, money towards energy bills , and even underwear are among the other sensible presents on their wish list this year.
But one in three are still hoping for an average of four expensive gifts from their parents this Christmas, the survey found.
Alex Gallagher, chief strategy officer at UNiDAYS , which commissioned the research, said: "Priorities are changing for many students this year.
"With prices rising, asking for those more practical presents for Christmas provides students with financial peace of mind – as they won't have to fork out for essential items themselves.
"Money is understandably tight, so it's important that we help support cash-strapped students and give back to them over the festive season, so they can have the best experience possible.
"To help, we are sharing the "Affordable Gift Guides" on Instagram , so members can get the best offers for their most-shopped Christmas categories – from electronics to clothing."
The study also found a quarter of students plan to buy fewer presents for their friends and family this year compared to last.
And while 38% feel relieved at the thought of buying less, 37% feel sad about it – and a quarter feel embarrassed.
But 31% have had to be more frugal with their spending since the cost-of-living crisis – with 47% dreading this Christmas, because they don't know how they're going to afford it.
As a result, three in ten (29%) now class some items they used to see as ordinary essentials as more of a luxury since the price increases.
Food prices, petrol prices , and bills are the top three things that have surprised students the most following the increases.
Sean Gladwell/Getty Images)
But it's not just Christmas that has been affected, with a third claiming the cost-of-living crisis has had a negative impact on their university experience in some way.
And of those who took part in the study, via OnePoll, almost three-quarters (73%) said they already work two part-time jobs alongside their studies.
A spokesman for UNiDAYS added: "There is no doubt that the word on Gen Z's lips is "value", and UK students will be particularly determined bargain-hunters this holiday season.
"Despite their financial concerns, the holiday spirit is still going strong, with students taking savvy measures to complete their Christmas gift lists – proactively seeking discounts to help make the things they want and need more affordable, as shown in our recent Holiday Report .
"You can still celebrate Christmas on a budget, and there are lots of discounts out there that are available exclusively to students and graduates.
"So, it's now more important than ever to make the most of these offers that are available, especially at this time of year."
PRACTICAL PRESENTS STUDENTS ARE ASKING FOR THIS CHRISTMAS:
- Laptop bag
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Stationery and planners
- Study textbooks
- Cosy jumpers
- Cleaning products
- Winter coat
- Money towards mobile phone bill or contract
- A dressing gown
- Bath products
- A speaker or headset
- Money towards energy bills
- General study supplies
- An air fryer
- Electric blankets
- Hot water bottle
- Toilet roll
- Money for rent and other bills
- Money towards car insurance or Rail card
- Desk lamp
- Kitchen items e.g. pots and pans
- Storage solutions
- Supermarket voucher
- Prescription glasses
FESTIVE MONEY-SAVING TIPS:
To help students and graduates have the best and most affordable Christmas experience possible, UNiDAYS has partnered with financial expert Ellie Austin-Williams, from This Girl Talks Money, to share her top money-saving tips and gifting inspiration for a fun, yet cost-effective, Christmas.
- Shop second-hand gifts. The best thing about shopping second hand? It's far more sustainable for the environment than purchasing new items, and it can often save you money. Upcycling, regifting, and reusing items is good for the planet, so shopping second-hand for gifts can be a great way forward.
- Get crafty. Are you skilled in the kitchen, or a keen craftsperson? If you've got a creative side, make homemade treats to gift to your nearest and dearest this year. Whether you bake some mince pies or pour homemade candles, you'll score points for the thought and effort, as well as delivering unique gifts that, quite frankly, money can't buy.
- Make the most of student discounts. Before you hit the stores, whether you're shopping online or in person, don't forget to make the most of your student discount, if eligible. Whatever your budget, your student discount can save you some valuable cash, and you'll be surprised how many retailers offer a discount. Even if it isn't advertised, don't forget to ask at the checkout and you might be surprised.
- Give the gift of time. Stressed out family members? For anyone short on time – in particular, anyone with small children – why not create a handmade voucher, and give the gift of time? Offering to babysit can feel like the best present in the world to tired parents, plus it costs you absolutely nothing. Get some popcorn in, put on a film, and gift your family or friends a rare night off.
- Organise a Secret Santa. Organising a family-wide Secret Santa is a great idea to make Christmas more affordable for everyone. Collectively decide on a budget that suits all involved. That way, you know each person will get a gift of equal value, and you can relax in the knowledge that you only have to buy one gift.
- Compare to save. Whenever you're buying branded gifts, go online and carry out a price comparison before you head to the checkout. It's easy to default to buying from the same retailer, but you might be missing out on discounts from other stores. Use Google Shopping to search and find the best price available right now – and don't forget to check for additional student discounts that might be available too.
- Use cashback when you shop. You might not believe it, but you really can get paid for doing your Christmas shopping! Earning cashback when you shop is a great way to save. Simply set up an account, choose your retailer, and when you complete your purchase, the cashback site will share the commission they earn with you and pay into your account.
- Have festive fun with friends. One of the best parts of Christmas is spending time with friends – but the costs can spiral when you head out for dinner and drinks with multiple friendship groups during the winter months. Get savvy and organise to EITHER go out for festive activities OR buy gifts for one another this year, instead of doing both.
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