The holidays are a beautiful time of the year to give, but sometimes the means to give aren't always there. With family, friends, and other people on the shopping list it's difficult to spread the limited cash that far. Some teenagers, like me, don't have year-round jobs and are still trying to make those summer paychecks last until next June. Even those who have jobs still struggle to please everyone on their shopping list without going broke. In the end, it's true that it's the thought that really counts and an inexpensive gift can really go a long way.

Handmade gifts are cute and really mean a lot to people. Putting the time and effort into making a gift shows more than going to the store picking something off of the shelf. Before I even had a summer job I was Christmas shopping. I couldn't find anything for my mom that fit into my budget. Then, I remembered that her favorite Christmas ornament from her childhood broke the previous year. I decided to make her a new one, identical to the other one. All I needed was a couple dollars for the ball and some glitter and some glue from home. Arts and crafts aren't my forte so it was a challenge to make it just like the old one. Then I wrapped it and hung it on the back of the tree, so she wouldn't see it. Christmas morning she unwrapped the ball and loved it. It meant more to her than any gift I could have bought. Parents aren't necessarily the only people who enjoy handmade crafts. For years my friend and I would make poster collages for each other. They were filled with pictures of us and our favorite celebrities. Sometimes we'd write cheesy poems filled with inside jokes on the posters. To us, it was more special than getting material items.

Something people always love is food. Baked goods are one of my favorite things to give. Every year for Christmas I spend about five dollars and buy my dad a personal stash of Little Debbie snack cakes. I even started buying them for my brothers, too. They never fail because it's something they always want. Home-baked food is great, too. My friend has celiac disease so she can't eat regular baked goods. Every holiday and birthday I make her macaroni, chicken nuggets, or brownies from special mixes that she can eat. This way she can eat things she can't normally have and they're just for her. It shows more consideration and is less expensive than material items. Food will only last so long but it's very enjoyable while they have it.

Whenever I ask people what they want for Christmas I get answers like socks and even a toothbrush. People are often reluctant to buy necessities for others because they don't think it's a fun gift. In reality, buying something they need as opposed to something they want may be more helpful. It saves them money and they can either save it or buy themselves something nice later. Every year my mom asks for socks, but never gets them because it's not something people see as a gift. In the end she has to buy them herself and often winds up with other gifts that she might not even use. A gift basket of the essentials like socks, soaps, and shampoos are good, cheap gifts that someone is sure to use.

Shopping for other people is often a difficult task, especially when it seems like the person has everything they need. A gift that comes from the heart may seem cheesy, but it'll never fail. When trying to find gift ideas that won't drain your bank account, it never hurts to make a gift, bake a gift, or even get small essentials. It's sure to make the person happy and make you happy, as well. •

Michele Snead is seventeen years old and a senior at Sussex Technical High School in the Criminal Justice program this year. She loves reading, writing, music, and the outdoors. She hopes to pursue an education in Psychology after high school to become a high school counselor.

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