5 ways to enjoy the holidays on a college student budget


Cassie Wade

Photo courtesy of Pexels

Between purchasing presents for family and friends, finding the perfect gag gift for your work’s white elephant exchange and buying party supplies, the holidays add up quickly and take a toll on the budgets of many, including college students.

These extra expenses leave little room for going out and enjoying seasonal activities, but there are a few ways to make the most of the holiday season while on a budget, especially for MavCARD carrying University of Nebraska at Omaha students.

1. Ice skate for free

Ice skating is a classic holiday tradition. Whether you’re a pro at gliding along the ice or a shaky beginner, free ice skating is always better than paying. Local rinks will set you back a bit in admission fees and skate rentals, but UNO students have the opportunity to skate for free on the Holland Community Ice at Baxter Arena a few times a month. Check the calendar dates here.

The University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) offers free skating to UNO students as well. UNMC’s rink opens Nov. 30 and offers a wider selection of hours than the Holland Community Ice. A list of times is available here.

2. Enjoy a discounted show

When the weather outside turns frightful, inside activities are the way to go. New releases and holiday specials (Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch, anyone?) make winter the perfect time to catch a show at Aksarben Cinema. The theater, conveniently located close to UNO, offers $5 admission on Tuesdays to everyone AND $6 admission on Thursdays to students with a valid student ID. Two days to save equals two days to enjoy the holidays while on a budget.

3. Check out the holiday lights and shop displays

Beautiful light displays and decorated shop windows make the holiday season special. If you’re up to brave the cold with a few of your nearest and dearest, Omaha has quite a few displays worth checking out at no cost to you. Make a quick trip downtown after dark and walk through Gene Leahy’s spectacular set up for a sight you won’t forget.

Or, if you’re more into window displays, head to Midtown Crossing to see the Miracle on Farnam, which features more than 20 window displays created by students, nonprofits and artists. You can even vote for your favorite. More details are available here.

4. Chug a little cheer without breaking the bank

Alright, so this one’s only for the 21 and older crowd. The holidays are a stressful time. Indulge in a little cheer without breaking the bank by heading to Annie’s Irish Pub in the Capitol District on a Wednesday for student night. You’ll have to pay a $5 cover fee to get into the bar, but once inside, you’ll enjoy free Lighthouse Pizza while supplies last, drink specials starting at $1 and a live DJ from 9 p.m. to close. More details are available on the pub’s Facebook page.

5. Host a cookie exchange

This activity technically doesn’t involve going out but is still right up the alley of seasonal activities. Delicious food and sweet treats are part of what makes celebrating the holidays so great. Channel your inner Betty Crocker and host a cookie exchange for you and your friends. Have everyone DIY a dessert or two, bring take home containers and divvy up the goods for a sweet holiday get-together that costs very little to host.