Season’s eatings on a student budget


‘Tis the season to eat, drink, and be merry – but this year, more than most, we’re all watching the pennies. So is it possible to pull off Christmas food and cocktails on a student budget, without having to play Scrooge? At Circuit, we reckon it is! So, here are our top tips on enjoying maximum festivity over the next couple of weeks, while spending as little as possible.

Deck the (student) halls

Whether you’re arranging Christmassy drinks for flatmates, or pulling together a full Christmas roast for your BFFs, you’ll want to set the mood. The good news is, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to decorate – and if you split the cost, even better. Pick up cheap decorations, crackers and even tableware from your local charity shops and supermarkets.

Plus, if you’re doing Secret Santa, why not set a super tight budget? It’s getting pretty late in the day to still be buying Christmas pressies – especially if you need them posting – but those charity shops and festive markets will be your festive friend.

At the same time, nothing says ‘thoughtful, unique gift’ like making one yourself. From candles to crafty bits, you could hit up Pinterest, TikTok or Insta for brilliant ideas. Or, yep, head back to that charity shop – you’re all but guaranteed to find some old-school craft books!

Master some Christmassy cocktails (and mocktails)

If eggnog just isn’t your bag, we’ve got you. Classic Christmas flavours and scents can add up to incredible cocktail and mocktail recipes, and will give you plenty of chance to show off some Santa-worthy skills to friends and family.

Not into cocktails? Or can’t quite be bothered? That’s OK – it’s been a long term. You can’t beat a bottle of Baileys – but don’t forget that you can also transform a cheap bottle of mulled wine into something truly magical by adding a few slices of fruit, nutmeg, cinnamon, or even vanilla and star anise.

Stuck for inspiration? Even a tiny amount of Google-Fu (‘Festive cocktail ideas’, for starters) will bring up recipes for every cocktail under the low winter sun. Here’s a quick fave from us…

Sugar, spice, all things nice

This festive twist on a dark and stormy adds cinnamon for a classic winter taste, and is best enjoyed near a roaring fire (or eco-friendly electric heater). Grab a shaker and mix up…

  • 80ml dark spiced rum
  • 80ml cranberry juice
  • 120ml ginger beer
  • 10ml maple syrup with two pinches of ground cinnamon
  • 20ml fresh lime juice

Garnish with lime wedges, cranberries and cinnamon sticks, and serve over ice.

Cook up a Christmas storm

On to the main event! Everyone knows that Christmas flavours go well beyond turkey and cranberry sauce – but if you’re cooking for friends for the first time, you might be overwhelmed by choice (or struggling for inspiration). The big thing to keep in mind is that you don’t have to go wild. All the big supermarkets are packed with offers on festive food right now, so you could even cheat a little and bang everything straight in the oven.

If you’re going to go full roast, it pays to remember that seasoning is your best friend. Yep, herbs and spices will turn a bog-standard meal into one that’s popping with Christmas character. Essentials for the season include cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg and ginger. And if you’re roasting veg, try a honey or maple syrup glaze!

As with cocktails, there are millions of student-friendly holiday recipes out there – so just get hunting. And in the meantime, here’s a brilliant budget traditional Christmas meal from Save The Student that you and your pals can pull together for less than £2.50 a head. 

Beginning to look a bit like Christmas? We thought so! Enjoy your time off, and don’t forget: if you manage to spill mulled wine down yourself before you get home, save your parents the washing and head to your nearest Circuit laundrette! 


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