A Christmas tree stands in Minnehaha Academy's north campus commons. Many students will struggle to buy gifts this year, given the nation's economic struggles.

Economy impacts giving

A Christmas tree stands in Minnehaha Academy's north campus commons. Many students will struggle to buy gifts this year, given the nation's economic struggles.

This season students have to get creative when doing their Christmas shopping

By Frances Hoekstra

Talon staff writer

Junior Brady Ryan has a lot on his plate. In addition to being a Minnehaha Academy student-athlete, he also has a part-time job at a Caribou Coffee in St. Paul.

“I’m a lot more stressed with a job,” said Ryan. “I get a lot less sleep, so that’s kind of hard to manage. I have almost no free time, so I don’t really get to hang out with friends as much, and sometimes I have to leave practice early.”

While having a job creates a lot of stress, it also reaps some considerable benefits.

“I have more money to spend, and so I’m less dependent on my parents,” said Ryan. “I put 40 dollars from every paycheck into a checking account that I can sort of just spend whatever I want on and the rest I put into savings for a big trip or for college.”

One of the things that Ryan will be doing with his money in the coming month is getting Christmas presents for his family. His siblings have given Christmas gifts in the past, too, “sometimes with their own money and sometimes with help from parents.” They’ve also done a gift exchange.

“Some years,” Ryan said, “we’ll just pick one person.”

Ryan isn’t the only student at Minnehaha who has had to get creative with ways of giving gifts at Christmas. While the bad economy is having a negative impact on teen spending, teenagers are getting proactive when it comes to giving Christmas gifts.

With jobs getting harder for teenagers to come by, those who don’t have them are planning ahead and coming up with new and creative ways to show family and friends that they care at Christmastime.

Even with the bad economy the thought process of most teenagers regarding spending remains virtually the same, according to an October survey completed by Minneapolis-based investment company Piper Jaffray.

“We continue to believe teens will spend for differentiated merchandise, but significant discounting and an unstable employment environment remain key themes in teen budgeting decisions,” said Jeff Klinefelter, a senior research analyst at Piper Jaffray, in a press release.

Many students have gotten creative with the gifts they give. Freshman Claire Peacha often gives her parents ‘coupons’ for a homemade breakfast in bed, lunch and dinner. Freshman Hattie Awe chooses to make her gifts.

“I’ve made picture albums, or CDs and CD album covers,” said Awe.

With the economy it’s easier for Awe to make gifts than for her to come up with cash to buy them.

“It’s really hard because you have to be sixteen [to get most jobs] and with the economy they’re like, ‘Well, we can’t really [hire many] teenagers,’” Awe said.

In January 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that the national unemployment rate for teens was 26.4 percent (which was very little change from the year before).

Senior Kaleb Randolph is also doing something special this Christmas.

“This year I’m getting presents for all the seniors in my class, that’s 135 [people],” Randolph said. “I’m selling my Xbox and all my Xbox games just for them basically. I just want to make other people happy, and hopefully I’ll have gifts for some people I don’t know, make their day happy.”

Many Minnehaha students are getting creative and working hard to make this Christmas a special one.  Students are proving the old saying right: it’s the thought that counts.

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