Turn 20 for $20: Birthdays on a budget

Friends deserve a killer gift on their birthday, but you also deserve groceries for the rest of the month. Don’t worry — they can have their cake, and you can eat it too. Here are some sensible, money-saving ways to celebrate each unique individual. Friends will feel appreciated, and your wallet will feel full.

For the edgy friend:
Take her to a hookah bar. There are about three lounges downtown to choose from, all with cheap prices and cool music. Go on a Friday or Saturday night and there will likely be a band (bonus) but you may have to pay a cover (bummer). However, including the cover, the hookah and a posh espresso, you can still pay under $20 for a relaxing birthday.

For the up-all-nighter:
Give her the gift of caffeine. Collect a plain coffee mug, some plastic gems and puffy paint at the nearest shop. Write her name across the cup and haphazardly glue gemstones around your artwork. Subtract this cost from your $20 allowance and put the rest toward a Starbucks gift card.

For the THON captain:
Make her a blanket to take canning! Purchase two 1.5-yard pieces of fleece from Walmart’s craft section. Depending on the print, each should cost around $9 to $12. A Penn State print, for example, is probably more expensive. Juxtapose a printed fabric with a solid color to stay within the $20 limit.
After lining fabrics up, use standard scissors and start about two inches from the corners, then cut along the edges of the fleece making each cut about four inches deep. Repeat this, cutting the same depth every two inches around the entire edge of the fabric. Then, taking the fringe you just created, double knot fabric strands from the top and bottom fabric together for a plush blanket for freezing canning weekends.

For the fashionista or artista:
One hyphenated word: papier-mâché. Hit up the local Michael’s and buy something made of untreated wood. This can range from the first letter of her name to a freestanding hand for a jewelry display to a picture frame. These should cost about $5 to $15. Go crazy; the rest is compiled of household items. Papier-mâché recipes can be found online and essentially consist of flour and water. Cut out stylish outfits and funny phrases from old magazines (recycle a copy of Valley!) and use the paste to create her a totally original decoration.

Photo by Jill Podhor

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