Students will be given the task to purchase gifts for the holidays within a set budget. The students are divided into groups (2-4 per group) and each group is given a scenario. There are 12 different scenarios each detailing whether they are a low-, medium-, or high-income family and what family members they will be purchasing gifts for the holidays.
You will need to collect ads from the stores. I recommend purchasing several copies of the Thanksgiving Day paper which offer lots of variety and choices in ads. These can even be kept and reused for a couple of years before they need to be updated. If you prefer you can have students cut out the ads they are using if you decide to purchase new ads each year (spreadsheet attached if you choose to do this).
Students will work with the other members in their group to purchase the required gifts within their allotted amount of money (no credit cards allowed!!) and complete the spreadsheet detailing the original price, the sale percentage, the new price, tax, and the total price paid (calculations sheet included). They will include which ad it was found as well. You may want to have your students practice estimating with this project as well.
You can run a contest for winners in several ways: who comes closest to their budget without going over, who spends the least, who purchases the most items with their money (comparing low-, middle-, and high-income separately), etc.
Great real-life application project for students! Also, a great learning tool for those students who have a lot and are placed on the low-income scenario to understand values and place them in a different situation than they are used to on a daily basis.