With Thanksgiving behind us, it’s time to start looking forward to Winter Break – once we get past those lousy finals, of course. With all of the stress surrounding the end of the semester, it can be difficult to get excited about the holidays: our days are spent cramming for exams and finishing up essays, and when we finally get home, all that we want to do is lay in bed and relax. Trust me, I’m all about sleeping over break. But spending the entire vacation in bed or on the Internet is kind of boring, especially when there are so many fun things to do during the holidays that we can’t enjoy during other times of the year. So start infusing some holiday spirit into your college routine, and get ready for the most fun-filled Winter Break ever! Read on for 25 things you can do to make this holiday season a little more merry.
Get cozy and watch a classic holiday movie.
It’s A Wonderful Life, The Santa Claus, Miracle on 34th Street, Elf, The Holiday…you’ve got to add at least one of these holiday classics to your Netflix queue in December! For serious holiday movie buffs, check out ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas, beginning December 1st, and TBS’s A Christmas Story marathon on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Decorate your dorm room/apartment/house.
While you might not be able to deck the halls quite like your parents can at home, you can still make your college residence a little more festive. Think miniature Christmas trees, a strand of multicolor lights, paper snowflakes, etc. Beyond making your place look pretty, decorating can be a great way to bond with your roommates! And you don’t have to break the bank in the process – supermarkets tend to have a great selection of inexpensive decorations, as do stores like Target and Christmas Tree Shops.
Play in the snow.
By March, you’ll hate snow with a passion – so take the time to enjoy it while it’s still exciting and new! Make a snow angel, build a giant snowman, or have an epic snowball fight with friends. This can be particularly fun in college if any of your friends are from an area that doesn’t get snow often – show them the ropes! Just make sure to go easy on those warm-blooded newbies during that snowball fight.
Beat the cold with a warm drink.
When you come home from class with frozen hands and lips, the best way to warm up is with a hot holiday drink. Check out the HC staff’s favorite seasonal drinks from Starbucks here, or if you’re into classic hot chocolate like me, stock up on some Swiss Miss and make some in your microwave when you get home! To really get in the spirit, find a festive mug and add mini-marshmallows or a candy cane – pure bliss!
Drive around and look at Christmas lights.
Perfect for a (free!) romantic date. Enjoy how beautiful your neighborhood looks all lit up at night, and argue about whether white lights or colored bulbs are prettier. For the record – colored lights totally win, if you ask me!
Visit Santa at the mall.
Yeah, all of the parents waiting with their toddlers will be glaring at you – but so what? The pictures will be priceless, you’ll get to feel like a kid again, and you can make lots of awkward sexual jokes about sitting on Santa’s lap.
Attend (or throw) an ugly sweater party.
That bright green sweatshirt with Rudolph’s face embroidered on it that Aunt Trudy gave you three years ago? Such a fashion nightmare might be socially unacceptable at a typical college party, but it’ll fit right in (and maybe win first place!) at an ugly sweater party. If you’re fortunate enough to not get ugly sweaters for the holidays, hit up Salvation Army or a local consignment shop to find some contenders. Be sure to take lots of pictures – and no untagging them on Facebook the next day, no matter how hideous your outfit is!
Bake cookies (yum!).
Spend an afternoon baking cookies, trying out new recipes in addition to family favorites. Definitely save some to munch on later, but consider giving cookies as gifts, as well–Cara Sprunk, HC’s Managing Editor, suggests making a batch for your male neighbors. “It could be a great way to facilitate a friendship with them!” she says. Hint hint.
Do a Secret Santa exchange with friends.
Grab a big group of friends, pick names out of a hat, and stick with a manageable price limit (maybe $20). Depending on your friends, you could stick with gifts that are sweet and sentimental, or you could be a little wild – everybody buying silly, useless knick-knacks, or “adult” gifts like alcohol (if you’re 21) or condoms (stay safe, collegiettes!).
Learn about a holiday different from the one you traditionally celebrate.
It can be easy to get caught up in the holiday we grew up with, but between Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and all the different ways to observe the holidays, there’s a lot to celebrate in December. Spend some time with a friend of a different faith and see how they celebrate the holidays – who knows, you might even want to incorporate some elements of their celebration into your own traditions. And of course, you don’t have to be religious to celebrate the holidays – Festivus, anyone?
Head to the theatre for a seasonal play.
Whether at a well-known venue downtown or at your school’s auditorium, there are tons of holiday productions taking the stage this time of year. “Every year, I check out a local theater’s rendition of A Christmas Carol. I really get a kick out of it, and it feels good to support local productions,” says Tinya Peng, a senior at the University of Michigan.
Enjoy your favorite holiday tunes.
Although you might be sick of them by New Year’s, the fact remains that you can’t listen to these tunes any other time of the year (without facing some serious ridicule, that is). So take advantage of them while you can! Whether you love classic crooners, religious hymns, or more modern songs (Mariah Carey, anyone?) crank up the volume and belt ‘em out like nobody’s listening. If you don’t have a lot of holiday music on your iPod, plug your favorite tune into Pandora and let it create a holiday station personalized just for you!
Shovel some snow.
If your hometown gets a lot of snow, let your parents rest and go shovel the driveway. Shoveling is a great workout and good for your arms – just make sure to bend at the knees, not at the hip! Plus, your parents might show their appreciation by relaxing your old high school curfew or making your favorite dinner – score!