The older I get, the more I rely on a variety of caffeinated drinks to keep me functioning. Finals season and the holiday season (unfortunately) arrive around the same time. Whether you need caffeine to keep you awake at four in the morning as you relearn the entire class or you just want to drink yourself into a holiday dream, here are a few drinks that scream “Happy Holidays!”
- Starbucks’ Peppermint Mocha
I’m typically not a peppermint girl, but I love mochas. Starbucks always brings this drink back in November, and I finally tried it! This drink is perfect for those who love coffee, but are not big fans of an overpowering coffee taste. Think of it like chocolate milk, but with peppermint and a small shot of espresso. Hot or iced — I prefer iced — this drink is sure to put you in the holiday spirit!
Starbucks can be a little pricey though. A way to make a budget-friendly peppermint mocha is to add International Delight’s OREO creamer and stir it with a peppermint stick or candy cane. You will never know the difference, but your wallet will thank you!
- Mulled Cider
For my family, no holiday gathering is complete without mulled cider. Different drinks remind me of different memories. Sitting in my grandma’s living room with the people I love the most, drinking mulled cider is a kind of comfort I never want to end.
Mulled Cider is basically glorified apple cider. Add in fresh orange slices, two cinnamon sticks and cloves for a simple drink that doesn’t break the bank.
- Starbucks’ Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew
For some, pumpkin-flavored drinks are a thing of the past, after Thanksgiving ends, but for me, I take in all the pumpkin I can before every coffee shop takes it off its menu for the next year.
Starbucks changed the game, this holiday season. I LOVE cold brew coffee, and the pumpkin cream is delicious. Cold brew is not ideal when it’s 30 degrees outside, but this drink is the perfect mix of sugar and coffee to energize and relax you.
- Chai Tea Latte
Chai tea is not necessarily a holiday drink, but it’s worth mentioning. As a strictly coffee person, it took me a while to appreciate chai. My mother has always loved chai tea. Another shameless plug for Starbucks, but they are experts at chai tea lattes. For those late nights in the library, this is the perfect drink. The tea calms you down, but the coffee rejuvenates your brain.
Trader Joes, my personal sanctuary, has its own powder-mix for chai tea lattes. One container of mix is less than a grande chai tea latte at Starbucks and tastes just as delicious!
- Hot Chocolate
Hot chocolate is such a classic winter drink. I’m not much of a hot chocolate person, but there are so many ways to make it: peppermint sticks, whipped cream, marshmallows, chocolate shavings. The list never ends!
My mother always makes sure to include as much chocolate as possible. She stirs in German chocolate to give it a little twist, which makes it extra rich! I definitely recommend adding in various chocolates to fulfill all your chocolate needs.
- Dunkin’ Donuts’ Eggnog Latte
Eggnog is such an underrated holiday drink. My parents indulge in all things eggnog, during the Christmas season. With a Dunkin’ Donuts near my apartment on campus and another one five minutes away from my parents’ house, the employees practically know me by name. I’m always trying the latest Dunkin’ drinks, especially when I’m balling on a budget.
The Dunkin’ eggnog latte, for me, screams Christmas morning with my family. My mother concocted an eggnog latte on Christmas morning, a few years ago, so to know that Dunkin’ Donuts has put out a variation of this drink makes me feel at home. Make this drink at home by substituting creamer for eggnog!
- Russian Tea
Last, but certainly not least, is a drink I hold near and dear to my heart: Russian tea. My grandma created a powder mix of Russian tea, and surprisingly, I liked it. Russian tea has a citrus flavor mixed with clove and other spices.
Grandma made this for me when I had a sore throat, or when I needed comfort. There’s nothing quite like a drink that grandma makes to remind you of the holiday season and being with family.
When you’re trying to feel at home, whether you can’t be at home with family this season or you are trying to survive finals season, these drinks are sure to put you in the holiday spirit. Food and drink are a pillar of the holiday season, and these are my favorite budget-friendly winter drinks.