7 Ways to Get in the Holiday Mood Even When You’re Not Home

If you ask me, the worst part about the fall semester exam season is feeling like you miss so much of your family’s holidays traditions while you’re miles from home, miserable and studying your ass off. Sometimes, while I’m flipping through hundreds of flashcards, my mind drifts to what my family could be doing: maybe they’re rearranging the ornaments on our tree, watching Christmas Vacation without me for the umpteenth time, or have gone on a shopping excursion for gifts and extra wrapping paper. Whatever it is they’re up to, suffice it to say that I’m jealous. The holiday season has always been my favorite of the year, and coming home less than a week before Christmas day just doesn’t cut it for me. All of the cheer and corny Hallmark movies can’t be cramped into the span of just a few days, and so below I’ve compiled a list of things you can do if you feel like the holiday season is whizzing by while you’re at college.

1. Crank up the Christmas music

If you’re the type who believes that there’s no time “too early” for Christmas music, then you’re just like me. In fact, one summer I spent countless hours completing my online math class, all the while listening to holiday classics from Nat King Cole, Burl Ives, Amy Grant, and Michael Bublé. Your roommates might protest your Christmas classics playlist being on repeat throughout all of November and December, so just pop in your headphones and enjoy “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree” on your walk to class. It’ll definitely brighten up your mood…along with a peppermint hot chocolate. Duh.

2. Decorate your room to the 9’s

I’m talking red and green sting lights, cozy blankets (mine has Santa Claus printed on it), pine tree scented air freshener, and even a mini tree. Last year, I put scented pinecones beside my window, and the breeze from the window blew their cinnamon smell throughout my room. It was blissful. The best part, though, was the miniature tree I decorated with my boyfriend, which was ornamented with bows, fake snow, and twinkling lights. There’s nothing like coming back to a cozy room after a long day of classes, or being greeted by a wreath on your dorm’s door.

3. Start sleeping in your holiday onesie and wear ugly Christmas sweaters to class

When the weather starts getting grossly cold, we all eventually lose our motivation to dress in cute boots and chunky knits. So why not ditch all that effort and opt for a snowman onesie, or an ugly Christmas sweater with a waving gingerbread man on it? It’s honestly the perfect outfit choice for finals week, since you can just roll out of bed and into the classroom, then back again. And bonus, your snowflake pajamas work as a built-in sleep sack for when you accidentally fall asleep in an academic building after pulling an all-nighter.

4. Organize a Secret Santa with your group of friends

Gift exchanges are something my group of friends did every year in high school, and they were always a big hit. Let’s face it though, we’re poor college students and so busy we’ll likely have to order everything from Amazon if we were to buy gifts. The key here is to set a strict spending limit, or to make it clear that everyone should make the gifts themselves. When it’s time for the party, make it as festive as possible—it’ll act as a perfect break from studying too!

5. Have a Christmas movie marathon

If you want to spice up your Secret Santa even more, add a holiday movie marathon to the itinerary. If you have cable, Freeform and Hallmark are channels which offer near 24/7 holiday movies and specials through December. Everyone attending the party could pick out a movie, and then you can binge all night like a bunch of Cotton-Headed Ninny-Muggins. Some of my favorites are The Year Without a Santa Claus, The Santa Clause, Elf, Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, Christmas Vacation, and Frosty the Snowman.

6. Bake some of your favorite holiday treats

If your dining halls aren’t coming through for you in the holiday foods department, ask your mom or your grandma to send you some of the recipes to your favorite Christmas cookies. In whatever kitchen may be available to you, bake to your heart’s content. If you’re feeling extra festive and un-Scroogelike, you might want to pack up some holiday tins full of all the goodies you made and deliver them to friends. They’ll go crazy for your mom’s famous peanut butter fudge.

7. Go around town to see people’s lights

Luckily for Denisonians, our campus sits atop a hill in the middle of an adorable village—a village that goes all out for Christmas. There are lights on the courthouse, decorations in local store windows, and student-decorated trees all along the streets. If you have some spare hours on a weekend, you’ll love going around to see these places. What’s more, if you or a friend has a car, google where the best light displays are in town, and go see them!