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My Go-To, Budget-Friendly Holiday Bucket List

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SLU chapter.

My favorite season of all time isn’t winter–it’s Christmastime. Yes, I fully consider Black Friday until New Year’s Eve its own unique season, and I’ve yet to find any period of time that can fully match the energy of these five or so weeks. Often, this time of year is full of expensive activities and pressure to be shopping, gifting and spending plenty of money. However, I’ve composed a list of some of my favorite holiday activities that are college student and budget-friendly–many of them cost nothing at all! Whether you prefer staying inside or venturing out in the cold, hanging with a crew or enjoying your own company, there’s an activity for everyone.

Go for a Neighborhood Light Walk

A great way to get into the holiday spirit is looking at Christmas lights. Going to fancy light shows can be expensive, but luckily, that’s not the only place to see the night lit up! Every year, my friends meet me at my house and I’ll drive us to a nearby neighborhood that’s known to have the cutest houses and the best decorations, and I’m convinced every town has at least one of these. We love to walk around and gush at our favorites until our fingers and toes go numb. 

Build a Puzzle

For a more mentally-stimulating activity, I love to break out a holiday puzzle this season. If you have the space, set up a puzzle table that you can come back to whenever you have a few minutes and want to make some progress. The satisfaction of finishing a 1000-piece puzzle is hard to beat–just make sure to leave it out for a few days for any visitors to admire.

Have a Movie Marathon

If you’re feeling down in the dumps during the craziness of the holidays, nothing will fix that like a night of Christmas movies. I’m personally biased towards Hallmark movies, whose perfect predictability never fails to make me want to drop everything and take over my great aunt’s ski lodge. Grab some hot chocolate, all the fuzzy blankets and call some friends (or don’t!) for a cozy night that never fails to bring you up.

Visit a Christmas Tree Farm

Ever since I visited my mom’s hometown friend at her home on the family Christmas tree farm, a cute ranch with handmade wreaths and peppermint bark in every room, I’ve fantasized about living on my own tree farm. Until then, though, I’ll settle for visiting a farm once a year with my family to pick out a tree, cut it down ourselves and drink hot chocolate in the chalet while watching the older women teach the little ones to weave wreaths and make homemade fudge. Even if you’re not looking to buy a tree, just taking a nice walk among the trees with a warm drink and perusing the handmade goodies, which make fantastic gifts, is an experience in itself.

Bake cookies

I’d be doing a disservice to Santa if I didn’t include this one. There are infinite cookie recipes online and in grandma’s recipe box, so whether you want a classic gingersnap, an elegantly decorated sugar cookie or a triple chocolate brookie, there is something for everyone, no matter your personal taste, time constraints and artistic talents. Bake a bunch and deliver a tin to your neighbors or organize a cookie swap with friends to taste everyone’s creations. 

Read a book

After a draining semester, reading is sometimes the last thing I want to do. I’ve compromised with “Hallmark books,” A.K.A., winter romance novels that are like watching a Hallmark movie but in book form. They don’t make my brain hurt from thinking and provide a great screenless activity for some downtime. Bonus points if you have a crackling fire to read it by!

As we get older, the most wonderful time of the year sometimes turns into the most hectic time of the year. If you start to get caught up in the Christmas crazies, be sure to take a step back, try some of these happy activities and remember the real reason for the season.

A thrifting enthusiast studying Civil Engineering and Environmental Science at Saint Louis University. You can find her running, reading, cooking, and probably running again when the sun comes out.