The holidays: a time of giving, sharing and delicious family dinners. Of eggnog, cinnamon and hot cocoa. Two wonderful weeks that cram in Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanza, Boxing Day and New Year’s all into one. A time of presents you’ll probably never use, food that will give you the freshmen fifteen in one sitting, ugly sweaters, mandatory family get-together’s with people who tend to forget you are no longer 5 years old especially those annoying cheek pinches (we all know the ones to which I refer to). Whether you love the holidays, or for your own personal reasons dread it, there is one thing we can all be excited for: it’s the longest break we have during the school year. That’s enough for even the Grinch himself to make a holiday cheer with a cool glass of eggnog.
Despite the knowledge that the holidays are well on the way, sometimes it can be hard to get into that holiday spirit. Before we can claim our pot of Holiday happiness we must first win the battle of the school year: exam season. Exam season can be a depressing and stressful time that makes it almost impossible to get into the right mind frame. But what if I told you there are ways to still get into that old Chris Cringle’s spirit? Here’s a list of just a few ideas to get us all singing for the holidays.
The holidays all center on a specific theme: giving. So why not give back to your community? Volunteer at a local shelter with either people or strays. You’re bound to make someone’s holiday. Many people need warm clothing for the winter so why not volunteer with an organization that collects winter wear? Or even better make a child’s day by adopting a make a wish child or volunteering to hand out presents to Children whose parents can’t afford it on their own.
Secret Santa is a very common way to bond friendships but why not put a spin on it this year? Instead of everyone secretly getting a name for who they must purchase a present for how about trying it this way: Everyone buys a funny (or whichever theme that is chosen) present. Upon arrival to the gift exchange the presents are mixed and numbered. Everyone takes turns pulling a number out of a hat/ bowl. The person with the number that matches the number on the present gets the gift. When everyone has gotten their item, gift exchange and deals can be made but in the end everyone ends up taking a funny present home.
Nothing gets you in the mood better than holiday music so how about Holiday Karaoke? Take a study break and either host a Karaoke night where you live or take on the town. There are quite a few Karaoke bars around the city. Head over, request holiday music and sing to your heart’s content.
If you would rather not Karaoke (though I suggest you try it at least once in your life) make a holiday mix tape/playlist. It makes a great study or cooking jams and you can take over the music for your family holiday dinners so that your parents aren’t playing the stuff you’re sick of. There are so many unusual holiday variations in every musical genre to fall in love with, so go crazy!
Whether you are going home for the holidays or staying near your school, holiday decorations still have the same effect on our souls. So why not decorate your dorm room/apartment/home? The Dollar Store has many trinkets but what better way to get into spirit than by making your own decorations, either by yourself or with friends. Here are some great examples!
- Stockings: There are quite a few stores were you can get blank stockings (the kind you hang by the fire place). Grab a couple of stickers, buttons and other decorative pieces to decorate the stockings with. You can make one for each of your family members or you and your friends can each decorate one for the other depending on your personalities and likes. In the end everyone ends up with a stocking that is the perfect fit.
- Garland: Garlands of popcorn and holly are a regular holiday cliché but how about making one out of photos of the people in your life? Then you can use it throughout the year. Another option is making them out of ornaments, if you use a thick enough yarn it will hold up quite nicely. If your preference is more for the natural look try pinecones or dried fruit (lemons) not only will it add a touch of nature to your home it will add a nice smell as well.
- Candles: Create your own scented candle. Candles are known for their amazing ambience so why not make your own favourite scent? There are many sites on the Internet that teach you how to make them yourself. http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Scented-Candle-in-a-Glass
Last but not least (because who doesn’t love food) here are some amazing holiday recipes to make your house smell insane and get you in the mood. Enjoy a ‘trip around the World’ potluck with your friends or even try these on your own. Included below are holiday meals from around the world. Get ready to explore your holiday yearning taste buds and remember if you have an allergy to any ingredient you can always leave it out.
- Avgolemono (Greek Lemon Chicken soup) http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Avgolemono
- Jewish Potato Latkes http://www.canadianliving.com/food/classic_potato_latkes.php
- Main Course:
- Doro Wot (Ethiopian Chicken Stew) http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Classic-Ethiopian-Chicken-Stew
- Ceia de Natal (Brazilian Christmas Turkey) http://www.maria-brazil.org/brazilian_christmas_turkey.htm
- Bûche de Noël (Yule Log Cake with Coffee Buttercream and Ganache) http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Coffee-Buttercream-Buche-De-Noel
- Lebkuchen (German Fruit and Spice Cookies) http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Lebkuchen-German-Fruit-and-Spice-C…
So go ahead and get a little crazy. Have a little fun; the holidays only come once in a year. Don’t forget to grab some mistletoe!