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How to Prep Your Apartment or Dorm Room Before Leaving for the Holidays

The semester is almost over: a realization that either fills you with total relief, or total dread!

Between exams, saying goodbye to friends and getting in some end-of-semester celebration, packing your dorm room away for winter might be the furthest thing from your mind. 

Take the stress away with this HC guide to prepping your place for the winter holiday. Whether you’re in dorms or living off-campus, you can return in January to a sparkling and inviting home.

How to prep if you live apartment-style

If you’re in an “apartment”-style or shared accommodation off-campus, it’s more likely you’ll be allowed to leave some possessions in your university room. This takes a heap of pressure off and means you likely won’t need to spend as long packing up, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have chores to do.

Tell your landlord that you’re leaving for a while.

Lots of roommate or residence contracts require you to give the landlord notice if you plan to leave the place empty for an extended period of time. Make sure you check the terms of your contract and tell the landlord or neighbors that you intend to leave the place unattended for a while. The homeowner may even want to do some repairs (we can dream!) or tidy up the yard while you’re not there, so it could work in your favor. Ditto if you have roommates, make sure everyone knows who will be there for the holidays, so the last person out can be sure to lock up.

Turn the heat down.

A must if it’s winter break, ensure you’ve dialed the thermostat down. You may want to leave it on a cooler temperature (no one wants to come back to a walk-in freezer), but having the heat on full-blast for an empty house is a big money vacuum. The same applies to electronics and unused power outlets. Everything draws power when it’s plugged into an outlet, so make sure you unplug devices like TV’s and minor appliances (e.g. kettles/toasters). It’s better for the environment, and saves you paying extra on your energy bill.

Wash all of your linens and make your bed.

Shoving all of your bedding in the wash and laundering it might seem like a job for future you, but you will be really grateful you did this. Give all of your sheets a clean, freshen up with a welcoming scented fabric softener, and make your bed. It will be ready to crash into when you arrive after weeks of holiday antics. This is also a great time to put curtains or other heavy upholstery on a cycle, as they will have plenty of time to dry.

Take out the trash!

No need for explanation here, there is nothing worse than coming back to three-week old garbage! Once emptied, you can wipe down the can with disinfectant. If you have time, putting a dryer sheet in the bottom overnight will absorb any lingering scents.

Rid your fridge of old food items.

The same as above goes for the fridge. Make sure to get rid of anything with an expiry date before you return. Around a week before your planned departure date, look through the freezer and cupboards and get creative with that stash of beans and pasta. You might even donate any unopened shelf items to a local food bank or homeless shelter, it’s the season for giving! Wipe down with anti-bacterial fluid and maybe a lemon scent to keep it spotless.

How to prep if you live in dorms.

In addition to the apartment suggestions above, dorm rooms have some unique aspects to prep for when you leave over winter break.

Unplug everything. 

Your appliances use more energy than you think, even when not on! Take a second to remove any additional lighting or charging blocks from your outlets, and if you have one, it’s nice to unplug your personal fridge – just eat up any snacks inside before you leave! 

Tidy up.

While you leave over the winter break, residence services usually does a quick check of your dorm room. Sort out your desk, hide those decorative candles, and prep for someone to glance at your space! They will leave a note stating they visited, so don’t fret over having a stranger in your space – they are there to check the condition of your room. In addition, coming back to a clean room allows for a fresh start in the new year.

Re-organise the closet 

In addition to tidying up the visible spaces in your dorm, going away for a few weeks is the perfect time to reassess your clutter and box up any shoes or clothing you don’t plan to take. If you are on the fence about parting with your wardrobe items, put any fall/winter clothing you don’t plan to take home on one side of your closet. When you arrive back, check in with yourself. Did you manage to live without that item while you were away? If you didn’t miss it, provided it’s not “fancy” and it’s seasonally appropriate, you can give it away! Be ruthless, and make extra space for all your New Years’ sale finds.

Say goodbye to your floor mates! 

Before everyone slowly starts to leave over the exam period, take a moment to get together to celebrate the end of term! Hang out in the lounge or have a group study session before the holiday season rings in. 

Don’t forget about your locked door when you get back! 

A little more of a personal anecdote, but after coming back to my dorm post-break, I immediately locked myself out for the first time ever. After getting used to living in unlocked door bliss at home, it can take a day to get back into the groove of dorm living. It’s never fun to hike to residence services in a towel, so make sure you have your keys on hand 24/7! 

With these tips and tricks in mind, you’ll have peace of mind knowing your living space is neat, organized and awaiting you in the new year. Enjoy your winter break – it is well deserved!

Savannah is currently in her fourth year at UVic majoring in English and Business! When not swamped with readings, she can be found exploring downtown, drinking way too many pumpkin spice cold brews, reading, and enjoying the experiences UVic has to offer.
Sarah is a 27 year old MA Art History and Visual Studies student at Uvic. She loves writing about art, film and music. When she's not busy blogging or studying she loves to dance, practise yoga, visit galleries and cook yummy vegetarian food!