1. Bake some cookies
Once winter break comes around and you’re finally done munching on the incredibly chewy O’Hill cookies — seriously, one cookie keeps me going for a couple days — you can try baking some of your own. Nothing screams holiday season more than some gingerbread or iced sugar cookies. If you’re feeling particularly festive and can bear to part with your baked goods, try giving some to your neighbors to spread the holiday cheer.
2. Play in the snow
This one may be impossible depending on where you’re from, but if your home is anywhere north of Virginia, you should have plenty of snow to build a snowman. Channel your inner child and let those snowball-rolling skills shine. It’s a good way to work off all that college stress. While you’re all bundled up, attempt some snow angels or maybe even a snowball fight. For anyone from the School of Architecture — how about an igloo? And to top it all off, make sure to have a steaming cup of hot chocolate waiting for you when you get back inside.
3. Hand out candy canes
Firstly, who doesn’t love candy canes? Secondly, this can be a great way to make some new friends. Here’s how. Step one is to make sure that you have at least five candy canes on you at all times. Step two is to initiate a conversation with someone you think may be a potential friend. Once the conversation is over, stick the candy cane right in their hand, no explanations. They will not refuse and be overjoyed with the gift. Caution — this may not work with professors.
4. Do a Secret Santa
Whether it’s between roommates, family or friends, a Secret Santa is an exciting start to the gift-giving season. Gather a group of people and set a budget for the items. One twist is to also decide on a theme. For example, have the gifts all be a certain color or the opposite of what your receiver would like. For a more narrowly tailored version, create a short questionnaire each person fills out detailing their likes and dislikes. Whatever you end up doing, it’s bound to be fun!
5. Listen to Christmas music
Now that Thanksgiving is over, I’m personally all about cranking up the Christmas music. We all know the classics — Mariah Carey, Pentatonix, Michael Bublé — but check out some equally good, lesser known Christmas artists like Lindsey Stirling or Ariana Grande. Put some headphones in when walking to class, doing homework or driving home and let the Christmas cheer wash over you.
6. Decorate your dorm
To brighten up your living space, especially during the dreary finals season, grab some mini Christmas trees, lights or pillows. Stores like The Dollar Tree and Five Below are perfect for these one-time, cheap buys. You can also try making your own decor like these honeycomb Christmas bulbs or these coffee filter garlands. Turn it into a fun activity by getting your roommates in on the decorating and putting on some Christmas music in the background.
7. Spend time with your family
While we might hate to admit it, there is nothing that gets us in the holiday spirit more than being surrounded by our friends and family. Especially now that we’re in college, our families miss us more than ever, and the holiday season is extra special. Sometimes just sitting at the dinner table for an extra 10 minutes can make a big difference. To go the extra mile, try handcrafting some small gifts for the important people around you. It is the season of giving, after all.
8. Incorporate Christmas words into your vocabulary
In social psychology, this would be referred to as the technique of “priming,” in which thinking about a set of phrases or words keeps the topic at the forefront of the mind. Similarly, actively trying to use Christmas words can be a great way to slide right into the spirit. Call your pairs of socks “stockings,” your car a “sled” and your group project members “elves.” OK, maybe not that last one, but you get the idea. Disclaimer — you may receive some weird looks, but tell yourself that no one will be in the Christmas spirit more than you and move on.
9. Go Christmas caroling
The trick with this is to just lapse into song immediately. No one is rude enough to slam the door on a group of happy, singing teens. Gather up a group of friends and go hit some dorms or apartments. Keep it simple with “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” or go crazy with “All I Want for Christmas is You.” This one not only gets you in the holiday spirit, but it will also hype up anyone within listening distance.
The holiday season also brings a much-needed month-long break, and don’t feel guilty about enjoying it. After enduring all the pressures of COVID-19 and school for so long, it is important to allow your brain and body to get some rest because they deserve it. College can be tough, but by balancing it out, we can make the best of our time here at the University.