12 Ways To Get Into The Christmas Spirit (Even Through Finals Week)

12 Ways To Get Into The Christmas Spirit (Even Through Finals Week)

Sometimes we get too caught up in the hustle and bustle and forget to cherish one of the most magical times of the year.

1. Listening to Christmas carols

Whether it’s in the car on the way to Dunkin' Donuts to take a thirty minute coffee break or while you’re writing that final paper for English 301

Some people have very firm feelings when it comes to Christmas music. You either love it because it fills your childlike heart with wonder, or you hate it because the incessant jingle bells have caused you to develop a nervous twitch an extremely young age. There is no in-between. At least we can all agree that music has a way of lifting our spirits in ways nothing else can; what better way to get your mind off the stresses of finals than to listen to some gentle tunes about a guy in a red suit coming to bring you presents?

2. Baking Christmas cookies

Arguably, one of the best things about the holidays is the excuse to gorge yourself on delectable foods and desserts you don’t get to eat every other day of the year. So, break out the gingerbread men and the green and red sprinkles, and do some bonding while you’re at it. Remember: ‘Nothing says lovin’ like something from the oven.'

3. Decorating

Whether it’s the family Christmas tree that you spent hours on the tree lot looking for that perfect one, or hanging multicolored lights over your desk in your college dorm. Just the sheer pleasure of decking the halls is sure to put you in the mood.

4. Watching everything Rankin and Bass ever produced that has anything in the slightest to do with Christmas

Probably the kings of childhood Christmas movies, Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass made countless of your favorite cartoon and Claymation classics. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the Little Drummer Boy, Frosty the Snowman, A Year without a Santa Claus…you name it, they made it. You can find most of the specials on YouTube, and sometimes the re-runs play on regular cable. And don’t worry – Snow Miser and Heat Miser’s songs will only be stuck in your head for a week tops.

5. Shopping

Do you really need an excuse to shop? Of course not, but it being the holiday season definitely helps. Worry about the money you spend buying your friend that blanket scarf she desperately needed after the holidays are over.

6. Make a List

Check it twice!

It seems every year we talk about our wants and needs incessantly until Christmas is actually upon us and we forget. The wish-list doesn’t even have to be just for yourself. Make a list of presents you want to give your roommates, friends, and family members, full of things that you can make or buy. Not only is it a way to get excited about the holidays, but it’s the simplest way to answer the age-old question: “What do you want for Christmas?”

7. Go see Christmas lights

Take a break – you deserve it – and go downtown or through a few neighborhoods and see all the incredible light displays. Whether it’s the ten foot tree in the town square, or the inflatables and string lights in your neighbor’s yard; the illuminations are sure to fill you with cheer.

8. Make DIY Gifts

One of the greatest gifts man ever received was Pinterest, and luckily for all of us on a low holiday budget, they have countless gift ideas you can do yourself. You don’t have to venture out into the frigid weather or into the bitter crowds of people who waited until the last minute to buy their gifts. Create gifts from the heart that you know your loved ones will adore simply because you made it.

9. Say Hi to the Mall Santa

No one is ever ‘too old’ for Santa Claus. Even if you stopped believing years ago, there’s no need to pass the Christmas Village at the mall where all the little children are taking pictures with Santa, and hang your head as if you do not want to be seen. No one is ever ‘too cool’ for Santa. Just wave from afar as you make your way into Hot Topic or Abercrombie – whatever kids these days like – and I promise you, he will wave back.

10. Wrap Presents

Take the time to put the gifts you worked so hard to make or to buy to put them wrappings of brightly colored paper that would make an elf proud, instead of just putting them in your average plastic bag. Personalizing your gifts with ribbons and bows and fun, Christmas-themed wrapping paper is a great way to get in the giving spirit.

11. Send Christmas Cards

Whether it’s a fun picture you took while out with some friends, or a special tradition your family does every year, sending a Christmas card that you can touch, hang up, and keep means so much more than writing ‘Happy Holidays’ on someone’s Facebook wall.

12. Give to the Bell Ringers

We all see them, the volunteers for the Salvation Army, as we walk into Walmart or Target, and look the other way as if they aren’t even there. Maybe this year, even if it’s just a couple of coins from your pocket, give to those who have less. Besides, it wouldn’t be Christmas if no one gave anything.

Cover Image Credit: Sometimes we get too caught up in the hustle and bustle and forget to cherish one of the most magical times of the year.

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The Ultimate College Packing List: Closet

The transition from a walk-in closet to a non-existent dorm closet is a hard one ... My tips and tricks for making the transition smoother!

Packing for college is a daunting task, and there's a lot of stuff you need to bring.

A fellow Odyssey writer, Taylor Paluczak, recently wrote an article talking about all the things you need to bring for college. If you haven't read it yet and are an incoming freshman, check it out!

There is one huge area of importance that she left out, however: the closet.

Growing up, I was used to having a walk-in closet that was roomy enough to hang all of my clothes, plus an enormous dresser in my room for foldable items.

I knew my closet at college would be way smaller than what I was used to, but I didn't think it would be that bad. So, when packing for college, I packed with a no-piece-of-clothing-left-behind mindset.

Bad idea.

When I arrived at my dorm in the fall, fitting all of my clothing into my closet was a struggle, to say the least. After both my closet, dresser, and the nightstand were filled to the brim with clothing, I was still left with extra pieces that didn't have a home in my tiny shoebox of a room.

This year, I plan on bringing way less stuff. As an incoming freshman, excitement takes over and your head fills with possibilities. Suddenly, you are convinced that of course you have to bring every dress you own - you never know when you'll need it! And that sweater you haven't worn in 4 months? Maybe you'll want it! And, yes, you'll need every one of your old Halloween costumes, just in case.

Trust me - I learned the hard way. Don't bring everything you own with you to college. Here's my list of what I used and what I didn't. Hopefully this makes it easier for you when deciding what to bring with you and what to leave behind.

First things first: Get a double-hanging closet organizer. This baby instantly doubles your closet space, allowing for double the clothes! Because let's be honest -- no matter how hard you try, you're still going to overpack. Also, I would recommend getting thin, non-slip hangers. They take up less space than traditional hangers, and your clothes will never fall off.

Here's my list:


  • Lots of underwear and socks
  • Clothes for sleeping/lounging
    • Pajamas
    • Leggings
    • Comfortable t-shirts/sweaters
    • Sweatshirt
  • Workout clothing
    • Running shorts
    • Tank tops
    • Cropped leggings
    • Sports bras
  • Going out clothes
    • Rompers
    • Dresses
    • Printed pants/shorts
    • Skirts
    • Crop tops
    • Tank tops
    • Fun blouses
  • Jeans (only a few pairs)
  • Shorts (only a few pairs)
  • T-shirts/tank tops
  • Casual tops/blouses for class
  • Sweaters
  • Casual dresses
  • Formal dress
  • Rain jacket
  • Vests
  • Coat/jacket for colder weather


  • Running shoes
  • Shower shoes!
  • Wedges
  • Sandals
  • Flip flops
  • Converse
  • Riding boots
  • Booties
  • 1 Pair of Heels
    • With wedges as an option, you won't wear heels as much as you would think. Bring one versatile pair that can be used for formal occasions.
  • Rainboots
  • Winter boots
  • Slippers


  • Statement necklaces
  • Pendant necklaces
  • Earrings
  • Bracelets and bangles
  • Watch
  • Wallet
  • Cross-body bag
  • Tote bag
  • Backpack
  • Makeup bag
  • Duffel bag for travel
  • Belts
  • Tights
  • Baseball cap
  • Sunglasses
  • Hats/gloves/scarves

You Won't Need: High School T-shirts

Leave behind the high school T-shirts. Honestly. If you plan on joining a sorority, you'll be given more T-shirts than you know what to do with, and the ones you brought from home will sit collecting dust. One or two for sleeping is fine, but any more than that is excessive.

You Will Need: Casual Clothes for Class

Stock up on Nike shorts, leggings, workout tops, and sports bras. Not only can you wear these things to class when you're feeling particularly lazy (hello 8:30 a.m. classes!), but they will come in handy when you go to the rec center to workout. If you're feeling a little more ambitious, jeans/leggings paired with a sweater/flannel or a casual sundress and sandals are perfect options for class.

You Won't Need: "In-Between" Clothes

You know the clothes I'm talking about: they aren't fancy, but they aren't super casual either. You would wear these out to a nice dinner with your family or to church on Sunday. Trust me, there are practically zero occasions that you would need these type of clothes in college. Perhaps it's a good idea to bring along an outfit or two that would be appropriate for an interview or presentation, but other than that, leave them at home!

You Will Need: Going Out Clothes

You'll be going to parties in college, so going out clothes are a must. Going out clothes are different than your nicest Lilly Pulitzer dresses. Think: fun rompers, printed shorts, and cool tank tops. I recommend checking out Forever 21 or Tobi for affordable but fun pieces, because it's likely that these pieces will get spilled on and borrowed by all of your friends. Don't stress if you don't have hundreds of different outfits, either; I guarantee that there will be girls on your hall or in your sorority with closets that you can raid.

You Won't Need: Off-Season Clothes

When you get to school in August, there is no reason you need your winter jacket or cute fall sweaters, no matter how excited you are about your Nordstrom sale purchases. Leave them in a box at home, and your parents can send them to you whenever necessary. Otherwise, you should be able to survive until fall/Thanksgiving break.

You Will Need: Accessories

Statement necklaces, bold earrings, long pendants, fun studs, chunky bangles and big watches - bring them all! Jewelry storage is easy, plus displaying your jewelry acts as a part of your dorm decor. Accessories are perfect for spicing up your outfits and transforming them into a completely different look. This way, instead of buying a new dress, just add a new necklace to your favorite old dress and voilà! A totally new outfit.

You Won't Need: Every Halloween Costume You Own

Halloween is one weekend in the year. Yes, you'll need 2-4 costumes for themed parties, but you will not need your entire costume collection from your childhood. Costumes tend to be bulky, so why have them take up valuable space in your teeny-tiny dorm room? This is a perfect example of something to have your parents ship to you. Before you head off to school in August, pack up some costumes in a box and have your parents mail you it mid-October. Once the holiday weekend is over, bring your costumes back home with you over Thanksgiving break!

You Will Need: Weather-Appropriate Clothing

Depending on your college's location, this could mean rainboots, a winter parka, or a bikini. Be smart. You have to walk to class no matter the weather, so if you're going to school in southern California, chances are you won't need every sweater you own and your heavy-duty winter boots.

Remember, if you don't wear it at home, you're not going to wear it at school. If you're debating whether or not to bring a piece and it's not something you absolutely love, leave it at home! You can always pack up a box of "maybes" and have your parents send it to you if you decide you need its contents.

Getting ready for college is hard enough without the added stress of figuring out what to pack. Hopefully this list makes it a little bit easier. Good luck and happy packing!

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7 Stressful Things About Summer Break

Even though I love summer, there are a few things about the sunny season that really bother me.


For most people, summer is the best time of year, and I am definitely one of those people. However, even though I love summer, there are a few things about the sunny season that really bother me. Here are some of the reasons why summer is stressful.

1. Air Conditioning

When it's hot out, this may seem like a good thing, except for the fact that public places fail to realize that when they blast their air conditioners in the middle of July, it kind of feels like you're trapped in the frozen tundra.

2. Sunburns

Seemingly unavoidable, yet almost always happening, even with a cover-up and huge hat.

3. Bugs

Bugs are EVERYWHERE. Not only are they super annoying, but if you're one of those people who's terrified of all things bugs and anything that looks like a bug, this is a total nightmare.

4. The Heat

Going back to number one, a little bit of warm weather doesn't hurt anyone. However, when it's too hot, most of the time you just feel sluggish and miserable.

5. Gross Swimming Pools

The level of gross-ness is almost indescribable. Wet floors, hair everywhere... let's just say it is not pretty.

6. Allergies

More of a spring struggle, but since some summers start in May, I thought I'd shed some light on something many people absolutely HATE. Anyone who suffers from seasonal allergies knows what I'm talking about. That miserable time of year when you're constantly feeling sick is never fun.

7. Occasional Boredom

Hopefully, this doesn't happen too often, but everyone has that feeling of having nothing to do at some point.

Cover Image Credit: Natasha Trivedi

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