5 Reasons Why Christmas Is The Best Holiday Ever

5 Reasons Why Christmas Is The Best Holiday Ever

Santa only makes his appearance, once a year - hope you made the nice list!!
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Halloween, Valentine’s Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day are all quality holidays. Dressing up in swanky costumes, and receiving loving gifts is good for the soul, however – there is nothing quite like listening to Christmas music in the car, and riding through neighborhoods looking at the lights, even decorating the Christmas tree is so much fun for me. Here is a list of five reasons that Christmas is the best holiday

1. The movies

The Polar Express, Miracle on 34th Street, and Elf (yes, I just included elf) are arguably the best movies in the industry, to enjoy any time of the year. The stories are always so genuine and cute and watching them always puts me in the spirit of Christmas.

2. The decorations

The decorations for Christmas are always so beautiful. Visiting Hob Lob (Hobby Lobby), Michael’s, and even Target – the colors, designs, and themes are spectacular! You can decorate any room in your house, in any way that you want. The interior and exterior of cities, business’, and houses are precisely decorated for the Holiday and it just makes me so happy


3. The get-togethers

Holiday get-togethers with your friends and work families are always an exciting time to spend time together and build friendships. I recently enjoyed a Secret Santa get-together with several of my closest friends, before receiving gifts from each other – we all went around the circle and gave compliments to each other. It is so cute to receive compliments from our friends, to remember the real reason for the season!

4. The goodies and snacks

Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies, Peanut Butter Balls, and Chocolate Covered Peanut-Butter Crackers are the only a few of my favorite Holiday snacks. Although these snacks could be made any time of the year, it only seems fitting to eat these snacks during the Holidays!

5. The time spent with family

Spending time with family during the Holidays is so incredibly important. Living three and a half hours away from home, I have found a new meaning of quality time with family. I enjoy catching up from the last couple of months, and hear the stories of everything I have missed!!

The movies, the goodies, the decorations, the get-togethers, and the quality time spent with family are a number of reasons that Christmas is the best holiday on the calendar. There is so much hype for the holiday, and it’s exciting to take part in the most fantastic twenty-five days of the year!! Happy Holidays to my friends – and don’t forget, Halloween just doesn’t match up!

Cover Image Credit: Morgan Eppley

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40 Things To Do During Summer Vacation

Because we all know four months without college friends or classes is WAY too long.
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It's been less than a week since finals wrapped up at the University of Minnesota, and I, among many of my other friends, are already lost on things to do. Since January, our entire schedules have been filled with homework and studying. The new freedom summer brings provides endless time (in between our summer job shifts, of course) for new activities and things you wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity to do during the school year. Below is a list of 40 different activities to keep you entertained during your break and to ensure you make the most of your summer.


1. Learn a new language.

I highly recommend starting with Duolingo. It's an app that provides free language tutoring through a series of activities and exercises. It offers a wide variety of languages such as Spanish, German, Greek, Swahili, among many others.

2. Volunteer.

There's an endless amount of volunteering opportunities offered throughout every major city in the country. For example, many hospitals will accept volunteers, as well as organizations in Minnesota such as Feed, My Starving Children, or the Ronald McDonald House. Most positions only require an application but be sure to check for minimum requirements such as age or experience.

3. Read a book.

Go to a library and wander until you find a book you think you'll like. Sit back, relax, and enjoy.

4. Watch a TED talk.

This is one of my favorite hobbies any time of the year. TED is a nonprofit organization that shares short, approximately 15-minute videos ranging from science to business to global issues. There's a topic out there for everyone.

5. Start a garden.

Even if you don't have any outdoor space, succulents and cacti are very low maintenance and still add a little "green" to your indoor space.

6. Go camping.

Whether it's at a campground or in your backyard, enjoy the technology-free time with your family or friends.

7. Paint.

If you're not an artistic person, go to the store, buy a set of Crayola watercolors, and just paint.

8. Take an online course.

Coursera and edX both supply free online courses from top universities such as Yale, MIT, and Harvard. If you're trying to further your understanding of a particular topic such as physics or biology, I suggest starting with these websites.

9. Bake brownies or cookies.

Most stores stock up on the prepared cookie or brownie mixes, but if you have the time and ingredients, try making them from scratch.

10. Fly a kite.

Kites are available on Amazon for $10-$15, and instruction videos are available on YouTube to help you get started.

11. Play board games.

Life and Scrabble are my go-to's.

12. Make a scrapbook of old memories.

If you have the time and a little extra money, I promise the end-product will be worthwhile.

13. Start a journal.

You don't have to go buy the fancy Moleskin journals or buy an expensive one from Barnes and Noble, a simple notebook will do the trick. Write down your thoughts and document your summer.

14. Go to the beach.

Enjoy the sunshine, but don't forget sunscreen!

15. Go fishing.

Minnesota is the Land of 10,000 Lakes, and one of them is most likely within driving distance. Take the time on a nice, calm morning, and go fishing.

16. Binge-watch a TV show on Netflix.

"The Office," "Friends," "New Girl," "How I Met Your Mother," and "Grey's Anatomy" are good places to start.

17. Start a bucket list and cross off one item every week.

The items added don't have to be spectacular and nearly unattainable, they can be little things, too. In other words, I'm not expecting you to go skydiving, swim with sharks, and go on a cruise all in one month.

18. Learn to rock climb.

Both indoor and outdoor rock climbing are available depending on your level of comfort and experience. Remember to take every safety precaution and have fun.

19. Catch up with an old friend over coffee.

Call the friend you haven't seen in three years and ask to catch up over coffee. You never know how much their life has changed since last speaking with you.

20. Have a picnic.

Pack a basket with sandwiches, fruit, vegetables, and juice, and find a nice spot with a view. Maybe bring a book for a post-picnic activity.

21. Meditate or do yoga.

If you're unexperienced in both of these activities, many YouTube channels provide instructional videos. I'll post a link to one of my favorite YouTube yoga instructors here.

22. Learn a new instrument.

Whether it's piano, guitar, or even this $7.49 recorder from Amazon, try something new.

23. Discover new music.

Spotify and Pandora are great music platforms to discover different songs and artists. Keep checking your local venues and maybe attend a concert if possible.

24. Complete a puzzle.

You can buy puzzles online for around $10-$15. However, thrift stores and stores like Goodwill often sell them for less than $5.

25. Visit a museum.

The Science Museum of Minnesota and Minneapolis Institute of Art are two of the post popular museums in Minnesota. If you check their websites and other internet sources such as Groupon, you might be able to find a discount for admission.

26. Go to a comedy show.

I'm unaware of good comedy events around the country, but if you ever find yourself in downtown Minneapolis, check out Brave New Workshop.

27. Build a card tower.

If you're unsure how to do so, here is a link to instructions.

28. Reorganize and redecorate your room.

If you'd like a change in your life, try redecorating or reorganizing your room. Donate old clothes, books, or furniture no longer in use.

29. Marathon the entire Harry Potter series.

I challenge you to do this back-to-back with each movie, but I also realize that is 19 hours and 39 minutes of watching movies, not including snack or bathroom breaks.

30. Play with a pet.

It doesn't have to be your own. For a real adventure, check out the nearest animal shelter.

31. Start a blog.

Wordpress and Weebly are two online blogging websites that I highly suggest. Although it takes awhile to become accustomed to the platform, these websites are great because they're entirely customizable to the type of blog you wish to create.

32. Go for a bike ride.

Whether it's along the river or out on back roads, go for a ride.

33. Teach yourself how to juggle.

This might be easier said than done, but some videos on YouTube might be useful.

34. Take a bubble bath.

Some bubble bath or a bath bomb, music, and a good book will have you relaxed almost instantly.

35. Go to a farmer's market.

Support the farmers in your community and try buying local. With a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, baked goods, and flowers, there's something for everyone. The farmer's market in downtown Minneapolis is open Thursday's from 6am-6pm, while the Lyndale Market is open daily from 6am-1pm.


36. Exercise.

Go for a walk. Run. Bike. Do yoga. Play soccer. Just get up, and get moving.

37. Become a tourist in your own city.

Pretend you're from out of state and only have a limited amount of time to explore your city. Take yourself and your friends or family to the must-see places around town.

38. Color.

Adult coloring books have become an increasingly popular trend. Available online, Barnes and Noble, and Target, they're easily accessible. You can buy a book, some colored pencils or pens, and enjoy the relaxing day.

39. Spend time with your family and friends.

Whether it's a movie day or going out on a walk, put away your phone or laptop for a day and appreciate the people standing around you.

40. Enjoy all the time you have not worrying about studying or homework.

Cover Image Credit: Joe Pizzio // Unsplash

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6 Ways To Start Pre-Gaming Your Summer Plans Today

A few ways to help you prepare for summer.

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Summer is coming sooner rather than later and we all need to get ready for it.

1. Start making trip plans now.

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If you are wanting to do a getaway over the summer, I would suggest starting to plan for the trip now. The closer you get to the time in which you want to go, the higher the prices of plane tickets and rooms go up. Also planning ahead gives you the chance to pinpoint exactly how you want to spend your trip and not waste your time. Nothing is worse than going on a trip and being stuck at the hotel the whole time because you have no idea what is our there for you to do.

2. Buy sunscreen.

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Do you really want to end up like her? I don't think so. Even if you are the type of person with the mentality that you will only be out in the sun for a short period of time, it doesn't matter. We all need sunscreen. Our skin is the largest organ of our body and we need to take care of it. Think of it this way, do you want to have sunspots when you're old? Or would you rather maintain your youthful appearance for as long as you can?

3. Find a new hobby.

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Let's be honest here for a minute, the majority of us do absolutely nothing over summer break and feel no guilt for it. I have done this several times over the years, and I now look back and realize all the time I wasted not learning or doing something new. If you are working full-time, have summer school, or a summer internship this does not apply to you unless you have the time to do so.

For the rest of y'all, get up and learn something. Learn how to knit. Take a kickboxing class. Try out new hiking places. Start learning another language, or continue practicing the one you learned in school at places where the language is commonly used. Get outside of your comfort zone!

4. De-stress and dispose.

You are so close to summer sometimes it stresses you out trying to get everything done. You need to realize that summer isn't going anywhere and you will get there eventually. Take a deep breathe and keep going. What I like to do is start throwing out the paperwork from this semester that I know I will never use again, don't want, and papers that I don't plan on using for the upcoming final. Disposing of those papers helps me visualize that the semester is almost over.

5. Buy a new swimsuit.

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Before you go out and buy a bunch of new swimsuits, try your old ones on first and see if they fit. Sometimes you just need a new top to match the bottoms that you already have or vice versa. Also, if you know that you are not going to buy a swimsuit for the pool or beach several times throughout the summer, don't waste your money on a new swimsuit. The one from last year that you never wore will do just fine.

Save Money

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The simplest way to understand it is no saving = no money to spend during summer. If you have all kinds of different trips and things you want to do that cost a fee, it would be wise to start saving up for all of your other expenses that you would normally have to pay per month like insurance, phone, or a car payment. I will be in the car payment category since I just bought a new one a few weeks ago.

That being said, my first car payment is due the week I am in New York. I don't want my New York money to be used for a car payment, so I've been taking extra shifts at work to compensate. I have also started going through my closet and selling the items I don't want anymore. There are several resale stores and places online for you to sell your unwanted clothes and other items to put some extra cash in your pocket.

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