Ahhh, it's that time of year again: the awkward three or four weeks of the fall semester that are jammed between Thanksgiving and Christmas. College students have just gotten a taste of what it's like to be at home with very few responsibilities, and honestly, there's nothing they want more than to go back to that false childhood-like state.
However, there's also so much fun to be had before students say goodbye to their friends for nearly a month. Plus, it's the holiday season—who wants to wish that away? Even with the stress of finals, these 12 activities can help make these weeks some of the best of the year.
1. Throw a holiday party.
Whether it's Secret Santa, White Elephant, or Ugly Sweater themed, holiday parties are the perfect way to enjoy the season and forget about the stress your classwork brings—even if it's only for a few hours.
2. Use the cold weather as an excuse for a movie night.
After a cold, long day of classes, it's really nice to pop some popcorn and indulge in nostalgic Christmas movies, or the Hallmark-style ones if we're being serious here. Gotta have something to blame those stress-filled tears on.
3. Find seasonal activities to do with your friends.
Ice skating, Christmas light viewing, even snowball fighting make for exciting winter-specific events for you and your friends. These are the sorts of memories that turn into lifelong traditions.
4. Check out a few basketball games.
With winter comes college basketball. Even if you're not into sports, student-run fan organizations, such as the Orange Krush at UIUC, make gamedays some of the most exciting of each week for students looking for a fun evening activity.
5. Get your gift shopping done.
Finals are stressful, but the holidays are fast-approaching. Take a healthy break from studying and get your shopping taken care of—it'll be both fun and productive.
6. Bundle up in your softest clothing.
Yes, it may be cold, but that means you get to wear your comfiest clothing 24/7. Sweaters and warm socks for class? Count me in!
7. Take advantage of the freedom you have at school.
When you go home for winter break, you'll be back to living under your parents' roof, which often means you'll be back to living by their rules for a month. Use these last few weeks to really enjoy being the kind-of-adult you get to be on campus.
8. Make time for self-care and relaxation.
The stress of this time of year can take a toll on you both mentally and physically. Taking the time to do a 15 minute face mask or take an extra long shower can make a world of a difference.
9. Give back in your college community.
With the holidays come many opportunities to volunteer. As a student, you spend most of your year on a campus that may be in a different community than the one you call home. Because of this, it only seems right to give back to the community you've become a part of. UIUC students, be sure to check in with the Office of Volunteer Programs to get started!
10. Indulge in winter drinks.
Every coffee shop in America seems to have drinks they only sell during the winter. You work hard and deserve to treat yo' self a few times during this ever-stressful segment of the year.
11. Curl up with a blanket and a book.
There's nothing like snow gracefully hitting the ground outside to create the perfect reading environment. Take a short break from your studying-induced panic to enjoy a book you've been dying to read all semester (or year or two... college is rough, man).
12. Make the most of the time you have left with your friends.
Even if you're ready for a break from the people you've been spending all of your time with, you're going to miss them when they're miles, not steps, away from you at any given moment. Cherish the time you have with them—they've probably reached family-status in your life anyway.
It's the most wonderful time of the year—being a college student shouldn't completely hinder your ability to enjoy this marvelous month. Finals don't have to rule your world—winter holidays can play a role in your life right now too.