The holiday season has officially begun (Well, for normal people, at least. For me, I started blasting Michael Buble's Christmas album the at 12:01 am on November 1st.) The holidays can also be one of the most stressful times of the year for college students. It's finals season, we have multiple papers and projects to work on over Thanksgiving break, and its hard to get into Christmas movies and decorating and gift-shopping when you've got marketing presentations on the mind.

This year, I've come up with a list to get into the holiday spirit and maximize my December, all the while balancing my classes and finals. I hope these tips and tricks will help you as well!

1. Decorate, even if it's simple

The Target dollar spot is full of cute holiday decorations for $1, $3, or $5, and if you can spend a little more, the Wondershop is full of incredible decor this year. Even if you can only manage a few decorations around your dorm or apartment, these will perk you up when you're still awake at 3 am writing that paper.

2. Buy some Christmas candles

If you live in sunny SoCal like I do, chances are you won't be smelling any fresh fallen snow or freshly cut evergreens, but, as my mom always says, fake it 'til you make it! Bath and Body Works always has great coupons and they make the best candles known to man, so check there if you're looking for some holiday scents. If you're not looking to drop much cash, check out that Target dollar spot, TJ Maxx, Home Goods, etc. for cheap holiday candles.

3. Volunteer

Every Thanksgiving break, my family and I volunteer at the Operation Christmas Child distribution centers and it is one of my favorite memories every year. We work in an assembly line to check the shoeboxes, fill them with extra toys, put shipping labels on them, and package them to be shipped off to children in need. It's always a fun day and it feels good to be a part of something that will bring so much joy to other people.

4. Bake something

Nothing reminds me more that it's the holiday season than the smell of my mom baking pizzelles and coffee cake. Get together with your roommates and bake some cookies or muffins. If you don't want to eat them all, donate the rest to your local shelter.

5. Do your gift shopping online

Going to the store or the mall after Black Friday is just an anxiety attack waiting to happen. Spare yourself some frustration and the extra hour it will take to find a parking spot and order any gifts you made need online. They'll arrive stress-free at your doorstep and you'll save money on gas.

6. Pick a theme for your gift wrapping

True story: my sister and I were at Target the other day and I told her that she couldn't buy a certain wrapping paper because it was too similar to my own wrapping aesthetic. (Don't worry, I am also laughing at myself). I have two aunts that always have the most beautifully wrapped and coordinated gifts that are #goals, so pick a color scheme and go crazy.

7. Surround yourself with good people

Some people are so far from home in the time leading up to the holidays that its impossible to be around family until they fly home. I'm fortunate enough to live within a half hour drive of all my cousins, so I try to hang out with them whenever I can. If you're not near family, surround yourself with your friends and lift each other up during these next few very stressful months.

The holidays are my favorite time of year. They just so happen to overlap with the most stressful time of the year, but with these tips, hopefully, the next few weeks will be most festive than stressful.

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