You’re dying for some home cooking, and your hair needs a decent trim. Even though you’re so tired you could probably sleep straight through break, you’ve missed hanging out with hometown friends and that other thing you used to have — free time.
Don’t worry — we’ve compiled several restorative, invigorating and genuinely decadent ways to enjoy the season that are perfect for rebooting your energy levels and indulging in well-deserved downtime.
Build a Bonfire
Anywhere will do: the beach, a state park — even a spacious backyard. Enlist the help of friends to gather wood, and don’t forget to accommodate plenty of seating. Bonfires have a way of attracting folks!
Missing some distant family members? Proclaim them virtual judges and send your “entries” through social sharing mediums like Google Drive or Dropbox. They’ll get a real kick out of all your creations and the opportunity to share the spirit of the season with you.
Don’t forget to save the pumpkin seeds. Roasting them in a little olive oil with salt makes a great companion to traditional seasonal sweets.
Go Apple Picking
Fresh air, sunshine and mouthwatering apples — nothing signals the harvest quite like orchard hay rides and bulging bags of just-picked fruit. Consider purchase of farm-made jarred products like apple butter and jam. They make excellent dorm room snacks with crackers or bread.
Cozy Up With a Movie
Got some friends who want in? Build a hot chocolate bar and allow guests to create their own unique concoctions.
Watch a Parade
A Thanksgiving Day parade, of course. If your town or local district doesn’t have one, there’s always the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on NBC. A Thanksgiving tradition since 1924 and chock-full of classic entertainment, the famous New York City event garners more than 50 million viewers every year.
Glam it up with some pre-turkey brunch to hold off hunger while dinner cooks. Consider grabbing takeout, since your kitchen will likely be jammed — most coffee and breakfast places are open before noon during the holiday.
Start a Pick-Up Game
Raid childhood closets and perhaps the garage for a football, frisbee, tug-of-war rope or just a few bright orange cones. You only need a couple of players for touch football or frisbee. But if you’ve got a good-sized game crew, organize a few rounds of tug-of-war and an impromptu obstacle course.
Chances are, you’ll find yourself laughing too hard to compete seriously, and sweating even in temperatures cold enough to see your breath.
Bake Seasonal Goods
What to do with all those fresh apples? Indulge in the comfort of home baking. So what if you’ve never made pie crust or used an electric mixer? With a few basic ingredients and a little patience, you can turn out seasonal breads and cookies to rival the pros.
The next best thing to apple pie and a much healthier option is apple crumb. Other than white sugar, brown sugar, flour and butter, the only slightly out-of-the-box ingredients required are rolled oats, cinnamon and your delicious orchard bounty. . It bakes for under an hour, making it as time-efficient as it is delicious.
Of course, anything with pumpkin is an ideal go-to this season. And it’s not such a deep secret that chefs all over the world use canned pumpkin puree in both sweet and savory recipes. There’s no need to destroy your carved masterpiece for a recipe!
Consider doubling simple pumpkin bread batches and freeze extra loaves for travel back to college. Don’t have a loaf pan? Make muffins and share the bounty with neighbors or your local fire and police department.
Starting to like this sharing thing? Use the same ingredients you gathered for apple crisp, plus milk, vanilla, egg and nutmeg, and turn out . Feel free to add a personal twist by including chocolate chips, raisins, dried cranberry or walnuts. Clearly mark the cookies that contain nuts as a precaution for those with nut allergies.
Do most of your childhood holiday memories include a not-so-faint football game soundtrack playing in the background, complete with penalty whistles and cheering? Keep the memory alive by putting together a tailgate party and embracing the football vibe.
If your local high school team is still playing, chances are they’ve made it to the playoffs. Thanksgiving weekend also hosts several classic college rivalry games — and then there’s the NFL. Throw some beach chairs, packed coolers and maybe a portable grill in the back. Make sure you’ve charged all your devices so you can play plenty of party-in-the-parking-lot tunes.
Can’t score tickets? Get creative and consider tailgating around an outdoor TV, or even in the driveway with the game on inside. Tailgating is a frame of mind, and it’s OK to bend the rules to fit your situation.
Take a Hike
Fall foliage is peak this time of year. Take the opportunity to view it in all its glory on a mind-clearing hike. Tranquil walks in the great outdoors offer a feeling of being quite small in a big world. Chronic worries begin to seem less significant, and your mind relaxes as your body works.
Fall break is an ideal time to slow down, have fun and connect with others far from the urgency of assigned papers and exams, even if it’s just for a little while. And, after all — winter break is right around the corner!