For many of us, Christmas and the holiday season is a time that we like to be at home with our families and loved ones. However, if you are studying abroad, taking December intersession courses, or simply can’t get home for the holidays, this time of year can be a little disappointing for you.
If you are finding yourself away from home this holiday season, we have a few tips to help you survive Winter Break away from home.
1. Celebrate the holidays in an unique way. There’s no way to recreate the atmosphere and events that take place at your traditional holiday celebrations. So instead of trying, why not create a new celebration? Find some friends who are also spending the Winter Break away from home and think of something fun that you can all do together. Maybe it’s volunteering at a local charity, going ice skating together, or having a marathon of your favorite Christmas movies with plenty of puppy chow and hot chocolate. The more creative and festive you are, the more fun it will be.
2. Call back home when everyone will be there. Arrange a time with your family and friends back home when you can talk to each other. This will give you an opportunity to catch up with everyone from back home and tell them what you have been up to as well. You could also open gifts over the phone while you are talking if you have sent them by mail. If you have Skype, this can be even more fun because you will get to see everyone.
3. Save all of the cards and gifts you get in the mail for Christmas Day. Having all of these fun things to open, read, and play with will give you something to look forward to and to entertain you on Christmas. If you have a tree in your apartment, dorm, or common area, you can put your gifts under the tree as well to create a more festive environment.
4. Organize a gift-exchange or play Dirty Santa. These activities will get you in the holiday spirit, but in different ways. Gift-exchanges are fun because they allow you to spend time thinking of others, which is what the holiday season is all about. Although Dirty Santa does not have any real holiday sentimental value, it is a lot of fun and would make a great pastime for Christmas Day with your friends.
5. Go on vacation. If you are studying abroad and can’t get home to the USA for Christmas, you can still take a little mini-vacation. I recommend going to a place where there is snow – especially if you are from a warmer location where it does not usually snow – to really get you into the holiday season. This is also a great opportunity to experience different cultures and see how they celebrate the holidays.
6. Find a temporary family for Winter Break. This could be your host family if you are studying abroad or the family of a friend who lives closer to your school if you can’t make it home for one reason or another. Nobody likes to be alone during the holidays, so it’s more than likely that these families will allow you to join in on their festivities.
7. Decorate your space. Buy a small, artificial Christmas tree, hang lights on your bed, play holiday music, and make snowflakes from coffee filters to hang on your windows. These decorations and small touches will make your dorm room, bedroom, or apartment feel more like home and will also get you into the holiday spirit.
8. Bake traditional holiday snacks, such as sugar cookies, puppy chow, and gingerbread men. Then, give these handmade gifts to your friends who have also stayed away from home for Winter Break. Also, you’ll get major bonus points in my book if you can make a decent fruitcake!
9. Enjoy not having to go to the mall. Let’s face it, there are a lot of awesome things about being back home during Winter Break. However, one of the worst is having to go to the mall to do some last-minute shopping and dealing with all of the other insane last-minute shoppers. If you are not going home for Winter Break, chances are you will have already bought and mailed any presents you are sending long before the madness sets in at the mall and you can avoid a experience a scene like Arnold Schwarzenegger has in the popular Christmas movie, Jingle All the Way.
Have you spent a Winter Break away from home? What did you do to survive it? Share your tips and tricks with us below in the comment section.