is’ the season… to be hitting those books just in time for exams! The idea that finals eat into time that should be designated for winter break is an unassailable concept to most Penn students. However, the claim that being stranded at school gives us ample opportunity to get into the holiday spirit is a bit more contested. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or take part in a religion that does not have a holiday around this time, winter is still a festive season. It’s one that can brighten any mood, especially when you’re knee deep in finals and might be getting homesick. So let’s explore some neat ways to cozy up our dorms, eat some good food, and make the best out of the last couple of weeks in the fall semester!
Start the holidays off right with some DIY dorm room decorations! Something that always makes me feel homesick is the fact that I can’t be with my family to argue over which Christmas tree to buy, to string up the holiday lights, and to watch my mom be extra as she turns our house into a life-sized imitation of a gingerbread house. On the other hand, I’m friends with people who simply don’t decorate all–whether they acknowledge Christmas as a holiday or not. A possible inclusive and happy-medium for the many diverse friend groups out there is to decorate a dorm in any fashion that fits the cold season! I’m not just proposing the use of green and red ribbons, but blue, yellow, silver and gold too. Go for anything your roommates deem festive and upbeat!
If you’re basic like me, you probably already have some type of string lights hanging in your room. If you don’t and want to decorate your living room with some, Amazon has a great assortment of seasonal LED-string lights for super cheap prices and great delivery times. String lights look good anyway you fashion them, but personally I like to hang mine from the ceiling and have them drape down down like they’re mini hammocks in the sky [see picture below].
Another festive activity that doubles as decoration is making snowflakes! While paper is always a great way to go, an even jazzier way to add winter flair to a dull on-campus dorm or off-campus suite is to take some popsicle sticks and get creative. Make your popsicle snowflakes silver or sprinkle them with glitter, and then hang those from the ceiling alongside your lights!
And just to let everyone in your hall know that your dorm is brimming with holiday spirit, decorate your door to fit the inside decor! Winter wrapping paper is pretty affordable off of Amazon but if you want to take it in another direction, decorate the door or even your refrigerator like a snowman! The only materials you need for this are some colored paper and tape.
The ideas for decorating your dorm can be endless and take up no more than a single free afternoon. Most importantly, I always find these activities to be a great stress reliever and an even better way to get creative after a long time of reading text books and completing problem sets.
Besides decorating, another way to enjoy time with your friends, get creative, and be in a holiday mood is to bake. As always, the Food Network has this field covered with its delectable and easy-to-make seasonal recipes ranging from old fashioned sugar cookies to chocolate dipped hazelnut shortbread.
Just to add a cherry on the chestnut praline latte, taking pictures of the decorating, baking, and finished products are always a great touch! You never know when a time might come when you’ll need to whip out a holiday season’s greetings photo just to show that your squad is popping. String lights, fresh baked cookies, and a good group of friends make a warm and cozy polaroid but if you only have a phone, the pictures still come out just as memorable!
You don’t have to celebrate Christmas or only invite people who celebrate Christmas to welcome the end of the semester in a very festive fashion. This should be an inclusive time to get creative, partake in some cheat meals, snap some fun pictures, and praise the near end of finals before you leave for winter break.
Happy holidays and have a happy new semester!