It’s December, you’re in college, the last thing you want to think about is celebrating Christmas. There are exams to study for, papers to write, group projects to suffer through… who has time to think about the holidays?
Look, as much as I hate to say it, but the busy end-of-semester rush doesn’t delay the passing of time. Christmas will continue to get closer, and if you happen to have a late semester (like I did this year), it’ll be upon you almost as soon as you’re home for the holidays.
It’s hard to celebrate Christmas in college, but fortunately there are some ways you can still have holiday cheer while passing all of your exams.
Let’s face it, it’s hard to be in the “Christmas Spirit” when you’re worried about the assignments that keep stacking up. I found myself feeling stressed and anxious a lot during the holiday season, and while it didn’t fix all of my problems, listening to my favorite Christmas music helped a lot. Even if it was a couple of songs while I did chores or got dressed, it helped lift my mood. If you’re the kind of person who likes to listen to music while working or studying, you could also try some instrumental Christmas songs that will allow you to focus.
My other suggestion is to not be so hard on yourself. I’m not saying you should blow off your exams or assignments, but give yourself some grace and time to refresh. I sometimes catch myself feeling guilty for not working, even when I’ve worked hard all day, and I’m learning to allow myself time to relax. One night before exams, I baked myself some chocolate-chip cookies and watched Black Panther in my room. I suppose it isn’t very Christmasy, but in some ways it was like giving a gift to myself.
Speaking of gifts, giving them is a challenge in college. Many students (myself included) are very cautious about how they spend their money, so finding presents can be stressful. During my first year of college, I purchased gifts for all of my friends, and it ended up costing me about $100. Granted, that may not seem like a lot of money, but it was a lot for an (at the time) unemployed freshman. I certainly don’t regret the gifts I gave, but it was a challenge to buy something for everyone that was still within my budget.
There are two things I’ve learned since then:
1) You don’t need to get a gift for EVERYONE
You might feel pressured to get gifts for your professors or your RA or any of your acquaintances, but sometimes it’s better to just limit your shopping list to a few close friends. Most people aren’t expecting you to give them something, so you should never feel like you’re “supposed” to give a gift to certain people.
2) You don’t need to spend a ton of money on it
You probably already know this, but a gift doesn’t need to be expensive for it to be special. A lot of the gifts I gave this year were handmade, and while I did buy the materials, it was less pricey than if I had purchased the item (plus, crafting is a good way to take a break from working). When I think about the gifts I’ve received from friends, the ones I remember the most are the ones that I can tell they put thought into, and that means more to me than the price tag.
Maybe the most challenging part is actually celebrating the holidays. Ideally, you might throw a Christmas party for your friends, but that’s not always feasible during this busy time of year. If you do want to do something like that, maybe try something smaller and more informal: bake some cookies and invite people to visit your dorm or apartment during a certain time. And if your friends can’t make it, open it up to your floormates – I’m sure they’d appreciate a Christmas celebration too.
You can also reserve time to spend with friends, like having a meal together or going out Christmas shopping. I had a pretty busy end-of-semester, but I spent an afternoon Christmas shopping with some friends, and that was just as fun.