Ever since I started college, Christmas has become extra magical: beyond regular presents, I get the gift of a one-month vacation between semesters! With Finals dominating the two weeks before Christmas, though, it can be hard to keep up the holiday cheer.
Don't worry, though. Casey, your official elf, is here with some carol-inspired tips on how to (Christmas) light up your finals week.
1. "Deck the halls with boughs of holly" - Deck the Halls
First, take a hint from one of the most well-known Christmas carols and start spreading the Christmas cheer around your own dorm room! This year, my apartment is boasting some major holiday feels thanks to a mini Christmas tree my dad remembered was hiding in our attic.
At first, I set it up - mini ornaments and all - only to find out that the lights didn't work. The next morning, though, I woke up, switched on the power, and hello holiday rainbow! (Christmas miracle, I think yes?). After my roommate bought a light-up star and even more ornaments on a midnight Target run, we now joke that our baby tree has the most swag around.
One important note: to avoid ending up on Santa's naughty list, make sure you check what decorations you college allows. If you can't have lights, add spirit with a festive white/black board or just enjoy the Claus-inspired campus scenery. I found this (slightly frightening) basketball player ornament on a tree at my gym. Go Christmas spirit?
2. "Chestnuts roasting over an open fire / Jack Frost nipping at your nose" - The Christmas Song
One of my - admittedly favorite - tips? Embracing holiday food! You need fuel to study anyway so might as well give it a Christmas twist.
Right now, I'm adding nutmeg to all my sweet dishes for some gingerbread feels. In terms of smoothie bowls, oatless oatmeal and homemade granola, you can also experiment with adding blackstrap molasses, pumpkin spice, cranberries, chocolate (without which no holiday is complete!), and pumpkin puree. Spicing up my usual meals is the easy way to sneak in some Christmas spirit (and delicious taste)!
As for savory meals, colder weather always makes me crave crock pot meals like vegan Mac and cheese, Mom's pork stew, and lots of seasonal veggies like green beans, squash, and mushrooms. One bonus of festive eating? Because the foods are often seasonal, this is one Christmas "present" that doesn't break the bank!
3. "Faithful friends that are so dear to us / Gather near us once more" - Have Yourself a Very Merry Christmas
Perhaps the most effective way to fight finals blues is making time for your favorite friends! This can mean homework partying (always a favorite when you have essays due and finals to study for), Netflix breaks, or random selfies when you and your roommate realize you accidentally color-coordinated outfits.
Getting off campus to explore nearby Christmas lights (like I did last year) or just grab a bite to eat is especially helpful. A change in scenery proves first that it is indeed Christmas time, and not finals week, for the majority of humans nearby; and second gives you some breathing (make that caroling) room from studying.
And Chipotle with the boy is always a good plan - even when he photobombs my Instagram pics.
4. "But the prettiest sight to see / is the holly that will be / hanging on your own front door " - It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas
One of the most encouraging parts of finals week, though, is that after all the tests are written and turned in, you're done! Free to make all the cookies, sing all the songs, and buy (last minute) all the Christmas gifts you've been dreaming of!
So, if you're like me and can't find your Christmas mojo until finals are over? That's OK! However, this year I've been especially focused on sneaking some cheer into my life - whether by listening to Christmas music on the radio or pausing to look at the lights on campus. And you know what? It makes the light at the end of tunnel (home) seem not so far away.
Not to mention that when I drive home next Friday, hug my family and collapse on the sofa, it will be the best Christmas gift of all!
What are your top tricks to getting into the Christmas spirit? Any favorite seasonal foods? Comment below!