Finally, the holiday season is upon us! With no more exams, assignments or classes, you now have time for relaxation and rejuvenation. Holiday-inspired treats are now being sold at your favourite coffee shops, snow is falling (hopefully), and it’s time to wrap up in a warm blanket and watch a festive movie or TV episode. My personal favourites are Elf and Home Alone, if you’re looking for suggestions. However, the winter term is on the horizon: so how can you make the most of your holiday break while balancing school preparation and relaxation? Well, I have compiled a list that might help.
Catch up with old friends
Everyone’s home for the holidays, which means that you can get together with old high-school friends to reminisce, catch up with each other and see where life has taken everyone. If you live in the G.T.A. and are constricted by your student budget, consider visiting the Toronto Christmas Market! This Distillery Market favourite is a festive way to get into the holiday spirit. You can listen to carolers, purchase gifts made by local artisans and enjoy some hot chocolate or mulled wine. The best part? Entry to the market is $5 on weekends and free during the week.
Plan next semester’s schedule
I know, I know, school just ended but it is a good idea to plan out the new term in advance. Map out where all of your classes will be, what textbooks you’ll need to purchase and ensure that your course load will be manageable. It’s also a good idea to create a game plan to figure out how you will tackle next term before you get too busy to figure out what needs to be done. Are there key academic support services you can access, or chunks of time throughout the week when you can get your assignments done? Identify a few core strategies that you can use to achieve academic success! Check out our previous blog post, “Time Management Tips for York U Students” for more information about how to stay on track this holiday season.
Catch up on your reading
If you’re taking some 6- or 9-credit classes this year, it’s a good idea to get a jump-start on your readings. You might have some readings that need to be completed for the first week back, so in order to avoid falling behind, space them out and complete some of your reading during the break. Curl up with some tea and enjoy the luxury of completing your readings with time to spare!
However, it’s also always a nice little break to read something that you have been meaning to read for ages. I plan on reading at least two or three new books this holiday break. Some popular books you could read this holiday season are The Sun and her Flowers by Rupi Kaur, It by Stephen King or Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng.
What’s a holiday without treats? Not a very good holiday, if you ask me. Take some time to relax and enjoy the sweet, sweet aroma of holiday baking. Apple pie, shortbread cookies and gingerbread men are all traditional holiday desserts that are perfect additions to a cozy night at home. They can even double as holiday gifts and a nice snack for any house guests who may stop by during the holiday season.
There’s nothing like the holiday season to motivate people to volunteer and give back to the community. There are so many ways to give back this holiday break. Donate blood through a local blood drive, volunteer with an organization like the Humane Society, Meals on Wheels or UNICEF or help out at a local food bank to provide meals for people. Helping out those in need and spreading some holiday cheer is a great way to pass your time this holiday break.
Enjoy the outdoors
The holiday season is a great time to go out and enjoy what the outdoors has to offer. After being stuck inside for months with assignments and studying to do, having a little break to get outside and smell the fresh air is a nice change of pace. There are plenty of activities to do in the outdoors. You could go hiking, to the beach, take a nice walk in the park, or if the weather is colder, you could go ice skating, tobogganing or skiing.
Despite the weather, going outside and enjoying the bright lights of the holiday season is a great pastime. If you live in the GTA, a great outdoor outing is skating at Nathan Philips Square with its bright lights. There is also plenty of indoor activities located in the GTA area if you hate winter weather. Toronto.com outlines some perfect holiday themed activities to do during this holiday season.
Make DIY Gifts on a Student Budget
I love holiday shopping for family and friends, but it can be difficult to buy gifts on a student budget. However, that doesn’t mean that a good gift is one where you have to spend a large amount of money! In fact, there are many DIY gift ideas which are creative and student-friendly. Here are a few ideas to help you get inspired for the season of gift-giving:
Warm fuzzies are personalized notes intended to give a warm and fuzzy feeling to the reader (hence the name)! It’s a great gift to show your appreciation to your loved ones while keeping it simple by using only a pen and paper. You can write about anything, from cherished memories to inside jokes. The key is to make it personal and genuine. Once you have finished writing all your notes, wrap them in a decorative bag.
Homemade treats are a fun and delicious gift. To spruce up your usual baked goods, you can follow a holiday theme such as snowman-inspired treats. For those of you who are not bakers, snowman marshmallow skewers are cute and easy to make. All you need are marshmallows, skewers and chocolate candy melts. After skewering three marshmallows on a stick, microwave the chocolate for 15 second intervals until fully melted. Pour the chocolate into a Ziploc bag and snip a tiny hole at the end. Finish off by piping the features of the snowman with the chocolate and give it time to set.
If you’re up for the baking challenge, you can try your hand at making snowman cupcakes. To make this festive dessert, you will need: cupcakes (from your favourite recipe!), marshmallows, vanilla frosting, chocolate candy melts and small candies. Once your cupcakes are baked, dip the cupcake in vanilla frosting. Add a marshmallow on top and pipe the features of the snowman with the melted chocolate. Finish off by decorating with small candies.
Personalized mugs are not only a great gift idea suited to everyone, but they are also practical! You will need a plain white mug and oil-based paint Sharpie markers. Practice your design on paper first before drawing on the mug. When you are finished with the design, let the mug dry overnight. Bake the mug in the oven at 350°F for around 30 minutes to set your design Place the mug in the oven before it heats up and let it cool completely before taking it out of the oven in order to avoid cracks.
Candy Mason Jars
For all your friends and family who have a sweet tooth, a decorative candy mason jar is a simple and sweet gift. Choose a festive theme for your jar and stick with it. For instance, if you choose a reindeer theme, use brown coloured candies and chocolate. Decorate the jar with pipe cleaners to mimic antlers and a red pompom for the nose. To further personalize the jar, add a handmade gift tag.
If you have old Scrabble pieces lying around, recycle them to make a creative tree ornament. You will need old Scrabble pieces, ribbon and a hot glue gun. Select what word you would like to have on your ornament and prearrange the Scrabble pieces vertically. Hot glue your letters to the ribbon one by one and let it cool. Tie a loop at the end of the ribbon and add any extra decorations as desired.
From all of us at the #YUBlog, happy holidays, Lions! Get some much-needed rest to recharge for next semester. The #YUBlog will take a break from December 22- January 4, when we’ll return with brand-new blog posts about all the goings-on at York University.
What is your favourite activity to do over the holiday break? Let us know in the comments below!