Christmas Break: 33 Ideas For College Students (Or Soon-To-Be)
Only problem is that you sleep in one day, then two, then three. Pretty soon, the whole time has passed and you have done nothing to stay constructive.
While everyone should take advantage of the extra sack time, you don’t want to waste opportunities. To help bring more balance to your Christmas break, here are 33 ideas for college students (or the soon-to-be). Let’s get started!
Christmas Break Idea No. 1: Catch up on Netflix.
Some of the ideas on this list will be legitimately constructive while others will encourage you to veg out in front of the television, and this one fits the latter more than the former.
While we are fully aware there is a perception of hypocrisy in telling you to be productive and then watch Netflix or the streaming platform of your choice, we’re taking that risk anyway.
After all, you want to ease into things and give your body (and mind) time to rest. Plus, there’s a ton of great TV out there, and when else are you going to catch up on it?
No. 2. Read, read, read.
A more edifying use of your mind would be to catch up on the year’s reading. Like most people, you probably have a Goodreads list that needs your urgent attention.
And by exercising your mind through fiction and nonfiction reading, you will get greater mental dividends here than you would in front of the television.
To keep reading from being boring, consider strategically placing books throughout your house. One in the living room, one in the bathroom, one by your bed. Make sure that you can read whenever the moment strikes you, and juggle several at a time to keep from bringing out.
3. Fast from sleeping in.
We’re not idiots. We would never tell you to get up early every day of your Christmas break, but it is a good idea to curtail sleeping in activities as much as you can.
If you don’t, you could risk getting your body into a rhythm where it needs to sleep until 1 p.m. every day just to function. Sounds great, but what are you going to do when the 6 or 7 a.m. wake-up times kick in again?
A better use of your time: get up when you always do, but schedule a nap sometime throughout the day. Since so much of the mental exhaustion comes from the act of getting up early itself, you can maintain the edge over your body’s natural rhythms by changing nothing about the way you wake up, while continuing to get the bonus rest your body requires.
If you are mentally strong enough to get up at the same time each morning but need something to do so you don’t fall right back to sleep, consider scheduling some journal time during the first part of your day.
What to journal about? There are no wrong answers. Tell what you think about getting up early. Write a poem. Jot down a to-do list. Just get your hand and your pen moving on a blank sheet of paper, and you’ll be surprised how the dominoes fall into place.
5. Enjoy the great outdoors.
Another favorite early morning activity for a lot of us is getting out of bed and going for a morning walk or jog. The more adventurous among you may choose to go repelling or rock climbing. Maybe a bike ride.
Convening with nature gives you a degree of clarity that you can’t pick up staring at a blank journal entry or staying in bed and hitting the snooze button.
Just make sure you dress for the weather. No one wants to spend their Christmas break sick.
6. Go somewhere with friends and leave your phones in the car.
Always strive for what is realistic. Taking our own advice on this, we know you probably won’t be able to spend a whole day with your friends sans technology (good if you can). But do try to schedule some hangout time where you’re actually talking to one another face-to-face.
For example, let’s say you go out to eat and then bowling. Leave your phones in the car (or cars) or some place where you cannot easily get to them as you go into the restaurant.
The world is not going to fall apart in the 45 minutes to one hour that it takes to eat, and you’ll probably learn a lot more about who your friends really are — and they you — than you would have otherwise.
7. Take an Internet sabbatical.
Sometimes the devices aren’t the problem.
The Internet has made it easier and faster to communicate than ever before, but it also has opened the floodgates of faked and biased clickbait pieces and whiny losers on Twitter. (Not so much Facebook, since people mostly have to know who you are to use it.)
By getting off the Internet for an extended period of time, you will get more from your Christmas break activities and interactions. And you’ll probably discover that you are a much happier and more well-adjusted person.
8. Physical exertion.
Strenuous physical exercise releases endorphins that actually make you feel better mentally. How much exertion you’re supposed to engage in is up for debate, but we’ve found great results doing between 30 minutes to one hour per day, 7 days per week.
There are tons of great organizations where you can volunteer your time and energy during the holidays, and most of them will only be too happy to accept your help or donations.
A church can be a great place to start if you’re confused or overwhelmed, but there also are toy drives, children’s hospitals, humane societies, orphanages, and homeless shelters.
Remember: the holidays may be a great time for you, but someone out there is suffering or could just use a few extra breaks. You could be the person to give it to them.
10. Become an expert at a skill that interests you.
Okay so maybe we are throwing around the word “expert” too liberally here. There always will be people who are better at something than you are, and you them. So let’s redefine what an expert actually is.
For your purposes, it is someone who knows more than the average person about something. What are some passions or interests that you’ve always had that you would like to explore further?
Make a list of 10-15 items; then choose one or two that you can really jump in to over the next couple of weeks.
How do you become an expert at something — at least an expert how we’ve defined it?
You find people who know more — local experts, authors, or both — and you read or listen to everything they have to say on the topic. You internalize what comes naturally, ask questions about what doesn’t, and ask follow-ups if the second answer doesn’t quite get you there.
Once you have a fuller understanding of the simple and complex, you know enough to safely classify yourself as an expert — or at least someone who is well on their way to becoming one.
11. Create a bucket list.
By now, all of you probably know what a bucket list is. For those who don’t, a brief descriptor: it’s the list of all the things you want to accomplish before you die (or kick the bucket).
While the list sort of forces you to think about your own mortality — albeit inadvertently — it can be a great way of setting priorities and finding out what is really important to you.
Now, it can be overwhelming, but the good news is that you can make it as large or as small as you’d like, and you can be as silly as you’d like. There are no wrong entries. Also…
12. Cross something off your bucket list.
Another great thing about bucket lists are that you can cross something off of them once you’ve accomplished it.
There are few feelings of greater accomplishment than looking down at your list and seeing the things you’ve succeeded at doing.
While you’re at it, take time to reevaluate what’s on the list regularly and remove things as your priorities change. Just because something matters to you now, that does not mean it will matter 20 years from now.
Even if that’s the reason you are removing something, that’s great. It helps you clarify the vision of what is really important to you in life.
13. Research the history of your community.
When you start digging around in the history of your city, you are likely to find things that are super-interesting that you did not know a whole lot about — or anything, for that matter.
Sure, there are broad strokes that are probably known to everyone, but go down to your local library while on Christmas break and load up a microfiche of your local newspaper.
Look at the old advertisements. The articles in the sports and news sections. Make note of any familiar names or surnames. You start to get a sense of how your city was built, what made it tick, and how that connects to today.
14. Go Christmas shopping.
Christmas shopping can be just as disheartening as it is edifying. The key is to not let the commercial aspects of the season blind you to the truly important stuff.
Just what is the truly important stuff? While it can be different for everyone, most of the time it boils down to freedom, peace, and togetherness with the people you really care about.
Use shopping time to pick up a few cool things and bask in the glow of being with your shopping buddies.
15. Visit your local Starbucks or boutique coffee shop.
We mention Starbucks because it is the most easily recognizable coffee brand — and it’s a darn cool place to be with the best Internet in town — but really, you could be anywhere that sells gourmet coffees.
The coffee culture, in many ways, exemplifies everything that is right about the holiday season. You sit down with friends. You slow down long enough to savor a flavor.
For a moment, you’re not thinking about all the external obligations in your world. There is only coffee, and that is enough.
16. Road trip!
If you have the time and the money and the right set of friends and/or family to accompany you, then Christmas break can be a great time to hit the road for an extended trip.
Think ahead of time about some of the cool places that are feasible for your situation and budget. Next, ask people you think you could stand to be around for however long you’ll be gone. Make sure their schedules align.
Then, use the ‘Net and get a head start on the things to do in whatever your target destination is. Also, make sure you leave enough time to get home and decompress before starting back to school.
17. Christmas lights.
Feeling particularly festive? How about getting out on the roof with dear ol’ Dad (or by yourself) and stringing up some lights?
For this one, you want to be careful, though. It has been said there are more than 15,000 emergency room visits each holiday season that are directly related to decorating.
Electricity and heights aren’t always the best idea, in other words. Make sure that you have the comfort level for it.
18. Clean house.
For those hoping to wring a little productivity out of their Christmas break, it is recommended that you clean house, literally.
Getting your “workspace” in order will go a long way in helping you get your life in order, period.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work that you have to do, start with one item. Let’s say that shirt on your floor. Pick it up, walk it to the laundry room, and throw it in the pile or get a load together and wash it.
By starting small, your brain will start working on ways that it can simplify matters and get more done in less time. Pretty soon the whole place will start coming together. If it helps facilitate, listen to music while you’re doing it.
19. Devote one day to eliminating as many errands as possible.
Having 14 days to yourself, including weekends, can go a long way in taking care of business, and the best part is that you don’t have to give up much to get a lot done.
Just one day can help you remove items from your to-do list that have been following you around for weeks. While you may feel like you’re giving up something in the throes of TCB-ing it, the feeling of accomplishment that you get at the end of the day will help to maximize the enjoyment of your other 13 days.
20. Write a movie or book.
Getting industry-specific here, but everyone loves movies so why not try writing one!
It is not as difficult as you think — good storytelling, on the other hand, is another ball of wax — and there are many books that can help get you there faster.
Still, one of the best teachers is just to watch a lot of your favorite films and take notes of what you see. Describe it in as concrete of terms as possible, and consider investing in a software program like MovieMagic Screenwriter for help with formatting.
21. Play a gig.
Rather watch movies than write about them or make them? Perhaps one of the other arts will suit your fancy. If you have a talent for strings or other instruments, you might consider answering an ad to play in a band or putting one out yourself.
Most communities of 50,000 or more have a relatively healthy night life, and while you likely won’t affix yourself to the next Metallica or Foo Fighters, you’ll gain experience in life and craft that could come in handy down the road.
Even if you don’t end up playing music for a living, you can learn a lot of things about performing under pressure and managing resources by keeping the band together and playing gigs.
22. Shoot a film.
Should the act of writing a movie seem too simplistic, try shooting one. On a 14-day schedule, you probably won’t have time to do a full-scale feature (unless you do a lot of pre-logistics before Christmas break), but you should be able to do a short film.
And as most film school students will tell you, a well-conceived and executed short film can be the start of a career and lead to other opportunities.
Be mindful of the fact, though, that filmmaking is a collaborative effort if it is going to be done well. (In other words, play nice with others.)
Meditation means a lot of things to a lot of people. Some refer to it as prayer. Some just an overall emptying of your thoughts to achieve peace and calm.
However you do it, make time for it because it is too easy to get caught up in the fast-paced nature of life and forget about the important things.
Christmas break is a great time to refine or implement a practice of meditation that can get you off to the right start for a new year and new semester.
Find time for quiet that allows you to focus. Mornings are recommended, but know your body’s rhythms to determine the best time.
24. Take a yoga class.
For anyone who finds it difficult to meditate or anyone who just wants to get into better shape, consider enrolling in a yoga class.
Yoga may seem mystical and trippy, but you don’t have to buy into all the spiritual aspects to get the mental and physical benefits.
You may want to start with a video on YouTube to prime the pump and see if you enjoy it before paying for an actual class. Give it a try and go slow; then, gradually step up your game as the habit of it forms.
25. Spend time with family.
Maybe this should have been the first choice, but at least we got to it! Family time is great during Christmas break because it gives you a chance to slow down and see your loved ones from a different perspective.
With the fast pace of life, it gets easy to take family for granted. But when the holidays arrive, businesses close, people take more time off, school is out — it’s just really a great time to reconnect and plan fun activities and togetherness time.
26. Talk to an older relative.
Not to be morbid, but your older relatives are not going to be around forever, and their personal experiences will be precious to you — if not now, then definitely in the future.
Take some time to sit down and ask them about their past. For bonus points, record them and hold onto those recordings for dear life. Make copies.
As people who have had loved ones pass on, we can’t tell you how many times we wished there was an archive of the wisdom and stories they tried to impart while they were with us.
27. Get rid of damaging relationships.
The end of the year is time to reflect, not just on the classes you are taking and the major path you are on.
It also is a good time to reflect on your relationships and ask yourself which ones — romantic or otherwise — are pouring negative energy into your life.
Don’t misread the emotions you are feeling. Tension in a relationship is often a good indicator of harmfulness rather than passion. Take a good hard look at cutting back tense or damaging relationships.
(And just for the record, data shows that most relationships fall apart two weeks before Christmas, coincidentally the same length of time as most winter breaks.)
28. Make goals for the next semester or chapter of your life.
You don’t have to be consumed by future goals. Christmas break is, after all, a break. So make the most of it.
But you will find that a little thought toward the next semester or the next chapter of your life, and some real strategic planning, will energize your post-break activities.
If you want to combine this with journal exercises, feel free. Just don’t let it catch you off guard because it will come around before you are ready for it.
29. Watch Christmas movies.
Christmas movies are like pizza. Even when they are bad, they are good. By that, we mean that not every movie is It’s a Wonderful Life, but you can at least laugh at them if they turn out like, say, Holiday in Handcuffs.
30. Cook something.
The act of cooking can teach you a lot about yourself while also helping you with confidence and providing a sense of accomplishment.
If you are confused about where to begin, think about what you like to eat and find a great recipe online. Go by the letter of the law at first, or, if you are the adventurous type, make a few tweaks and adjustments.
Cooking provides a great sense of community as well. It’s something that you can do with your loved ones, in other words.
31. Go caroling.
Another great act of community that you can do with your friends, and there are enough nonreligious carols out there that you can carol with a diverse group of folks to make Christmas break more inclusive for everyone. Just make sure that you travel safely and, again, be mindful of the weather.
32. Attend a play or local production.
Sure, they may be terrible or amateurish at best, but they get you out into your community, connecting with others, and maybe even expanding your horizons.
And the Final Christmas Break Idea: Exercise.
For all the excess calories you know you’re going to eat!
We hope that your Christmas break is a great one and that you are already making plans for how to make the most of it. What are some things that you have lined up? Feel free to share yours in the comments section below!
[Featured Image by Eastmont School]