Maximize your free time this winter break

By Molly Nguyen, Staff Writer

Tis the season of cheerful spirits, family and friends, and a break from your busy, demanding school life. Due to the stressful weeks leading up to winter break, it’s easy to stay locked in your room during the holidays.

Although total relaxation is not a terrible plan, there are more fun alternatives to enjoy your time off. Whether it be fulfilling old traditions or creating new ones, the time spent during these holidays can be turned into memories that can last a lifetime.

Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Catch up with old friends

With how demanding college is, it is very easy to lose contact with hometown friends. That is why winter break is a great way to retie the knot. A great way to meet up could be simply grabbing a cup of coffee (or hot chocolate if you prefer). It’s the perfect way to stay warm and catch up with your old buddies.

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Embrace the snow

With a cold winter coming up, snow is ultimately inevitable. And don’t worry, we are not too old to enjoy it. In fact, it’s a great way to get out of the house and get some fresh air. This winter, go out with your friends or family and find some fun slopes to sled down, or create a festive snowman for your front lawn. If you want to be productive, make your parents happy by shoveling the driveway.

Delicious treats

The holidays are notorious for sugar-filled treats. Whether it be gingerbread houses or those festive shaped sugar cookies, this is a delicious way to spend some quality family time inside your home. Usually you can buy kits to make these treats, but if you want to make them from scratch, check out Food Network’s website. It has hundreds of ideas to get your mouth watering.

Give a little

In light of this cheerful time, it is also a prime opportunity to give to those in need. There are a lot of people who desperately need the bare necessities to get their family through the tough winter season. Simple ways to help is by donating old clothes, shoes or winter gear to charities. Other ways include creating gift baskets filled with some nonperishable foods and a few small toys for the kids. Helping to bring joy to others is one of the best gifts you can give.

Ice skating and skiing

These two sports are generally enjoyed during this time of the year. If you aren’t the most gracious figure skater, don’t worry because most of the others on the rink are not either. For most people, it’s a way to get out of the house and share some good laughs and a few falls. If you have the time to travel to a ski lodge, make sure you bundle up, learn the basics and know the difference between the bunny slope and the black diamond slope.

Prepare for the new year

“New year, new me” is the common saying around this time. At the end of the year, it is not a bad idea to look back at what could have been accomplished and come up with some future goals. Whether it be exercising to work off those holiday treats or breaking old, stubborn habits such as biting your fingernails, it is a prime time to shake off the old and create a better version of yourself.

If you do decide to stay in your room …

Let’s be honest, some students will end up locked in their rooms. What better way to spend that alone time than binge-watching your favorites? Check out Netflix, HBO or Hulu for some binge-worthy shows to keep you occupied or enjoy some holiday classics that will surely be streaming all winter break.

Most important of all, maximize your winter break by enjoying it with your loved ones. Happy holidays, Illini!

Molly is a junior in LAS.

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