Illustrations of various different Christmas trees
Small dorm spaces don't have to prevent college students from decorating for Christmas, with options from small trees to lights of all different colors. (Illustration by Mia Stratman, Minneapolis College of Art and Design)

How College Students Can Get Into the Christmas Spirit

Whether you’re able to make it home for the holidays or not, here are some options for setting up festive decor and celebrating the season.

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Illustrations of various different Christmas trees

Whether you’re able to make it home for the holidays or not, here are some options for setting up festive decor and celebrating the season.

Christmastime presents a valuable opportunity to get into the holiday spirit of giving and receiving. However, throughout the month of December, college students are juggling their schoolwork and extracurricular activities, which sometimes makes it hard to enjoy time to themselves. Decorating is an easy and reasonably priced activity that can help students relax, enjoy themselves and prepare to go on break.

For college dorm rooms and small apartments, students can buy smaller Christmas trees. One option is to buy a two-foot-tall fake tree off of Amazon, which tends to fall within the price range of $20 to $30. Many of these miniature trees come with prepackaged ornaments and strands of lights, which is a convenient solution for college students who don’t have the time to buy decorations or don’t have a store that sells them within walking distance. Fortunately, students can store trees once the holiday season is over and hopefully reuse them in creative ways the next time Christmas rolls around.

College students can also buy real Christmas trees in a range of heights. Hardware stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot offer a wide selection of trees and wreaths to choose from. It is helpful to go out and buy one, because these retail stores cut trees down to manageable sizes and help customers load them into their cars. Also, these stores sell wreaths with a variety of different components, ranging from holly sprigs to shiny ornaments.

On the positive side, real trees are more authentic and spruce up the room by bringing in the sharp scent of pine. Students may also enjoy the process of shopping for and decorating trees by themselves. This may be the first time that students have left home, so it is a mark of pride and independence to develop one’s own holiday traditions. The biggest downside comes in the form of constant maintenance: Real trees have to be watered regularly, and it can be a hassle to take them down. Also, the pine needles fall off the tree and tend to get stuck to many types of fabric, making for difficult cleanup.

Apart from Christmas trees, there are other ways to decorate rooms. For example, students can hang up strands of Christmas lights or shiny tinsel along the walls. They can also purchase lights in a variety of colors or even degrees of brightness, which can make the room appear softer or cheerier. Stockings provide another opportunity to get creative, because they come in different colors and styles. Instead of hammering a nail into the wall to hang it up, students can instead use Command sticky strips that work just as well, without leaving dents and marks in drywall.

Probably the best way to get into the Christmas spirit is just by gradually getting into the mood. Convenience and grocery stores sell hot chocolate mix, peppermint candies and Christmas-themed marshmallows. Also, students can tune into local radio stations that play Christmas music or create playlists of their favorite carols; being able to dance and sing along to these classic songs can be enjoyable and therapeutic.

Christmas movies are also a great way to get into the spirit, allowing people to immerse themselves in an alternate reality. There are TV channels that host marathons of popular Christmas movies, which can function as a source of nostalgia and comfort. These channels include movies that people can remember from their childhoods or even gain a new appreciation for as adults. Students can also tap into the ever-expanding genre of holiday films being produced and distributed by Hallmark and streaming platforms like Netflix. There’s nothing like a Christmas rom-com or an old classic to raise people’s spirits.

If students would rather separate the holidays from their living space or workspace, they can instead go out to a local event to celebrate. There are local tree-lighting ceremonies around the country, held on the weekends for anyone to attend — with a mask.

The Christmas season also allows for students to engage in random acts of kindness and complete meaningful community service. The holidays are a time for giving and expressing gratitude for others: a practice that forms healthy social bonds and also boosts general mental health. There are volunteer drives around the country trying to recruit people who can help gather, handle and distribute donations to adults and children in need this season. Students may also prepare meals for the homeless, the food insecure and the financially insecure.

A unique way to give and get into the spirit also comes in the form of supporting other students that you know or may live with. The month of December is the last stretch of school for many college students around the country, and it may be hard to hold out and finish the quarter or semester academically strong and mentally well. Tutoring other students and reaching out to check on them has a variety of benefits: It not only increases feelings of belonging, but it also alleviates feelings of homesickness for students who are missing their families or wishing to get home to them soon.

While many argue that the holidays only exist to benefit consumerism, tapping into the emotional and social aspects of Christmas makes it all the more valuable. Merry Christmas to all college students — and happy holidays to those who do not celebrate Christmas!

Writer Profile

Rory Conlon

De Anza College
Journalism

My name is Rory Conlon. I live in California, attend De Anza College and major in journalism. As an intern, I hope to meet many enthusiastic writers and readers.

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