Making the Most of the Holidays Away From Home / by Maya Huter

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah or Festivus, the holidays are a time for celebration and the spreading happiness. If you love the holiday season as much as I do, the thought of being away from home for the first time may seem sad, and as if something is missing. But being in a new city is all about adventure, right? So use this season as an excuse to get to know the city with your friends to get into the holiday spirit. This is a guide on how to make the most of the holidays away from home, both in the city, and on campus. Boston is a city full of celebration to be had, so get out there and explore.

Faneuil Hall, one of Boston’s prime spots is home to Blink!, a light and music show that will run every week through January first. The light show centers around one of the biggest Christmas trees in all of New England, which is sure to fill the void you may feel over not having a tree of your own. The “Christmas in Boston” holiday store is also located at Faneuil, making it the perfect place for a night out of eating, shopping and festivities.

If you are willing to brave the cold, ice skating makes for a fun outing with friends or the perfect setting for a date with a significant other. Ice skating rinks located at Frog Pond in the Boston Common and at City Hall Plaza are open throughout the holiday season and are priced at $12 and $10 respectively.

Since having a real live Christmas tree totally violates res-hall fire restrictions, opting for other ways to decorate your dorm is key. With the limited space of a suite or dorm room, by optimizing on small but meaningful decorations, you’ll be able to make the most of the space you have, while still making your space cozy and festive. For college students, being cost-effective is always a priority, which may seem like a limiting factor, but it's surprisingly easy to do if you’re careful. Here are my top suggestions on how to effectively decorate your room:

    Pick a color scheme, grab your roommates and head off to Primark. With its close proximity to campus and inexpensive home decor section, Primark is the ultimate place to get an entire room worth of decorations for under $20. If you’re willing to spend a little more to achieve your desired decorations, Target, Marshalls and Urban Outfitters are great options as well.

Holiday themed throw pillows are a great way to spruce up your room’s furniture, along with cozy throw blankets to make the space more inviting. Filling a simple clear bowl or vase with holiday themed items will create a cute and customizable centerpiece for your common room table.  You can really use anything fill it with anything, from ornaments to dreidels to snowflakes to pine cones, depending on what holiday you celebrate, to add a nice touch to your living space. If you want to mimic the inviting smell of a real christmas tree, pine scented scentsicles or air diffusers will give you that irreplaceable holiday smell without violating campus fire safety laws. Top off the room with some twinkly lights (that fit within the fire laws of course), and you’ll have an entirely new space decked out for the holidays.

A great way to get in the spirit and also get to know your roommates and friends better is to do a secret holiday gift exchange. This doesn’t have to be specific to any holiday- it can simply be a way to share your love and appreciation for your new friends. Set a price limit for gifts, draw names out of a bag and figure out what a fun, creative gift for that person may be. Opening up the presents all together right before everyone heads home for winter break will be a great way to wrap up first semester, and celebrate the new friendships you’ve made thus far.

If being far away from home during the holiday season seems daunting to you, remember what the holidays are about. Just because you are surrounded by new people doesn’t mean you have to abandon every fun tradition or holiday activity you’ve ever known, it just means adjusting to a new surrounding. The traditions you have at home may seem far away, but there is plenty of festivity awaiting if you are willing to go out and find it.