How to chill out during winter break

Exhaustion causes hard-working college students to spend summer and winter breaks doing nothing but make new butt grooves in their couches and computer chairs.

But if you work hard, you have to play hard during the breaks to balance the universe. You don’t want to be the reason for an unbalanced universe, do you?

I’ve noticed that my favorite semester breaks are the ones that I spend going somewhere, doing something or making something that I can share with the friends and family. Sometimes it’s a good old-fashioned road trip with friends. Other times it’s watching a movie, recording some guitar music or having a fantastic, memorable date with someone special.

With those in mind, here are a few things you can do this winter break to make sure it’s your most memorable one. Once the winter semester starts and you’re back in the library studying, you are going to want to have fond memories of the last time you could sleep in, hang out and not have to worry about your next assignment or test.

1. Host a holiday movie marathon — Prepare a spread of some holiday snacks, like easy-to-make, chocolate-covered candy canes or pretzels. Then pick up some holiday movies and lay out in front of the TV with some friends. Classic holiday movies include “Home Alone,” “A Christmas Story,” “The Santa Claus,” “Jingle All the Way,” “The Year Without Santa Claus” and both the animated and live-action versions of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” But remember, no holiday movie marathon is complete without “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

2. See Santa — This one’s for the young adults who aren’t afraid to dork out a little. How fun would it be to tell Santa what you want for Christmas for old time’s sake and get a picture to prove it? If you’re too embarrassed to see him at your regular mall, trek to the mall two towns over.

3. Get into the holiday spirit at Christmas — Even families who aren’t big on Christmas celebrations can get out and enjoy others’ decorations and celebrations for an afternoon or evening. It’s a great family outing to attend a local Christmas play, carol concert or craft fair. Most towns have both indoor and outdoor events available and are listed in the local newspaper. Enjoy the magic of Christmas lights. Go for a walk or drive to an area of town that is all decked out for Christmas. This might be the center of town, where a central tree stands or the ritzy part of the city where the affluent decorate their entire yards.

4. Visit old friends — This is the perfect time to look up your old buddies from high school. Since your new college crew isn’t around, reconnect with the people who were there first. Plan some movie nights and sleepovers and get back in the touch with each another. Exchange college stories. You’ll probably be surprised how much people have changed and grown while they were away at school. It will be like meeting your friends all over again.

Winter break is a magical time of year — no finals, research papers or projects.

Eat lots of food, spend all the time you can with friends and loved ones and enjoy the temporary freedom from your studies. And remember to avoid the mistletoe hanging in all the doorways while your grandparents are in town.

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