Thursday, December 1, 2016

My Winter Break Bucket List

As everybody finishes hanging their Christmas lights and setting up their advent calendars, I'm embarking on a holiday journey of my own: Blogmas.

In my four years of blogging, I just heard of Blogmas for the first time this year. In case you, too, have lived your life as a Blogmas ignoramus (yes, I rhymed on purpose), Blogmas is a blogging marathon in which bloggers post once a day leading up until Christmas.

I decided this year that I would loosely commit myself to Blogmas for the first time and just see how it goes. This means that in a couple of days, I'll probably wind up forgetting to post, briefly despising myself, and then falling off the bandwagon completely. But until then, merry Blogmas, and happy December 1st! Wish me luck so that I can continue to deliver you my daily Christmas-themed content.

Today, for the first day of Blogmas, a bucket list of things to do on break seemed perfectly appropriate. Each of these twelve ideas will bust your boredom over winter break, as well as put you in the cheerful spirit of Christmas (and hopefully help you recover from the doom and gloom of finals).

From Christmas cookie porn to a country Christmas playlist, I hope you'll find this post as entertaining as the recommendations in it!

1. Decorate Christmas cookies.

Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without dessert. Take advantage of the fact that you (finally) have a kitchen to cook in, instead of eating the same boring meals in the dining hall every night, and whip up a batch of good, old-fashioned Christmas cookies. 

Not feeling creative? Check out some of my favorite cookie decor below!

2. Drive around and look at Christmas lights.

There's nothing more beautiful or memorable than driving around in your pajamas with your friends, family, or significant other and taking in the holiday glow. Blast your favorite holiday jams while you drive for the ultimate Christmas experience. 

I love country music, so lately, I've been listening to a lot of country singers' Christmas albums. Chris Young's "It Must Be Christmas" and Brett Eldredge's "Glow" are hands-down my top two favorites. Here, I'll make it easy for you: listen to both albums on the playlist below! 

3. Have a Secret Santa party with your high school friends.

Christmastime is one of the only times when all of your high school friends are back in town at the same time, so take advantage of it while you can! This year, because we're all broke, my friends and I decided to have a Secret Santa party with a $5.00 limit, instead of everyone buying each other gifts like we used to do. 

One of my friends even found us a web app that will pick your Secret Santa for you: It allows you to create a group and set a deadline to join the group by. Then, it sends you an e-mail with who you have to buy a gift for, eliminating the need for anyone to peek at their Secret Santa to send the names to everyone! How ingenious is that?

4. Watch a classic Christmas movie with your family.

One year, my mom tried to start a Christmas tradition where we all watched a Christmas movie and got a new pair of pajamas every Christmas Eve - but just because our consistency flopped doesn't mean that we still don't love to huddle up on the couch and watch a Christmas classic!

Love, Actually, It's a Wonderful Life, and Elf are definitely my favorite Christmas movies, but there's tons more to choose from on Netflix and beyond. Luckily, the Dating Divas have put together a handy list of over 50 of the best Christmas movies (so I don't have to remember them all!). Check it out here!

5. Sip hot chocolate from your favorite coffee shop.

My favorite part of coming home from college is getting to spend time at all my favorite places in my hometown. We live in a little town in Massachusetts that's five square miles with a downtown that's full of hipster cafes and small businesses, so there's an abundance of coffee shops to choose from when you want a decent Americano or a steaming hot chocolate.

If coffee shops aren't really your thing (or your town just doesn't have any), then you can easily recreate the experience at home with a hot chocolate bar! The Pretty Paper Studio even sells hot chocolate bar printables on Etsy - take inspiration from them and DIY your own hot chocolate bar, or buy their set and make it a party!

6. Go ugly sweater shopping.

I look at an ugly Christmas sweater as an investment. When they first became a trend, we all thought it would go away eventually - but now the ugly sweater party is a much-loved staple of the Christmas season. An ugly Christmas sweater is practically a required part of your winter wardrobe!

If you're not a "try things on" kind of gal (which I totally feel), then here's some handy inspiration for your online shopping:

7. Steal a kiss under the mistletoe.

Okay, okay - I know winter break is supposed to be a time for friends and family, but who's to say you shouldn't have a little fun, too? Christmas parties are the perfect excuse to steal a romantic kiss from your S.O., or from the one you've been crushing on for weeks now. 

In case kissing leads to something more, Cosmo offers up some festive ways to get busy under the covers. (Warning: NSFW!)

8. Send cards to your faraway friends and fam.

Personally, I don't have tons of money to buy all my family and friends Christmas presents - hence the Secret Santa swap this year. However, I do think it's still nice to acknowledge my family and friends during the holidays and let them know I'm thinking about them! A cheap way to do this is by sending a card.

Anthropologie's cards are slightly more pricey than those you might pick up at a Target or a Wal-mart (I actually got a pack of six for $1.50 at Michael's), but they're still fun to look at. Check out my favorites here, here, and here.

9. Try some wintry nail art.

I'm not the most skilled at nail art, but I think it's the cutest thing ever...and besides, with all that free time and nothing to do, winter break is the perfect time to pick up a new hobby. The plus of doing your own nail art instead of getting an expensive manicure is that you save money. Try not to cry the first time you chip your new paint job, though.

I'm actually thinking of doing a post about Christmas nail art for #Blogmas! (Is this something you'd be interested in reading? Comment below if yes!) However, as a sort of sneak preview, I'll still share some of my favorite pics below.

10. Enjoy a holiday tradition.

My mom has tried to start a lot of holiday traditions, some of which have flopped. However, one thing we do most years, if not every year, is drive around on Christmas Eve and look at Christmas light displays nearby. This has become harder recently, though, because fewer and fewer houses have been putting them up! When we were kids, we also used to open one early present every year on Christmas Eve, but we've also kinda stopped doing this as my brother and I have gotten older... so, hopefully your Christmas traditions are more successful than mine! 

Spending time with family is one of the most important things you can do while you're home for winter break. Especially if you go to college miles and miles away from home, you never know when you might see your mom and dad again! Thankfully, the Christmas season is full of opportunities to spend time with loved ones, like enjoying some of your favorite holiday traditions from Christmas past.

11.  Put your presents under the tree.

One of the worst parts of spending half the Christmas season in the dorms is that I missed out on setting up the Christmas tree with my family! Without those colorful lights and that twinkling star, it just doesn't feel like Christmas. 

Luckily, you'll at least get to enjoy the Christmas tree while you're home for the holidays - and by wrapping your Christmas presents beautifully, you can contribute to the decor in your own special way. I went with a gold and silver theme for wrapping paper this year...I bought all of my designs from Michael's during their sales last weekends! (Comment below if you want to see a later #Blogmas post about my gift wrapping aesthetic, ha ha...)

12. Decorate gingerbread houses.

Confession time: Ryan's mom gets VERY intense about decorating gingerbread houses. Last year, we had a "competition" with his entire family...Ryan and I won by default, because none of his siblings were all too interested in decorating gingerbread. 

However, not even the Tucker fam's gingerbread competition got as fancy as some of these houses I found on Pinterest! I thought I'd share them with you so we could all feel inferior together - I mean, get inspired for the holiday season...

(Special mention: the mini gingerbread houses that sit on top of your mug! Wish I could be so talented and coordinated that I could make some like that...without breaking them.)

Follow me on Pinterest, Twitter, and Tumblr @haleymarieblog for more #Blogmas!

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