Ah! The holidays! Most people can agree that ’tis the season, and whether that means it’s the season for being jolly, merry, or to reach a normal blood pressure level after the handbasket o’ heck that is finals week, it might be said that the month of December brings about the desire to participate in more festive and tinsel-sprinkled activities that one cannot find throughout the rest of year. Between the classic traditions like roasting chestnuts over an open fire and the days that just make you want to go out in frolic in that winter wonderland, there are plenty of things you could try out to make a few entertaining wintertime memories.

Find somewhere to look at Christmas lights. Whether it’s a public area that’s seasonally decked out with Christmas displays or a random drive of exploring the effort your neighbors have made to transform their front lawns into the North Pole, sometimes a few twinkling lights just helps you get in the mood for the holidays. Every year, the city of Ogden has created what it calls Christmas Village, a myriad of holiday scenes set up in cottage-themed displays plastered all around 25th Street and the Ogden Amphitheater, sponsored by local businesses. Going out to look at lights can be a great tradition for families, date for couples, or option for a random group of friends who are broke and bored out their minds, yet looking for something to do. Who doesn’t want an excuse to grab hot chocolate whilst huddled together in cozy snow clothes? Couples . . . I’m winking at you. Not to mention it’s something FREE to do.

Make it a tradition to go to a holiday-themed performance every year. Whether it’s going to see something elaborate like “The Nutcracker” each year or just finding a Christmas-themed musical to go to for a night in your area, December always seems to have its own themed entertainment popping up all over the place. It could be nice to make it a holiday-themed dinner and a show, and it gives you one more thing to look forward to if you love seeing the same performance every year. Plenty of local theaters around have their featured holiday season shows that run every year, such as the Terrace Plaza Playhouse’s “A Christmas Carol” and the recently opened Ziegfeld Theater’s “White Christmas.”

Make shopping for other people a festive outing. If Black Friday is your only schema when it comes to shopping for gifts for people, seasonal gift-giving can seem like an anxiety-inducing chore. When you make an adventure out of any trip, it can usually improve the mood. Plan out a day and get a bunch of people together, or even go solo, and arrange to go somewhere like Salt Lake City or a place you might not get the opportunity to visit often. It’s a change of stores and scenery, and it will feel like a treat if you make it a rare occasion. It’s one of my own holiday traditions, usually to celebrate the end of finals, and I spend all day trekking around the stores, and maybe treat myself to an early Christmas present. It also helps to make a whole day out of it. I like to  find a new place to try for dinner in the foreign area, maybe even ending the day with the Christmas light or holiday performance suggestions listed above if I’m with a group. There’s no better stress therapy than retail therapy, especially since the holidays have been known to be the most stressful time of the year.

Invade your kitchen and try out a new festive recipe. Whether it’s a four-course dinner for Christmas Eve, a new appetizer or drink combination to put out for a New Year’s Eve party, or just some odd form of sweets to toss at carolers as they come beating down your door, cooking can be a fun hobby if you’re doing it in preparation for a lot of feedback. Who else gets a sense of holiday nostalgia from the smell of cinnamon, pumpkin or honey-baked meats? You could mass-produce gingerbread for an entire village, or just a few cookies to decorate, since that seems to be the most fun part of Christmas-themed desserts. Food is also a cheap way to mass-produce gifts as well, since a plate of homemade cookies always seems to go a long way. And, in the end, if you at least know how to whip up decent batch of anything except fruit cake, you will be thanked.

These are just a few ideas to add to your potential holiday agendas over the break, but honestly, I’m sure you could have enough fun just spending 36 hours in front of a gaming console, since all other responsibilities have blissfully gone out the window. Lord knows I probably will!
Happy holidays! That is, if we can all live to see past finals . . .
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