How to Get in the Holiday Spirit During Finals

There are easy and fun ways to celebrate the winter holidays in college during finals.

Photo: iStock

There's something about finals –– Endless study sessions? Brain overload? –– that leaves little room for any excitement other than the anticipation of test time. But that doesn't mean you can't fuse a bit of holiday cheer into your hours devoted to hitting the books and drafting flash cards. Here are a few tips to lend some spirit to your finals week.

Play Holiday Music

Whether it was Lady Gaga or Bach, a 2010 study by Northwestern University showed that music enhanced a listener's learning capabilities. So, while finals might not be exactly cheery, it doesn't mean a holiday-themed medley won't bump your spirits. Listen to holiday playlists on the free music website, Pandora.com, including Classical Christmas and Rockin; Holidays. You might also check out NPR's Holiday Music stream which features an eclectic mix of tunes to get you in the spirit of the season.

Start a Gift Exchange With Friends

Nothing says, "Happy Finals Week!" like a fresh set of pencils and notebook paper ... errr ... chocolate? Well, no matter the gift, consider starting a small present swap with a group of your friends to help liven the bounty of stressful moods that are often tied to finals week. If you have a little free time we have some other DIY gift ideas on our blog.

Need a quick thoughtful gesture for a friend? Slip your friend's favorite pack of gum under her door to help keep her from crashing during a study session. Or stash your buddy's favorite energy drink in his mini refrigerator for a late-night burst of energy with a funny note.

Photo: iStock

Set the Holiday Mood

Winter is the chilliest season of the year, but there's something about toasty fires and warm beverages that make getting cozy feel oh-so-worth it. Score the effect in your dorm by slipping into fuzzy slippers and sipping hot chocolate spiked with peppermint with your study buddies. You can also light cinnamon scented candles in your room and add other small holiday elements, like tiny lights that line your doorway, to brighten the atmosphere.

Fuel Your Brain

Even the toughest of test takers needs some sustenance to keep the flash cards rolling. Whip up these meatballs in your kitchen or a friend's apartment and give your study session a bit of holiday spice.

Follow this recipe from Nisa Burns of Kitchenability.com and author of "Kitchenability 101: The College Student’s Guide to Easy, Healthy, and Delicious Food."

Sweet Chili Cranberry Meatballs

Photo: ThinkStock

(Makes about 20 meatballs.)

Ingredients:

  • 1 16-oz can jellied cranberry sauce
  • 1-1/2 cups of sweet chili sauce
  • 2 12-oz packages frozen precooked turkey meatballs
  • 2-1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon

Directions:

1. Place cranberry sauce and sweet chili sauce in sauce pot or slow cooker over low heat.

2. Mix the cranberry sauce and sweet chili together until combined.

3. Add in the brown sugar and lemon juice and stir to combine.

4. Allow the sauce to slowly warm, stirring occasionally, about 10-15 minutes.

5. Add in frozen meatballs. Cover and cook the sauce and meatballs together on low for about 45 minutes until warmed through and cranberry/chili flavor has infused the meatballs. Stir occasionally with a rubber spatula, being sure to scrape down the sides of the pot.

What's the best way to brighten your holidays?

Prepare in advance. It might seem like wishful thinking, but a bit of planning can help you to space out studying and nix finals-related stress, making your holidays all the more cheerful.

Quick Tips

  • Rely on free online radio stations to stream a constant mix of holiday tunes.
  • Set the mood by lighting holiday-themed candles and sipping hot chocolate.
  • Fuel your study sessions with festive noshes, like candy canes and easy-to-make holiday-themed dishes.
  • Plan study sessions to avoid cramming for finals and unnecessary stress.

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